The annual holiday train display at TownMall of Westminster will begin this year starting on Black Friday, with free admission for its duration.
The Four County Society of Model Engineers is setting up the HO model train display — which will have measurements 1/87th the size of full-sized trains — at the space across from Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop from Nov. 23 through Jan. 5, 2019.
“The way our display works is we have individual models of a scene,” said society member Stuart Braiterman this week. “Some of the models are 4-foot modules, some are as long as 12 feet. The individual modules bolt together into one large display that this year at Westminster we’re figuring will probably be somewhere along 50-feet wide and 90-feet long.
“So it’s pretty big and there are a lot of people in the club that have really done fine, fine work,” he said. “Stuff that is like you see in a [model train] magazine, and the club has certain standards so it looks like it all kind of meshes together.”
The society of model engineers has about 55 members, Braiterman said, who come from Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore counties and beyond. It recently won the Best in Show award at the 2018 Springfield, Mass. train show.
This year, the trains set up at the mall will replicate middle 1950s-style locomotives, the time period the society member said represents the transition between steam and diesel.
“When we put up our display, people run up anything,” Braiterman said, “whether ancient-type steam locomotives from the Civil War or modern ones that are running now. The same goes for the cars that the trains pull.
“And the modules, even though they bolt together, they have to be wired,” he said, “and I'm not really clued-in on electrical stuff, but it is amazing what the electrical people at the club have figured out.
“You have to boost the signal in places,” said Braiterman, “and there’s wires for the tracks, and wires for lighting, and wires for the individual controllers — because each train is controlled by an operator on an individual controller, so you can have four or five trains running at the same time.
“It’s a digital system and it’s truly amazing,” he said, “you can control horns and lights and coupling, and all kinds of stuff with the digital command system.”
Braiterman said he and his wife, both Owings Mills residents, made a grain mill and flour factory for the display this year as well as a scavenger hunt for kids. There will be some other new additions and improvements from previous years.
The display will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Nov. 23 and Dec. 26.
From Nov. 24 through Dec. 19, the display will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays; and 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays.
Starting Thursday, Dec. 20, the display will be open every day of the week — excluding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day — until it closes on Jan. 5, 2019.
The entire schedule can be viewed online.