SEQUIM — Even car guys can like trains.
For 40-plus years, Pat Furey of Sequim worked for General Motors, designing interiors for automobiles, or “literally everything inside the glass,” he says, in Australia, England, Germany and the U.S.
Furey remains a train man, though, at 80. He said the allure of trains stuck with him because “that was the big Christmas gift when I was small.”
Growing up in New York, he remembers going into the showrooms for model train companies Lionel and American Flyer and being “wowed.” Throughout the years, Furey said, he’s become less of a collector and more of a scene-setter with his model trains. Well-placed designs are set around his home, but not in the bedroom or bathroom, out of concern for making his house a “museum of trains.”
Furey finds how he sets the trains a form of expression.
“I see them as 3-D paintings,” he said. “I give them a little more than just a train.”
One example is a pig sticking its head out a rail car with two alligators outside. Another is a beached whale atop a custom cart Furey built after seeing a similar scene in a book.
“[Trains] are something I’m definitely in control of,” he said. “There’s no pressure. You can build at your own pace and you have an end result that’s completely coming from your own capabilities.”
Furey is one of a few charter members still with the North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders, a miniature railroad collectors club, which holds its 18th annual show this Saturday and Sunday in the Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road.
He recalls learning of the club after a recommendation from a consignment shop owner who suggested he go. There, he met up with club founder Joyce Horner in her Whistle Stop Barber Shop in Carlsborg along with several model train fans like himself. From there, the club and show grew from word-of-mouth, he said.
The club’s first show saw about 500 people visit Greywolf Elementary in June 2000.
Furey said everyone was so excited, they set up a second show in October 2000, which saw half as many people.
Despite less draw initially, club members stuck with an October date to guarantee children could attend during the school year, he said, and give visitors a chance to shop for Christmas and/or get ideas for gifts.
The show remains free to attend, and door prizes continue for visitors including an electric train set for one lucky child. Last year, about 500 people attended.
John Kumparak, club vice president, said the show will “be a little different this year but still have plenty to see and do.”
Club members continue to work on a large HO-scale layout that goes on display annually at the Clallam County Fair, but this year, due to a lack of volunteers, they won’t be able to transport the layout to the Sequim Prairie Grange.
“We’re looking forward to meeting new club members to help us continue building it and find new opportunities,” Kumparak said.
The club will host 20-plus vendors and four running train layouts including N-, HO-, O- and G-scale tracks, with two available for children to use.
Steve Stripp, president of the club, said despite not having the large layout, the show this year is the “most hands-on for visitors than in years past.”
Along with the club’s annual show and participating in the fair, the club continued its tradition of displaying and talking trains at the Dungeness River Festival in September.
Furey said one experience at the festival sticks with him to this day about setting the perfect scene.
He had a tiny toy mouse placed on a train for fun and asked a girl if she could find it, which she did.
Furey said he forgot to put the mouse back there the next day, and the girl came back with a friend to show her the mouse.
“She couldn’t find it and was almost in tears,” he said. “I glued it there later so I’d never forget it again.”
The North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders meet at 3 p.m. the last Saturday of every month, except December, in the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave. Their next meeting is Oct. 28.
For more information on the club and/or show, call 360-582-1316 or email [email protected]
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].