By Don Fries
Inspired by Jere Pugh efforts noted in the December 2001 issue
of Classic Toy Trains, my friend and I discussed doing the same
at our local hospital. After meeting with the appropriate hospital
staff, it was decided that a 2 ½ by 5-foot table would
be a good size.
Because of the number of children’s beds, it was also agreed
that the layout would permanently stay in the pediatric wing.
It is located in the main hallway near the nurse’s station.
Both Tom Smith (wearing cap) and myself are volunteers at the
hospital. Our weekly services give us a chance to check on the
operation of the layout. Four months and still going. The nurses
comment frequently how the children enjoy the layout and how adults
cannot walk by without running the train too.
We started out with a diesel switcher and few freight cars with
4 wheel trucks. This kept the nurses busy putting the cars and
wheels back on the track. We came across a plastic Marx freight
set where the diesel and freight cars have only 4 wheels each.
This was a good move.
We added building and vehicles to increase the play value. Shown
in the picture is a young patient operating the crossing gate
push button. We kept it simple with one switch for “on-off”
and another switch for “slow-fast”. The crossing gate
is the only operating accessory and the train depot is illuminated.
Laminated signs on the tabletop give basic instructions.
The local newspaper ran an article on the train layout. An additional
benefit of the newspaper article was the community PR to encourage
others to join the volunteer ranks at the hospital.