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The train man -- His attic is a Lionel service center

June 17, 1999

Arthur Warnick and trainsBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Arthur Warnick has the first Lionel train he ever owned, but he doesn't remember getting it.

It was Christmas 1931 and Warnick was 4 weeks old.

"My grandfather and father bought it for me. They played with it until I was old enough to," said Warnick, 67, of Marsh Road.

The fascination toy trains held for his father and grandfather was passed down to Arthur. He's retired now and still playing with Lionels, only now it's in connection with a business he calls J&A Hobbies.

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He runs the business from the attic of his two-car garage. Inside are dozens of Lionel trains, some new, many old. Some are intact, most are in pieces. Bins of new parts from Lionel Co. take up one wall.

Warnick has been repairing, rebuilding and restoring Lionel trains since he was 15. His shop became an authorized Lionel service station 10 years ago. People bring in their broken engines, cars and accessories - old trains they've had since childhood or bought at model train shows, auctions and flea markets - and Warnick makes them like new again. Many leave repainted and sporting new decals.

Warnick said 90 percent of his customers are adults.

It's hard to separate where the work ends and the fun begins in Warnick's shop. His enthusiasm comes out in smiles and laughs whenever he puts a train on a track and makes it run.

"I grew up around trains," he said. "My great-grandfather drove the first passenger train into Waynesboro and my grandfather was a motorman on the Chambersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Railway Co. that ran streetcars up to PenMar.

"I started repairing my own train when I was 15. I got to be real good at it. Once I started to feel confident enough, I repaired them for other people," he said.

He is often busier than he wants to be, especially in the winter months. "This place gets real busy after October. Sometimes I'm here from 8 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m."

An electronic test board, a drill press, a wheel press and a lot of small tools, many handmade, are what make the shop run.

Warnick buys spare parts from Lionel, trades for them with other repair shops and hobbyists and makes some himself, especially for the older trains that make their way to his shop.

He also buys old, broken trains. Some he uses for parts and the good ones he restores for his private collection. A prized possession is a 1915 Lionel 260 engine and the cars it could have pulled. It took years of scrounging at train shows to find the train piece-by-piece, each one carefully restored.

The collection is in the attic of Warnick's 1821 farmhouse. He turned the whole space into a model train layout so big that it takes two people to run it. The layout holds his collection.

"Nothing up here is for sale," Warnick said.

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