Model railroad buffs share piece of history


Next stop, Bethany Beach.
The Delaware SeaSide Railroad Club (DSSRRC) held a workshop with a historical twist at the South Coastal Library on March 26.
Special to the Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: A 1958 Marx Company layout at the Delaware SeaSide Railroad Club event at the South Coastal Library, on Saturday, March 26.Special to the Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
A 1958 Marx Company layout at the Delaware SeaSide Railroad Club event at the South Coastal Library, on Saturday, March 26.

Potential model railroad enthusiasts got a chance to look at the original Lionel “standard gauge” train set, sold between 1928 and 1934, and club members ran periodic viewings of a video detailing the evolution of the trains.

Apparently, “standard gauge” doesn’t really indicate any particular track size, as the other gauges do.

Rather, according to club members, master marketer Joshua Lionel Cohen coined the phrase to suggest discriminating collectors wouldn’t want anything less than the “standard.”

However, the Great Depression led to the decline of the standard gauge, as many people moved into smaller homes.

O gauge trains, which run on 1-and-1/4 inch track, became more popular by the mid-1930s, and then even smaller gauges.

Elsewhere around the workshop, the DSSRRC presented a display with trains of all the various gauges side by side, and a complete tabletop layout from 1958.

According to club member Bill Ziegler, DSSRRC President Bill Mixon had stumbled upon the platform in someone’s garage.
It had been used for a Montgomery Ward display, according to Ziegler, as promotion for a Marx company boxed set. He said Mixon had tracked down all the original trains that once made up the display.

“He went out, found the parts on eBay and at various trade shows,” Ziegler said. “It took four months and now, here it is — totally replicated.”
Special to the Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Katie, Haley, and Matt Lapinksy check out some electronic control options.Special to the Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Katie, Haley, and Matt Lapinksy check out some electronic control options.

Mixon himself was busy teaching hobbyists how to build model buildings out of paper, while father-and-son club members Don and Cody Leavel explained electronic controls.

Other club members covered engine maintenance, and offered train appraisals for visiting model railroaders.

Ziegler called the club by far the most active he’d ever been involved with, and he’s been a hobbyist for years.

“We’ve done more here in a year than I did in the past 20 years with other clubs,” he said. Mixon said they hoped to hold another workshop soon.

In the meantime, the DSSRRC will be gearing up for a June 25 train show at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company. For more information, visit the Web site, www.trainweb.org/seaside.