Train fanatics

K&I Model Railroad Club
encourages popular hobby

The HO scale model train displays
will be featured at Showcase

Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (February 2005) – From the moment Ed Brennan saw a modular layout of the Kentucky & Indiana Model Railroad Club (K&I), he was fascinated with this hobby. During the 1998 Christmas season, Brennan stumbled across a layout in Greentree Mall in Clarksville, Ind., and knew he had to jump aboard and learn more.

Ed Brennon

Ed Brennon

Brennan joined the 30-member club shortly thereafter and is now the club’s superintendent. This will be the second year that the K&I Model Railroad Club will display their trains at the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce’s “Community Showcase” on Feb. 5. The 11th annual event, featuring more than 100 exhibitor booths, will be held at the former Wal-Mart building located in the back of Crestwood Station Shopping Center, 6200 W. Hwy. 146 in Crestwood. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Brennan said the Showcase is “a good opportunity for us to showcase our hobby while supporting the community. It’s particularly appropriate this year as the Showcase has as its theme ‘All Aboard.’ ”
Kathy Jacobs, the chamber’s community relations director, said the organization knew about K&I and thought a display would be a great fit with this year’s Showcase theme. Jacobs called the club interesting and said it holds an attraction to what seems to be a popular current trend in hobbies. It is a display that is good for kids, said Jacobs, since the Showcase will have attractions for both adults and children.
According to Brennan, the main purpose of the club is to have fun. “We do this by sharing our interest in the hobby of model railroading while promoting the hobby to others,” said Brennan, 58. He has been interested in model railroading since age 10 and still runs cars his grandfather gave him in the mid-50s.
Those who attend the Showcase will view a modular layout approximately 9x24 feet. Individual modules are 8 feet x 30 inches, can represent a rural area, power plant and locomotive servicing facility. These are typical locations in which the transportation system of the railroads is readily seen today, said Brennan.
Many of the trains will be freight trains, typical of modern high-speed rail transport. Included in the layout are also passenger trains, which reflect the by-gone era of rail travel of the 1940s and 1950s.

Ed Brennon

Photo by Jerry Ashley

An HO scale model train rumbles
through a miniature city.

K&I was founded in 1993 to provide a reliable, portable layout for train shows of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) Division 8, based in Louisville.
The trains reflect the interests of the particular owners, and all equipment that is running belongs to the individual controlling it. The flexibility of modules permits the club to significantly alter the size of their layout depending on space limitations.
“This modular layout provides a great way to interact with the public and promote the hobby of model railroading,” said Brennan. But building an individual module isn’t a requirement of the club, since several members don’t have home layouts.
K&I permits and encourages its members to build a module and allows them to run their equipment on a group layout without incurring the expense and space requirements of a home layout.
K&I touts a varied membership roster of train enthusiasts that includes doctors, electricians, firemen, consultants, retirees and even young people.
Pete Snyder became a member two years ago at the suggestion of neighbor and fellow K&I member Bob Widman. Like Brennan, Snyder grew up with model railroading and has a 4x8-foot layout in his basement.
He enjoys not only operating the modules but also what he learns from other members of the club. It’s satisfying and rewarding to duplicate something, he said. His individual layout duplicates the town he grew up in, Vincennes, Ind.
Certain portions of the Showcase layout were designed specifically for a display at the Oldham County History Center several years ago. This model depicted a “street running” scene (similar to the tracks running down Main Street in La Grange). K&I has displayed at the center on at least three occasions.
Because of the wealth of talent among K&I members, they frequently hold “how-to” clinics to educate other club members. Topics reflect the various aspects of the model railroading hobby. Members might learn how to construct rail cars, buildings and scenery, how to lay track, how to wire the layout for proper operation, how to weather plastic kits to make them appear more realistic, and how to mix plaster and pour it to form rocks for detailed scenery.
“One of the great things about this hobby is the ability to model a prototype precisely or follow a ‘good enough’ philosophy in achieving the ‘feel’ of the prototype,” said Brennan.
For Snyder, the hobby is therapeutic. He retired years ago and the club provides him with “something to do.”
The club frequently plays host to public train shows at the NOVA building in the Bluegrass Industrial Park in Jeffersontown, located at 11700 Commonwealth Dr.

• For more information on the club, visit: www.trainweb.org/knimrr/who.html.

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