Cormel, created by Coldslap Free-mo model railroad club member Larry Sebelley and his wife Lori. (Submitted photo)

Chilliwack’s Coldslap model railroad club needs a new home

The club needs to vacate the church that has housed the club's detailed creations for years

A small but dedicated model railroad club based in Chilliwack needs a new home.

Coldslap Free-mo has been renting the basement of Chilliwack Victory Church for years, but the church has opted to use the space for other things, and the railroad club has until April 30 to get things cleared out.

Rather than put beautiful creations into storage, Coldslap’s eight members (five from Chilliwack, three from further west) hope to find a new spot. Ideally, the club needs 3,500 square feet of rectangular space to accommodate their elaborate Free-mo layouts.

Free-mo is a way to set up model train layouts with modules, rather than one have one huge table with one huge setup. Over the past 16 years, the no-profit Chilliwack club has used the Free-mo technique to construct a 33 foot long, 10 track setup named Coldslap Yard. Several more modules have been built to expand the layout, and they’re always working on more.

“Whenever we can, we invite other modellers to join with us to create a joint layout,” said club treasurer Larry Sebelley. “We attract modellers from all over the Pacific Northwest.”

Anyone who’s visited the Mount Cheam Lions Train and Hobby Show each October at Heritage Park will have seen the club’s work, which is stunningly intricate and detailed.

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In addition to helping with Coldslap Yard, Larry and his wife Lori Sebelley have contributed seven modules to date, including Packer’s Pond, which depicts a hiking/horse trail around a very small lake. Their Cormel module is named after their daughters, Cory and Melissa, and includes a corner store/restaurant/gas station, a residence, and a small passenger station.

Cormel took about 34 hours to complete and cost about $500.

“Three main buildings from kits each took about four hours overall between painting, gluing, and construction while waiting for each step to dry,” Larry said. “Constructing the framework and deck for the module, about four hours. Constructing the legs, about four hours. Laying the track and wiring, about six hours. Applying the grass, trees, road, etc., about eight hours.”

If the club can’t find a new home, work will have to cease.

“We will need to crate up, pack up, and store all the modules and trains, into basements, garages, or rental storage units,” Larry said. “We would no longer be able to work towards improving the modules. We would no longer be able to enjoy the fruits of our labour, nor would we be able to share this wonderful hobby with the public in general.”

Coldslap is a registered club with the National Model Railroad Association and are fully-covered by a one-million-dollar liability insurance policy.

Anyone who may have a space solution for the club is asked to email resident Dick Hawkshaw at or call him at 604-824-8464.

For more info on the club, visit

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Coldslap Yard, a 10-track layout produced by Chilliwacks Coldslap Free-mo model railroad club. (Submitted photo)