Exhibition where trains always run on time
RON Geeves, 80, has been a member of the Canberra Model Railway Club for 22 years and is busy helping prepare for his next exhibition.
The club was founded in 1960, with just 12 train-enthusiast members as part of the group. Now the team of 50 are gearing up for the club’s 33rd Canberra Model Train Show at the University of Canberra’s Kaleen High School.
“In total, we plan to exhibit around 30 configurations, modeling a variety of scales and showing landforms from Australia, the US, UK and Japan, as well as Lego trains,” says Ron.
As a young man, Ron rode a bus and three trains to and from school every day for four and a half years.
“I got used to train travel and learned to love everything about trains and train travel.”
Ron worked as a teacher across NSW and the ACT for 52 years, before retiring at 70.
But her love for trains dates back to her father, a railroad worker who pulled and drove steam locomotives and diesel and electric trains.
Ron’s passion grew as he helped restore vintage 1923 railway engines in Cooma on a tourist railroad. He eventually became a skilled guard and conductor of these trains.
At the Model Railway Club, he continues to share his love of trains.
“The club is a welcoming environment to develop modeling skills, to learn how to build and operate a model railroad, to learn layout electronics and wiring, and to build realistic sets,” says -he.
But there is also camaraderie. Vice-president Chris Neil, 75, says the club is very much a men’s shed.
“We find that a lot of members come in and instead of doing anything, they sit and talk and eat cookies and drink coffee,” he says.
Chris has been a member for six years, after retiring from aeronautical engineering.
“Once I retired, I was looking for things to do so I wouldn’t get bored, and I remembered that I had been a kid on model trains, so I decided to try again. I came and was hooked.
Phil Felstead, 95, feels the same way. He became interested in trains when he was only 17 years old.
“It’s not always about railways. Everyone has something they’re pretty good at,” Phil says.
He points out that many people say they “play trains”, but Ron points out that there is an important distinction. “We function them”.
“None of my wives were interested, and we have quite a few members who don’t have room at home, but we know we can come here,” Phil says.
The Canberra Model Railway Club is a leisure group, but members agree it is also a social group with a sense of humour.
“One day I was here at the club and I said to Chris it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a railroad layout of the Lithgow Zig-Zag, and the next bloody thing, you know, he’s on the computer taking over,” says Phil.
“I just supervised and told Chris what he was doing wrong.”
The Zig-Zag layout will be present at the exhibition, as well as their main layout the “McEvoy Junction”, “Hybrid” and their U-shaped layout “Charlestown”.
Ron says there will be five informational exhibits and modeling clinics, including Magnorail and Canberra Railway Museum.
“Under a Magnorail there is a motor and a track with little magnets on it, and under the vehicle there is also a magnet, and it follows the path. We have a bus, a cyclist and a boat going around,” he says.
The exhibition will also feature 15 suppliers of model making and hobby equipment, including model trains, decor items and model making items for sale.
Canberra Model Railway Club Exhibition, 26-27 March, 104 Baldwin Drive, Kaleen. More than cmrci.info
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Ian Meikle, editor