Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Play Room Problems: Wooden Train Storage

My husband and I were putting our heads together to try to organize our mound of wooden trains. Sometimes I wish I never opened the door to the Thomas the Tank Engine flood gates. The original books are wonderful, but the marketing based TV shows will end you and your dear ones in a hemp of trains. Putting the "collection" factor aside, all of my children have really enjoyed watching, reading and playing Thomas. It all started when my daughter was 2 and received a train table for Christmas. Well, 7 years and two boys later, we have quite the Thomas the Tank Engine exhibition.

The play room problem here is the boys dump the container of wooden trains or take all the trains and leave them covering the train table. Being store in a container in the train table, the trains are nicked and scratched from being all jumbled together. These problems can be prevented if each train has it's own visible spot. Here are some solutions:

  • Train Rack from Train Rack Store ~ They sell a few different size racks ranging from $19.97 to $49.97. The rack pictured here is $39.97 and fits about 30 trains. The racks are perfect, but at 60 trains and counting - Yikes! That would be about $80 bucks. Even with the free shipping, it is just too much for us to spend on train storage. Since I found this merchant by googling, you may like to know that besides his website, you can buy his racks on Ebay too.
  • Rain Gutters ~ This idea was originally for books, but I am thinking it might work for trains. It does not look as nice as the Train Rack, but whole lot cheaper. Check out how to make it here at Family Fun. We are definably going to use this idea in the book nook, but for books :-) However, it would be more permanent than the Train Rack.
  • Ledge ~ Another idea is to attach wooden track to a wooden ledge or chair rail with a flat top, then attach it to the wall. To keep cost down, we could buy the track from IKEA or any other non Thomas brand of wooden tracks. This would be more work and cost than the gutters, but it might look nicer. Also, it too would be more permanent than the Train Rack.
  • Draw Dividers ~ I am wondering if I can make draw dividers work with our existing bins in the train table (our train table came with 4 bins) or with pull out plastic drawers, which have the added benefit of keeping the trains dust free.
I will have to keep my eyes peeled for other solutions. Maybe I will wander over to the Container Store, it is a haven for type A personalities like myself. Please post your own train storage ideas.

Perhaps I can persuade the boys to ask for Train Racks for their birthday presents instead of more trains.


  1. Since we have girls, there isn't a single train in this house :), but it looks like that train rack would be really easy to build. Just a thought!

  2. One more thought - perhaps a wall mountable spice rack would serve the same purpose...?

  3. I was just thinking a spice rack might work. IKEA has an acrylic on for $5.99 (RATIONELL VARIERA) or a birch wood rack for $3.99 (BEKVAM). However, they probably hold 3 or 4 trains the most. I would need 20 spice racks!

    Ed thought it would not be too hard to make one too. He has a friend that does woodworking. Maybe he could help him build one or at least use his tools.

  4. Here is another idea:

    Those organizational clear plastic drawer units for organizing hardware. It would keep them dust free and could be screwed into the wall. Would be less $$ than the racks, but not so pretty. Plus I don't think the boys would put them back or be able to find their trains as easily.

  5. Well, if you decide not to put it on the wall, IKEA is clearancing out these wooden bins (antique wood color and white)that slide under cribs/toddler bins for storage. It's regularly 49.99 to 59.99 and down to 9.99. We got two for under Elaina's bed and one for the baby's bed. The one under the baby's bed will have his trains in it and it is on wheels... so when he gets to the age of setting them up he can leave it and roll it away. Don't know if that will work for your play room though unless you have a long table or bench. It's about the size of a crib mattress- only wooden and on wheels.

    ~michelle francisco

  6. Problem solved: Bought 4 silverware organizers for $1 from Target. The trains fit on their sides perfectly and the organizer fits just right into the 4 bins built into the train table.

  7. Ah thank you!!! We were faced with the same dilemma, but you've given some great ideas :-D

  8. Ah thank you!!! We were faced with the same dilemma. I love the idea of gluing the tracks to the shelf!

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