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Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale…

Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale

by Sam Posey

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This book answers the age-old (no pun intended) question: why do grown men play with trains? And while he describes in great detail the process of building his own HO scale layout, one wonders what his wife and children are doing in the meantime. He spends countless hours modeling, both alone and with a myriad of friends (all male, of course), and scarcely mentions his family. Which, I suppose, is fine when one considers that the book is about model trainers and not matters of the family. But, still...the question lingers... Anyway, this book is a great resource for those of us heavily involved in modeling train layouts. He also talks about an interesting array of well-known (to other modellers) modellers and their works, much of which is undeniably outstanding, and, occasionally, incredible. Come to think of it, this book may very well explain to the uninitiated (modellers wives and girlfriends, for example) why grown men play with trains. Read this book if you are at all curious. ( )
  rkepulis | May 29, 2011 |
A good book, but not one I found very interesting. I don't think it went far enough in answering the question the book poses: Why do grown men play with trains? ( )
  dpevers | Jan 19, 2010 |
Wonderful true life story of growing up with model railroading in the blood. From the first days running a train under the Christmas Tree to completing your first model railroad layout, Sam unfolds the story of many a grown man obsessed with model trains. ( )
1 vote njtrout | May 27, 2009 |
Posted my review at http://riptrack.net/node/52 ( )
  Slambo | Dec 13, 2008 |
As a railway (and model railway) enthusiast myself, I find this book really enjoyable. But even for non-enthusiasts (and long-suffering spouses!) it gives some insights into a hobby which often becomes a passion or even an obsession, and it does so sympathetically and with a touch of humour and self-deprecation. ( )
  johnthefireman | Jan 29, 2007 |
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Fierce-throated beauty!
Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music,
Thy swinging lamps at night,
Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling
like an earthquake, rousing all.

--Walt Whitman
"To A Locomotive IN Winter"
To Rolf and John
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I'm pregnant," my wife, Ellen, said, and right then I knew I would be building a train layout.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812971264, Paperback)

Why do grown men play with trains? Is it a primal attachment to childhood, nostalgia for the lost age of rail travel, or the stuff of flat-out obsession? In this delightful and unprecedented book, Grand Prix legend Sam Posey tracks those who share his “passion beyond scale” and discovers a wonderfully strange and vital culture.

Posey’s first layout, wired by his mother in the years just after the Second World War, was, as he writes in his Introduction, “a miniature universe which I could operate on my own. Speed and control: I was fascinated by both, as well as by the way they were inextricably bound together.” Eventually, when Posey’s son was born, he was convinced that building him a basement layout would be the highest expression of fatherhood. Sixteen years and thousands of hours later, this project, “the outgrowth of chance meetings, unexpected friendships, mistakes, illness, latent ambitions, and sheer luck” was completed. But for Posey, the creation of his HO-scale masterpiece based on the historic Colorado Midland, was just the beginning.

In Playing with Trains, Sam Posey ventures well beyond the borders of his layout in northwestern Connecticut, to find out what makes the top modelers tick. He expects to find men “engaged in a genial hobby, happy to spend a few hours a week escaping the pressures of contemporary life.” Instead he uncovers a world of extremes–extreme commitment, extreme passion, and extreme differences of approach. For instance, Malcolm Furlow, holed up on his ranch in the wilderness of New Mexico, insists that model railroading is defined by scenery and artistic self-expression. On the other hand, Tony Koester, a New Jersey modeler, believes his “mission” is to replicate, with fanatical precision and authenticity, the way a real railroad operates. Going to extremes himself, Posey actually “test drives” a real steam engine in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, in an attempt to understand the great machines that inspired the models and connect us to a time when “the railroad was inventing America.” Timeless and original, Playing with Trains reveals a classic, questing American world.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:15 -0400)

Captures obsession with model railroading in this joyful combination of memoir, cultural history and love letter.

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