A pastime that always keeps you busy
Since Tim Davis was a child, he has been crazy about trains.
Even to this day, the sound of a train whistle off in the distance gets him excited.
“If I am driving and I am going to be even remotely near the train tracks, and a train is coming, I will make sure I get stopped as close to the lights as I can — and I’ll watch the train go by,” Tim said. “It usually takes under two minutes for a train to go by. I’ve timed them before just because I was curious.”
Tim attributes his love for trains back to his childhood, where his father had a model railroad set up in his basement.
“I was quite active with his model railroad, and that’s part of the reason I wanted to become a model railroader myself.”
For 15 years, Tim has been actively collecting, building and displaying his model trains, and unlike the real thing, these trains will fit in his basement.
Just because he has his own model railroad to care for doesn’t mean he’s lost interest in full-size trains. Tim’s wife Heather recalls numerous occasions where Tim would insist they visit a train landmark.
“Whenever there’s a train crash, a train museum, train show, you name it, we’ve been there,” she laughed. “I’ve been dragged along to the last spike and everything else you can imagine. But I have to let him enjoy it. I’m not hugely into trains, but it makes him happy, so it doesn’t bother me that we stop to see every train.”
Tim recalled his first model train: “It was an Atlas AC4400, which is one of the bigger locomotives that you see out there now. I just thought they were the coolest things in the world and I saw one in a hobby shop so I just had to have it.”
Nowadays, Tim has turned an entire room in his basement into a model railroad haven. With over $20,000 invested into the pastime, his ambitious model-railroad project is well underway.
“It’s quite easy to spend a lot of money rather quickly with this hobby,” he said. “There’s always something out there that could make my railroad just a little better.”
Surprisingly, Heather isn’t against the model train hobby, even though it has consumed a significant amount of the family’s money.
“He’s responsible,” she said. “When he wants something, he saves up for it. It’s not like he’s out there buying trains every day. He knows what he wants and he knows how much is too much.”
As he operated his trains from a specialized handheld console, Tim talked highly of the skills that he has learned from being a model railroader.
“The great thing about this hobby is that it makes you a jack-of-all-trades, and if you’re not one, you’re going to become one very quickly,” he laughed. “Since I started, I have become a carpenter, a painter, a computer programmer, a designer, you name it. There’s nothing this hobby holds back on.”
Heather is just happy to have her husband at home.
“It was either fishing or model trains. I believe that every man needs a hobby,” Heather said. “I think it’s really important for him to have something to do, something to help him unwind at the end of the day.”
Though one might think that the hobby can only deliver so much before there’s nothing more to do, Tim says a true model railroader never runs out of projects to work on.
“The beauty of this hobby is that even when you think you’re finished, you’re not. There’s always something to do,” he said. “I will never be done.”
To learn more about Davis’ model train collection and hear the stories of other Calgary-based collectors Click here