The buzzing of electricity and clicking of trains on their tracks filled Marcus Christ Hall this past weekend along a 28x20 foot display, assembled by an eight-member team for the annual model train show. Adults and children alike were touched by nostalgia and wonder as trains, some up to 10 feet long, ran around the track filling up most of the room.
The event was sponsored by the Model Railroading Museum and organized by museum president Frank Blennau, a life-long fan of model railroading.
“I started when I was about 12,” he said with a grin, recalling how playing with a train set took up a good part of his childhood room. “I shared the room with my brother, about a 10x10 room. I had a 4x8 next to my bed with maybe a dozen switches," he said.
The museum originally began as a club but evolved into a museum in 2000. The group has been holding shows with HOTrack, a Long Island based model railroading group that does shows throughout the tri-state area, for about 10 or 12 years.
“It was a childhood passion that I never grew out of,” said Dennis Gander, the museum vice-president who helps coordinate the different events. “It was easy for me, I never stopped playing with trains.”
The group holds about 10 shows a year and has gone as far as Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It takes about two hours to set up a display and the locomotives are run by computer chip.
“Each locomotive has a computer chip for speed, direction, sound, lights, and the different things the trains do,” Gander said. “We could control the layout by computer if we wanted to…but that would be no fun.”
Two trains can even run on the same track.
The main display was comprised of several modules that are interconnected. Each module is 4 feet in length and all are identical in specifications, to allow for easy connection to other modules, but differs in scenery, allowing some members who don’t have space for their own tracks the opportunity to display their own unique part of the set.
One particular model of a mill with raised shingled constructed by Debby Lynch, who now lives in Ohio, was built completely of wood, required every window to be set individually.
The Bay Shore Model Railroading Club was also present with a Lionel model train set up a display with which some of the children could play. A model plane flew above the trains and the children could control both. The Bay Shore club also brought an additional model of even a smaller scale than the HOTrack set up.
Those interested in getting involved with the hobby or maybe back into it as an adult can check out Traditional Train and Fun Hobbies as owner Pat Russo had a table set for anyone who wanted to purchase parts, tracks, or models.