‘All aboard’ for model train expo

Published 9:47 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emma Cox, 11, and Mia Rodriguez, 8, become train drivers — for a brief moment in time — during a model train expo at Wilroy Baptist Church on Saturday.

Emma Cox, 11, and Mia Rodriguez, 8, become train drivers — for a brief moment in time — during a model train expo at Wilroy Baptist Church on Saturday.

A model train expo steamed into Wilroy Baptist Church on Saturday, drawing many new faces to the church on Williams Road.

The ministry was organized by Bob Langer, who thought it would be a good way to “introduce our church to our neighbors.”

Langer is a member of the local division of the National Model Railroad Association.

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Three model railroad sets were spread around the church hall, from Tidewater Big Train Operators, The Tidewater Modular Railroad Club, and The South Hampton Roads N-TRAK Club.

Jerry Kay, president of Tidewater Big Train Operators, said that his club’s set — which appeared to be the event’s centerpiece — represented several scales running on the same-sized track.

“We are not particular whether you are running one particular scale or the other, as long as it looks good,” he said.

It took four hours to assemble the set in the church hall, Kay said, adding that one member put the plans together before members worked on sections individually. “(But) we all come together and help each other put the track together,” he said.

Max Robbins, its president, said The Tidewater Modular Railroad Club was involved in a lot of community outreach, visiting places like nursing homes and libraries as well as church events such as Saturday’s.

“It’s individual models put together,” he said of his club’s set, which featured impressive attention to detail — even including dinosaur remains being unearthed beside the tracks.

Children got the chance to take the controls as “junior engineers.” Mia Rodriguez, 8, said the sets were unlike anything she had ever seen.

“It’s really cool because it’s so complicated, but yet it fits together so well,” she said. “My favorite part of this is probably just all of it.”

Emma Cox, 11, said, “It’s very interesting — and awesome!”

Pastor Robert Carpenter said the model train expo was a unique ministry for the church. “We’ve never had anything like this before,” he said, adding it was a good team-building exercise for church members.

Langer said a date had already been booked for next year’s expo, for which he hoped to get more clubs involved.

“We want our neighbors to know we are here and they are welcome here,” he said.