What do COVID-19, model trains, and the Lake Nona XL Soccer World have in common? The answer will come in a moment. But first, let me re-introduce myself. My name is Mike Mills, and I’m a resident of VillageWalk here in Lake Nona. I am also an avid model train collector, which led me to coordinate the Lake Nona train shows back in 2018 and 2019. These are sponsored by the Southern Division (Florida Region) of the Train Collectors Association (TCA) and were previously held at the Lake Nona Middle School.
Going back to the previous question – we unfortunately had to cancel last year’s train show due to COVID-19. Thankfully, due to our partnership with XL Soccer World, we are returning Saturday, Sept. 18. Admission to the show begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m.
As in the past, we’d like to invite the community to come by for an introduction to the fascinating world of model railroading and all of its facets. Best of all, children 12 and under are admitted free. Admission for anyone over the age of 12 is just $5. All children will receive a welcome gift, and there will be a scavenger hunt, raffles with door prizes, and a hands-on play area.
Our hobby is made up of model trains that range from Z scale (very small) to G scale (very large). Other scales are N, HO, S and O, with Lionel being the best-known O scale trains on the market. Some hobbyists collect items just within one brand or scale while others collect anything “railroad.” Many of us build and operate train layouts, which are only limited by our imagination or space.
There are train clubs and individuals who operate outdoors in their garden and landscape with natural rocks and foliage. An extreme example of this group is the 1”: 1’ scale rideables. One such club is close by in Lake Wales. They are called the Ridge Live Steamers, and they operate on acres of land and run fully rideable trains on over 17,000 feet of track, trestles and bridges. Pretty amazing!
Thanks to Thomas the Train, Brio and Legos, many of our children and grandchildren have been able to play with trains. Thomas and Legos have trains that are electrified and can also be run by remote control.
The model train industry as a whole has advanced into the digital age. All the major manufacturers have trains that can be programmed and run with remote controls or computer commands – and even through your smartphone. It’s incredible how much information is on the internet and YouTube.
So what is happening at the train show itself?
Within one of XL’s indoor soccer fields, over 100 vendor tables will sell all kinds of trains and related items. The vendors will be TCA members from all parts of Florida. They will bring both brand new items and old classic trains for sale. There will be rare and common collectibles, and at least one of our vendors will have parts and supplies to keep everyone’s trains running. There will be a number of operating layouts to see and enjoy.
Throughout the day, there will be workshops on a variety of train-related topics conducted by highly knowledgeable model railroaders. Topics will include scenic techniques, digital electronics, and the basics of Model Railroading. Sign up early at the entrance desk as the workshops are expected to fill up quickly. Each workshop should run between 30 and 45 minutes.
Anyone interested in finding out about the value of their heirloom trains can bring them (or a list) to the show and talk to a club member for general questions; all you have to do is ask. You could also arrange for a member to do a detailed evaluation of your trains for a fee.
Anyone interested in the hobby can become a member of our club by signing up at the show. The TCA/Southern Division is open to all ages. Membership forms will be available.
Food and refreshments will be for sale by XL Soccer World and a few local food vendors outside the facility.
We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the train show this year.
Where: XL Soccer World, 12314 Suttner Ave., Orlando, FL 32827 (directly behind Valencia Community College and adjacent to Lowe’s)
When: Sept. 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: 12 and under are free. Over 12 years of age and adults: $5.
Please call Mike Mills at (612) 382-0325 for more information or write an email to FLYERMIKE1949@gmail.com. Related websites: www.tcasoutherndivision.org; www.TrainCollectors.org ; www.Lionel.com; www.RIDGELIVESTEAMERS.org; www.miniatur-wunderland.com.