When I was about 4 years old, my father decided that it was time to fix up his old Lionel train set and give it to me. In doing so, he setup a small layout in the basement of my grandparents’ house. It was a simple loop with a siding, but tons of fun for little me.
I was very rough on that train set, but it worked very well for a long time. Eventually, the set was put away into storage, and wasn’t touched until I was an adult. My mother made sure that this set was preserved because it belonged to my father and was from his childhood in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Mom and Dad also bought me a couple of HO train sets when I was a kid. I remember getting the same set two years in a row, actually, likely because the locomotive on the first one stopped working. They were The Conrail Freight Set by TYCO. The only thing I remember from those sets are the blue Conrail F-units. Unfortunately, these sets ended up in the garbage when I was a teenager and decided I was too old to play with model trains, sadly.
AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO)
When I was in my early 30s in the late 00s, I was dating a wonderful guy who recognized my love of trains (real and model) and LEGO, and bought me a LEGO train set. This is what got me back into the hobby as an adult.
Even though I loved the idea of doing a LEGO layout with trains, it wasn’t the same as real scale models, for me. Plus, I was turned off that LEGO had switched over to all battery-powered motors at that time.
I still love LEGO to this day and have quite a collection, but I haven’t been able to display anything for many years due to space issues.
Dipping My Toes into O Scale
I knew that I liked O gauge trains, so I decided to have Dad’s old Scout set repaired. It was in bad shape, after getting quite rusty due to years of sitting in my parents’ basement. It was fun to run it, but I wanted to do more. After all, I was a grown-up and could buy my own toys.
I wanted to collect O scale trains. These are scale models that run on O gauge track. Specifically, I was interested in 3-rail O scale, which uses the same track invented by Lionel. Then I discovered Mike’s Train House (MTH)! I started reading through MTH’s catalogs, and I just fell in love everything, especially their their DCS command-and-control system, even though I still don’t own one for myself, yet.
Over the next decade, I ended up with several pieces of rolling stock, and a couple of old conventional locomotives, but that was really it. Since I’m a huge fan of the Monon Railroad, it made up most of my collection and still does to this day. Sadly, I never ran my trains much or did much else with them, other than occasionally buying something from eBay.
A New Friend and a Nasty Pandemic
In early 2020, I made a new friend who also collects O scale model trains. Bobby is also gay, and we absolutely love talking about trains. We enjoy hanging out, putting our track together, and running our trains on a huge floor layout.
Bobby’s friendship is the biggest reason I’m a serious collector now, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic that had me spending a lot of time obsessing over model trains on YouTube, and more.
Since I’m a huge fan of the Monon Railroad, there’s an O scale train store up in Atlanta, Indiana, called Mr. Muffin’s Trains that does a lot of Monon custom runs with Lionel and MTH.
My Collection Now & Future Layout
As of right now, I have over 25 locomotives (steam and diesel) and over 140 pieces of rolling stock. I have boxes and boxes of trains stored in our basement.
My husband and I have decided to move in the Spring. We’ve lived in our current home since 2014, and have decided that we would like more space. My plan is to build a permanent layout, and we’ll be looking for space to accommodate that.
In the meantime, my collection continues to grow, and I have many exciting items pre-ordered, including several cool reefers (refrigerated box cars), a Monon EMD NW2, C&O EMD F7s, and a CCC&StL (Big Four) Hudson steam engine.
I think this blog is going to be a great place to write about my trains.