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Wednesday October 27th 2021

CAMRC and CSMS Present Model Train Open House for Families

(Conway, AR) When working with a puzzle, it’s a great feeling when adjacent pieces fit together perfectly for success in a fun task. That spirit is affirmed by members of the Central Arkansas Model Railroad Club (CAMRC) and Carl Stuart Middle School (CSMS) – both in Conway.

“We have model train layouts and exhibits for enjoyment by families with children and hobbyists, and we need an appropriate space for set-up and presentation of a Train Open House event,” said Melvin Hightower, CAMRC President and a long-time model railroader. “We have a large gym with support facilities for such an event, so it’s a good match-up,” added Harvey Benton, Principal of CSMS.

Hightower and Benton jointly announced a Train Open House event to be held in the Gym of the school on Saturday, December 5, from 9 to 3 at 2745 Carl Stuart Drive off Salem Road in west Conway. Admission will be free; however, voluntary donations will be gratefully accepted to help keep the trains running.

These holiday-theme exhibits are scheduled to appear:

• One of Santa’s representatives and a crew of elfin helpers will appear in regalia and offer a free Lionel “Christmas Memories” catalog to parents who may express an interest in the hobby. The supply is limited to 100 catalogs.

• Santa will designate a child to open the event and run THE POLAR EXPRESS train on inaugural laps around a large train layout.

• Lionel and American Flyer trains stashed away years ago in the attic or a closet may be brought to this event for free inspection and an estimate of necessary repairs.

• Many lighted and some animated Department 56® porcelain holiday buildings from the Christmas in the City and North Pole Village series will be displayed.

• Hobbyists who own and operate F-scale “live steam” locomotives will demonstrate their unique trains on a 25×38-feet layout. Just like real-world steam engines, these accurate and fully functional models burn fuel onboard and create steam that moves the side rods and drives the train forward.

• A raffle prize of a limited-edition Lionel limited-edition boxed coal train set valued at $225 will be on display. Tickets will be sold at $1 each or seven tickets for $5.

• Mark Andrews, AETN Producer/Director, will be on site and show “Steel Rails in Arkansas,” his TV documentary about railroading in Arkansas in its many forms.

• Snacks will be available to visitors at the site with concessions offered by the CSMA Parent Teacher Organization. The food service will offer cookies, healthy snacks, and soft drinks. The proceeds will benefit the school.

• Parents and kids may pose with Thomas, James, and Percy train characters at the photo booth and take home a 4×6-inch digital color portrait for a modest fee of $5.

• Kids who love Thomas trains will enjoy the fun of operating HO-scale trains with Thomas, Percy, James, Emily, and Gordon characters running on four loops of track.

• Family teams can enter the “The Great Lionel Train Race” contest. Participants in this free and fun activity will run four Thomas-series trains around four loops of track in a race against the clock. The winner of the contest will take home a Lionel Thomas boxed train set provided by the Lionel Collectors Club of America (LCCA).

• The club’s O-gauge modular layout now has a footprint of 20×26 feet – larger than a three-stall garage. Visitors can run Lionel trains equipped with the Lionel Legacy Command System and activate sound effects with a hand-held controller.

• A large, fully scenicked HO-scale modular layout designed, built, and operated by members of the Crooked Rail Model Railroad Club (CRMRC) of Little Rock will be in action.

• Boy Scouts in Troop 157 at Bald Knob, AR, will transport several O-gauge modules to Conway and install them for operation during the TOH event. Their modular railroad is based on a design developed by the LCCA to promote the hobby.

• The vintage Marx train tabletop layout by CAMRC member Jack Adams of Conway includes 1940-50 era trains in operation during the event. A Lionel O27-style layout with trains from the collection of Craig Gerard will be running. He collects Lionel trains made for sale exclusively in Sears and JC Penney stores and catalogs. The HO-scale layout by Harold Claassen will be shown for the first time.

Learn about the Hobby
Club members will answer questions from visitors who intend to build a home layout or want to become an Operating Engineer for the club’s large O-gauge and other layouts. Visitors with an interest in the hobby may enroll in CAMRC for involvement in local club activities and inclusion in future Train Open House events.

A representative of the LCCA, an international hobby club of collectors and operators who favor Lionel trains, will show limited-edition products designed by LCCA and made by Lionel exclusively for club members. Publications produced by the LCCA – one for adult collectors/operators and one for Junior Engineers – will be available for viewing.

For more information about the club and the hobby, visit the CAMRC website at www.trains.buzz or the LCCA website at www.lionelcollectors.org.

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