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so I have a question
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 Posted: Sat Apr 5th, 2014 09:09 pm
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mdrailbaron
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Good evening,
 Well it has been a great day, took the grand kids and a friends grand son to a robotics competition over at the University of Maryland.  the sun has finally come out on the east coast and the temps were in the 60's, trees and bushes budding, wow, really nice.
  So this is a problem and a question that has been mulling around for a while and I don't have an answer.  So here is the somewhat long winded version.
 I have a really nice On30 railroad and two operating groups, one is a Saturday per month and one  gets together one Thursday night a month, not the same group of guys.  I live in the country, the county population is less then 20,000 folks and I am south of any major population centers, Newark, Del is the closest.
 I would like to increase the group numbers by a couple of folks.  This past Thursday night we had 4 guys and I was one on them, the other guy drove up from Baltimore to pick a piece of equipment up.  My Saturday folks are usually around 10, some times, maybe 12 guys.  For a railroad the size of mine we could easily do 15 guys.
 So the question is how does one go about trying to find some new faces, who can get along with the existing group, operate the railroad in the prescribed manner as requested, and if the person doesn't work out what is the best way to uninvite?  My friends will tell you I am not a shrinking wall flower when it comes to the last part but I truly don't ant to go that route.
 I realize that we are getting older and that most of us are getting to the point we may not like to drive very far any more.  Hell, Herb has been here a couple of times and we have had to send out a search party with dogs to find him.
 So if you might have some ideas for me to ponder on, I would appreciate them.  By the way, you can ask Herb about the railroad and the quality.
Thanks for your help,
Steve

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 Posted: Sat Apr 5th, 2014 10:09 pm
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jtrain
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Not being in too many groups, my advice is probably worthless; but from the experiences I've had, here's my two cents on the matter:

If at all possible, try to get a display, a vendor table, or a group spot at a train show. Seeing you're in the east, there should be plenty of shows within a few hours' drive. Get as many of your existing group as possible to the show.

Shows really are great for meeting people, I've met people who have attended as visitors from several hundred miles away, so one show can draw from a large area. That means you'll have potential new members all in one building.

You'll be looking for someone within about an hour's drive of where your group(s) regularly meet, and you'll be looking for someone who either models in your scale, or is looking into modeling your scale so that they are somewhat familiar to the equipment.

Since it's one or two meetings a month, the commute for the new person could be up near an hour, so you could even look into neighboring counties.

Now to your next major question about uninviting the new guy. Your best defense is preventative, so make sure the person is able to be apart of the group in the first place. Have the existing members approve of the new person. If everyone gets along, then the next step would be a trial run, so have them attend two or three sessions. If everything is fine, then there should be no problems.

If problems do develop, I'd say it's most important to give the trouble maker a chance to redeem themselves. I've ruffled feathers before without realizing it, but once it's pointed out to me I am able to recompose myself. Unfortunately some are not that way and will be trouble.

If it comes to the point that a person must leave the group, or must be forced out, it's best to just be honest and clear.

One final thing I might suggest is that you don't expand the group to 15 guys, unless you need 15 to run the layout. If you want a couple more, then by all means, start hunting for some good candidates. But if the railroad runs well with 8-10 people, adding too many new faces at once can turn sessions into chaos until the newcomers are finally experienced with the railroad (which could take some time).

I'm a good example of this, not once have I ever attended an operating session and I'm sure I'd muck things up pretty quickly. Take three or four of me and let us loose on your layout during the next session and you'll be lucky if anything is still running by the end of the session.

So there's my two cents on the topic, that's two cents more than my advice is worth.

--James:java:



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 Posted: Sat Apr 5th, 2014 10:15 pm
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jtrain
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One other thing that I might mention about seeing people out the door should they become a problem:

By the sounds of your post, the railroad the groups operate is your home layout. In that case it's completely up to you on who's in or who's out. While I don't recommend being tyrannical, you'll have to be stern on enforcing your rules. After all, it's your railroad.

If your groups have a shared layout, you'll all have to act in a similar manner because a piece of the railroad belongs to each of you.

