Monday, July 30, 2012

Florida: All aboard! Authentic model trains on display in Cocoa

Well, it's a day late. But it'll doubtless be an annual thing, so set your calendar for next year.

From Florida Today:  All aboard! Authentic model trains on display in Cocoa

WHAT: Trains, Trains, Trains
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Central Brevard Library, 308 Forrest Ave., Cocoa
COST: Free
INFO: Call 321-633-1792.
THE STORY: For those who love model trains, put your engineer’s cap on, grab your train whistle, and hop aboard the Trains, Trains, Trains

Trains program at the Central Brevard Library in Cocoa on Saturday.

The event will feature speakers from the FECR Society, history buffs and a junior engineer program.
“It’s something that draws a lot of interest,” said Jan Erickson, adult program coordinator at the library. “There are a lot of people who are interested in trains as a hobby.”

“Caboose Mikey” will explain the ins and outs of how trains operate.

“He dresses up in an old engineer’s outfit, and he walks around and talks about what the trains are doing, as well,” Erickson said.

Jerry Groothouse, director of the Steam Locomotive Association No. 253, will discuss antique and toy trains. And if you bring your model and antique trains, he’ll give you an appraisal.

The displays you’ll see at the library on Saturday are modeled after actual train depots.

“Model trains are painted to be like real train cars,” Erickson said. “If you stop at a train track and notice the engine number, the cars are painted exact. They’re very authentic.”

Model train enthusiast and program organizer Tom Chaffee knows all about authenticity. His group — FECNtrak — models the Florida East Coast Railway Society. They’ve hosted the event at the library since 2006.

“We try and model the Florida East Coast Railway prototypically. We try to do the same kind of train cars you would see, the same locomotives,” he said. “The track we use is right down to the simulated rail ties, just like the real railroad.

“They’ll be modeled after the trees and buildings that are in Jacksonville or places in between Jacksonville and Miami,” he said.

He’ll explain the role of a dispatcher, too. Train engineers communicate with each other and the dispatcher is “the middleman.” They discuss their routes, and the dispatcher can tell you whether it’s OK to move forward.
“Just like the real railroad, the real engineers don’t know 20 miles down the road and around the bend. The dispatcher can see everything and where everything is, like, ‘I can let you go this far, etc.,’” Chaffee said.
“We’ve actually tried to do it,” he said. “We actually put the dispatcher out in the hall one year” in which they could see the trains and the engineers couldn’t see the other trains. “It worked very well. We didn’t have any head-on (crashes).”

This, of course, is where kids and adults become junior engineers.

The best part about this event for Erickson?

“It’s watching the kids get so excited to run the trains,” she said. “They really enjoy it. And the adults who set this up get a lot out of it themselves.”

No comments:

Post a Comment