Meet James Royal
How did you get started in the hobby?
I got started with my Dad back in the 1950s. He had a modular Lionel O scale layout in our attic with a Santa Fe Super Chief AB set with freight cars that was about 8 x 24 feet and included several operating accessories such as the milk can platform.
I started in HO scale in 1960 with a 4 x 8 plywood layout in our garage which grew to about 8 x 16. I built several other HO layouts over the years, including one for my two boys for Christmas in 1979.
What was your first large scale locomotive?
In 1996 I attended the Orlando National Garden Railway Convention. One of the dealers had the Bachmann Big Hauler battery powered sets for $99.00. I bought two of them with the intention of building an outdoor layout.
What’s your favorite part of the hobby?
My favorite part of the hobby is building different structures from garage and thrift store finds or to scratchbuild them from materials I find in the craft and big box lumber stores.
Read structure projects by the author:
What’s your least favorite part?
My least favorite part of the hobby is probably building an outdoor layout now. I haven’t had one in at least 10 years and my aches and pains from age makes another layout iffy. I still enjoy seeing what others have done, hence my attendance at the national conventions.
What has been your biggest modeling success?
My biggest modeling success has been involving my grandchildren in the hobby. Today’s youth have phones and iPads they would rather use than sit down and create something from materials. My grandson and I recently entered models in this year’s National Garden Railway Convention. He’s already asking me if we’ll enter again next year.
What was your biggest modeling mistake?
I can’t think of a biggest modeling mistake unless it is impulse buying without keeping with the 1950s theme of my modeling. For instance, I recently bought this play house made from “shipping containers” from a thrift store for $3. I don’t see how I can use it on my railway, since shipping containers weren’t used in the 1950s. I’ll find a way to use the pieces in other projects or give it away.
What advice would you give to a new hobbyist?
Take advantage of sites such as Trains.com and the online forums to see what everyone else is doing. That will keep your interests alive in the hobby and give you a ton of information and ideas to use.