Posted by Jessica Petersen on Feb 12, 2013
I had a question over on the Play Trains! Facebook page as to how we store our trains. I had taken a few photos of our system a while back, intending to eventually post them, but this gave me the nudge I needed to take a couple more pictures get this up.
By far, my favorite way to store our trains and track is with drawer organizers. We use two different types from Ikea, one for track and one for trains. When we want them out of sight and out of the way, these slide right under our couch, armchair, and the Little Engineer’s dresser.
For track, we have the Skubb box with compartments. The different compartments are very conveniently sized for the standard track pieces. Small curved and straight tracks fit in the small compartments; large curved and straight tracks (and sets of two four-inch straight tracks connected together) fit snugly in the larger compartments. Aside from unusually long straight tracks, the only thing that doesn’t fit particularly well are the ascending tracks, but we make it work.
Even when we’re just going to put the tracks back together again in a new configuration, I like to organize them anyway. It makes life so much easier when you can find a certain track, or see how many male-male adapter pieces you have left. In one of the organizers, I devote one small compartment each to two-inch (or smaller) straight tracks, m-m or f-f adapters, buffers/ramps/things that end tracks, and Suretrack clips, and that helps so much.
The other reason to organize the tracks between layouts is that it’s a good habit to get the Little Engineer into. He likes it, and proudly announces that he’s organizing trains or track when he joins in. We sing railroad songs while we work, like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and a made-up one that goes something like, “We’re certain we’re sortin’, we’re certain we’re sortin’, we’re certain we’re sorting our track! We’re certain we’re sortin’, we’re certain we’re sortin’, we’re certain we’re sorting our track!”
For the engines and cars, we use the Kusiner box with compartments, found in the children’s department at Ikea. It has a lower profile than the other organizer, just a bit taller than the trains themselves, and the compartments are just the right size.
No pictures of these, but we also have a few Glis boxes for organizing accessories — signs, trees, people, animals, and freight — and black Dröna boxes hidden in our unused fire place for larger pieces like stations, mountains, and bridges.
One other option we sometimes employ are these plastic craft project boxes. We picked up a set of five at Costco last year. They have them again this year, only from a different company with what looks like better latches to keep them shut, something we’ve had a problem with.
The lid is nice when we’re taking a bunch of track and trains with us when we visit one set or the other of the Little Engineer’s grandparents. The boxes are just the right height for the trains, so with the lid down it keeps them from being jostled too much.
We don’t use this for trains at home, though, because the lid gets in the way of the Little Engineer getting at the trains. But we do keep things like the Melissa and Doug Farm Blocks in them, to pull out when we want to have a farm in the layout.
Another option that we don’t have is a wooden train shelf. We don’t have one yet, but they would certainly look great in the Little Engineer’s room. I wonder, however, how often the trains would actually be on the shelves.