A highlight of the Hampton show was the Iowa Central Modular Railroad. Six people created and own various pieces of the set. The members meet, assemble the t-track, and operate it for the pleasure of viewers. During the winter, the track is displayed at the mall in Marshalltown.
The trains are N gauge. The cliffs (below) are made of styrofoam. The elevator silos are pvc pipe. The static grass was created with the help of electric fly swatters, and the campfire--which miniature people sit around while watching a baseball game--is made from 2 LED lightbulbs.
Some of the trains hold special memories. The one circling the silo is a model of one an operator saw on a vacation in New Mexico. The Christmas train plays songs by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.
Since many of the models are replicas of older trains, they have to be weathered to represent them accurately. The trains are weathered with rubbing alcohol and black paint and sometimes adorned with graffiti decals.
Everyone was quite friendly, and I greatly appreciate the time the operators and an operator's wife took to explain everything. Be sure to check out their Wiki for more photos.
Beth and Tom Klimesh, Railroad Hobbyists
One couple I was thrilled to meet were Tom and Beth Klimesh. They were extremely helpful in increasing my understanding of model railroads and had a very interesting selection of model trains and magazines for sale. And...to top it off, Beth has nearly the same name as I!
One thing they mentioned was that on some trains the couplers had been replaced; the new couplers reduced the value of some of the trains by 2/3rds! One car from the late 1920s or 30s sold for $8.00; if it had the original couplers, it would have been worth $27.00. Too bad the owners hadn't known better from watching Antique Road Show!
Most of the trains shown above were made between 1926 and 1942 and are still in beautiful condition. I'm principally attracted by older models, but Tom and Beth have a very wide selection-- something for every hobbyist and collector!
Homer Hickok, Railroad Hobbyist
Another railroad fan I had the privilege to meet was Homer Hickok of Minnesota. He and his humorous coworkers, John and Tim, set up across from us, and I had a great time chatting with them.
The Milwaukee on the upper left sells for $225 and literally has all the bells and whistles. There are buttons that can be pressed for various train sounds and the crew talking. The smoke pellets and fluid on the lower left can be put into some locomotives to make realistic smoke.
In Mr. Hickock's hands is a 1930s Westphal G gauge train car marked at $500. The original owner had become so frustrated when his outdoor track rusted that he sent the whole train to the dump. Can you imagine throwing away a few thousand dollar?! Fortunately someone fished most of the train out. The car Mr. Hickock is holding was found by workers at the dump and displayed in the office for a time.
Meet John's Lunch:
He says it was crunchy. The special ziploc lunch bag was courtesy of his daughter: an interesting way of pranking co-workers. Practical joking must run in the family.
Before we knew it, the day was over; we packed and headed home. Spending the day with family at the Hampton train show was a great experience.
Have you ever attempted a practical joke?
What is the worst practical joke that has been pulled on you?