Model train club to hold open house Saturday

Preston — The railroad crossing sign in the storefront window in the Tally Ho Mall on Route 2 is easily overlooked.

Members of the Mohegan-Pequot Model Railroad Club hope to change that Saturday, June 22, with the 39-year-old club’s first open house to show off elaborate model train displays and let visitors test whether their old trains in the attic still run.

The club, which has about 60 members from throughout southeastern Connecticut and participates in model train shows throughout the Northeast and at national events, has occupied the Tally Ho Mall’s left storefront — a former indoor flea market space — since December 2017.

Two train displays, one featuring HO-gauge trains and one with larger O-gauge tracks and trains — including a bridge held up by a model of The Hulk — dominate the space, while member Bob Applegate works on his engine service center toward the back. The engine service center features a semi-circle round-house garage for train engines and a turntable, where engines enter from the main track and can be rotated to place in any open garage bay or onto a side track to await service.

On Saturday, the club will host an open house from noon to 4 p.m., inviting the public to see the models in operation, try their hands at the controls and use a test track being constructed this week. The club will serve hot dogs and soft drinks during the open house. The club’s meeting space will have seats set up with a TV screen running videos of model train activities.

“We’re hoping to get people from the community,” club member Stu Dom of Ledyard said, “Let kids see what we got, let parents see what we got.”

Club Vice President Richard Neff of Mystic said the club will allow children to run the trains with supervision during the open house.

“If anyone has old Lionel or HO trains in their attics and want to see if they work, they can bring them, set them up on our test track and if it runs, they can run them on our tracks,” Neff said.

If the trains don’t run, however, no repairs can be done during the open house.

This is the club’s first permanent space after having worked mostly in a member’s basement for more than two decades. The club’s main use for the new space is to build “modules,” sections of train displays that can be transported intact to shows. One 4-by-6-foot-long section of the main HO-gauge display is one such module. 

Dom won first place in the National Train Show in Cleveland in 2014 with a 16-by-36-foot display of connected modules. The club also has participated in national shows in Hartford in 2009 and in Indianapolis in 2016 and regularly attends the Amherst Model Train Show each January “with much bigger displays,” Dom said and brings smaller layouts to a one-day show in Sutton, N.H.

For information about the Mohegan-Pequot Model Railroad Club, visit its Facebook page at bit.ly/MMPRCfb or contact President Tom Snyder at (860) 234-1138.

c.bessette@theday.com

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