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Kids learn finer points of model railroading

By Jane M. Boyce
Published: October 9, 2012

In most museums, visitors are not allowed to touch anything. But for one day at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Pa., with the help of the Lionel and the Train Collectors Association, 13 children had a chance to get their hands dirty — literally.

At the Lionel Intermediate Workshop on Aug. 7, the children, ages 9–14, spent the day learning new techniques for improving their own model train layouts, including using real dirt to make lifelike scenery.

Lionel’s Tom Nuzzo and TCA member Tom Groff, owner of the Choo-Choo Barn in Strasburg, served as the kids’ instructors.

In the morning, Nuzzo taught them advanced wiring techniques and how to lay track and wire in accessories. He later disabled parts of the wiring and had the children work together to repair it.

After a pizza lunch, the kids built a small dirt-digging construction vehicle that moved back and forth and dug a hole. Groff explained all of the steps necessary to complete the animated piece and assisted in the construction. Afterward, the kids were able to bring their work home to their own layouts.

Groff also taught the kids how to make realistic scenery and add lifelike weathering to their construction vehicles using paint and real dirt.

At the end of the day, the children all received goodie bags, which included reference materials and small gifts. Each child also received a Certificate of Participation from Groff and Nuzzo.