News & Reviews News Meet Chris Esposito

Meet Chris Esposito

By Rene Schweitzer | February 4, 2024

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Meet Chris Esposito

My first train set (or locomotive) was…?

I started playing with my dad’s Lionel No. 2533W set (1959) when I was 2. My first official set was bought for my 10th birthday in 1988. My dad and I went to Madison Hardware in NYC (where we lived at the time) to purchase the No. 11707 Amtrak Silver Spike set, as we thought it would be nice to add a passenger set to the layout. Unfortunately, they were sold out of it, and I wound up with a similar separate sale PRR passenger set.

My trains are primarily from this era?

diesel locomotive on layout with snow
A scene from Chris’ current layout, a winter-themed hi-rail layout with (mostly) MPC era trains. Chris Esposito photo

I’ve had trains from all eras on my layout, but I have settled on mostly MPC era trains with some postwar and LTI mixed in. Today’s trains have features hobbyists could only dream of years ago, but to me, part of the draw to this hobby is collecting and running the trains I grew up longing for in the catalogs but were out of reach. I work in the IT field, and I enjoy the simplicity of the older trains after a day at work with computers. There’s something about the sounds and smell of an old open frame motor and E-unit that new trains can’t replicate.

My biggest modeling success has been…?

I’ve built many different style layouts over the years — display style layouts, hi-rail layouts, Christmas layouts — I think the biggest success is knowing what the layout needs and giving it space. I think a lot of people have the tendency to try and cram as much track down on a table as possible. I try to make sure everything has a purpose on the layout and give the trains space, so the layout looks larger.

My biggest modeling mistake was…?

There have been a ton of mistakes! The thing I am probably most guilty of is getting excited when an idea pops in my head and rushing along to complete it, only to realize I could have done things better or differently. The best thing I can tell someone who is building a layout is take advantage of the resources out there. No matter if this is your first or fiftieth layout, there is always something to learn. Read magazines, online forum posts, bounce ideas off your fellow hobbyists and take your time! Don’t be afraid to rearrange things on the layout or try a new approach.

When I’m not enjoying my trains I’m usually (other hobbies or activities)…?

Meet Chris Esposito: overall shot of toy train layout in a room
The Esposito family refers to its 6 x 13-foot O gauge layout, featured in the November 2017 issue of CTT, as “The Big Little Railroad.” They note the Central RR of New Jersey used the same name for itself. Chris Esposito photo

My other main hobby is photography, mainly rail photography. I enjoy traveling the country in search of rail scenes that inspire me. When photographing trains, I strive to not just capture the train, but the overall scene. This way the viewer can get an overall sense of the terrain the train runs through. There are many times where I will see a scene in the real world while trackside and think of how I can incorporate it in my miniature one. I’ve had two books of my rail photography published already and am currently working on my third, which will be highlighting the NYC subway.

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