New England resident takes collecting to the next level

Everyone has at least one hobby that they enjoy.  For New England resident Vern Honeyman, his hobby is his collections. You can see items from hats to trains, and everything in between when looking at Honeyman’s collection.

Vern Honeyman stands next to his train set in his home. Honeyman has collected his trains since someone got him started when he was living in Seattle. [PHOTO BY RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald]
Vern Honeyman stands next to his train set in his home. Honeyman has collected his trains since someone got him started when he was living in Seattle. [PHOTO BY RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald]
By RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald

Everyone has at least one hobby that they enjoy.  For New England resident Vern Honeyman, his hobby is his collections. You can see items from hats to trains, and everything in between when looking at Honeyman’s collection.

“I collect just about anything” Honeyman said.

Vern Honeyman grew up in New England, attended St Mary’s High School for one year and joined the Navy in 1952.  In the Navy, Honeyman was on an aircraft carrier in Korea, and also spent time in Guam.

After his time with the Navy finished, he returned to New England and worked primarily for the Bagley Elevator, while also taking on an odd job here and there before he relocated again.

Through all of his moves and relocations he still has found time to be a collector. He has an assortment of Belt Buckles, many that are from Boeing that he originally paid $20 a piece. He has a selection of hats and state flags from various places that he has traveled. Honeyman also has an extensive National Geographic Magazine collection. In 1995, he started to put together model airplanes, a B52 Bomber being one of his favorite. And over the years, he has created another compilation of model airplanes and various photos of airplanes. Honeyman has always liked airplanes, and they have been a big part of his life from the time he was in the Navy to working at Boeing.

“Since I was in the Navy Squadron I liked airplanes, I have always collected airplanes” Honeyman said.

In 1966 Honeyman moved to Seattle to start work with Boeing making airplane parts. It was his time in Seattle that his most prized collection got started. Trains.

In 1980, a friend gave Honeyman two model train engines, along with a passenger train, to start his collection.  Honeyman would attend big train shows in the Seattle area, adding to his collection piece by piece.

“In Seattle, we used to go to Seattle Center down by the Space Needle that would have shows,” Honeman said. “There were all different kind of setups, it was really interesting to go see it.”

At one of the shows there was a train club, with a group of gentlemen that joined their collections together to make one big track.

“It was really neat, and amazing to see, it wouldn’t even be anything like this (his own collection),” Honeyman said smiling.

Vern would also order many of the box cars through the mail, or purchase them from hobby shops. At first Honeyman would run the train on the floor, but as his collection grew he built a train table out of wood that is bolted together. He designed that way so it can be moved in pieces.

“They (the trains) are made to be at eye level,” Honeyman said.

The train tracks on the table are wired together, and the engines are powered by batteries. Vern’s train collection eventually grew so big in size that it needed to be set up in his master bedroom out in Seattle.

Honeyman’s attention to detail has created a real-life look to his train set. His set features a train changing station, numerous engines and boxcars and tiny replica buildings from houses to churches, farms and grain elevators. He has made one big town.

Interestingly one of the boxcars in the trains set is actually a track cleaner. As the train moves along, it actually cleans the tracks.

There is a coal car hauling coal (which the coal is actually pistachio nuts that Honeyman couldn’t crack open). He has also used flour to look like snow on the buildings for a wintry feel. “You kind of make believe on things” Honeyman said.

He also wanted to incorporate his love for airplanes by adding an air field in his replica town.

Honeyman continued to work for Boeing for 25 years, and moved back to New England in 1995. His train set also made the move, as each piece was packed in their individual boxes.

Pastor Jim Murphy helped Honeyman assemble the train set in his basement. Because each piece had to be put in its proper place, the whole re-assembly took about a week.

Pastor Murphy and Honeyman would get together about once a week to run the trains and take in some old train videos.

The videos are another collection of Honeyman’s along with the number of train photos he has hanged on the wall. Honeyman loves watching the train videos for the scenery, and for the different routes the trains would go on.

While living in New England, Honeyman added his last piece to his train set. He purchased a Big Boy Engine at a hobby shop in Dickinson, but that shop is no longer in business. Honeyman has stopped adding to his collection since there isn’t a place close enough to buy them.

Over the years people have offered to buy his set, but he doesn’t want to sell it. No, he wants something more than money. He wants to make sure the collection to stays within his family.

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