Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 13, 2012

County fairgrounds turn into train hub for the day

Bart Doan

DANVILLE — John Pancini describes it as “just a bunch of old guys playing with trains.”

The hobby of train collecting may be just that, but enthusiasts and amateurs alike can stop by the Danville Train Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds in Danville. The event is being presented by the Central Indiana Division of the National Model Railroad Association.

“I started when I was about 7 years old. A lot of us our in our 60s or older,” says Pancini of the model railroading hobby. “My father bought me a train set and I guess I just never lost interest in it.”

Pancini says he has a 20x20-foot layout in his garage that is fully scenic. The train show at the fairgrounds is a chance to show the evolution of the hobby over time, which has been greatly affected by modern technology.

“It’s evolved quite a bit,” Pancini said. “For the last 12 years, they’ve put a PC chip into the engines and each engine has its own chip called Digital Command Control (DCC). It’s all digitized where you can have all the track turned on at once, but the engines won’t run unless you address that certain engine to run. They sound like authentic engines. It’s pretty interesting. Then you can control it through a computer that way or use your iPhone.”

The roots of the Danville Train Show come from the group hoping to expand the interest base to younger generations.

“I’ve been involved with it four years now,” Pancini said. “We wanted to do a free show and it’s grown every year.”

He said this year’s show will feature more than 100 vendor booths, along with 14 fully operational layouts.

“What we’re trying to do is get the younger crowd more into it,” he said. “They’re all going with the DCC (trains).”

Pancini said the hobby fills a lot of roles from expanding one’s skill sets to making lasting friendships.

“If you’re into model railroading, it takes you a lot of different avenues you might get interested in, like electrical, carpentry, another would be art, seeing some of the layouts and scenery to make it look more realistic,” he said. “I think if anybody has children, it’s a good bonding for them. A lot of guys have gotten interested in it because of their children over the years and usually what happens is when that child reaches their teenage years, they sort of drift away from it, but the parents stay with it.”

Pancini said many model railroaders are extremely precise on what they create, even making scenes that directly mimic real live rail lines.

“Some of the guys actually try to model an actual railroad, scaling it down of course,” he said. “But they’ll try to have certain buildings that were there at different times. It’s very educational because you need to know a little bit of math involved, so there’s a lot to learn. It’s a good stress reliever. We have a lot of doctors and lawyers involved in it.”

The show will also feature food, children’s activities, and door prizes.

“It’s interesting talking to people, seeing their likes and dislikes,” Pancini said. “Like me, I like a lot of scenery (in his model railroads) but mine aren’t on time schedules. It just depends on what you like. Some like them right to scale, some don’t, but model railroading is fun.”

For more information on the Central Indiana Division of the National Model Railroad Association, visit the website at http://cid.railfan.net/.

Just the facts

WHAT: Danville Train Show

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 17

WHERE: Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds