30 Replies to “Downtown Train”

  1. Great hobby.
    Mr Burns also had an impressive display.
    Milhouse: Cool train! Where does it go?
    Bart: Beats me. But it won’t be back for three hours and forty minutes. Once it had snow on it.

  2. Oh come on peeps!
    One of the great rockers of our time doesn’t even rate a give/a/shit? …Railroad or not?
    How’s bout *Tonight’s The Night* , *The First Cut Is The Deepest* ,*You’re In My Heart* ? Directly responsible for more backseat ‘recreation’ than any gov’t promo schtick prior or since.
    I refuse to discus on the grounds that it may incriminate me.
    But the memories…

  3. Wow ! A whole model city all meticulously made in miniature detail. This is impressive. I knew for a fact that Rod Stewart keeps in shape by playing soccer. But this is a whole new dimension to the man, his art and his passions.

    I saw Rod In concert in 1989 and he put on a wonderful show. He sang all his songs and had the audience participating in the evening. Rod remains to be one of the best showmen in his genre because he loves the crowd. The show is about the song and not at all about any aerobic dancing all over the place. Imho, he is still pretty cool for a 70 somethingish guy.

    Do I think he’s sexy? Why not.
    See what I mean … for yourselves:


    1. 74 is the new 54 … but … only for Rockers who handcraft elaborate train set ups in their hotel rooms … instead of trashing them.

      I was just listening to Peter Gabriel and marveling about how I love his voice which is slightly raspy in a rather high register and just oozes his English accent. Rod’s voice is all that and more! Yet with a Celtic accent.

      1. Rod actually sang about “Downtown Trains”:

        …now we know why.
        He spent years taking pictures of the train systems everywhere he went. Imagine the devotion that took. I wonder whether he and rocker Neil Young ever got together. Neil also loves train sets and has the same hobby. I read years ago that Neil’s love for hobby train sets led him to purchase the Lionel Toy Train Company. According to the web, he has a 20% stake in the company and Guggenheim Partners has an 80% stake.

        Whenever I took a train to my home city after I moved out for good, I enjoyed a cozy roomette overnighter and got to Montreal the next morning, just in time to see that sprawling city before me. It was fascinating. The CN train went at a slower speed so it woke one up, like an alarm clock. The maze of tracks are really something to see beside the tall buildings as one approached Central Station. I had never seen it before via that viewpoint even though I was a downtown gal. You have to leave home to appreciate it. It was very English in those days, and so were the people on the train. The menu in the dining car was elegant and fit for a king, on proper china. The porters always said goodnight. For some reason, they were all polite young men “ov colllyer.” Haven’t been on a train in over 25 years. Perhaps a trip is in order through the Rocky Mountains! They are to die for.

        1. Nancy, thanks for the link. I was never a Rod Stewart fan but I LOVE his version of the Tom Waits classic.

          I don’t know if this story is true but, several years ago, I heard that Rod was talking with Bob Seger, and Bob mentioned he planned to record “Downtown Train.” Rod immediately went out and recorded his own version. When I heard this story, I thought that was a pretty crappy thing to do and I was justified in not liking any of Stewart’s music. When I heard Rod’s “Downtown Train,” I was smitten. Seger eventually released his version but it doesn’t even come close to Stewart’s, IMHO. I have both but I rarely play Seger’s.

          1. O. Kate…You’re welcome. They were all competing with each other for the Boomer’s cash.

            Tom Waits’ version of “Downtown Train” is terrific. I like it too. But, gosh, doesn’t Bruce Springsteen sound just like him? This version was probably made for the MUCH MUSIC Video crowd:


            P.S. What lingerie eh? Yikes!

        2. Cool! Good knowledge.

          Sorry to go slightly off-topic, but whenever I hear Rod Stewart I think Faces/Small Faces … and think of the oh-so-sweet Ronnie Laine who died of MS in 1997. I believe Rod Stewart paid for all his medical support as he fought the disease. And my very favorite Ronnie Laine work is with Pete Townsend on Rough Mix. Something of a “cult” lp favorite.


