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Model Railroad Clubs
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 Posted: Thu Nov 16th, 2017 07:37 am
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NathanO
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There are lots of Model Railroad Clubs around.  Some have been around forever, some are 'new'.  Some start with several 'scales' and then decide to kick some scales out and go only with one scale.  Some start out with one scale and add others to attract more modelers.
I know of one club that had several 'scales', built a building, then decided to go with only one scale.  The other 'scales' that helped create the club and get the building found them selves out on the street and had to form a new club with very little chance to get a club building because of the costs today compared to when the original club got it's building.
One of the problems is the large number of 'scales' :
T in the area of 1 to 450
Z 1 to 220
N 1 to 160
TT 1 to 120
HO 1 to 87
OO 1 to 76
S 1 to 64
O depending on where you are between 1 to 48 and 1 to 43
Large Scale including 1 to 32, 1 to 29, 1 to 25, 1 to 24, 1 to 22.5, 1 to 20.3, 1 to 18, 1 to 16, 1 to 13.5 and several others
Then the problem of Standard Gauge, the various Narrow Gauges, Steam, Diesel, Electric, Traction, and Trolley.
Here in this area we have people that work in Z, N, HO, S, O and Large Scale, including the Narrow Gauges in each.  HO is the most popular and then, depending on who you ask, it is followed by N, Large Scale, O, Z, and S.
The costs for a New Building in this area is between $150 and $250 a square foot depending on what type of construction materials used.  Land is going for $50,000 and up an acre.  Then you have the costs of building the parking lot and other costs.
On going costs include: insurance, water and sewer, electric power, waste disposal, phone, security system, janitorial service, web site
Then there is the costs to build the 'layout' or 'layouts'.  The problem of those members that just want to play politics while a small number does all the work to make the layout a reality and do on going maintenance.
Is it really practical to start a new club these days?  Where do you find the money to make it happen?  How do you find a way to get everyone to work together for the good of the hobby?
Nathan

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 Posted: Thu Nov 16th, 2017 01:00 pm
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Paglesham
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I don't know of anyone who builds a new building! But most clubs use a room or two in an existing building. The Ilford Club had a large prefabricated concrete building on unused land at Chadwell Heath station.
Wisbech meet in a room in what is locally known as the Institute. But they've moved several times since I've known of them. They charge the equivalent of over £100 a year! For me, that is way OTT to play with what is effectively a toy train set, with dodgey scenery and everything RTR, off the shelf and a bunch of old boys who never want to take the slightest modelling risk.....like actually MAKE anything. No thanks. Clubs are not for me. I went along to one and all that happened was 2 women spent all night comparing illnesses. I couldn't wait to get out. Pity as that was free, being in a local Tesco's supermarket "Community Space".

Nobody does what I do, so I have nothing to talk to them about! Last one I went to, one that I'd been going to on and off for longer than all but one who was there actually told me that they only wanted about 6 people and as I hadn't been for a while I wasn't welcome! This was in the bar of a local sports centre. The woman who runs the centre was furious, but I haven't been back. A waste of petrol as it's about 10 miles from where I now live.

Nope, clubs are NOT for me, thanks. Too many Earthlings for my tastes!

Martin



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 Posted: Thu Nov 16th, 2017 02:15 pm
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2foot6
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:wave: Good question Nathan.........I have been in clubs in the past and they are not for me either.Too much club politics and meetings and nothing gets done.Here in my area we have a model railway group that I started twenty nine years ago and has around eight  regular members depending on the time of the year.As we are in a dairying area.three keen members are farmers and the hay needs cutting,fences need fixing, etc, etc. so regular members attending can vary.We  meet at our members houses on a rotational system or as a needed basis if someone has a project on the go we may go to his or hers layout three or four times in a row.We do not have membership fees ,financial or election meetings,we want it simple.It gives us more time to run trains or build something and we feel it's more friendly.I'm modelling On30 ,other members are modelling HO,American,British and Australian,It doesn't matter what each person is modelling because it's their layout and we respect that(well most times).Just my 2bobs worth,something to think about.It works for us,but every town is different..The only thing we demand is a good coffee/tea and cookie.....Peter:old dude:

Last edited on Thu Nov 16th, 2017 02:18 pm by 2foot6



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 Posted: Thu Nov 16th, 2017 08:52 pm
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W C Greene
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Clubs are OK...for many but not for me. Here in the "big D", I have seen clubs get a place and then almost get a layout built and then, the owner sells/rents for more money/or some other excuse. Then it's back to searching for a new place. I have been "associated" with clubs that wanted a "certain type" of member and excluded those who were "young, not the same race, not into class 1 railroads, narrow gauge, or just old toads like me".
It appears that the only "clubs" that hang together(around here anyway) are ones like the Texas On30 Outlaws, a modular On30 group which meets once a month in a BBQ joint and gets together at various area shows to operate their modular layout(s). They have been having fun for over 17 years so far(their "rules" are non rules-(they want young kids, old farts, color isn't an issue).And then there are the "social" clubs that meet once a month at somebody's home, whether they have a layout or not, and drink coffee, eat donuts, etc., and talk about trains (sometimes!). One such group which I know about has been meeting once a month for the last 40 years!
What's the answer? I don't know and after some of my "experiences" with other local clubs, I just don't care any more.
I know that there are some old and good clubs out there but they ain't from around here!
Why would I need a club anyway? I have a layout (2 actually) and operate with friends, none of which love old funky 2 footers. Maybe that's the key!

