Spectators hit the rails at model train show

BEDFORD – For 40 years, Ned J. Marrow, 91, rode the rails as a freight train conductor, but on Saturday he was in Bedford to do a little train watching.

The pertinent word here is “little,” as the Bedford Model Railroaders held its annual N Scale Model Train Display & Show at the ProCare Sportsplex, situated between Bedford and Everett.

Marrow, of Corning, N.Y., said he got into model railroading five or six years ago through a friend and made the trip with his local model railroading club.

“I like to see the cars run,” Marrow said. “Especially the freight trains.”

Watching the trains reminds him of his time working as a conductor for freight trains that ran between Williamsport and Corning, through the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Marrow said.

Starting as a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad in 1946 after serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, Marrow went on to become a conductor during

a career that spanned four decades.

He saw the railroad go from steam to diesel power and the New York Central become Penn Central and then Conrail before he retired in 1986.

“I kind of miss it,” Marrow said.

“We have a blast with this,” said Mike Phillips, who along with some other area N scale train enthusiasts started the event as a simple weekend to share their love of the diminutive model trains, ones that are about half the size of HO trains.

“It’s not your regular train show,” said Phillips, who noted that as opposed to other shows, the Bedford show is strictly N scale. Now in its 10th year, two dozen dealers, 13 clubs and hundreds of people gathered Saturday to show off and check out each other’s layouts, engines and rolling stock.

The goal of the weekend is for enthusiasts to get together and have some fun, Phillips said.

Dean Brenner, 69, of Lancaster County was at the show Saturday, manning the layout of his club, Penn Scalers. Brenner said he had been into HO scale railroading when a friend wanted to show him his new N scale train in the early ’90s.

“I was skeptical,” Brenner said, adding that after seeing how he could do more with less space than with an HO train, he converted.

But what’s a train layout without houses, buildings, roads, bridges, lakes and streams. Layouts featured this weekend include everything from country settings with rolling hills and farmland to stockyards bustling with activity to even a massive warehouse fire besieged by firefighters, complete with flashing lights.

Building kits produced by Dave Capener of Waldwick, N.J., of Bergen National Laser showed the level of realism sought by enthusiasts. The Manhattan watchmaker said his Internet-based side business, producing museum-quality buildings using laser-cut wood with scaled-down brick, rock and shingle textures, grew from his love of trains that he had as a kid.

“I love the trains. I love the architecture,” Capener said. “I try to create an emotional feel for it.”

The Bedford Model Railroaders N Scale weekend runs through 3 p.m. today.