Big things with little cars

Every good custom has a story. And this one is no different. So in the early morning hours of this Christmas day, I’d like to share with you all the story behind my most recent custom.

My grandfather is a very special person in my life. He is one of the nicest and most generous and caring individuals I have ever known. He has always put others before himself and always made sure his family was cared for. Whether it was helping my cousin pay his way through school when his own father wouldn’t, or passing along his trusty old Crown Victoria to me so that my wife and I could have a second car and make our lives much easier with getting the kids to school and us to work. Whether it was helping me through some rough times with my parents, or just being there to tell some awesome stories of the things he’s seen and done in his life. I have always looked up to him and aspired to be like him in my adult life.

Throughout his life, my grandfather never really had the time for hobbies. He worked for quite a long time as a minister and Presbytery Executive. What time wasn’t spent teaching Sunday School classes or writing sermons or visiting with church members, was spent relaxing at home with his family, or traveling the country/world with my grandmother when she was still with us. The one hobby he did enjoy when he had the time though was model trains. Trains have been apart of my life since birth thanks to my him. Every time I would go over to my grandparent’s house, I would beg my grandfather to get out the trains, and we would go set them up in the den or on the dining room table and just watch them run for hours. Or we would spend time looking through his many train photography coffee-table books, learning about all the old and now defunct rail lines that helped build our nation.


So it’s no surprise that train stuff is a kind of go to gift for my grandfather for father’s day or his birthday or Christmas. But he has any and every train thing he could possibly need or want. There’s nothing out there that’s really that special that wouldn’t be just buying him another generic thing just because it had a train on it. That was until fate made me come across the Matchbox Heavy Railer: generic looking train locomotive.

Pic of how it looked originally via Grana Toys

What you see here started life as a second release Matchbox Heavy Railer, the blue/yellow/silver version. I found it while doing some Christmas shopping a few days ago and instantly thought of my grandfather. I picked it up thinking it be a nice little Christmas thing for him, but obviously not anything special. That was, until I got home and went out to the workbench. I’ve been working on some customs lately and had a few cans of spray paint still sitting there. I set the Heavy Railer down along with a few other HW and MBX I picked up. Some mystical magical connection happened in my mind and BAM. The inspiration hit me like a freight train! (pun intended).

You see, my grandfather grew up in the “suburbs” of Orlando, FL in ‘30s/’40s. The local railway, the now defunct Atlantic Coast Line, ran near his house, and is what started his love of trains. Atlantic Coast Line’s colors are a very distinctive purple and silver combination. On my workbench, I just so happened to have a purple spray can that looked oddly similar to the purple used by Atlantic Coast Line. I knew what I had to do with that engine.

Picture via Google Image Search.

The custom was all done today/yesterday (I still haven’t gone to bed yet, obviously). Because of the rush, this didn’t turn out quite as clean as I had hoped, but I’m still damn proud of it.


I know it’s not perfect, and it’s not as realistically detailed as I would’ve like it to have been, but I know my grandfather’s going to love it. And I can’t wait until he gets to open it tomorrow today.


So that’s it from me tonight. It’s definitely time for bed as Santa Claus has come and done his thing at my house. The cookies have been eaten, so now it’s time for bed. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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