Customer guest Interview: David Kaplan

I thought it would be fun to let somebody tell their story about their love of this fun hobby, and a bit about collecting as well. We each have our story and path that keeps us very content and satisfied as railroad modelers.

I asked long-time customer and friend David Kaplan to share some of his story and I share it with you now. David sent in this great video of some Lowell Smith Signature Series trains on his railroad, which gave me this idea.  Now, please enjoy David’s story and reflect on your own!

How long have you been a rail fan and what is your favorite memory of the hobby?

I have been a railfan since receiving my first train set for Christmas when I was a young child. Over the years, my interest has grown, taking a brief hiatus when I was in college. My interest was renewed shortly after getting married. Fortunately for me, my wife and children (now grown) have been great supporters of my interest over the years. As for my favorite memory, there have been so many, however the one that stands out most is my son Jason and I participating in the California Zephyr private rail car charter that Lowell organized in the summer of 2013.

Would you consider yourself a model railroader? If so, how long have you been modeling?

I do consider myself to be a model railroader and have modeled on and off for many years. I have built small and large layouts (none of which were ever completed) as well as an N-Trak module. My modeling skills are limited, however I enjoy watching and learning what I can from others.

Why did you choose to model in N scale?

I started with Lionel as a young child and moved to HO scale as a teenager. My interest in N scale began when I was introduced to Micro-Trains N scale freight cars in the early 1980’s. These cars were state of the art at the time. It was the combination of this quality, the size advantages of N scale and exposure to N-Trak that convinced me that N scale was the way to go. I have not looked back since.

The layout in your video is stunning. Tell us about the process it has taken you to get it to this point? What kind of time?

Thanks for the kind words. The layout is essentially a folded dog bone that loops over itself. It is in a room that is 8’ by 18’. I have been working on it for about 7 years, though progress has been very slow due to other priorities, like work! The city scene that you see in the video is the only part of the layout that has scenery, and only partially so. I have learned a great deal in building this layout and am already planning the next one in which I will correct the many mistakes that I made with this one, the most important being accessibility to all areas of the layout. Of course, other mistakes will be made.

Do you remember what your first Lowell Smith Signature Series car was?

I do. I believe that it was the BMRE Gold Spike Boxcar from 1994.

Why did you choose to feature the Freedom Train in this video? Is it your favorite?

I can’t say that the AFT is my favorite because I like all of the series. I thought the AFT video would be a good one to do because the train is now long enough to make the video interesting. Having seen the real train in my hometown in 1976, the model certainly brings back some very fond memories. I have also done a video for the SP&S passenger train, quite a deviation for someone who grew up in suburban New Jersey and has been a lifelong Erie Lackawanna fan!

What other Lowell Smith lines are you a fan of?

As noted in question 6, I like all of the series. They are unique, high quality, creative and limited! As I have said before, I commend you for your commitment to these series. Who would have ever thought that the Great American Circus would be a 28 car, and counting, train!

Any other comments to share with our readers?

Only that I hope that those who have already been collecting your cars will continue to do so, and that others who have not yet done so will join in. There is always something new and unique to look forward to throughout the year! Keep up the great work!

Lowell Smith

A native of Portland, Oregon, Lowell Smith married his church choir sweetheart Barb in 1978. After a lifetime of rail-fanning, Lowell and Barb ventured out in 1992 to launch a new business in Portland, Oregon. Read more

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Ferdinand Magellan is great! This really fits your mission of offering significant cars that otherwise wouldn’t be produced. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest


Nothing better than receiving that white box from Lowell Smith. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

Joe W.

And as for your goal of 5 releases a year, I admire your ambition, but I won’t hold it against you if you fall short on that accomplishment.  I’m just thrilled you’re doing such an AWESOME job of releasing this amazing train, and hope you don’t stop until it’s all done! Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

R. K.

You are in my book one of the very best. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

Rick S.

Every new release from your Signature Series gets me revved up for the rails. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

S. S.

I got my new Santa Fe business cars, they are superb and worth the wait ten times over. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

K. Lyons

Thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you do for the modeling community. I can honestly say that my enjoyment of the hobby has benefited greatly because of you. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

M. Magliaro

I received my #99 business card in the mail today. It looks superb. Thank you for another wonderful job. You are really filling a niche. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

Gordon and Dorothy

I have never been treated as graciously and in a manner more suited to a VIP in my life, as I was on our train trip.  It’s obvious how you’ve made your life a success story.  Looking around the train and seeing your friends I’m pretty sure they  were all made to feel very special by you, and your…

J. Arenas

Wow… You made my dream come true with the CK Holiday! I am a great admirer of your work. Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest