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Get to know the gentlemen of the fantastical NY Society of Model Engineers, whose obsession with trains is contagious! While these train aficionados enjoy a long legacy of creating replica model trains, new digital technologies present an existential challenge to this hobby.

MASTERS OF | TRACKS – SOCIETY OF MODEL ENGINEERS

Get to know the gentlemen of the fantastical NY Society of Model Engineers (actually based in NJ). Their obsession with trains is contagious, and their skill at creating replica model trains and sets is something to behold. While these train aficionados enjoy a long legacy, new digital technologies and habits present an existential challenge to this hobby of all hobbies.

Yes, this place exists in real life and you should go visit. Go check out the New York Society of Model Engineers in Carlstadt, NJ, or catch them on tour.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

I thought of running trains at my house at home, trying to recreate what they do down here. And it never worked so in 2010, I became a full member and I come down here every Wednesday,
every time we have an open house and I help out and do what I can and I just love it.

It is so enjoyable to find something that you have and know that you have built it, and to go ahead and relate that information to other people. It is a hobby, it is not a job. When it becomes a job, it is no fun. A hobby is fun.

My fascination and interest in trains started when my brother said, “You are too young to come down here while we are running the trains.”

Welcome to the New York Society of Model Engineers. We originally co-operated in New York City in 1926. We have been here since 1956, that is 60 years we have been in this location. These are little rollers to go and help clean the track. You got three of them, three cars. They roll along, right behind the engine and the tank car out in front. Every fifth tie has a tiny little spike holding it in place. This is a wire coming up to energize the tracks.

I think we do run more frequently on time than the real railroads do. This holiday show was very good, we had a good turnout. We have done better in the past. When I first started coming here, which was in 1973, the line went out the door. We were at one time up to 107 and 110 but due to the digital age and everything else like that, our membership has come down quite a bit. Kids today, they don’t get into this hobby as they used to. But they like the trains, and I think it has to do a lot with the electronic stuff.

I think the kids are losing out on an enjoyment of physically dealing with and saying, “Oh, I made this and it works.” Trains are just so different from every other thing. They just have this certain sound, and a certain feel. It’s so unbelievable to me. I just fell in love with it. It defines who I am. I got railroading in my blood.

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