The Christmas Model Train

The Christmas tree train went up today. Like every year.

I remember having a model train when I was a kid. The old 3-rail O scale. It had a diesel engine and some really cool cars. Ok, John, stop with the description and search the internet for it…bingo — found it on my first search FTW. Here it is. You can see each of the cars in the first 30 seconds. Note the starting image of the video isn’t the train I had.

I played with that train for hours. The submarine was driven by a submarine and could actually go in the bath tub. The helicopter could not fly. Firing the missiles was fun, but not reliable. And nothing, you know, exploded when the missiles hit so that was anticlimactic.

As I got older, I picked up some HO scale track and trains. The track was touchier as we didn’t build a permanent setup. I enjoyed changing things each time I put it up. The HO train never felt like a Christmas train — that needed to be something bigger.

The Christmas train started with my first father-in-law. He had been a model train guy since he was a child and always had a train under the tree. On their first birthday, each of my kids got a O scale Lionel set from Grandma and Grandpa. The sets are still on the garage, eventually to make it to their houses when the time is right.

Each Christmas, we would rotate through the kid’s train sets, trying to give them equal time. A few years ago, my son worked at the seasonal Lionel Train store at a local mall. He gifted us a new train set and that is what you see in the first photo.

A model train is a long way from the spiritual meaning of Christmas. Nevertheless, it is a part of my Christmas tree decorating.

2 responses to “The Christmas Model Train”

  1. Interesting article. You may or may not recall that I had a Lionel 027 train set in the early 1940s; I don’t remember specifically what Christmas it was, but I had it for years. I have no idea where it went. I took the loco apart so many times that finally the screws stripped out. I was bummed because the middle rail power pickup was just a spring loaded piece of metal that slid on the center rail, rather than the roller pickup that came with O gauge.

    Have you ever combined the train sets you have to make a larger layout?


    • No, I haven’t connected them. They stay neatly in their boxes unless we pull them out. I remember long HO scale setups using the extended track pieces – trying to see how long and complex they could get. I used the same approach when we got the Brio track for the kids. The challenge of building a layout with every piece of track was fun.

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