model train set on track

R’s to the Hobby!

e*Train Issue: Dec 2023   |   Posted in:

1920’s Dinky Train Restoration ( 

By Carol Redman McGinnis, TCA # HE95-41066                                      Winter e*Train 2024

There are a lot of R’s out there when it comes to toy trains.  Most of you have heard about them and have fully and excitedly discussed their merits.  Those R’s, of course, are Restoration, Repair, Repaint, Replace, Revision (FreeLance/Fantasy), Reproduction, to name a few!  There was a healthy and helpful discussion on the TTML Zoom meeting on Sunday, August 27th, 2023.  

Click here for the link to the meeting: and scroll down to the August 27th meeting on Restoration or Repair!

(NOTE: Get connected with this group by going to [email protected] | Home and signing up.  They meet every two weeks for an hour, or so, and discuss a variety of topics of interest to the group.)

Getting together to write the Lionel Book.

A topic that is also frequently discussed among collectors is how can TCA Revive the hobby.  A suggestion made to Bruce Greenberg several years ago rekindled his excitement and produced the O gauge and Standard Gauge books.  Kids and adults, now-a-days, have cell phones, race cars, video games, electronics, computers, and of course this list can go on and on as to why folks are not as interested in our hobby.  There will always be some reason, some justification, why people are not getting into trains.  

Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel Trains O Gauge, Volume 1: 1915-1928

Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel Standard and 2-7/8″ Gauges, 1901-1940

Let’s look back a couple of years to 2018.  Sarah John  wrote in the Washington Square Newsthat a lack of hobbies can affect your health.  That’s a heavy burden for each of us to carry!  But think about it, what got you started?  We’ve all heard a lot of stories, and we each have our own bend in the track as to what got us going, but we all got going.  Sarah goes on to share that “anything can be worth learning”!  In TedTalk Terry Trespicio says that we need a “reason to get up in the morning … and leave the house”!  While she’s not talking specifically about the hobby that we all love, she is talking about life in general and all that it throws at us.

In the Mirror, June 2018 Astrid Hall says that “Hobbies are dying out as people work more.”  There’s a lot to that.  There are longer work hours, typically less money, and many are very distracted by social media and life in general.  She goes on to make a list of hobbies that are “endangered”.  These include Astrology, Golf, Stamp Collecting, Train Spotting, Quilting, Embroidery, and Building Models.  (Hey now!  I didn’t see Train Collecting in there!)

Three out of four people agree that hobbies bring them together.  It’s something to talk about, and learn about.  I’ve said this for many years and I’ve heard it from others.  Toy Trains puts together so much: science, construction, art and mathematics.  Physics, Electronics, Chemistry, Building layouts, Building trains, Building Houses, Metal working, just to name a few.  It requires thought and higher thinking skills, as well a perseverance!  Many who work with people on a professional level say that we should enjoy the process.  I would say that the atmosphere of TCA is professional!

So where is this all going and what do we do with it?  I could make a list, and I will if you want me to.  10 Best things to bring families together with Toy Trains.  That sounds pretty good, but I know that you can come up with those without my help!  What we need to do is continue moving forward.  There is a time and place for discussion and disagreement, but we need to be ready to take the next step and make something happen.  If you see a problem, see what’s being done about it.  Maybe someone else has already dealt with it.  If not, see if you can “fix” it.  There may be a simple answer that you can come up with.

Reading some of the latest news stories and updates in this edition of the TCA e*Train, or the Train Collectors Quarterly (TCQ), or the National Headquarters News is maybe enough to get your wheels moving!  I continue to be amazed at all that’s going on in and around TCA that folks are involved with. 

Oh yeah, BTW, TCA has been dealing with how to get more interest since 1955!  If you don’t believe me, read through some of the old Newsletters and Quarterlies.  That’s a fun activity in and of itself and you’ll learn something! 


Astrid Hall, June 2018.  Mirror

Sarah John, November 19, 2018.  Washington Square News, The Death of the Hobby is Sadder than We Think.

Terri Trespicio, December 30, 2015. Ted Talk.  Stop Searching For Your Passion.