Woodie



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 Posted: Thu Nov 16th, 2017 09:37 pm
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Larry G
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The HO scale club I belong to in Deadwood South Dakota is basically free of politics. We all get along well and have similar modeling styles. Even so, I lost interest in HO scale. I still belong to the club but seldom attend the meetings.

Now I model in Gn15 at my home. A change of scale/gauge has given me a renewed interest in model railroading.

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 Posted: Thu Nov 16th, 2017 10:48 pm
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Lee B
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I've experienced such a horrific experience with a module club in the 90s, I left the hobby in disgust for many years. I've also had pals in clubs who also have had terrible experiences.



In one club I knew of, a guy offered his massive basement for a club's layout but dictated the theme. The others went along with it and a couple of years later, it was pretty much done. In an email to the group, the house owner thanked the club for building 'his' layout, pointed out that they'd had nothing in writing and advised the group they were no longer to have meetings at his house. They called some lawyers, apparently, and were told it'd cost them a fortune to fight it and would probably lose anyway. He returned rolling stock and a couple of structures, but otherwise he got a group of people to build a layout for him, and he paid next to nothing for it!
Last I heard from a guy who'd been in that club, the local hobby shops refuse to allow the guy in and nobody in the hobby locally will talk with him.


My point is to get everything in writing as this isn't the first time I've heard of something like that!

Last edited on Thu Nov 16th, 2017 10:50 pm by Lee B



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 Posted: Fri Nov 17th, 2017 02:55 am
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W C Greene
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Whatta mess! Seems that those fellows should have built their own layouts (or not) and not helped some well-heeled dude build his "dream". The homeowner probably couldn't build anything anyway so he enlisted some "help" from guys who couldn't or wouldn't build anything at their homes.

"There's a sucker born every minute!"-P T Barnham
"And two shiesters born to cheat him!"-unknown dude

Woodrow



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 Posted: Fri Nov 17th, 2017 04:17 am
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Michael M
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"Never give a sucker an even break." ---W.C. Fields


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 Posted: Fri Nov 17th, 2017 04:48 am
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Lee B
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W C Greene wrote: Whatta mess! Seems that those fellows should have built their own layouts (or not) and not helped some well-heeled dude build his "dream". The homeowner probably couldn't build anything anyway so he enlisted some "help" from guys who couldn't or wouldn't build anything at their homes.

From what I heard, the homeowner was downright Machiavellian. He could have built the layout, from what I was told, as he had the skills, but didn't want to embark on a very long term project alone. My friend who was a member a the time, thinks it started out earnestly but over time the homeowner figured out what could be done by others, and how he could have a great layout without paying a dime other than for the electricity or doing any of the work. the club even prepped the room for him.
He didn't even pay for anything other than the membership fees. People brought everything and everyone chipped in, but didn't expect anything from him as he was providing the space (and therefore not costing any rent to the club). The club produced a lot of rolling stock and when it was over, he'd boxed up the personal stuff that happened to be in the house at the time, to include tools and some structures and rolling stock.
The only comeuppance came when he got blackballed by every hobby shop in the area, but but mail order has always been a big thing, so I guess he didn't suffer much for the things he needed later.
The sad part is that the story goes that he opened the place for op sessions with local groups, and having a massive, well-built layout, people weren't not going to come, so he just found a group of new guys who tolerated him for what he had. The thought is that this was the plan all along.
I only have the word of two guy who were members at the time to attest to this along with photos of the layout they showed me at the time. This is why I'm not naming names or places. I mention it every time that clubs come up, though, as a warning how easy it'd be for someone to repeat this. Really, who'd even think of demanding a contract with a home owner in such a case? Almost any club would be thinking they'd won the jackpot, not having to worry about rent.



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 Posted: Sun Nov 19th, 2017 10:00 am
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jtrain
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That guy who conned a bunch of people into building a layout for him sounds evil.  Genius, sure, but mostly evil.  At least the other guys got their equipment back from him, its the time they could never get back.

The first club I was a part of had a lot of politics at play and everyone wanted to do something different.  Thus, the layout was constantly being torn up and put back together again.  Heck, they even moved towns while I was a part of the group. Never had a fully operational railroad, still probably don't either.

The Rapid City and Sioux Falls Clubs, both of which I have seen, but haven't been a part of, have the benefit of everyone being on the same page for what the layout should be.  Deadwood, I would assume, is the same way.  (all three are South Dakota clubs, by the way, just extending what Larry said)

When building the layout at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, much of the work was done by members of both the Rapid City and Deadwood clubs and it was quite plain that people in both clubs were capable of working as a team (most of the time, anyway).  Members that are able to put politics aside and help out is an incredible asset for a club to have.

The Livingston Club, which I'm now an irregular member due to being halfway across the vast state of Montana, but still paying dues, has a very specific vision to model the Livingston/Bozeman/Billings area of Montana at that one vision has been constant for 27 years.  The result is a spectacular layout that everyone enjoys.

And then there's the "club" up here in Missoula, which meets on a rotational basis at various member's houses.  Due to time being in demand elsewhere in my life, I don't think I'll be joining that club.  Still, the members are able to operate a layout for the Ft. Missoula museum and host a local train show every year, so they too can work cohesively.

So then, the conclusion I draw from these observations is that for a club to work, the members have to have a shared vision AND be able to tolerate each other's differences.  In other words, the success of the club is determined by the attitudes of individuals.  So if you're wanting to start a club, better get to know the other people well before making that kind of commitment.

--James



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