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Monday, 24 August 2015

What Do You Get A 6 Year Old For His Birthday?

Every Thursday and Friday after school we take our Grandson to see the trains from an over bridge on the Basingstoke to Southampton line (It's one of those caged pedestrian walk ways that afford good views of the trains from a position of safety). His favourite train is the container freights invariable pulled by a class 66 diesel in EWS or Freightliner livery.

With his birthday looming I suggested to his dad that we should make up a train set for him. We'll get the train, I said, and dad can get the track since there is no off the shelf train set with a class 66. I had in mind a simple oval with a siding, a class 66 and a container wagon to get him started.

At the present time an EWS livery version is only available second hand and only Bachmann do a Freightliner brand new. Well the first shock was the price. A diesel at well over £100? I am used to that for intricate steam locomotives but for a box on wheels?

The demand for class 66s on Ebay is very competitive and whilst a second hand Bachmann may be won for less than £40 on a good day they usually push towards a hundred. Having looked at reviews of the cheaper Lima version (later adopted by Hornby and re-released with enhancements) I decided that, whilst not as detailed as Bachmann, it would be ideal for a 6 year old. After a couple of failed bids in auction I bought a Lima Freightliner version on a 'buy it now' sale.

Later on I won a Hornby Railroad dual container wagon. So, that is my side of the gift sorted.

Next I went to town with his Dad to see about some Hornby track (BTW I was also donating a Hornby controller and a circle of 1st radius curves from my stock, which once belonged to another son of mine.)
Dad spotted a level crossing on the shelf and insisted on buying it because his son has a fascination with those as well. But, this was not a single - no it was a double level crossing. Can you see where this is going?

We needed some standard track of course and Dad spotted a track extension pack that included a double level crossing. Of course, my simple oval idea was now turning into a double track layout with cross over and link wiring! He bought the extension pack and I volunteered to spec. and source the remaining track on his behalf to make a usable train set.

I won a set of second radius curves off Ebay for about half the high street cost and bought the extra turnouts, straights and link wiring in town.

I just totalled up the costs and it's come out to about £130. That's good for a train set of this complexity compared to boxed train sets but far more than my original expectation.

Birthday and Christmas presents are now sorted for the future - we just expand this and Dad is already talking about boarding the loft.

For a seasoned modeller like me this has been a refreshing exercise to get back to basics in the hobby.

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