Trains, planes and canoes! Canoes???

My partner and I were invited to a New Year's reception in Bethesda today. That is but a short drive from our humble abode and we arrived at the appointed hour, being met by the lady of the house. Originally we all had met at a classical concert at the Strathmore Music Hall in Bethesda some time ago, at which time she obliquely mentioned something about having model trains in her basement. Of course my ears perked up and an "oh wow, neat!" must have escaped my lips. Hence the invite for today.

The lady in question is a lovely, spry, elderly person whose husband unfortunately had died some twenty years ago. It appears that the husband found a calling in model railroading and began to amass an incredible number of model railway related items, before passing away.

We were shown into the basement and it was a site to behold. It appears that nothing has been touched for some time. It seems that somebody just went out for lunch, with the intention of coming back to continue the job:

Will it be finished?

There are two lay outs are in the middle of the room: one in HO scale (1 to 87 ratio) and the other one in Z scale (1 to 220 ratio)

Same Model Train Engine Class 260, on the right is the HO size model, on the left is the Z scale model. Both are from Märklin.

They are not in the best of shape, but with a little work they could easily be made to run again. 

One entire wall is floor to ceiling with unopened boxes of track, signals, rolling stock and locomotives. There are oodles of boxes of HO building sets, some 30 or 40 years old. A few of the companies, whose boxes are on those shelves, have long gone out of business. I have seen less inventory in a model train store!

One wall full of model train stuff

Fine Scale Miniatures has been out of business for a long time!

Most of the train rolling stock, as well as the track and signals, are by Märklin. This is interesting because all this stuff is not compatible with the HO scale lay out in the room. That happens to be standard two rail DC. Märklin of course is three rail AC with the center rail being the power supply. 

Märklin AC Track with Center Power Contacts instead of a Rail

Standard DC HO Track, no center power contacts (Peco)

Märklin did however come up with Z scale. That is a DC system with no center power rail. There was a lot of Z scale stuff lined up against the basement wall.

A lot of the Märklin stuff is Z scale.

 Two photos of details of the Z scale lay out 

Perhaps there was an idea of converting the whole railroad empire to Z scale. Whatever the case, I was just in awe. What a fascinating place. Our host seems to have collected a lot of esoteric things, displaying them throughout her house. How about having a full size dug out canoe in your collection:

Hmmm...

I think I'll draw the line at that!