          We used to love so freely, it’s been so long
          I take my dreams to bed now, where they belong long gone

          1. Kenji.
            Thanks for the Ronnie Laine imput/link.
            The mandolin is a terrific instrument and these guys were a rare breed incorporating it into their music in modern times. Their songs have withstood the test of time!

            I first heard Rod Stewart when my brother came home with the album “Every Picture Tells a Story.” We so loved that album…I think we knew every word of every song. Here is a link to “Mandolin Wind,” a favourite.
            Oh, the memories! This is from the original sound track:


          2. @ 11:52 am O. Kate…
            Great song!
            Those ‘things’ were before my time too, thankfully.

            From Tom Waits’ song …in your link…
            “Just like a bullet leaves a gun, with charcoal eyes and Munroe hips, she went and took that California trip…
            Hold on, hold on, you really got to hold on…”

            I think men of all ages must’ve been facinated with
            ahem… those ‘bullets!’

            Now we’re really off topic! Ha!

  4. Nothing short of spectacular. I’ve seen my fair share of very high end setups, including an installation I personally coordinated for a wealthy employer of mine … in the crawl space (carved into the rock) of his Belvedere Island estate. But OMG … everything here is dead custom designed and historically referenced. This train is wayyyyyy more sexy than Rod … but I’m not “oriented” that way. I could hang out watching this set up run over more single malts than I could/should consume.

    1. Kenji…
      If someone didn’t know better they’d think your first sentence in the above link, “Nothing short of spectacular” was referring to my post at 12:26 pm where I wrote, “I think men of all ages must’ve been facinated with ahem… THOSE bullets.”

      I only just realized how this has turned out and burst out laughing!!!
      Ha ha ha! My screen has spittle on it!

  5. the roundhouse looks nearly the same as a real one I have visited in savannah, ga. they have been spending about ten years restoring locomotives along with rolling stock and passenger cars. they have a working turntable as well…haven’t been in a while, but it’s worth a visit. also smoky mountain rail museum has a gigantic Lionel layout with hundreds of cars…Bryson City NC

    1. Many people actually in the industry set up massive, model vignettes costing literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. This one is the most visually stunning I’ve seen. There was an SP locomotive engineer who lived in Brisbane outside of SF that was a friend of my Dad. His house stepped down the side of the hill and his model railroad stepped down with it. It was remarkable engineering, but not beautiful.

  6. I always enjoyed Rod’s looks more than his music. Fascinating that his hobby is model railroading and to such a degree of authenticity and beauty. As a career rail, he’s wrong about UK versus US rails. Our system is based on freight and is the envy of the world. I hosted rail executives from around the world who came to learn how we did business. UK and EU rail systems are based on passenger service due to the compact nature of their countries. They do that better than the US. Except for poor, stumbling Amtrak, US rail is private commerce and while labeled as rustbelt industry, continues to serve as the foundation of the North American economy, the US, Canada and Mexico. Check the stock prices.
    But as Rod indicated, he’s not into the motive power or rolling stock. He’s into the landscape. So, he’s not really a rail buff.

  7. Just an FYI, Rod Stewart has been on the cover of Model Railroader at least twice. It’s not like he was hiding his hobby.

    I don’t know if it is mentioned in the article, but the thing he really loves if making the buildings.

  8. I was aware of Rod’s hobby for decades. In the few times he played in Halifax he spent hours at Maritime Hobbies chatting about trains with the owners (after hours) and fondling kits and trains like all hobbies (he had blondes to practice on I should think). Seriously, he is just a regular enthusiast though with an unlimited budget and one of the nicest and normal people you could meet.

    BTW, Herman Goering had a fabulous layout at his Karinhalle east of Berlin. I wonder where that ended up?