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Orange County Model Engineers unveil new locomotive to keep the trains a rollin’ in Fairview Park

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Orange County Model Engineers President Gary Gorman looks over the new locomotive that was publicly unveiled Saturday morning.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

A shiny new locomotive is now riding the rails in Fairview Park.

Members of the Orange County Model Engineers officially unveiled the orange-striped locomotive 819 — named for the date it was acquired — on Saturday before taking to the tracks to offer free rides around the Costa Mesa park, as they do each month.

“This is the first new locomotive in over 10 years,” said Gary Gorman, the nonprofit club’s president.“The last one was in May of ‘09.”

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With a celebratory “big toot” from the engineers and their trains, the new locomotive left the station.

The newest car is based on a full-size locomotive from the Union Pacific Heritage Series. The control car attached to the locomotive is from an older model, but the Model Engineers beefed it up with new paint and seats for the engineer and conductor.

The new locomotive, which Gorman said is worth about $21,000, was handcrafted by the Train Works, an Oregon-based company, and welded together.

With 37 total bench cars available on its various trains, the Model Engineers had plenty of space Saturday to ferry eager passengers around Fairview Park.

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Hank Castignetti, a member of the Orange County Model Engineers, works on the club’s new locomotive on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

On Wednesday, members of the group were hard at work preparing the locomotive and its sister trains — the 214 and the 596 — for Saturday’s event. One engineer screwed rail ties together while another scrubbed the train cars to a shine.

“Some of us are here every day,” said Bob Harrison, the club’s vice president of operations.

The Model Engineers formally incorporated as a nonprofit in 1985, four years before laying the first railroad tracks at Fairview Park. Now, nearly 200 members operate the 7.5-inch gauge railroad — which has more than 5 miles of track on the eastern side of the park — and maintain the group’s trains, yard, gift shop and restroom.

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