Welcome to the first edition of Model Rail Experience Weekly. This will be an effort to document the weekly activities and special events at, as well as the history and volunteer staff that make the Model Rail Experience at Union Station possible. I am a relatively new volunteer there and am not sure just what my role will be but I suspect as I am a less than technical or mechanical person, though I am willing to try anything asked of me, I suspect that it will be largely in a documentary role through this blog, pictures and videos.
On Friday, February 13th as I was arriving to put in some volunteer hours at the Model Rail Experience, I parked and began my day with what every rail fan loves to do, especially at Union Station, getting pictures and video. This Union Pacific stack train was preparing to move out West-Bound, so I go the photo and the video. That’s one thing that visiting Union Station will always provide any rail-fan with, picture and video opportunities. So be sure to visit the rear lot when you come and see what you can catch. Once I was inside the Model Rail Experience, Ted Tschirhart who heads up the volunteer staff at the MRE, informed me that it had been a pretty typical week at the MRE and that the MRE staff were preparing for a layout at the Johnson County Home & Garden Show at the Overland Park Convention Center this past weekend 2/20-2/22 . I will have a report for you on how that went in the next edition of Model Rail Experience Weekly. Ted also shared that one of the greatest needs the MRE has right now is someone that could put lighting inside the many buildings featured in the various scale layouts. If you are someone with that skillset and would like to help, please come see Ted at the Model Rail Experience.
One of the things we at the MRE seek to begin doing is to educate folks about the various different scales of model trains being run at the MRE and to eventually create a user guide to have at each layout so those observing can do more than just that, but be able to begin to comprehend what they are seeing and the operations, locomotives and cars that make up the set. I chose to begin with concentrating on the HO Scale. This is the most popular gauge of model railroads out there, and provides for the most track, car, locomotive, scenery and other supplies to help HO Scale modelers create the best and most interesting layouts that their imaginations, as well as help from online videos, model rail publications, podcasts, clinics and tv shows can create. Here are a couple of pictures of the HO Scale layouts featured at the Model Rail Experience. HO Scale is actually 1/87 so one foot equals 87 feet. Here is something from Wikipedia about HO Scale Trains. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HO_scale .
This particular HO Scale layout got its start in Match, 2014. It had two mountains recently added. Some of the rocks you see are real, some are made from plaster and are painted. It can run up to 13 trains on the layout. The day I was there, Ted had trains running from CB&Q, Santa Fe, Rio Grande, Union Pacific, Baltimore & Ohio, KC Southern, Norfolk & Western, Perie Marquette, Ashley Drew & Northern, and Reading. There were many, many other railroads represented by locomotives and cars that were just serving in a display role. I asked Ted if he knew how many individual rail cars and locomotives make up any certain layout and he said too many to guess. There are easily hundreds just on this layout alone, and more are added as the MRE acquires more pieces through donations or purchases allowed by the MRE budget, that comes strictly through donations. Some of the buildings on display in this, or any of the MRE layouts represent actual businesses past or present in Kansas City, Missouri. Most are donated while others are scratch-built by MRE volunteers, either at the MRE facility, or in their own model rail workshops at home, and brought in to be added to the layouts. My next step was to begin to get to know more of my fellow Model Rail Experience volunteers, and sought their wisdom to learn more about the history and operations of some of the MRE layouts. Here they are with one of the layouts that is made up of
several different scales.
Left to right are Louis Seibel, Dave Taylor and Bob Ryan. Louis resides in Olathe, Kansas. He was formerly a part of the volunteers that ran a model rail layout that was on display at the Kansas City Museum. It was started in 1985. When the layout was moved to Union Station in 1991 (and is now a part of the layouts the guys are with in the picture), he came with it. He is a member of the Mokan Rail Joiners that turns 35 years old this year as well as being part of the Turkey Creek Division on the National Model Rail Association. He prefers working with HO Scale and also does garden railroading.
Dave has been a Model Rail Experience volunteer since 2005 and prefers to work with all the various scales that we feature.Bob Ryan started at the MRE in 2008 after a church family member brought him down and got him into it. Bob enjoys the variety of activity that being a MRE volunteer provides and especially enjoys doing projects here from scratch into a finished product. Bob has a Lionel layout in his home.
While I was there on 2/13/15, I had the opportunity to speak with Bob Deaddy from Lenexa, Kansas who was visiting the MRE with his wife and four grandchildren, ranging from age four to ten. He said he has never seen such a diverse model rail facility like the MRE before but did remember seeing a layout that the Model Rail Experience had in the main lobby about five years ago. He said his family had a 4×8 layout in their home when his children were young. He has fond memories of actually jumping on and trains in the early 1950’s when he lived near Springfield, Ohio. Not a practice that anyone in the rail community will encourage today that I certainly understand as a certified speaker (still looking for my first presentation or table opportunity) for Operation Lifesaver-the rail safety program, since December, 2014.
Another thing that made Friday 2/13/15 interesting is that we had a visit from Larry Elmore of Discover Vintage America Magazine, who interviewed all the MRE volunteer staff for an upcoming edition of the popular magazine that you will find in antique stores/malls, flea markets and much more. https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverVintageAmerica
We hope you will come see us at the Kansas City Union Station’s Model Rail Experience soon and maybe think about joining the volunteer staff or making donations that will help us continue to leave Legacies………..On The Rails!