If you’re a model train enthusiast then you’re probably familiar with Dana’s Railroad Supply located on Deltona Boulevard. But this shop is more than just a haven for people whose passion is collecting model trains, and miniature towns, complete with buildings and trees, and watching these colorful locomotives circle their tracks. It’s also a place where people who enjoy building models can purchase all the supplies necessary to put together an airplane, ship, space vehicle, among other items.
On Saturday, October 24, Dana Jackson and his wife Nancy, owners of the shop, held a free “Show and Tell” in the parking lot for people to display and sell their models and talk about the story behind some of these creations. The store was also open of course, for those who wanted to browse and shop for model trains and accessories, along with model kits.
John Caiati has been building models since he was a teenager, but not the plastic kind that comes in kits. Most of his are built from scratch out of wood and are authentic down to the minutest detail. The first model he built at age fourteen was a stagecoach.
Caiati’s most ambitious project was a ten-foot scale model of the Titanic. It’s an exact replica of the famous ship down to the windows and light bulbs. He started building it in 2010 and it took him five years to finish it. The bulbs actually light up and you can hear music from the film Titanic playing. Caiati put 56,000 rivets - made from straight pins - in the hull. I jokingly told him that was probably more than the actual ship had. This avid hobbyist has about 100 models in all.
Colin Kessel, at eleven years of age, was the youngest exhibitor at the show. The Challenger K-8 student has been building models for only a year, but he’s passionate about his hobby. Colin is especially interested in the Second World War.
“I like to read about WWII. It’s fun to build models and I really like painting them,” Colin states. “I want to start building model cars next.”
This pre-teen might even get a small enterprise going. While Colin was at the show on Saturday, someone wanted to pay him to paint a model for him. Colin’s father, Eric surmised that his son would probably be right back at the store spending his wages on more models!
Speaking of cars, John Manolis had an actual World War II jeep on display. He purchased the vehicle and then students in his shop class at Central High School helped him restore it as a class project. It took them more than a year to do the restoration. The jeep is street-legal and Manolis loves to drive it. What a sight it must be to see him tooling around town. The Spring Hill resident also enjoys taking his prized possession to World War II re-enactments.
Dana and Nancy have owned Dana’s Railroad Supply since 2002. Jackson got interested in the hobby because he started getting wooden train sets as gifts when he was a child. He got his first train at age four.
When Jackson was in college he got involved with a model railroad group and continued the hobby through adulthood. He started buying model trains and accessories by the case and sold them at flea markets. When Jackson retired, he opened the shop. These model shows, which they’ve been doing off and on since 2013, are their way of introducing people to this enjoyable hobby and also an opportunity for fellow modelers to show off their handiwork.