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Paperback Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale Book

ISBN: 0812971264

ISBN13: 9780812971262

Playing with Trains: A Passion Beyond Scale

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Why do grown men play with trains? Is it a primal attachment to childhood, nostalgia for the lost age of rail travel, or the stuff of flat-out obsession? In this delightful and unprecedented book, Grand Prix legend Sam Posey tracks those who share his "passion beyond scale" and discovers a wonderfully strange and vital culture. Posey's first layout, wired by his mother in the years just after the Second World War, was, as he writes in his Introduction,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Anyone who loves trains will connect with Sam Posey's book!

Anyone who, as a child, stood on a station platform or by a grade crossing and felt that flush of anticipation that overcame the twinge of fear at the approach of a thundering, hissing locomotive and trailing cars will instantly connect with Sam Posey's passion that goes beyond scale. I grew up in a railroad familiy and I've loved trains all my life. After almost 60 years I'm finally in a situation where I can pursue the same inexplicable passion that drove Mr. Posey to recreate the Colorado Midland. This book is a song to the heart of anyone who shares that same undefinable connection to trains and railroading. And, perhaps it's eloquent prose will open the door of understanding just a bit for friends and family who don't share, but patiently (and lovingly) tolerate our passion for the sound of steel wheels on steel rails, the mixed smells of lubricating grease and coal smoke, and the sight of big machines tackling bigger terrain. In a larger sense, Mr. Posey has given all of us some insight into how a love of any pursuit only for its' own sake can take hold of a person and provide them a personal lens through which to see and enjoy the experience of life. A "must read"... even if you're only wondering why it is that a certain population of grown men (and women) love to play with trains.

Where we return

This book really captures the spirit of an activity and frame of mind so many of us return to. Model railroading, and the love of trains in general, is something that many of us pick up as a child and then abandon until we get older. After the mid-life crisis are finished, we finally have the time and hopefully the money to enjoy some of the things from our youth. I for one am planning my layout now! Maybe that is one of the reasons I picked up this book. Wherever you are in yor journey, I highly recommend Playing With Trains. It is an enjoyable read with some excellent insite.

Playing With Trains

The railfan's equivalant of Fly Fishing through the Mid Life Crisis. It is a treasure of memories and commentary.

Splendid, intelligent, and a lot of fun too.

This book is a gem and a page-turner. It is a lot of fun but it is also deep, a masterpiece in fact. When a child takes off in an airplane for the first time, he may react very strongly to the optical illusion, as the plane climbs out, that houses, trees, cars, and people are shinking into miniatures. At first the child may be made uneasy by this shrinkage but, with the pro forma voice of adult reassurance (no, they are not really shinking, we are just moving further away) the illusion of tiny houses, barns, trees, people -- whole cities in miniature -- becomes a source of quickening delight. This is why people love scale models. A big part of what the brain does, all day every day, its main job perhaps, is to judge size and scale. A human brain moving though the world constantly seeks clues, references, that will tell it whether an object, a tree or a building, say, is 1) tiny or 2) far away. The size of a building can be quickly determined -- the eye counts the number of stories. But a tree -- mature trees of every size, from five feet tall to a hundred feet tall -- may have identically the same shape and structure. To help the brain judge a tree's size and distance, the eye hunts for a size reference of some kind, maybe a woman or a dog standing under the tree. If it finds there instead, under the tree, a huge package of cigarettes, or a huge human hand -- signaling that the tree is in fact tiny -- the brain laughs out loud. It delights in miniatures: exact scale models. And the brain is repelled by departures from perfect scale. Lionel trains of the 1950s, for example, were supplied with a non-scale track -- three rails instead of two. This bothered a lot of people, me included, and that noxious third rail is a leitmotif in this book. Whole railroads have been built, it seems, to undo the damage done by that third rail to the perfect illusion of scale. If you put time into the scale equation, as you approach or draw away from an object, then the game of guessing the size of a distant object becomes a key to assessing speed and distance. The faster you drive, the more important the question of scale becomes to your survival. Adding in the axis of time also gets you into the problem of history -- personal history, railroad history. It seems especially apt that Sam Posey, an artist and a Ferrari racer (he won Sebring) would be fascinated by the concept of scale. In this book he weaves the basic human delight with, and fixation upon, the problem of time, speed, size and distance into a wonderfully elaborate and personal story of scale modeling in the "real" world; it is really a very sophisticated book, in which time and space become playthings, taffy to pull, and history collapses into the present moment. It is also a great narrative about his life, and about how he built his scale model railroad. There are really two books here. Part I is literature, a self contained essay about Posey and his railroad. Part I

When I finished the book, I wished there was more.

Sam Posey's writing style has been described as articulate. I would call it both articulate and captivating. It is hard to put the book down, you want to keep reading. When I finished it, I was disappointed to have reached the end, I wanted more. The reader is immediately drawn into a fascinating world that melds realism and imagination in a unique and inviting way. It is not really about toys or the trains themselves, as much as it is about the effect they have on those who venture into the hobby. Sam describes a train's disappearance into a mountain tunnel as adding dimensions of mystery and anticipation to the layout. And, in many ways, that describes the essence of the book itself. It seems inevitable that this book will become a catalyst for new model train layouts of various sizes and complexity being constructed in basements across America. Even for those who really have no interest in trains, this book is enjoyable, intriguing and great fun to read.
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