Robert Early’s
O Gauge Empire
December 17, 2006

Any adults dating from the late 1940’s through the early 1960’s can surely remember their first experiences with model trains. That memory of the smoking pacific, carrying it’s freight or passengers of their merry way evokes fond memories for me, as well as our host Bob Early. Ever the model railroader, his large layout encompasses a large basement family room with several long runs including mountainous grades climbing to a passenger station and industry.

Covering one wall are beautifully crafted cabinets and display shelves containing a unique collection of operating engines and cars in their entirety. Continuing along with his collection are some of the newer Mike’s Train house locomotives and passengers sets, including the N & W 611 and her passenger train. The New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio and the Milwaukee roads were also running in their finery for passenger movement.

The layout is a 3-rail O gauge layout using GarGraves track with a mix of Ross Custom and Lionel O22 switches. A bit of a hybrid, the layout features scenic elevation finished with plaster rock castings and Woodland Scenics finishes, along with vintage Lionel operating accessories, and some MTH state-of-the-art operating accessories.

There are a variety of buildings, including new Lionel, new MTH, some kit buildings, and even some old Plasticville. The trains themselves include pre-war Lionel, post-war Lionel, MTH, and K Line. The layout is not complete and remains a work in progress, with no particular direction other than whatever strikes Bob's fancy. The layout is not a model of any particular railroad or place, but a combination of trains that I bought just because I liked them.

Several mechanical structures were methodically arranged for viewing. Mel’s Drive Inn, a favorite and memory producer for some of us, some who may have cruised on in. The Ford Thunderbird driving in to place an order is animated. Most of structures are lighted as well, even the infamous log loader function s as an industry. Bob has created an atmosphere of railroading as that inspired by his boyhood days. That train set is on display on his wall of trains.

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