Members of the Old Colony Model Railroad Club are preparing for a sixth-annual show in Taunton on Sept. 30 that will involve the new, high-tech approach to the hobby that many members said they picked up from their grandfathers.

Bill Witunsky says he recently took up model trains to find his boyhood hobby had taken a detour somewhere along the line.

"I had trains set up in the basement. But I moved away and got married and my dad sold the stuff off. I now have trains set up in the basement, again," said the Rockland resident. "But everything has changed in 40 years."

Members of the Old Colony Model Railroad Club are preparing for a sixth-annual show in Taunton on Sept. 30 that will involve the new, high-tech approach to the hobby that many members said they picked up from their grandfathers.

Bridgewater resident Jim Emerson, attending a regular Wednesday night meeting of the club held at Depot Plaza in Raynham, said that, since he picked up the hobby as a child from his grandfather, it's recently become "very high tech."

"I have a miniature television camera that's battery operated and that sends a signal to a TV set," he said. "It can be mounted on one of the cars. It actually gives you the impression that you're going down the tracks and through the tunnels. You see everything close up."

Stationary scenery, buildings and people are lined up along an extensive track system constructed by the club to simulate the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company line that once ran between New Haven and Providence.

Emerson, an MBTA Boston bus driver during the day and who said that he can spend as many as 15 hours a week on the hobby when involved in a project, said that other high-tech innovations associated with model trains include use of computer chips in the locomotives, computer graphics to make authentic decals and use of the Internet when searching for archive photos to replicate buildings and scenery.

Club members - which include computer programmers, a retired firefighter and a former hobby shop owner - travel to Raynham each Wednesday night from about a nine surrounding communities and from as far away as Walpole and Cranston, R.I.

They've met at the plaza on a weekly basis for the past 10 years, have developed a complex electronic system at the site that includes a centralized traffic-control board that allows the club's 36 locomotives to operate, all at once, according to a pre-set timetable.

"We now have digital control. Paper mache and plaster of Paris is no longer used to make scenery and archive photos from the internet are a big source of information. And you can use computer layouts to do track plans," he said.


If you go
The Sixth Annual Model Train Show is scheduled for next Sun day, Sept. 30, at Taunton Holiday Inn on Myles Standish Blvd. in Taunton. The motel is located off Interstate 495, Exit 9.
The all-gauge show, scheduled to be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., includes free parking and a concession stand. Admission for adults is $4. Children under 12 and Scouts in uniform will be ad mitted free.