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South Shore News

Grant helps Kings Point railroad club go digital

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Published:   |   Updated: April 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM
SUN CITY CENTER -

Several times each week members of the Kings Point Model Railroad Club head to the tracks. Ranging in age from 67 to 87, they set up engines, pull switches and recall the days of their childhoods – and trains.

“I used to ride my bike every day to the railroad yards in Chicago,” said Jim Langdoc, 67, the club’s president. “I still remember the last of the steam engines on the Nickel Plate Route, which went from New York to Chicago and St. Louis.”

Club members come from all walks of life but they share one thing in common – the love of anything to do with the railroad. Most had model trains when they were kids.

“They’re just fascinating,” said Lou Einhorn, 85, a club member for 18 years. “I grew up with real trains in my life; I used to ride them to see relatives and for business up North. It’s a lovely hobby.”

Part of that fascination, members say, is that model railroading involves the use of so many skills – mechanical, electrical, operational, carpentry, maintenance and others.

And thanks to a $3,652 grant from the King’s Point Condominium Owners Association they’ll be using those skills to the fullest as they upgrade their 23-year-old direct current layout to a digital command control operating system. The conversion will enable any operator to be anywhere in the room and operate any train – or several of them at the same time.

“Our current system is nearing the end of its life, both physically and technically,” said Joe Collins, 79. “We’re very grateful to the COA.”

Founded in 1989, the club was originally known as the Sunpoint Model Railroad Club, which was open to residents of both Sun City Center and Kings Point. Its club room was at Kings Point. The Sunpoint club split in the mid-1990s, when space became available for the Sun City Center folks to have their own facility.

Then the Sun City Center Model Railroad Club formed and the group at Kings Point continued on under its current name.

“The Sun City Center club was very helpful through the grant process and with technical issues,” Langdoc said, adding there has been much collaboration between the two clubs. “We’re going to need a lot of training once we convert to DCC.”

“We’ll definitely be around to help,” said Larry Bruny, president of the Sun City Center Model Railroad Club. “We believe in cooperation. It’s what we do.”

The King’s Point Model Railroad Club is open to the public and is seeking new members. Once the upgrade is completed it plans to host open houses to show off its new system to adults and children.

For further information, call (813) 753-9598.

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