Will model RR club hosts open house
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent April 18, 2013 9:44PM
A portion of the Will County Railroad Association 20 ft. x 30 ft. display that will be shown at the April 20 open house. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Stone City VFW Hall, 127 Stone City Drive, Joliet
Etc: All scales, memorabilia, tinplate and more. Food and beverages available during entire swap.
Cost: $3. Children under 12 free with paying adult
Updated: May 20, 2013 6:06AM
You’re never too old to play with trains, according to Keith Finley, acting vice president of the Will County Model Railroad Association in Elwood.
With that in mind, stop by the association’s open house and swap meet on Saturday, where you’ll see members’ 20-by-30-foot railroad display (not their biggest, just the biggest the clubhouse will hold) and be able to ask questions about the hobby, including how to get started yourself.
“Some people want to build (displays), but others join our club just to run the trains,” Finley, 54, of Channahon, said of members, who range in age from 16 to 65-plus.
They include former railroad employees and grown-up kids who never lost their love for model railroads and displays. Finley started 10 years ago with buying a few pieces, swapping ideas with enthusiasts and then finally joining the club, which keeps his motivation right on track.
“I like steam-era trains because things were slower back then,” he said. “The trains were more individualized and had more character.”
Founded in 1979 as the Romeoville Model Railroad Association, the club focuses on HO-scale model railroading — the most popular scale size, friendly to home displays — and building modular layouts that allow for easy expansion and changes as members exchange ideas.
In 2012, the club participated in several large display events. One was the World’s Greatest Hobby model show in Schaumburg, where four clubs joined to create 4,000 feet of display. Another was at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, which filled an entire gymnasium with displays.
"People can relate to trains because they see them go by in their daily life,” Finley said. “They’re quite amazed at how big a layout can get.”
The club’s future plans include hosting multi-club events in the Joliet area. And no, members have never blown up a layout, ala Gomez Addams.
“We’ve burned up some trains accidentally by cars getting shorted out and going down the track smoking,” Finley said, “but nothing on purpose.”