Choo-choosing the track to fun

Scarborough railroaders club open house draws young interest

No one remembers the last time Baytz Bed and Breakfast had visitors.

The hotel is near a track where a train passes by every few minutes, but passengers never get on or off the series of vehicles.

That’s because the people are less than two centimetres tall and the trains are about 1/187th the size of real trains.

At the Scarborough Model Railroaders Club, buildings like this miniature bed and breakfast help recreate southern Ontario in the 1950s when steam and diesel trains ruled.

The Dec. 4 open house brought a packed audience to the modest two-floor museum near Danforth Road and Birchmount Road.

The club has more than two dozen members operating the trains from different areas of the track. Troubleshooter Ray Stacey said it’s a difficult job and things can go wrong quickly.

“I have to make sure the trains don’t derail,” 19-year club member Stacey said after removing a miniature tree that fell on the track and derailed a train. “Very easily you can end up with cars strewn all over the floors or other scenery.”

The club, formed in 1962, has two complete floors of tracks and scenery. The HO-scale in the basement occupies the whole space while the N-scale occupies a majority of space on the upper floor.

“The N-scale concentrates on the details of very long trains running on nice long tracks of scenery,” said Lloyd Reid, an operator of the HO-scale. “At the HO-scale we concentrate on shorter trains that take products to markets and take people from station to station.”

The HO-scale includes scenes of people embracing family members at train stations. Farms, and bed and breakfasts and railway workers are also on display.

Reid said another difference between the two levels is the noise. The N-scale trains are smaller than their counterparts at the HO-scale and can’t carry sound equipment.

The club is constantly expanding.

“It’s unbelievable what they’ve done,” said Barry Villiers, an attendee with his three grandsons and two sons.

“This used to be a walkway two years ago and the area in front was a meeting room,” he said, pointing to the winding train tracks that take up more than 75 per cent of the floor space.

The club plans to add two new tracks for the trains to wind around.

Stacey said while the club will buy the tracks and the trains, the scenery will be made by the club members.

“A lot of the scenery, you make it yourself,” Stacey said. “In some cases, you can go into the valley and look for some weeds and if it looks like a tree, then spray paint it green and voila – an instant tree.”

The club meets every Tuesday nights to operate and maintain its trains, tracks and scenery.

“A lot of us have home layouts that you do by yourself,” Stacey said. “And at a club it’s a sharing of ideas. And what you found frustrating by yourself, in a club environment becomes a lot of fun.”

Map: More cool things to do in Scarborough
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About this article

By: Nadia Persaud
Posted: Dec 13 2010 11:08 am
Filed under: Arts & Life