The Kingwood Area Train Club (KATC) is looking for a few interested model train hobbyists, or anyone looking to learn more about the hobby of model trains.
When prospective members approached Mike Eberle, owner of Mike’s Hobby Shop, about a model train club for the Lake Houston area, he was quickly onboard and became the sponsor for the newly formed Kingwood Area Train Club and provider of the club’s railroad space.
The property adjacent to Mike’s Hobby Shop has a two-story building where the air-conditioned second floor is designated as home base for the club. While there are several model train clubs in the Houston area, none are conveniently located for the Lake Houston area enthusiasts.
“The train club was started March 1 with the desire for a club that would be convenient to railroad enthusiasts in our geographic area,” said Mike O’Day, coordinator for the group. “The club was organized to have a local gathering place for model railroad enthusiasts in Kingwood, Atascocita, New Caney, Porter, Oakhurst and surrounding communities.”
The current members of the club are local retired residents.
“We are brought together as a fellowship of individuals that enjoy the challenges brought forth by the club’s railroad project,” said O’Day.
“Our new railroad shall feature operational railroad scales in G scale, O scale, ON30 scale, HO scale, N scale and Z scale, all on one layout,” O’Day explained. “Each scale will be on a different level from the other scales, thereby future model railroaders can see many of the scales available and decide which will work best to fill their needs. We are always looking for new members who enjoy model railroading,” he said.
How long have some of the members been train enthusiasts? “I have had an interest in trains since age six,” O’Day said. “My first train was from Santa in 1950. This train is still operative today.”
In just five months’ time, the group has created a large train layout project with all train sizes, from jumbo G scale to tiny Z scale, and it continues to be a work in progress. The space they occupy is huge and will afford them ample room needed for classes and future displays.
The club is inviting new members who have an interest in model railroading to join them, including beginners and enthusiasts with or without experience.
Free seminars and educational videos will be offered to members and they are planning educational clinics on how to have a successful model railroad layout for beginners. According to coordinator O’Day, they like to call it “Train l01.”
Club member David Schermock is a good resource to the group. “I’m from Pennsylvania so I relied on memories of my home area to create an HO scale version of the way it used to be with steel mills, coal mines and trains,” Schermock said of his home layout.
Robert Tompkins created a miniature layout that would fit on a coffee table consisting of Z scale trains, complete with surrounding countryside.
Members of the club say there is something for everyone in the model train world and that space or size is not a problem any longer. Some like to lay track, others like to construct buildings and create an illusion of a real landscape. One member has a huge G-scale train layout in his backyard. Fellow members acknowledged that their wives help them with some of the artistic landscape designs.
The new Bluetooth options, they think, might bring younger folks into the fold. For example, Lionel has Bluetooth remote control with a free app.
“This newly formed club will offer a great opportunity for families to share in the wonderful and creative ‘World of Model Railroading’ close to home,” O’Day concluded. “Model railroading is fun and we all need more fun in our lives.”
Educational and operational meetings for the Kingwood Area Train Club occur the first Tuesday of each month at Mike’s Hobby Convention Center Building (on the second floor) located at 21768 East Knox Drive off of Loop 494 in Porter (time to be determined). The model railroad project work sessions are held Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.