Railroad club holds open house


Small children, the elderly and all ages in between took delight in two floors full of model train layouts this weekend.

The Waynesboro Model Railroad Club is holding its seventh annual open house this weekend and for the next two weekends in Waynecastle, Pa.

Upstairs in the old feed mill where the layouts are permanently housed is a small layout especially for children. Set behind glass slightly above floor level, it features a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, elephant and vehicles carrying "Sesame Street" characters. Several children knelt in front of it to watch the train circle through the circus-themed scenery.

The larger, chest-high railroad layouts, all created by club members, include realistic scenery and trains. There's a quarry, several tunnels, covered bridges, coal cars and flatcars carrying Army tanks. A caboose was emblazoned, "God Bless America." One of the layouts includes a simulated car accident, complete with a broken guard rail, police car, ambulance and air rescue helicopter.


Some of the locomotives whistle and belch smoke. At one place, the track surrounds a lake with a dock, swimmers and several sailboats. Perched atop one mountain is a ski lodge, atop another, a ballpark.

The club sells advertising on the ballpark's billboards and on the train cars to local businesses to raise funds for materials.

Club member Mike Cline, 44, of Downsville, Md., made some of the trees. He colored some foam, then ground it up in a blender and sprayed it on glue-covered puffballs of synthetic material to create a large group of trees. For single trees, he sprayed dried sedum flowers with glue, then dipped them in ground-up green foam. He uses different colors of foam to make autumn-hued trees.

"You can buy them, but it gets expensive," Cline said. "We experimented with it and made it work."

Cline has been a member of the club since 1992, along with his 80-year-old father, George Cline.

"Dad works on the layouts when his health permits," the younger Cline said.

The president of the club, Joe Goodrich of Greencastle, Pa., said the club is always looking for new members. The club has a junior member program.

Goodrich said several skills are used in model railroading, and members help each other. Those who are good with woodworking help with the buildings; the artistic work on scenery; and those with electrical skills repair locomotives and work on components.

Some members do historical research, so they can reproduce items realistically. They take photos and measurements, Goodrich said, to keep the scale accurate.

"It's a lot of fun," he said.

Computer technology is used in model railroads more and more, Goodrich said. Many locomotives now have a computer chip.

"They are operated with a hand-held control," Goodrich said. "In most layouts, there are two trains on the same track, and they both run when the power is turned on. With Digital Command Control, there's constant voltage on the track, but only the train whose number has been punched into the control will pick it up. You can even turn the headlights on with it."

Club member Jerry Fickes of Shippensburg, Pa., said the club holds a formal meeting the fourth Tuesday of each month and works on the layouts the other Tuesday nights.

Three gauges of model trains are used. The largest is O gauge, which is 1/48th of the real thing; the others are HO gauge, which is 1/87th, and N gauge, which is 1/120th.

The club has about 45 members, from Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., Greencastle, Shippensburg, Waynesboro, Shady Grove, Pa.

If you go....

What: Waynesboro Model Railroad Club Open House.

When: Today, 1 to 5 p.m.; Jan. 11, 12, 18 and 19 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: Waynecastle, Pa.

Directions: Heading east on Pa. 16 from Greencastle, Pa., go through Shady Grove, then turn left immediately after the railroad overpass. The feed mill that houses the display is on the left.

Admission: Free, but donations will be accepted.

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