The tidy Trainset Train had grown tired of its claustrophobic 4x8-foot figure-eight under-and-over-plywood layout. What lay beyond the confines of that basement? Beyond the left-up-down-right-under-around again circuit world?
Then it happened. The rectangular-based plastic sectionmen started their railsaws, swung their spike mauls and put in place a No 4 turnout, dropped in a few nine-inch snap-tracks and then, slowly at first, the Trainset Train tentatively took flight.
Presently it encountered a different, detailed world. One with handlaid track, the air heavy with the smell of dilute white glue and freshly-filtered ballast. Operating CTC signals beckoned between scratchbuilt individually-lit structures. Strangely, its plastic wheels had lost their clickety-clack snap-track soundtrack. Stealthily and silently it passed yawning yards full of metal-wheeled and stirrup-stepped super-detailed metal-wheeled rolling stock, gliding by gravelled engine terminals full of grimily-weathered, LED-lit locomotives. It was all so - prototypical!
Its realism reverie ended as a just-released Bowser SD40-2 lumbered up to them. What was this? Why could it not couple on? Shiny black horn-hook couplers would not glad-hand the Kadees, as the scale cut levels and air hoses hung forlorn nearby. Jack-rabbit start whirring motor operation clashed with this DCC-equipped sound-effected sentinel.
Multiple-unit locomotive consists trunded by, complete with clanging bells, air horns and like-you-are-really-there DCC acceleration, $50 cars and EOT's flashing into the distance. No plasticky all-black-smokestacked end-cupola cabooses here! "Look at us!", these believable brethren seemed to boast. "You're second-rate strangers in a strange land, far from your half-inch-thick hardwood home with your truck-mounted couplers and no-individual grab irons, you gawkers not guests!"
Ah, but if only these 100% accurate coveted cousins could know the thrill of endless laps, free of their dimly-lit multi-track signalled staging yards, and their carefully-constructed, car-card-constrained operations. The fun times full of just-because. Fun times...indeed.
Sadly, sullenly, slowly at first, the Trainset Train reversed direction. Ready to return to its Ready-To-Run roots. Back to its yesterday, which seemingly in one blink of a grain-of-wheat bulb had become a dim, distant past. Gathering speed, rejoicing at regaining home rails again, the comforting clickety-clack resounded once again under its wider-than-prototype hood. Its lone interior cab light seemed to glow more warmly under its single-piece translucent cab windows.
Its wheels spun happily. Ever-higher over each bridge pier until it finally looked down over its little world of wonder: the lichen more green than ever, the driverless autos forever stopped on Main Street, the Superior Bakery, Ma's Garage and the silent styrene sweep of its Plasticvile panoply laid out below.
The Trainset Train would stay in this HO home, never again to roam!
Many of the Trainset Train cars in this post were given to my by childhood friend Ross Grant. Ross had a basement layout that we operated for hours. And it was fun. Bachmann, AHM, Tyco, Lima and Model Power rolling stock and locomotives! They live on in a corner of my railway room, always reminding me of those early years.
Ross and I were the only two in our gym class that stood by when the teacher slyly ordered our class to line up tallest-to-shortest, in alphabetical order. Simultaneously! Ross went on to become an engineer and retire in his forties based on investments he chronicled in a successful e-book! I became a blogger.