The Igor Code

The personal website of Igor Siemienowicz

Trains A-go-go

After fifteen years of abstinence, I’ve decided to get back into model trains again. In my house are a five-year-old who already has an obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine, and a Significant Other who is just as single-minded about handcrafts, so prospects are good for family participation.

What we’re shooting for initially is a fairly simple layout that we can use to get a feel for model trains, and practice various modelling and scenery techniques. We’d like to get that complete (to some degree), with scenery, buildings, signals, lighting and so on, before we expand it into something more complex.

For consistency, we’ll concentrate on fairly classic 1900s UK steam engine models at HO/OO scale, which are relatively common, inexpensive, and at a size that is easy to work with. Not coincidentally, I picked up a second-hand Hornby OO starter set with a 1900s locomotive for cheap, just to get us going, and we’ll work our way up from there.

Great Western Railroad "Little Giant" model

For me, I think the challenge will be not obsessing over things like consistency and detail. This is meant to be a fun family thing, and not everyone in my house knows or cares that we have a model of an experimental British GWR 101 class locomotive designed by James Holden around 1901.

We each get something different out of the activity. For the Good Lady Wife, it’s the building of landscape and scenery models. For the Offspring, ‘trains’ is a good and sufficient reason to do anything.

I thought it would be worthwhile to blog occasionally about how we’re going with this project, and share some photos.

For those who really are interested in the nerdy details, the Holden class 101T was an experimental oil-burning steam locomotive that was built at Swindon Works as a demonstration of the oil technology. There were technical issues with the design, however, and it never left the works in its original form. In 1905, the Great Western Railway decided to rebuild the engine in a conventional coal-burning configuration, but no more of that class were built, and it was scrapped in 1905.

It’s ironic that the original existed so briefly, because Hornby seems to have released it 20-odd times, in different liveries since 1985.