A few years ago, I picked up a used 1999-built Lionel 4-6-4 Hudson steam locomotive at a price too good to pass up. Without much of a layout to run it on, after testing all the functions, I put it in the same temperature- and humidity-controlled layout room closet with all my other rolling stock and structures.
Well, I decided to get it out this year for a new holiday layout I built, only to discover CORROSION!
Something had caused corrosion on the floor of the tender, so I tore it apart to see what was going on inside. What I discovered put me in the position of deciding what to do: take it in for professional restoration, or take on the job myself.
A young couple kissing under the village Christmas tree doesn’t even notice the Lionel 4-6-2 Pacific roaring by with a string of K-Line and IDM freight cars in tow, capped with a Lionel Santa Fe illuminated caboose.
When I found out my grandchildren were going to visit, I decided to throw together a little toy train layout for them to play with.
I went on eBay and found two Toys ‘r Us promotional Lionel train sets, one from 1982 with an operating Geoffrey car and one from 1992 with a nice illuminated caboose. Both sets, with shipping cost less than $100.
I used Lionel Fastrack for the outside loop and O27 tubular track for the inside loop (mainly resorted to the tubular track for accessory activation). The older set had a cam that attached to the track to operate the “ducking Geoffrey” and I added a 153c contactor to operate an early 1990s semaphore and dwarf signal. There are two manual switches on the O27 loop with an accessory on each route.
The Fasttrack loop has two O36 remote switches, and doesn’t have any operating accessories, but I added a K-Line whistling train station between the two switch routes. but I added a late 1990s Linex operating oil derrick and some yard lights to the table for interest.
I’ve got a bunch of Plasticville buildings that the kids can place wherever they want on the table (although with two different loops, there are more buildings than will fit). They love rearranging the city and transporting people (from a Safari Ltd. “Toob”) and cargo on the train cars from one side of the layout to the other.
Perfect for Turn-of-the-Century Model Railroad Layout
If you are modeling a turn-of-the-century railroad, our free plans of the Smith-Sherlock store in South Pass, Wyoming are the starting point of a perfect structure for the commercial district. It exudes that old-west charm with its log construction on three sides and frame construction on the false-front facade. Even if the period of your model railroad layout is later, the store would be great as an abandoned building harkening back to an earlier era, or a museum (the use for which the real building is currently tasked).