Shultz lays next to a train set display in the backyard of his home in
Cardiff on Monday, November 5 ,2012.(Photo by Sandy Huffaker)
Three years ago, Cardiff resident Bob Shultz went on a hunt for an old toy train for his newborn grandson.
wanted something fun and not nearly as valuable as the only train he
owned — a 1950s-era, high-end Lionel that his father bought him as a
boy. So he placed a classified advertisement asking people to dig
through their closets and garages looking for dusty old trains they
didn’t want any more.
“Buying trains,” his ad announcement declared, and people were eager to sell.
the 67-year-old retired real estate agent had dozens, then hundreds.
Three years later, he has a “real massive collection” — about 1,000.
become a train seller, exchanger and donor. He’s now active in a
regional toy train club and spends every Friday volunteering with a crew
of train enthusiasts who are building an outdoor train layout in an
has stuffed his garage, his shed and his office with trains. He’s
created a train repair workshop where tiny drawers stuffed with
miniature train horns, bells and fuses beg to be opened. He’s built a
circus train layout in his small backyard for his grandson, Rollins
Fisher of La Mesa, and the neighborhood kids to enjoy.
And he has already inspired at least one boy to become a train addict.
Melemed, a 5-year-old from Carlsbad, received his first free train from
Shultz months ago. Now, he owns 10 to 15, his dad reports, and the
family spends weekends visiting the San Diego Model Railroad Museum and
the train display at Vista’s Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum.
going to be like Bob — he has them displayed everywhere,” dad Jeff
Melemed said, adding that when he takes his son to the Vista museum, he
has to stay for hours.
specializes in the large pre-World War 11 metal toy trains, but he also
accepts the plastic versions from the 1940s to the late 1960s. He loves
the toy trains because they make sounds, flash their lights and even
have slots where real steam pours out.
He used to collect seashells, but “they don’t move, they don’t talk, they don’t buzz,” he said.
him a moderately addicted train guy, said Bob Wall, one of the leaders
in San Diego’s All Gauge Toy Train Association. The association, which
puts on an annual display during the county fair in Del Mar, meets from 2
to 8 p.m. every second Tuesday at Torrey Pines Christian Church, 8320
La Jolla Scenic Drive.
a University City resident who’s been collecting trains for 35 years,
just returned from a three-day train convention where he met a guy who
had 10,000 trains in his home. He himself admits to owning “somewhere
between” 1,000 and 10,000.