Model Rail Radio
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About the Co-Hosts
Chris Abbott hails from the small town of Alliston in Ontario, Canada. At the age of 8 or 9 he was presented with a Bachmann HO scale train set (complete with a CN diesel in the noodle paint scheme) and, with the able supervision and assistance of his father (plus a dog-eared copy of 6 HO Railroads You Can Build), slowly worked towards a 4'x6' layout wired for dual cab control using Atlas electrical components.
During regular visits to the city of Toronto, Chris insisted on riding the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) streetcars and subway system; the desire to Ride the Rocket is still very strong. At the age of 14, the arrival of a personal computer interrupted his pursuit of the hobby for a good number of years. Chris returned to model railways in his late 20's with a freelanced portable 2'6"x5' N scale layout and an N-Trak module. The layout served as a test-bed for the smooth and flowing placement of flex track and commercial turnouts, and was used to demonstrate both DC block wiring techniques and present operation of DCC (Digital Command Control) equipment at the local club. The advent of DCC finally allowed him to merge his computer and model railway interests.
Particpation in the local railway club and various public exhibitions further refined Chris' interests and focus and, in 1999, he moved into the S scale and narrow gauge aspects of the hobby. He developed a keen interest in the history and equipment of the 42'' gauge Railways of Newfoundland. An active Yahoo discussion group (nee eGroups, nee OneList) that he started in January of 2000 still exists for fans of those lines. Late in 2005, Chris began working with a group of modellers to develop and build S scale (standard gauge) modules based on the Free-mo concept, which they exhibit at local events.
The Live Steam bug bit in 2009, and Chris is currently tinkering with a Lady Anne 16mm scale locomotive built from a kit by a local model engineer. A number of outdoor efforts are ongoing to create a suitable space to run this and other steam powered equipment. The plan is to model a quantity of War Department Light Railways (WDLR) wagons as used in the trenches during the Great War, and afterwards in industrial service. Chris was lucky enough to attend the Twin Turtles day at the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway in 2004 to see a pair of operational, WWI era, protected Simplex locomotives and view other narrow gauge military and industrial equipment in use - which no doubt kicked off the whole Great War aspect of the hobby.
Chris has also created various CAD models and drawings for a few pieces of rolling stock released by a Canadian manufacturer. Machinery and technology have always been interests of his, and he has undertaken several training courses in fabrication techniques using wood and metal, in addition to many computer-oriented programmes. Chris has previously worked in the computer electronics and data networking fields, and is currently involved in the aerospace industry.
A chance discussion in 2009 brought Chris into contact with Tom Barbalet and the Model Rail Radio concept. In no time at all, Tom recruited him to the project. While he continues actively engaged as a co-host for the long-format Model Rail Radio podcast, he is also serving as the Technical Director for The Model Railway Show, a new podcast with a news-magazine style.
Tom Barbalet has been a podcaster since 2006. His interest in model trains comes from childhood when he was give a Lima "The Overland" train set in Australia in the late 1980s.
In 1999, when Tom first moved to the US having spent nearly four months flying continuously he vowed not to take an airplane for an entire year. Through this time Tom travelled between US and Canadian cities by train traveling coast to coast by different Amtrack routes.
Tom has travelled by train throughout Australia, the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Malaysia and Thailand.
Moving back to the US in 2005, Tom was re-introduced to model trains by a coworker and began planning a model railroad layout. He started building benchwork in early 2009 and laying track mid 2009.
Interviewed on Podcast411 (the inside the actors studio for podcasters) in 2007, Tom stated that it was astonishing the lack of model railroad podcasts. With a proven record building a community with freely available, always accessible podcasts without paid subscription or advertising, Tom saw the need for a similar style of podcast being available to the model railroading community. The live internet radio format meant anyone could contribute and the format was actively decided by the listeners.
For more information on Tom's other hobby passions, please follow this link.