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L.A. Beat

Southern Alberta Model Train club crazy for trains

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Everybody loves a train. Or is that a cane? Model trains aren’t just for kids anymore.Paige Hudson and her son Riggs looking a the Southern Alberta Model Railway Club’s N scale exhibit during their open house, Oct. 21 and 22. Photo by Richard Amery
 The Southern Alberta Model Train Club welcomes train lovers of all ages, occupations and skill sets.

 They meet every week to talk trains, play train games, build and paint scenery, lay track and install switches and lighting. The members operate the trains through radio controllers, which can not only operate the switches and send trains on another track, but work the lights and even make the train’s whistles blow.

 The club showcased their woDon Cook shows the Southern Alberta Model Train Club’s HO exhibit during their open House, Oct. 21. Photo by Richard AmeryRichard Ameryrk at the fall open house, Oct. 21 and 22 at their clubhouse by Gyro park (15 Street  and 10 Ave ‘A’ South)
“We have people of all ages to retired adults and people in Grade 12,” said club president Don Cook, watching people trickle in and out of the club’s clubhouse during their fall open house. They also have an open house in the Spring.

“We have members who are interested in a lot of different aspects. Some are interested in painting scenery, others enjoy laying track and others like installing switches. Others enjoy paining scenery and others just enjoy running the trains,” Cook said, noting the exhibit is always changing as he indicated anew seaport scene in the midst of construction.

 The club includes operational HO scale and N scale trains as well as a stand alone static G scale exhibit.

 The centre piece of the clubhouse is an HO scale set in its own room — a full mountain model, featuring a pristine mountain scene, buildings, a working round house and several intricately painted HO Scale trains designed to look like they’ve been naturally weathered. They even have a digital schedule showing when the trains run.

 The N scale set is portable, so the club members can take it to model train shows across Western Canada.
The club formed in the early ’70s with 10 members and has since expanded to approximately 40. Retired engineer Jean -Yves Brouck runs one of the trains at the Southern Alberta Model Train Club’s HO exhibit  during their open house, Oct 21. Photo by Richard Amery
 The club meets every Tuesday from 7-10 p.m.


“We’ve got quite a diverse group of people.You don’t need any experience.  We have engineers, electricians, painters, students and retired people but we all have this common interest, because when you’re here, you are a model railroader,” Cook said, noting the first three meetings of the month are dedicated to planning and adding to the constantly expanding displays. The last meetingis the most fun.

“Because that’s when we just operate the trains,” enthused Cook, whose interest in model trains goes back to when he was growing up in the 1950s.

“It is so much fun. There are just so many different things you can do in the club,” said newer member Braeden Dunn, who has been a member of the club for the past two years, since joining in 2015.

“It’s a very multi-dimensional hobby,” continued Dunn, operating the trains to the delight of several young onlookers peering at them through the window blocking off the main exhibit.
“I detailed this engine so it has custom weathering,” he observed as one of the engines, which he brought from home for the open house, rolls on by.
The membership even includes an actual engineer.Braeden Dunn operates a train Southern Alberta Model Train Club’s HO exhibit during their open House, Oct. 21 and Oct. 22. Photo by Richard Amery

“Railroading is in my blood,” said retired engineer Jean -Yves Brouck, wearing an engineers hat, fitting as he was an engineer on  the TGV high speed trains, back home in France.
“I used  to be an engineer on one of those engines which went 300 km an hour,” he continued, noting he spent 31 and a half years as an engineer.
Don Cook said new members are always welcome to join the club. All you need is an avid interest in model trains.
A version of this story appears in the Nov. 15, 2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/ Shopper

— By Richard Amery,L.a. Beat Editor
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