Thursday, October 27, 2011

Florida: All aboard! at Trackside Trains

From Nashoba Publishing: All aboard! at Trackside Trains
HIRLEY -- Peter Carbone has always been fascinated with trains and he and wife Pam now have a shop that holds many of the trains and related goodies they sell at the train shows in which they have a booth.

Since retiring and moving to Florida, trains have become a big part of their lives. They are an even bigger part of their life now that he and Pam have moved back to this area to be near their family of four grown children and six grandchildren.

Their shop in front of Shirley's train tracks is stuffed with all types and sizes of model trains, tracks, related accessories and even the magazines that those who collect trains read from cover to cover.

While Peter holds court at the train shows each season, Pam has shifted her efforts to searching yard and estate sales and Craigslist for trains, train components and anything else related to their favorite pastime.

"I really enjoy meeting people of every age at the shows," Peter Carbone said. "People usually recognize our booth because I wrap the trim around my display boxes with a neon orange duct tape that is visual from a quarter-mile away." (It is.) "I especially remember one 5-year-old boy who stopped at my booth and whose knowledge of trains was far greater than mine. While he rattled off all kinds of facts and figures about trains and what he likes and collected his parents stood nearby listening to every word while their faces were all smiles. I didn't know what to say to that young man, all I could do was listen with sheer pleasure."

He continues, "I think that is just a small example of the passion that collectors, no matter their age, have for trains. When kids come in the shop or come to our booth, their eyes light up and that tickles me!"

Collecting model trains has been a hobby for children and adults since the 1920s when department stores incorporated working trains in their store and window displays. Train models were first made of tinplate, then brass, then various metals. Toy train manufactures include Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and Marklin.

Until the Model Railroad Association was formed in 1935, there were no set standards for track or train sizes, but once the Association was formed they created standard gauges, which are still in use today.

Collecting and selling all kinds of model trains has become a million-dollar business around the world and almost every week a show of trains and train collectiibles is taking place somewhere in the U.S.

Train aficionados are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do and what they collect. Often they spend years working on the setup and design of their train sets and the villages and scenery that surrounds it. There are clinics, classes, seminars, and magazines with step-by step instructions on how to craft, create and set-up intricate displays.

On the Antiques Road Show on PBS two memorable train sets have been highlighted and appraised. In 2008, specialist Noel Barrett appraised a Beggs Steam Train, circa 1885 for a value of between $5,000 to $7,000. In 2007, Leila Dunbar appraised a 1935 Lionel Blue Comet train set at between $8,000-$10,000.

Trackside Trains, 12 Ayer Road, Shirley, 978-503-2429, is open Wednesday through Friday from noon-6 p.m., and Saturday,10 a.m.-6 p.m. A website is coming soon. Carbone and his trains will be at the Nov. 6 show in Brockton at the Temple Beth Emunah Brotherhood at 479 Tory St., from 10- a.m. 4 p.m.

Seasons Four in Lexington has a complete Lionel "holiday" train already setup for viewing; complete with winter scene vignettes. Adults and kids line-up and watch the speedy ride,, 781-861-1200.

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