A tale of two Mikes
By Warren Cameron and Charles Page
I was aged 13 and had built a modest HO layout under the family home located in Fairfield/ Brisbane. I guessed my dad thought he needed to provide me with a significant incentive to obtain a good mark in the year 8 exam (then known as scholarship). As an incentive he offered to buy a Brass Steam Locomotive if I obtained a good marks in the exams. I cannot remember the mark I needed to reach, but I do remember my favourite locomotive was a Tenshodo Great Northern 2 8 2 Mikado.
At about that time one of my teachers FR John McGlone was going to the USA and returning via New York. He offered to purchase the loco. from America’s Hobby Centre in New York in March 1960
Of course this model was my pride and joy.
However the normal life cycle took its course:
- Finishing College
- Parents selling the family home – which included my layout
- Joining a rock band
- Meeting Madeleine and getting married.
Although I always retained a dormant interest in model railroading, it was not until early 2014 when I came across the loco. and tender together with about 10 freight cars put away in a cupboard where they had languished for 45 years. They were still in their original boxes and upon initial inspection found both units had been slightly damaged by the deterioration of the foam.
During the course of the past few years I have met a number of dedicated and very helpful model railroaders, particularly through the N.M.R.A., who have been very willing to offer advice and assistance. Especially Bob Cuffe, who returned the loco to good running order, including the installation of a can motor making it ready for DCC. Charles Page took me through the installation process of a Tsunami 2 Sound Decoder. A big learning curve and fortunately Charles was able to resurrect the unit after my initial attempt.
A very pleasing outcome for a model purchased 57 years ago.
I’ve previously written about Frank’s layout, which was the first model railroad I’d ever seen and also my subsequent involvement with it during my teenage years.
One morning in the summer holidays of 1960 I rode my bike over to Frank’s place because he was on holidays, as of course was my school friend David. I’d spent so much time there that I could simply enter through the back door with a ‘good morning’ to announce my arrival.
The two of them were sitting at the kitchen table obviously fixated by something on the table. As I got closer I realised that amongst the salt and peppershakers and the sugar bowl was a model of a steam locomotive, but it was very different to anything I’d seen before, far removed from my Tri-ang train set.
It had arrived from Japan that morning, a Tenshodo factory painted Great Northern 08 Mikado. Now there were three people sitting fixated on it, it looked stunning as the morning sun was catching the jewelled marker lights and they seemed so real. It was the first brass locomotive I had ever seen close-up and of course I wanted one. However my Tri-ang budget i.e. pocket money and selling rolled up newspapers to the fish and chip shop would never stretch to a model like this and it would be a long time before I could ever afford one. We subsequently sat admiring it and talking about it through numerous cups of tea.
I never did own one and never saw one again after I moved away from Frank’s layout, but the impact it had still resonates. I do have 2-8-2s but they are Pennsylvania ones.
Fellow member Warren Cameron recently mentioned that he had a brass locomotive that his father had given him and he would like to install a sound decoder in it. So I offered to have a look at it to see what would be involved. He subsequently brought it over and of course it was a Tenshodo GN 08. With some help from me Warren installed and programmed a Tsunami 2. This was the first time that I’ve had a chance to evaluate the Tsunami 2. Even with an expanded range of functions now installed in the one package the two is considerably smaller than its predecessor, but it is also more complex to work with. However it does have so much more to offer once you get your head around it.
So after almost 60 years an 08 re-entered my life and ran on my layout; it really did bring back some wonderful memories. As I write this it’s sitting on the ready track in front of the coaling tower waiting for its owner to test run it and take it home. There is something very comforting about being able to look at it: even the marker lights still twinkle.
The intriguing aspect to this story is that we have two people in different parts of the country that early in 1960 had an encounter with the same model at almost the same time.
Mine was fairly brief but impressionable, while Warren’s connection with the O8 has continued throughout his life.
Charles J. Page