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An eye for the details

Hanging out in his work room, Valley modeler Dave Kreitler displays his diorama modules, about the size of a sheet of paper. Modelers can bring the small, portable modules to shows, linking many together to create a huge, instant railroad. “It’s a way folks can try the hobby with having to take up all the space,” he said. - Courtesy photo
Hanging out in his work room, Valley modeler Dave Kreitler displays his diorama modules, about the size of a sheet of paper. Modelers can bring the small, portable modules to shows, linking many together to create a huge, instant railroad. “It’s a way folks can try the hobby with having to take up all the space,” he said.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

When North Bend resident Dave Kreitler is done with another shift in the workaday world, he retreats to his shop for a little RR R&R.

In this case, the relaxation comes from a lifelong pursuit of model railroading.

“It’s the perfect hobby,” Kreitler said. “There’s something in it for everybody.”

For those who like looking at the finest details or assembling their own little world, “it can appeal to everybody.”

After a busy day, the modeling hobby completely relaxes Kreitler, a North Bend resident for nine years.

“It’s great to come back and decompress,” he said.

At his home, he’s set up a modeling area of some 221 square feet, small by some modelers’ standards, to work on his projects. Some modelers set out to create a single, huge railroad all their own, but Kreitler tends to work on individual projects. He creates single models or dioramas, such as a miniature, abandoned grain elevator, typical of the midwestern U.S., or old, home-built narrow gauge railroad equipment, “sort of like the kind of thing you’d find here along main street” in Snoqualmie.

“My stuff is fairly weathered down,” Kreitler said. “I like the older stuff, that worn appearance.”

Kreitler is fond of the era of railroad from the early 1900s through 1940, due to his penchant for older trains.

His models are painted to give the appearance of great age. Kreitler can put on a kind of powder over the paint, or take a black ink and alcohol wash, which settles into all the nooks and crannies of the model.

“Literally, you’re putting dirt in them, like nature,” he said

Hobby’s origins

When Kreitler was in fourth grade, his mother presented him with a copy of Model Railroader magazine on his birthday.

“That was when I saw what could be done,” he said. That year, “I worked all summer for my dad for 25 cents an hour,” he said. “I made 25 bucks. That was the most money I had ever seen.”

With the money, he bought a model railroad. His mom helped him with the layout.

“It was your typical Tyco toy train, HO scale,” he said. “The reason it was important to me at the time, was it had a crane car. It was the one I was after.”

As Kreitler got older, he found less time for modeling.

“Life took over for a while,” he said. He got back into it in the late ‘80s, after moving to the Northwest. He rode his motorcycle to college past a hobby shop, and one day, decided to stop in.

Kreitler found a social outlet with fellow hobbyists in the region. He gets together regularly with a group of like-minded modelers, attending trade shows, sharing what they’ve made, and promoting the hobby.

When his mom moved to the Northwest, the hobby gave them an outlet to connect through.

Kreitler is part of the fourth division of the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Modeling Association. That group holds public clinics at 7:30 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at The Gathering Place Church, 2015 Richards Rd. S.E., Bellevue, from September through June with a break for summer.

While modelists keep the past alive in miniature, real railroads could be coming back in some fashion, as the price of gasoline continues to rise.

“Right now, a semi trailer can haul a ton of freight 56 miles on one gallon of fuel,” he said. A train, on the other hand, can haul a ton of freight 200 miles on a gallon of fuel

Could the great era of the railroads return someday?

“It could happen,” Kreitler said.

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