The Orange Leader
Every Monday night in an unusual merger of a local church and a group of dedicated hobbyists, the Southeast Texas Model Railroad Club meets at Grace Lutheran Church in Orange. Pastor Tom Haas and the staff at the church has allowed the club to use a room at the church for their meeting place, and allows the club to hold their train shows each November in observance of Model Railroad Month.
“The church has been very cooperative with us in giving us a room to meet in and also to do a bit of storage in. We keep an area clear and some clean tables so that if the church needs to meet in the room they don’t have to clear out some train stuff,” said club president Mike Gulley. “We are very appreciative of the church giving us a meeting place and also for letting us have our annual show at the church.”
Club members have been preparing for the opening weekend, November 3, of Model Railroad Month. They are beginning to set up the five trail layouts that they will be operating for the enjoyment of visitors to the show. Every Saturday in November from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. the doors will be open for the general public, other model railroaders, and kids of all ages. This year there will be a “Thomas the Tank” engine and on November 24, there will be a Lego train and layout. This is a complete running train and all the accompanying buildings, scenery, and equipment made out of Lego building blocks.
The Orange show is part of the Houston Fall Model Railroad Tour that includes, Katy, Orange, Galveston, and the Bryan-College Station area. Shows will be conducted at club locations and in private homes.
Visitors will see layouts of N gauge, HO gauge, and O gauge in the Fellowship Hall of the church. This will be the largest layouts and also where the Lego Train will be on November 24. In the back room, the club’s normal meeting room there will be layouts of N gauge and HO gauge trains.
The SETMRC is a fairly new club made up of members from throughout the Southeast Texas region. In addition to the layout at the church there will also be members having showings at their homes. These will be complete running train layouts in several gauges (sizes). The best known rail size is “HO”, there are also “N’ and “G” gauges. The “N” and “G” are small rail width gauges.
Steve Barkley will be running an HO gauge layout at his home, 2060 Belvedere, in Beaumont. Barkely’s layout will depict the Northern Pacific and Burlington located in the area of Livingston, Montana.
Dave Cummings will be operating both N and G gauge layouts at his home in Groves, 6029 Van Buren Street. Cummings N gauge layout is “U” shaped and offers a rail yard, mountains and other scratch built scenes. His G gauge layout is a work in progress, but is up and running.
In Pinewood, David Malloch will have a three level layout of 15 city blocks, with three tall buildings, a 12 stall roundhouse, and a7 track passenger terminal. The layout encompasses an 8’ X 19’ area. “Be prepared to stay for a while. It takes some time for the train to travel all three levels and return to the station or yard,” said Malloch. There are also some special lighting effects on the layout that depicts rail lines in Texas that were in operation in the 1950s. Malloch’s location is 431 Pinewood Drive. Pinewood is near Sour Lake off Highway 105.
The layouts of rails, buildings, and scenery have to be seen to be believed. There is an incredible amount of talent, imagination, and engineering that goes into the work the model railroaders put into their creations. A cluster paper towel rolls can be built with a cardboard building to become an accurate model of a grain elevator. A sprinkling of green “fuzz’ over wet green paint becomes a trackside pasture. Nearly any household material is used in the creation of the towns, fields, forests and mountains that line the model railroads. Model cars, trucks, busses, and people are skillfully combined by the club members to make realistic towns, industrial sites, farms and ranches.
The club can make a large layout in one of six different configurations, depending on the space they have available and the shape of the space they are allotted at the shows they enter.
The club is new as model railroad clubs go, but in their short time together they have done some impressive work and are making a name for themselves in the world of model railroading.
This year they have entered or shown as a club at The Greater Train Expo at Reliant Stadium in Houston; The Greater Houston Railroad Show; The JETT Model Railroad in Longview, Texas; the model railroad show in historic Jefferson, Texas in May, 2012; October 2012 found the club at the Galveston, Texas Railroad Museum Model Train Show; and at the Texas City, Texas two day model railroad show.
December 13, 14, and 15, after they complete the November activities the club will be taking a layout to St. Mary Hospital. They will set up on the pediatric floor and spend three days letting the children in the hospital enjoy seeing and possibly operating the train.
In February the SETMRC will enter the Greater Houston Model Railroad Show and in March they will go back to Longview for the annual show there.
Membership in the club is open to anyone interested in trains, modeling, or just wanting to know more about model railroading. “You can bring your own train, or if you don’t have a train, we’ll give you one. We always welcome interest in our club and are always hoping to find new members,’ said Gulley.
“We have a Junior Member class, some members are as young as eight years old, most members are between their 20s and 60s, but we do have one member in his 80s. Most of us still work fulltime, but we do have a number of retired members,” said George Bohn.
The club meets each Monday night at the church located at 2300 Eddleman Road in Orange. The church is across the road from the Orange little league baseball fields.
Information about the November shows, and general club information may be found on the club’s website: setmrc.com