From G to Z: Railroaders promise good time for people of all scales

Chugging along, the little club that could continues to impress children and adults with its enthusiasm for trains.


For its 13th year, the North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders stays steady on the tracks to host its annual train show and swap meet from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, at the Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road. Members usually host the event later in October but pushed up the show to accommodate the Sequim Centennial’s kickoff breakfast.


It’s only a slight hiccup for organizers; the club presses on and remembers that the show’s attendance is much bigger than when they first started at Greywolf Elementary in 1999.


“The train show provides a fun activity for kids and those interested in finding a hobby,” said charter member Dick Wolf.


“I know this club has helped a lot of people after retirement.”


The show includes a wooden set for younger children, an electric set for older children, vendors and small and large train displays for all scale trains, including HO, the most affordable and common at 1:87.1 the size of actual trains. A main attraction for the show, a 14-piece HO-scale modular unit, remains a work in progress for club members over 10 years as they find ways to perfect the display. It weaves through bridges, hay fields, farms and more on close to 300 feet of track. They displayed it this past summer at the Clallam County Fair and Sequim Kids Fair.


The club sometimes asks children to look through the display for hidden nuances like creatures and features but often children say with excitement they found the bunny rabbit or giraffe without a prompt.

Wolf said the club is working to make the display lighter, more mobile and better-looking for future shows, too. He also brings a G or garden-scale set to the show annually and sets up a camera to see the viewpoint from the front of the train.


A show’s showmanship

All club members have their own interests in either different scale train sizes or set production or simply collecting. Garry Groves and Richard Bell share an HO layout in Groves’ shed and work on it whenever they can.


“Many think their set is complete but there’s always cleaning to do or painting,” Groves said.


Club president Steve Stripp is one of the few to collect Z-scale, a train so small it can maneuver on a track in a suitcase.


“For its size, you can have a huge layout in a small scale,” he said.


Pat Furey, another charter member, said the club gives everyone a place to run a train or create a layout. He also finds the show is rarely commercial and participants are pure hobbyists.


Richard Bell said some participants go to the show to swap engines, parts, tracks and/or buildings depending on the type and maker.


“It depends on what you’re working on,” Groves said.


“Sometimes, people can get something that looks good but might not exactly be the most expensive brand.”


With the club, show and appearances at events like the Dungeness River Festival, members are focused on having fun along with keeping the idea of trains in people’s minds.


“Although, it’s hard to meet a child who doesn’t know (Thomas the Tank Engine),” Furey said.