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Railroaders open club for a look

January 02, 2000

Model RRBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Around the second floor of the Waynesboro Model Railroad Club on Sunday, a smiling Thomas the Tank Engine pulled car loaded with dinosaurs and elves around the room.

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"Kids go nuts over Thomas the Tank Engine," said club secretary Bob Proctor of Chambersburg, Pa.

Al Tharp of Hagerstown said he made two of the engines, featured in a British animated series shown on PBS, from pull toys.

On another track a steam engine belches enough smoke that a club member opens a window to ventilate the room. The trains rolls through miniature models of the houses and businesses in Chewsville, Md.

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Made by a retired policeman who has since died, the miniature town was acquired by the club several years ago when "somebody brought the buildings in and asked if we wanted them," Tharp said.

The second floor has about 700 feet of two- and three-rail "O" scale tracks with engines and cars up to a foot long. Another 150-foot "N" scale track carries engines and cars only about three or four inches in length.

Tharp said the "N" gauge layout will be sold and a new one built in another room. The "O" tracks will be expanded, he said.

Scores of people Sunday wandered through the two floors of model trains in the former Charles Miller Feed Co. building on Waynescastle Road. Just off Pa. 16, the clubhouse is about halfway between Waynesboro and Greencastle, Pa. The club will hold open houses each Sunday in January from 1 to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 29.

"Where else can you take kids for free and let them have a good time?" Tharp asked. The club does take donations from visitors and sells advertising on the trains.

"We're raffling off a couple of train sets for children or grandchildren to start their own railroad empire," Proctor said.

For most of the members, the lure of the tiny rails began when they were children. "That's how most of us got started, with a train around the Christmas tree," Proctor said.

Club President Dick Stouffer of Waynesboro couldn't remember when he got his first train set, but he got seriously into the hobby more than 40 years ago as a young man.

Downstairs, five "HO" scale trains were running on 280 feet of double track main line "which is a little over four scale miles," according to Proctor. There are additional rail spurs and yards winding through hills and tunnels and past small towns and factories.

Work on that layout began eight years ago when the club, which has about 40 members from Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, began renting the feed mill. It held its first open house in December 1992, Proctor said.

Upstairs is a work in progress. While some landscaping his been done - Tharp noted the rock faces around the ski lodge are made from cut up ceiling tiles - plans for the future include a coal mine, waterfall, sawmill and a harbor scene.

"It's taking years to build," he said. "That's the fun part of it."

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