Modeling Layout Visits Behind the scenes at Milwaukee museum HO train layout

Behind the scenes at Milwaukee museum HO train layout

By Angela Cotey | March 22, 2022

| Last updated on November 10, 2023

This model railroad is ready for visitors and volunteers

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Milwaukee museum HO train layout: From a “spaghetti mess” of wires to controlling the train with TrainController version 8, Eric Grabczyk – the exhibit maintenance manager at Discovery World – is learning how to keep a model railroad at optimal condition for visitors to enjoy. This video walks you through some of the inner workings behind the new exhibit, as well as sheds light on Discovery World’s future plans for it.

The 18-piece modular layout took Grabczyk, along with Stephan Lamb Associates (the Boston-based professional model builders) and Walthers’ employees, roughly a week to reassemble. Then, came the wiring underneath, which took an additional week to complete.


A man working on the wires underneath the layout.
A sneak peak of the wires underneath the layout.

Grabczyk says when people ask about the wiring he describes it as a “spaghetti mess” because of the multiple circuits and systems running for everything. This came as quite a shock for him. With no previous knowledge on how to build a model railroad layout, he wasn’t aware of all the intricate details that go into the hobby.

“One thing that really interests me about this exhibit is the dedication that Discovery World has to make model railroaders know how important maintenance is to make trains run,” Grabczyk says. The trains are currently running smoothly, but it is something he’ll have to keep up with (e.g., like cleaning the track). Other parts of the layout also needed some fixing like the ballasting and scenery. There are some tweaks (almost daily) as it settles in the new environment. Grabczyk is getting a crash course on how to do all of it.

Future plans for adding push buttons or a 360 camera to the train are still in the works – nothing has been solidified yet.

Discovery World is a non-profit science and technology center located in downtown Milwaukee. The All Aboard train exhibit is currently running two trains (one per loop) eight hours a day, five days a week. For model railroaders interested in volunteering with the exhibit, please visit their website. Exhibit supported in partnership by Walthers. Walthers has provided and will continue to provide the ongoing support needed to keep this model railroad operational for years to come.

After watching the behind the scenes with Grabczyk, make sure to check out part 1 with Discovery World’s CEO Bryan Wunar.

People working on putting the layout at Discovery World together.
Men working on putting the All Aboard layout back together after storage.
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