Model Trains on Display for the Holidays

By Lauren Wanko

All aboard! There are more than 40 trains at the Garden State Central Model Railroad Club’s annual holiday display.

“People like to have a tradition/a train running around a Christmas tree,” Charter Member Bob Judge said.

Visitors journey to different villages, through snow covered towns and green mountains all without ever leaving the InfoAge Science and Learning Center in Wall Township.

“You prepare all year and in the back of your mind you’re thinking, ‘OK, in December hopefully little kids get to come by, stare up at the mountains and gives them something to think about,'” Wall Township Bob Ortley said.

There are five different train sizes in this show. Judge says enthusiasts typically setup these G-gauge trains outside in their gardens. As for the holiday tree trains?

“That’s quarter inch to the foot, and that’s where everybody had trains at Christmas time — most of them had Lionel trains,” he said.

Judge says the two smallest trains here are sometimes setup in brief cases or desk drawers.

When asked how the trains run, he said, “After you put the track down, then you have to wire it. The wiring goes from the track to the power-packs, or transformers, to power them. So you plug in the power pack, turn it on and the trains runs.”

Except for one train which runs on steam. Club Vice President George Speidel readies the train a half-hour before show time with water, oil and butane.

“When people first come here they look at it and I say it’s live steam and they say, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ and smoke comes out. ‘Do you puts put some pellets in there?’ No, that’s real steam,” Speidel said.

Members are constantly cleaning the tracks and wheels.

“When they get dirty then you have a lack of electricity and they stop,” Judge said.

About 3,000 people visit the holiday train display every year. Club members volunteer their time and all their equipment; everything from the sound system, to the trains, to the power packs, to the display layouts.

Ortley made seven separate pieces that link together.

“A lot of this is just materials you can pick up at home improvement stores: plaster, screen wire, blue or pink insulation foam,” he said. “We use a lot that, and a lot of Elmer’s glue. It’s very therapeutic. You can get lost in it for hours.”

The trains can transport visitors to all sorts of places. The trains will continue running here on weekends until December 20.