Holiday display has club going full steam ahead

Model railway club sets up display resembling the Okanagan in the 1950s at the Shatford Centre

Doug Grant checks the trains as they run through one of the still not quite finished sections of the railway club’s layout

You can’t ride it like the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, but there are a still a couple more chances to marvel at the precision work that is the OSMRC Railway.

Usually, the N-scale railroad constructed by the Okanagan Southern Model Railway Club is tucked away in the group’s clubroom at St. Saviour’s Church, but through December, they have had it on public display in one of the studio rooms at the Shatford Centre.

For the special Christmas time display at the Shatford, club members spent several days setting up the various modules of their railway. That, club members said, was a lot longer than the last time they took the railway out, to participate in a show in Chilliwack. There, they only had eight hours to get everything in place.

“We did it right this time,” said Ernie Sykes, one of the club members helping with the display. “When we came back from Chilliwack, we made some modifications to the layout, so it went pretty well this time.”

The railway is based around N-scale locomotives and cars — in layman’s term’s, that means a 60-foot-long locomotive measures just 4.5 inches on the model railway. But as the trains round the track, which takes about 15 minutes for the circuit, they aren’t simply running on bare tracks. They are running through carefully detailed terrain, resembling the Okanagan in the 1950s, complete with neighbourhoods, stations, mountains and tunnels, along with more than 300 handmade trees, all built to the same 1:160 scale.

While the railway doesn’t conform exactly to a particular time period, the Okanagan in the ‘50s is the general theme the club members work to. That allows them to base their railway in what is called the “transition period,” where both steam trains and modern diesels were on the tracks.

Some parts of the display are clearly new and being worked on, part of a recent expansion as they changed the format from a simple oval to a much longer U-shaped track.

“The whole thing is very much a work in progress. We kind of like it that way,” said Sykes, explaining that construction is as much a part of the fun as actually running the trains.

The display at the Shatford Centre will be around for a couple more days, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. They close down for Christmas, and have one final day for the public on Dec. 28. The club meets every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Saviour’s.


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