History of The Upstairs Train
The #48T Royal Blue Freight Train was my first train.  For years I have been saying that I got it for Christmas, 1949, when I was 6 years old, but I recently noticed that this set was made only in 1948.
Maybe I got it when I was only five..  I still have it and it runs great!
Christmas, 1948, the humble beginnings of The Upstairs Train!  It started out, like many layouts, on a 4' X 8' sheet of plywood, with one corner cut off to fit in its assigned space.  Yep, that's me.
And here's what it looks like today, on the red line of the lower loop.
As I recall it, I got something to add to it each Christmas after that for six or eight years - cars, accessories, and the #5535TBH Comet blue-stripe passenger set.
Click here to see the Comet and its cars.
Somewhere along the line, I got a red painted #654 Pullman observation car, but those were only made in 1948 so my dad must have gotten that used somewhere. It took me a long time to complete that set without breaking the bank; those cars are hard to find!
I gradually grew my collection as a kid, adding a pair of switches at one end of the loop so there were two routes around it.  Later it expanded it to an L-shape.  I still had only one pair of switches, so all I really did was extend the outer green line out around the base of the "L."  But it did give more space for the accessories I was accumulating: Guilford Station, operating mail car and boxcar, Oil Derrick, and Aircraft Beacon.

Like many people, I drifted away from model railroading in High School, but got back into it again in the mid-1970s when my sons were little.  My Dad shipped everything but the board out to me and the first Christmas we set it up around the tree.

I checked the yellow pages and went down to Frank the Trainman in San Diego to get the latest Gilbert catalog so I could add to my layout. I was surprised when he asked what year's catalog I wanted.  "This year's, of course!" I responded.  That's when I learned that Gilbert had gone out of business about ten years earlier.  So I bought the #336 Challenger engine from him instead of a catalog.  I remember him proudly telling me "That's the biggest engine Gilbert ever made."

I put an "American Flyer trains wanted" ad in the paper and bought out the collections that two people offered me.  That brought me three more trains, some accessories, a trestle set, and lots of track and switches.  The pages on
The Trains, The Engines, Bridges, Towers, Buildings, and Operating Accessories show what was in those collections.

Not long thereafter, we moved to a larger house where I had a room to set them up on a proper layout. I built a table from some plywood-topped pallets I got from the place I worked at the time.  I liked the idea of the pallets because they made a modular table that could be moved easily when our sons got old enough to want their own bedrooms.  All I had to do was bolt them together and build legs to hold them up.  I built a rough hill and tunnels from scrap lumber and got the trains running again.  After that, they sat pretty much idle for almost thirty years.

Then in the spring of 2003, I got back into it, started buying equipment on ebay, expanded the layout to hold fourteen trains, and started landscaping it. It's about 90% landscaped now. Just the northwest corner to go. In the process I have built my collection up to seventeen trains (some incomplete still), plus a handcar.  For example, I have bought most of the Missouri Pacific cars built by Lionel; I still need the B-unit engine and observation car.

Stay tuned: I will add to this history and try to find some more pictures of that layout from my childhood.
If you or your friends have some American Flyer trains and would like them to go to a nice home where they'll be loved and cared for, this is the place!  Email me: theupstairstrain@yahoo.com.  See my Wish List for the items I want most.
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