--James:java:



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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 12:40 am
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pipopak
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"While I don't recommend being tyrannical, you'll have to be stern on enforcing your rules."

Welcome back, Col Vanderbilt!. Jose.



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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 12:49 am
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W C Greene
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Hmmm...I am "in" two groups. One is about 8 guys (most older than me, I am 65), we meet mostly at one fellow's home and while he has a very nice and large HO layout, we very seldom operate...mostly we shoot the s@#$% and talk about old times. But it is fun. The other group is about 8 to 10 guys and several wives or ladies like my best friend Pam and we have modular On30 sections that we set up for shows, etc.
Both groups meet at my place once a year and we either operate my layout or shoot the s@##$%. We always have a great time no matter what. The groups have had their share of "jackasses" over the years and such individuals seem to drift away without any intentional pushing. The old timers get "new blood" from time to time and the On30 guys have several hundred "members" on the net. Both groups not only allow but encourage youthful members, remembering that they are the future of the hobby. By the way, the old dudes meet one Thursday evening a month and the On30 guys meet one Saturday morning a month...sounds familiar?
Maybe you need to "advertise" for new crewmen on the net somehow. It doesn't really matter whether the new blood run HO diesels or old timey narrow gauge...running trains is running trains.
Well, that's my take on the thread. I hope you get some new guys involved. Good luck.

Woodie



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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 08:53 am
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mdrailbaron
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Good morning guys and thanks for your words.
James, yes this is my home layout and no don't want to be a tyrant but I have told one person that he would not be invited back, this after he dragged a bunch of freshly painted figures across the layout, so that he could take a picture.  He did go on after that to do some other things that should never have been done.
I have my grandson who is in Middle school, he tends to be better then most of the older guys, that means attention to detail and good eye hand coordination.  The existing group is a good bunch of guys and each brings in their own personality.  The problem is a couple of them are really getting up in age and I expect they might not make the hour drive too much longer.
  Having established one of the first On30 module groups way back when, I don't do shows any more, so I will pass on that idea but thank you.  I have thought about asking on some of the Yahoo On30 groups but looking at many of the examples of modeling, I am not to sure.  I guess it is the fear of the unknown, that is holding me back from going that route.  I guess it comes down to, if I want a couple  more guys I am going to have to take a deep breath and just invite.
  The funny thing is, the core members of the group goes back 30+ years from when we had the modules, everyone else is someone who knew someone.
OK, things to do on a bright sunny morning, thanks again,
Steve

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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 11:04 am
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W C Greene
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Steve, maybe you have noticed this...many newcomers to On30 aren't modelers, at least in the sense we may be familiar with. More and more, I have met fellows who have retired, etc. and fondly remember their old Lionel under the tree or an ancient HO layout built by brother and dad. They want (or need) something to fill the idle hours and found model trains and On30 fill the void. Why do you think Bachmann and others cater to the RTR On30 crowd? You shouldn't expect these guys to "measure up" to some "standard" of modeling when the last time they built a model was as a teen and that model was a brush-painted 65 Mustang. I have "seen it all" and can appreciate even the most rudementary efforts. We all have to start somewhere, even if we are near the end of the journey. Yes, I know and hang out with some guys who might not measure up to some pie in the sky modeling standard but it does not bother me and many times, I am inspired by their work just as much as if they were named Allen, Work, or McClannahan.
My ramblings are just that...some verbage from an old dude who found long ago that friendship trumps ability every time.

Woodie-the original Outlaw troublemaker



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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 11:51 am
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Herb Kephart
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Well, Steve, I am surprised--but more that that--delighted, at the amount and quality of response that you have received.

Folks:

Yes, I have been to Steve's. And yes, Steve has kept me in the"loop". Right now, I have a physical problem--poor arterial circulation in my right leg- which hopefully will be corrected in the coming months. This condition prevents me from driving for more than about 20 minutes before I get to the point that amputation seems like a superb idea. Were it not for this----

To anyone within traveling distance of Steve's place, All I can say is that you will be "gobsmacked" (a term from our Brit friends, that I love) when you first see the Deep Run RR. I have to think that the basement under Steve's house extends out under the neighbors property--it just goes on forever- and it is full of a railroad that runs great, looks great, is great. A more warm and friendly host would be difficult to find, and that goes for the rest of the group also. They operate the way a real railroad does, and while once in a great while there might be a glitch, the ''boss'' makes a command decision and things are back to running smoothly. Never having operated in the manner that they do, and not being familiar with the geography of the railroad---''train will proceed to Blivitsville and pick up a car at the Snodgrass factory"--found me with glazed eyes  (where's that?) but Steve had put me in the capable hands of a regular (sorry, I forgot your name!) who quickly saw that he had someone who was mentally deficient on his hands and pointed me in the right direction.

I like what James wrote--

"I'm a good example of this, not once have I ever attended an operating session and I'm sure I'd muck things up pretty quickly. Take three or four of me and let us loose on your layout during the next session and you'll be lucky if anything is still running by the end of the session."

I feel that I would fit right in there, James--but the crew there will gently take you by the hand, and lead you to operational salvation--there just that way.

Well, can't think of more to say. Great group, great railroad, great experience.


Herb

PS  Steve, I prefer cash for this endorsement



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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 12:05 pm
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jtrain
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I agree with woodie's comments completely, and the same can be said with the rest of the hobby. In the years I've owned Model Railroader Magazine, I've seen less and less articles about scratch building and more articles about making RTR stock look better. While I still enjoy the articles, it is a hint that our hobby is changing.

You're comments don't hint to this, but it is good advice Woodie gave anyway; don't set up too strict of standards. Of course, the new member must be of some value to the group, otherwise there's no point in showing up.

What worries me most is that I am one of the few modelers in my generation. I don't like revealing my true age, but I'll give you a hint: I'm in college. My generation are into video games and such. What's even more surprising is that the generation behind me, the ones just entering middle school, are less game enthused and more into all the stuff the Internet has to offer. Fortunately, the hobby is running in the same direction. The amount of digital stuff that can be used on a model railroad is astonishing. I'll bet there are people getting into the hobby just because of all the cool gadgets, or at least there will be once the generation currently in elementary school gets a hold of the technology associated with model railroading.

The main problem with the hobby is that few people in the US take it seriously. I've been to many shows, met many people, but when you start going to different shows within driving distance you start to see the same faces over and over again. I'm betting that in Europe it is different because most of the trains there carry the pride of nations, while the trains in the US are more of a corporate-built transport system that has a long history of rail tycoons, investors, and cheap labor.

Even your own county is an example. You have 20,000 people in the county, which is more than my home county, and you're asking us about how to get someone involved. With a hobby as great as ours, it shouldn't be problem to get new folks in, and yet clubs across the country are finding it more difficult each year.

Probably the largest weapon we have against an aging population and shrinking interest is the World's Greatest Hobby Tour. When I visited a couple of those, I have to tell you it's newbie central. Layouts of all Scales, All Gauges, all manufacturers, all the information needed, and then it's paired with a huge vendor section selling used items which work (for the most part) and are a decent price (for the most part) to get people started.

The other large asset this hobby has is that Lionel Trains are still here. While in the early 2000's, Lionel made crap, their stuff got better in the last decade or so that has passed. And the amazing part is that after all that I've said, people still buy train sets, even those that will never become a part of the hobby. Even in this modern age, when I travel around to all the neighbors to watch over their young kids, about one out of 3 has some sort of train sitting around. I've done an individual set up at the county fair for several years, and kids love it. And if they love it as kids, I'm sure they'll love it as adults.

So perhaps there's hope after all, which makes my world record post pretty redundant.:time::time::time:

--James:java:



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 Posted: Sun Apr 6th, 2014 12:12 pm
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jtrain
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And as if I haven't said enough for twenty minutes, I just had another idea:

Do you have a youtube channel? If not, why not get one and then film the railway, or show what an operating session is like. Then when you meet a person who might want to try, you can get to the nearest computer or use those black magic devices called smart phones, or just email them the link. The new person can take a look and decide if this is something they want to do. I think it would eliminate a lot of time on both ends, plus if it's as good as herb says, your railroad should be filmed and photographed for keepsake.

--James:java:



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