W - Trains

To the model train enthusiasts attending the National Model Railroad Association workshop, restoring model trains is an art and a science. And as these model train hobbyists can attest, it often takes glue, creativity and persistence.

ALACHUA – Forty-three railroad modelers from across northern Florida gathered at the First United Methodist Church of Alachua on Jan. 31 to attend a meeting and workshops sponsored by the North Central Florida Model Railroad Club in Alachua.

The Northern Division of the Sunshine Region of the National Model Railroad Association put on the program which included a workshop about using LED lighting in railroad models, presented by Larry Eggering from Jacksonville. A second workshop was led by David Orr of Jacksonville who described and demonstrated some techniques for weathering model railroad rolling stock. Harold McGee from Gainesville presented some of the history of railroads in North Central Florida.

The program also included a “show-and-tell” session. Eric Peterson, Richard Mellon, David Orr, Richard Paul, Rich Miller, Allen Scott and Sam Viviano talked about models they had brought for display. The High Springs Historical Society described the model in their museum of the former Atlantic Coast Line maintenance facilities in High Springs.

“Many more people showed up than I would have expected,” said High Springs resident Sam Viviano who specializes in restoring old trains in damaged condition to almost new. “I have two trains that are 78 years old...my age,” he said. Most of the trains he brought to share with others were 50-70 years old. “I look in junk train boxes and put trains together and restore them.”

He explained that sometimes that can be difficult. “I was looking for wheels for one train. They aren't made any longer,” he said. He eventually found a merchant that still had the old wheels in stock and ordered them. When they arrived, there were no axles. After searching for axles, which he was unable to find, he went into Sheffield's Hardware one day and showed Mrs. Sheffield an axle. “Do you have anything that's this shape?” he asked. She rummaged around in a nail bin and pulled out something close that he was able to make into an axle. “That's how it goes when you're trying to restore old items,” he said.

“I received eight business cards or phone numbers from people I met at this event who want me to help guide them through restoring old trains,” he said.

Viviano, a retired teacher, donated a train layout to the High Springs Historic Society to help get youngsters interested in railroading. “Model railroading teaches kids so much,” he said. “Kids learn about art, architecture, mechanics, electricity and a whole host of things they would never be motivated to look into if they weren't interested in model railroading,” he said.

One couple, both of whom are members of the High Springs Historic Society, attended after hearing about the event from a friend in Chiefland. Jayne and Pete Woodward said the historic society is working on an 8 x 24-feet diorama depicting the late 1800s to early 1900s in High Springs, which includes the railroad. “We were able to get some interesting and valuable insights and information on railroad history and modeling techniques,” said Jayne Woodward.

After the meeting, attendees were invited to view the layout placed by the North Central Florida Model Railroad Club at the Alachua Chamber of Commerce and Historical Museum. They were also invited to visit the clubhouse, located upstairs in the Old Copeland Plan, where several more layouts were on display. For additional information about this organization, visit www.ncfmodelrailroad.com.

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