Large Scale Central

Granddaughter Train Cars

Once a year, my eldest daughter, hubby, and their 3 daughters, come and visit from far northern Canada. They don’t get many trains out in the frozen tundra, so I’m grateful that they enjoyed the DC trolley museum last weekend. Not everyone is in the shot, but my son (yellow shirt) and his wife and their son were there, and others of our little clan.

This weekend we’ll all take a 3 hour train ride from New Freedom PA on the Northern Central.

In between these outings, I had an idea for a craft project, in several steps:

  1. Decide on which 4-wheel Hartland car (flat or bucket) to decorate, and its base color (I’d spray)
    (that was yesterday; and only 1 GD wanted base color spraying – gold & silver)

  2. Assembly (they did a team build)

  3. Decorate the car (this afternoon)
    (They’re getting into it! Here’s a progress shot or two of Phase 3:)

  1. Build and decorate a load (tomorrow)

  2. Run a train (Saturday?)
    (I’ll probably use a Shay from Bruce, since it’s the only battery loco I have, has a remote they can use, and I don’t have to clean the track, yay! :grin:)

Sunday is the ride on the NCRR, so they’ll have had their fill of train stuff!



Ah! A whole new train clan to follow. O.G.D., Y.G.D., M.G.D., and G.P.C. leading the way. Family is always a good thing Changed as needed.

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With 3 G.D., I think you have O.G.D, M.G.D and Y.G.D ? I did like the G.P.C.

Quick we need to intervene with Cliff. That’s the messiest I’ve seen his workshop table. Quick, we need to stage a rescue operation to restore the workshop to its prestigious calling. :joy::roll_eyes:

My bad guess I’ll need to add CR to my avatar :innocent: :sunglasses:

Craig, false alarm; that’s how it usually looks!
I’m just careful about when photos are taken…
:grin: :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It’s all lies, lies I tell you. Round up the possey, Cliff’s been taken prisoner by the “grandkids”…


The girls got me watching one of their favorite YouTube channels, “Jelle’s Marble Runs.” It’s all track-related, so I thought I’d share. I tell ya, it’s mesmerizing, with an astounding about of detail… Once you get past the opening ceremonies…

Devon, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this as much as me…

Jelle’s marble runs ? That is crazy and looks like fun. I can see why the girls like it.

Have you heard of Gravitrax? It is a stem toy for all ages where you design and build marble runs. I bought my Niece a set a few Christmas’s back and we had so much fun setting up tracks that I bought my own set and then some plus I have 3D printed some custom pieces. I have a dozen or so videos I call “Gravitrax Gravy” on youtube featuring my crazy builds and one includes the marbles zipping over, under and through a train. At the end the train takes off and wipes out the marble run.

Todd, that’s amazing!!
Thanks for sharing that! I’m not sure if I’ll share it with the GD’s yet… You’ve set a high bar that I don’t see is easy to meet in a short timeframe, but wow, wonderful!!

[edit] You have, what, $1k into that Gravitrax gear? Recent grandpa’s are curious.

Thanks Cliff. Gravitrax is fun to tinker with and it can be a challenge sometimes to get those marbles from point A to point B and put as much stuff as possible in between. I have always waited for sales and clearances to buy the sets. I think I have 4 in total with maybe a dozen add on pieces. I’d say I have about $500 into it. Watch on Amazon for sales, they usually come in time for Christmas and can be as much as 50% off. There are also many free files available for 3D printing extra pieces.
Gravitrax says it is for ages 8 to 99. I think it is a great learning toy.

The cars & loads are finished. They said it was a sort of “day of the dead” train. That’s a fox skull in the rear.

We ran them around on my indoor test loop, which the girls enjoyed operating.

Then we took the cars out to run on the layout.

The GD’s seem to enjoy it all, yay!


Our daughter (their mom) Rebecca took some vids of the day, so here’s a compilation ending with a ride around 2/3 of the layout.

Yes, the track is a mess…!!


thanks to your granddaughters to cause the making of this video.


Today was the wrapup of our railroady weekend, with the troops heading out from near Columbia MD to New Freedom, PA, for a 4-hour train ride aboard the historic Northern Central RR.

Very scenic route through the woods, along a winding river, and through a few small but interesting towns. There was a modest museum at the New Freedom depot, and one at the Hanover Junction depot, both buildings being historic in their own right. The line is one of the oldest in the US, and Abe Lincoln used it to go to Gettysburg for his address, and later – in his coffin – to go to Illinois.

I think it was a great deal. $68 per adult (less for kids), which included a box lunch, water and snacks. Adult beverages were available for extra.

And the kids seemed to like the experience. Long; but no meltdowns. Going CW starting from upper left: OD, MD, OGD, MGD.

At the Howard Tunnel, left to right: GS, OGD, DIL, S, MGD & W (admiring the moss).

YD & 2 SIL’s were MIA, but otherwise all in our fam were present and accounted for on this final episode of our railroady weekends.


The boys were impressed by the layout AND by the fact that they were not the only young people engaged in the hobby!


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Eric, that’s great to hear, thanks!!

Daughter Rebecca put together this video of the fam’s trip on the NCR last Sunday.

One last post, this about our last train run on the layout.

For this special event, I decided on a minimalist method of explaining to my granddaughters where to point the remote (this is DCC, so toward the central antenna and not the loco), and mentioning its speed knob and direction button. Then I handed the remote over.

All went fine, they figured it out.

I was thrilled that they engaged the thing at all, in spite of the fact that they’d never experienced trains much before their visit here. They don’t have many trains in the far north arctic areas of Nunavut, Canada, where they live.

However, I think I need to make more defined pathways to walk upon… I was cringing at certain points!!


It’s in their DNA. Two years ago my grandchildren (6 and 8 then) were here to visit. They had to work by clearing the overgrown sedums from the right of way, but then got their own train and remote. They had a blast on my point-to point running back and forth for hours! Here they are finishing the MOW work…