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Starting as a youngster, Ray Dellovo has been a tried and true train lover. His father, Sal started him off with a layout around the tree as a child, and he was hooked. He would spend many hours as a child watching the train circling the tree. This was just the start of many years to come, and a few twists and turns on the way.
Known as “TrainRay” now and again, he graduated from a local tech school, as a carpenter. He helped build an entire house when he was in school. This helped build his passion for creating things with his hands.
In Ray’s younger years, he built layouts around the tree, and out in a shed, he built the backyard. His layouts grew and grew. Then, when he finally had his own home, he used a 10’ x 10’ section of the basement and built a new layout, complete with mountains and a lot of scenery. He wired it all himself. He had a nice ZW-275 running his layout. He even had a classic Lionel orange stool! His conductor’s cap and train whistle were never far from reach.
For most of Ray’s life, he has been working with his father, Sal. Sal used to own a fruit and vegetable store in Chelmsford, MA known as “The Elegant Farmer”. Ray learned the business from the ground and helped create a lot of the wooden trays and fixtures around the store. This is where Ray had learned a lot of his business skills.
At “The Elegant Farmer”, Ray and his father were talking about trains and decided to start selling trains. They took one corner of the store where the asparagus was used to be, and built a few shelves, put up some rolling stock and a few sets. He also proceeded to build a massive layout, but a little different than the usual. His layout went around the perimeter of the entire store and was over and above the fruits and vegetables surrounding the store. It was a great layout with two separate lines (O and G). These went right over the cash register as well. Customers would come in and loved it. The kids were entertained while the parents were shopping. Ray was doing double duty, selling fruits and vegetables and trains at the same time.
Then, Ray and Sal got together and decided to get a storefront in New Hampshire, and moved into the new Trains on Tracks. This was on Route 101A in Amherst, NH. This was their new home in the late 1990s to 2006. Ray had his storefront and retail operation with working layout inside. Outside, they had a large 30’ x 75’ G Scale layout that was in operation most of the years. Talk about a test track!! The layout and engines would even run thru the snow.
This is where the train business flourished for about a decade. Ray and his father built the business up so that they could make it as their career. The business had the retail end of it, and then there was “out back”. This was the repair shop, where Dick was hired to fix and refurbish trains. He was kept very busy during most times of the year.
Then the business changed. The internet came in and reshaped the way that trains were bought and sold. The recession that started in 2007 – 2009 hit many train businesses hard in the area and many closed their doors.
Ray has kept up his skills and knowledge in the train business and has kept contact with some of his former customers. Now, the next era of Trains on Tracks begins.
Will his father be manning the store? Will his daughter be part of the business? What is lurking in the caboose? Only Ray knows.