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Like many of those who had model trains on display March 17-18 at Lakeland Community College for Railfest 2018, Scott Klein, Brian McCloskey and Jim Meyerhoff each harbor a passion for model trains that dates back to when they were kids.
“I’ve had trains, I’d say, since I was 10,” said McCloskey, a Concord Township resident who, along with brother-in-law Klein and their friend Meyerhoff, have been running CW Trains, LLC, in one form or another, for about seven years.
“I started with (Klein) about seven years ago,” McCloskey said at the train show March 18. “It’s a hobby that turned into a decent business.”
McCloskey said he and Klein began working together on the business, in which they buy, sell and repair mostly Post-War (1945-1969-vintage) Lionel model trains in McCloskey’s home, then moved to a rented space and now is poised to occupy a storefront on East Avenue in Mentor, where display cases will show off some of their collection, enthusiasts can come in to talk model-train shop, bring their pieces in for examination and/or repair and buy, sell or trade.
“It’s going to be kind of like a barber shop for model-train buffs,” McCloskey said, adding that the hobby presents a refreshing alternative to sitting in front of the TV or being mesmerized by any of the myriad compute games that seem to captivate so many young people these days.
“We’re doing it as a way to give people who want to run their old trains a place to do so,” he said. They can come in, run their trains and it’ll be a place for them to gather and share their common interest locally.”
The guys said it’s not going to be a 9-5, Monday-through-Friday operation, but, rather, more of a by-appointment shop aiming to serve folks who would otherwise likely be confined to their own, homegrown hobby spots and basements, the few-times-a-year train shows like the one at Lakeland and traveling to others around the state and country.
McCloskey said they’re aiming for a mid-April opening and folks who are interested can learn more on the shop’s website.
The train show at Lakeland gave McCloskey and his crew an ideal venue to display their collection, entertain offers to buy/sell and enjoy the hobby with other model-rail fans in general.
This year marked the 34th year of the event, which organizers bill as the largest two-day show of its kind.
“Since it was started in 1984, Railfest has grown into one the best and largest model railroad train shows in Ohio,” the event flier reads. “Emphasis is placed on making this a family activity. Not only are there a large number of model railroad dealers, but there are also many operating model railroad layouts and displays.”
Speaking of it being a family-friendly affair, one father-and-son duo said they really enjoyed taking their time March 18 to see all the sights and listen to all the sounds that are Railfest.
“I have been here two times. It is awesome!” said 5-year-old Robbie Johnson, a Madison township resident who came to the show with his dad, Rob. “(I like it) because it has so many trains we can look at.”
Robbie’s dad said the pair got into the hobby by way of his dad’s train set, which captured his own interest when he was a kid.
“My dad’s got an old Lionel set from when he was a kid,” the elder Johnson said. “It’s from the ‘50s and I played with it when I was a kid. He’s still got it in a box in the basement and we still pull it out and play with it.”
CW Trains’ McCloskey said its father/son visitors to shows like Railfest that make the whole hobby such a treat.
“There was a young kid here yesterday, probably 10 years old. His parents were with him and, when I showed him what we were doing, his eyes just lit up,” McCloskey said. “That’s who were doing it for. There’s still an interest in this hobby, in this age of computer games and people just sitting at home in front of the TV. It’s a different kind of hobby, one in which you can actually pick up its pieces and move them around, collect and repair them, keep them going and make your own layouts. It’s a hands-on kind of a thing and there’s still plenty of interest in it. I mean, just as the 2,500 or so people who have come through here over the last two days.”
This article first appeared on www.news-herald.com
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