Sakers, train museum official

J. W.

April 20, 1994|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

J. Wilbur "Bill" Sakers, who built and operated model train layouts for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and was supervisor of the carrier's museum where one of his models is displayed, died Sunday at Union Memorial Hospital of liver and kidney failure.

He was 88 and lived in Govans in Northeast Baltimore.

He retired in 1970 after having worked for B&O for nearly 50 years, starting as an apprentice electrician.

Mr. Sakers worked at several B&O rail yards in the Baltimore area and at the Mount Clare Shops before he began working on the carrier's model railroad exhibits that were taken on tour and displayed at department stores, museums, hospitals and elsewhere.

He also drove steam and diesel locomotive replicas mounted on truck frames that the railroad provided for parades.

He was transferred from the electrical department to B&O's public relations department and continued working on models. The models included a large O gauge layout that was displayed in the lobby of the Cincinnati utility company each Christmas and a portable HO gauge layout, that was, in 1951, the largest in existence. The 2-ton HO gauge display had its own freight car and took three days to set up and three to disassemble. With a working railroad yard and other features, it included 8,000 feet of electric wire and 85 relays.

In 1951, he told a reporter of the work on the huge traveling exhibit.

"It took us three months of work in the Mount Clare shops to make this layout," Mr. Sakers said. "And from the moment we started, I was glad I spent 20 years around actual railroad yards and on trains. That taught me how a railroad works -- an important thing with this layout which we tried to get as close to the real thing as possible."

Mr. Sakers also did the wiring for the displays at the B&O Railroad Museum, 901 W. Pratt St. in Baltimore.

A native of the Baltimore area, he attended Polytechnic Institute before going to work for the railroad.

Services were planned for 10:30 a.m. today at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Road, Rodgers Forge.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Elizabeth Hayes; a daughter, Amy Elizabeth Sakers Curry of Bowie; a son, J. Lowell Sakers of Long Green; and four grandchildren.

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