Friday, January 24, 2014

Model Railroad Show

Once a year the Pacific Science Center in Seattle hosts a model railroad exhibit for just a few days.  This year the exhibit was held this past weekend so we decided to go and see what it was like.  Since Monday was a holiday and the last day of the show there were many, many children as well as adults resulting in very crowded conditions.  The trains were spread out in four different buildings with plenty of hands-on stations for children to play with the wooden trains and also places to operate the controls for the electric trains.  Paper conductor hats were being handed out to any and all guests not just the children. 

Some of the trains had head and taillights, made puffing and clacking rail sounds as they whizzed around the elaborate track systems.  Tiny little villages, bridges, lakes, tunnels, trees, people, cars and trucks all to scale added to the magic.  The trains had official logos such as Union Pacific, Burlington Northern and Amtrak.  The scales went from T (very large) to N (very small).  The O scale is the size most people begin with when they start collecting model trains and is the size of the Lionel train sets that are well known.  A large board with examples of track size was displayed by one of the N scale train layouts.

Display board showing the various scale sizes

One display was made of Playmobile parts, a popular plastic children’s toy, and used the largest scale except for the small train outside that was big enough for people to ride in.

Outdoor train that children could take for a ride

Another display was a real working area and allowed the visitor to see all the tools, controls, and paints etc. It was a smaller scale with very detailed rail cars and engines. 

One large room contained a huge display with several trains that passed each other; places to stack waiting cars while another train went by, buildings and tiny people to scale.  Some children were lucky enough to get to use the controls for the trains on this set.

This set even had the local Sounder light rail train with the Seahawk emblem on the engine.

The Hogwarts Express train from Harry Potter

The room was dark and this train had headlights = night train.  The engine is a Great Northern 4-8-4 Mountain steam locomotive.  The 4-8-4 was one of the largest locomotives of the steam era.

Someone asked if the engines were weighted to prevent derailments.  The answer, all the cars and engines are weighted to prevent accidents as the trains go around the corners. 

This is a Shay engine on a round table or engine terminal.  Shays were used for logging and were designed to take sharp curves and go up steep grades.  

Last but not least is a pink castle with toys trains from the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series.

It was great fun and an event we may try to see next year, on a less crowded day

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