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Where to build model trains, planes and cars on Long Island

Diesel locomotives pass through the crossing lights on

Diesel locomotives pass through the crossing lights on the train tracks set up in Trainland, a hobby shop for trains in Lynbrook, Feb. 14, 2015. Credit: Esther Horvath

Those who love their model planes, trains and cars find a way to partake in their hobby year-round -- blustery weather, no matter. Here are four places to get started.

 

PLANES

Golfers won't be found swinging in Bethpage State Park or soccer players kicking at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford these days, but you will see hobbyists flying their model airplanes, despite the frigid temperatures.

"They are die-hards," says Kenneth Ford, owner of Willis Hobbies in Mineola, where there's a deep stock of planes and parts. "These guys are out there seven days a week."

Some enthusiasts construct their planes from scratch while others buy them prebuilt or in partially built kits. Aircraft have wingspans from just 10 inches to a full 10 feet, costing from $69 up to $2,000.

"It's a hobby that can be with you for a lifetime," says Ford. "I have customers that started at age 10 and now they are in their 50s, still flying."

Remote-control airplanes are beginner-friendly, with current models offering a self-correcting feature. If a plane gets in trouble, the operator can hit a panic button and the craft will automatically level off, perhaps avoiding an expensive crash landing. Permits are needed to fly in Bethpage and Seaford, plus an insurance card (but it's free for kids). These must be obtained from modelaircraft.org.

"The most unique thing is the camaraderie and diversity amongst the fliers," Ford says. "They all get along because they share common ground."

INFO Willis Hobbies, 300 Willis Ave., Mineola; 516-746-3944, willishobbies.com

 

TRAINS

Model trains are often a family tradition that gets passed down from one generation to the next. "It's a very hands-on hobby," says Kenneth Bianco, owner of TrainLand in Lynbrook. "You create something with your own imagination."

Trains sold at TrainLand are built ready to roll without any assembly, and you can mix and match cars.

"Quality today is by far the best it's ever been," Bianco says. "Modern hobbyists are very demanding in what they want. It has to look like the real thing or they won't buy it."

Enthusiasts mostly run their trains on layouts in their own homes. But plenty of others join clubs such as the Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers in Levittown (nloe.org), which pools resources to build and maintain sizable running layouts in a shared club space.

Engines run from $19.99 to $2,500 while freight cars range $10 to $100. TrainLand sells models as well as all the layout paraphernalia to create realistic scenes.

"The detail level is immense," says Bianco. "There are so many different sound applications and things like synchro smoke that make it interesting. It's truly endless."

INFO TrainLand, 293 Sunrise Hwy., Lynbrook; 516-599-7080, trainworld.com

 

CARS

Head to Island Raceway & Hobby in Lindenhurst on Fridays nights at 7 and you'll find drivers going head-to-head on the track by way of remote-controlled cars.

"They feel like they are racing a real car as far as putting setups on the car, different tires and tuning the car according to the way they drive it," says John Rizzotto, owner of Xtreme Hobbies in Deer Park, where remote-controlled cars are sold and repaired. "There's a lot of passion that goes into it and a lot of time."

Hobbyists either build their own cars from a kit or get one out of the box that's ready to go.

"I have customers that collect an abundance of cars from one company," Rizzotto says. "Some have the first car that came out and then every model up to the last car."

Cars, which run from $100 into the thousands, can speed up to 100 miles an hour. "We can even build cars to match the real car you drive," Rizzotto says. "They are like mini replicas."

INFO Island Raceway & Hobby, 1015 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst; $20 per racer, 516-457-9270, islandraceway.com.

Extreme Hobbies, 1815D Deer Park Ave., Deer Park; 631-254-9873, xtremehobbyshop.com

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