By Don Fries
Inspired by Jere Pugh efforts noted in the December 2001 issue of Classic Toy Trains, my friend and I discussed doing the same at our local hospital. After meeting with the appropriate hospital staff, it was decided that a 2 ½ by 5-foot table would be a good size.
Because of the number of children’s beds, it was also agreed that the layout would permanently stay in the pediatric wing. It is located in the main hallway near the nurse’s station.
Both Tom Smith (wearing cap) and myself are volunteers at the hospital. Our weekly services give us a chance to check on the operation of the layout. Four months and still going. The nurses comment frequently how the children enjoy the layout and how adults cannot walk by without running the train too.
We started out with a diesel switcher and few freight cars with 4 wheel trucks. This kept the nurses busy putting the cars and wheels back on the track. We came across a plastic Marx freight set where the diesel and freight cars have only 4 wheels each. This was a good move.
We added building and vehicles to increase the play value. Shown in the picture is a young patient operating the crossing gate push button. We kept it simple with one switch for “on-off” and another switch for “slow-fast”. The crossing gate is the only operating accessory and the train depot is illuminated. Laminated signs on the tabletop give basic instructions.
The local newspaper ran an article on the train layout. An additional benefit of the newspaper article was the community PR to encourage others to join the volunteer ranks at the hospital.