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Victorian Christmas to feature model train display

by on December 08, 2012 11:09 AM

One of the many great traditions of the Christmas season is model trains.

Several generations of adults have fond memories of receiving train sets and accessories as Christmas gifts. The iconic model train circling at the base of the family Christmas tree is still enjoyed by today’s electronics-saturated generation of children, and the trains themselves have become family heirlooms.

The model train tradition will be honored as a feature of Bellefonte’s Victorian Christmas this weekend, as Bellefonte resident George Baney will set up an impressive model railroad display in the Art Museum building on North Allegheny Street. The Victorian Christmas display will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Baney is a lifetime model railroader.

“Everyone in my family hunted and fished,” he said, “but I was the one who always liked trains.”

In his youth, he built train layouts in HO scale (1/87), which is the most popular scale modeled worldwide. Later, he was drawn to the tiny N scale (1/160) trains, which are about half the size of the HO units. A 40-foot long box car scales out at just three inches long in this scale.

“You can get lots of railroading in half the space,” said Baney, whose 30-year N scale collection consists of 120 locomotives and about 700 cars. He'd gotten away from model trains while in the United State Air Force, but returned to N scale trains during a long recovery from a serious motorcycle accident in 1979.

Baney’s layout is built in modular form. Each module is four feet wide, and has three parallel tracks in the front. Track spacing is determined by national standards so that any module can be mated to any other module at model train gatherings and shows. This allows virtually unlimited variations of the assembled layouts. The modules can easily be disassembled for transport.

The Victorian Christmas display will be made up of several modules, some with curved sections to allow the trains to travel in a loop for continuous operation. This is Baney’s third year of setting up his display for this event. Railroad modeling is a family affair for the Baneys. His son and grandsons are involved in the hobby, and are also helping with the display.

The train layout modules feature beautiful, realistic scenery. Baney said he did the basic construction of the layout, and his friend, John Falatovich added most of the scenery.

“He really likes details,” Baney said.

One look at the layout bears that statement out. The scenery features tree-covered rolling hills, streams, city scenes, industries with rail sidings, trackside buildings and more.

Many small details give the layout character. An abandoned coal mine sits in one layout module, with its rusty siding tracks overgrown with grass and trees. Holes in the roof, broken windows, and dilapidated outbuildings suggest a once-thriving industry now gone to seed.

An auto junkyard stands along the tracks with its rusted occupants slowly sinking into the ground, and nearby, a thriving iron works sits near the main line with its smokestacks emitting smoke made of cotton balls. Painted backdrops with mountains and sky give the whole scene the illusion of depth and realism.

Baney pays tribute to local railroading in his layout with locomotives and a caboose painted in Bellefonte Central Railroad colors and markings.

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