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Starting a club?

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Starting a club?
Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:16 PM

Hello,

A few days ago I was expelled from my local club over false allegations. The board accused me of stealing a freight car, though I wasn't even in the state on the night that it happened. I attempted to prove my innocence by showing them my plane tickets, but they said that didn't prove my case well enough. I know that some members have a bias against me for being a transgender woman, and this bias has shown since I revealed my true identity.

I know that I could probably negotiate my way back in, but I feel that that option would turn things from bad to worse. 

So, my question is, how do I go about starting my own club? Are there any kind of legal processes, licenses, etc? Would I need a loan? And how do I attract enough members to acquire a space and begin construction of a layout?

I model in HO scale and I have experience in carpentry.

Thanks, 

 

 

Victoria Cyunczyk

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Posted by Eilif on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:31 PM

Sounds like a rough situation.  Sorry you had to go through that.

What kind of club are you interested in starting?  

If it's a modular group then you just need a group of interested people who get together every month or so and setup at a local library or somesuch.  Probably don't need to bother with incorporating or anything like that until you have a dedicated core group.   Until recently I was in a modular LEGO train club (no bad ending just change in interests) and I think they just incorporated this year, 18 years after they began.  Until this point they just operated with a very basic set of loose bylaws and a trusted president who opened a bank account for the club.   Worked well for them, but there was also alot of trust.  

If it's to be a club with a permanent layout then you've got alot of hurdles. Rent, insurance, club business, etc.  But your first task is going to be finding like-minded individuals.  Maybe Facebook, meetup, etc would be a good place to start.

What's the area where you are like for model railroading?  Any other clubs? Is there a critical mass of interested people to even start a club.  Don't mean to weigh you down, but it's a big process.   

Maybe start as a monthly modular group with an intention to have a fixed location when the group is at the right size.     And of course there are also modular clubs with a permanent space for display of their modules...

Good Luck.

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Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:48 PM

Eilif

Sounds like a rough situation.  Sorry you had to go through that.

What kind of club are you interested in starting?  

If it's a modular group then you just need a group of interested people who get together every month or so and setup at a local library or somesuch.  Probably don't need to bother with incorporating or anything like that until you have a dedicated core group.   Until recently I was in a modular LEGO train club (no bad ending just change in interests) and I think they just incorporated this year, 18 years after they began.  Until this point they just operated with a very basic set of loose bylaws and a trusted president who opened a bank account for the club.   Worked well for them, but there was also alot of trust.  

If it's to be a club with a permanent layout then you've got alot of hurdles. Rent, insurance, club business, etc.  But your first task is going to be finding like-minded individuals.  Maybe Facebook, meetup, etc would be a good place to start.

What's the area where you are like for model railroading?  Any other clubs? Is there a critical mass of interested people to even start a club.  Don't mean to weigh you down, but it's a big process.   

Maybe start as a monthly modular group with an intention to have a fixed location when the group is at the right size.     And of course there are also modular clubs with a permanent space for display of their modules...

Good Luck.

 

I was thinking a modular group, but eventually having a club modular layout in a location. I am also in the Chicago area. (It was Elmhurst that did this to me.)

I don't want to have strict rules, just a system based on trust. (If you move club equipment, let someone know.)

Personally, I model the Pennsy around the WW2 era, but anything I'd build would be Pennsy theme, but generic enough. Can modular layouts include large passenger stations (think 5 station tracks 10 cars each and the main line) and roundhouses?

Another modular question. How many 2x4 modules can I fit in an SUV? Back seats aren't needed. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:52 PM

Pennsy_I1
So, my question is, how do I go about starting my own club?

I guess you have to start "locally", and see who is interested, getting together at some one's house who has a lay out, and if it works, maybe do a "round robin" type thing, with others that have a lay out, and share your interest of building a club.

I don't think a model railroad club is a "build it, and they will come"  thing.

Good luck.

Mike.

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Posted by Paul3 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 9:30 PM

Elmhurst, IL?  Aren't they in a crazy locale that requires all the tenents in the above floors to have access to the club 24-7 due to all the utilities running through the club area, and therefore, everyone takes all their equipment home every night? 

As for starting a club, IMHO you have two options: start a "no rules" club, or start an "all rules" club.  Anything in between will be trouble down the road.  Make it equal, make it fair, and follow your own rules (whatever they are)...always.  Nothing kills a club faster than having some members "more equal than others".  I've been in a club for almost 30 years now, and I've seen how good and bad things can get.

I think the hardest thing is going to be recuiting new members for a new club.  You'd have to advertize somehow...probably online these days or start hanging out at hobby shops (perhaps they have a bulletin board available?) or train shows.

Start small.  Meet new members socially (meet first at a restaurant, train show, Rochelle Jct.?) and get to know them.  Clubs are supposed to build friendships.  Without friends, a club is a cold thing, indeed.

Explain from the start any expectations: will there be a focused era, will all railroads be allowed, will there be operations, and most importantly, what is the expectation of quality?  Do you want a museum-quality layout or are snap track and grass mats acceptable?

I've seen large passenger stations on modular layouts.  At Springfield (MA) every year, there's the Mohegan & Peqout club and the Dry Hill club that each has large over-the-track stations.  Roundhouses are rare, but you could probably get one into a corner module...unless you do FreeMo.

Good luck!

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Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 10:29 PM

Yep, you're right about Elmhurst. That's definetly a "too-many-rules" club. 

Would it work to have the layout itself set in the 30s and 40s on the PRR, but for any equipment to be allowed? I really like the position light signals..

Should a layout with a fixed configuration of modules have an employee timetable? We all know that there are going to be places 6 axles can't go.

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Posted by jasperofzeal on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 11:36 PM

Pennsy_I1
Would it work to have the layout itself set in the 30s and 40s on the PRR, but for any equipment to be allowed? I really like the position light signals..

Should a layout with a fixed configuration of modules have an employee timetable? We all know that there are going to be places 6 axles can't go.

These are questions better answered by your future club members.  You're putting the cart before the horse.

TONY

"If we never take the time, how can we ever have the time." - Merovingian (Matrix Reloaded)

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 12:14 AM

Hi Victoria,

Too bad about your situation.

I am the President of the Barrie Allandale Railway Modellers. I wish to address only one issue regarding starting and operating a club no matter how informal it might be.

If you are going to be in a leadership role you would be wise to get some insurance. Either that or you take on all the potential liabilities yourself. IMHO that would not be wise. People can sue you for whatever reason they can come up with, but no matter how meritless the law suit might be, you will have to defend yourself and that costs money! Liability insurance is much cheaper than paying a lawyer directly.

Just to show you how stupid people can be, at our last show and sale one of the vendors backed into another vendor's van while trying to unload before the show. The first vendor, the person who hit the other vendor's van, is suing the other vendor for failing to allow him proper access to the unloading area! The vendor who's vehicle was hit and was there first and already parked is getting sued!!! I'm surprised the club isn't getting sued too. In fact, I'm expecting we will be sued when the first vendor finds out that he is no longer welcome at our shows.

In order to get insurance you will probably need to incorporate. That you can do yourself, at least you can here in Canada.

Good luck! I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but you would be wise to protect yourself IMHO.

Dave

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Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 12:22 AM

hon30critter

Hi Victoria,

Too bad about your situation.

I am the President of the Barrie Allandale Railway Modellers. I wish to address only one issue regarding starting and operating a club no matter how informal it might be.

If you are going to be in a leadership role you would be wise to get some insurance. Either that or you take on all the potential liabilities yourself. IMHO that would not be wise. People can sue you for whatever reason they can come up with, but no matter how meritless the law suit might be, you will have to defend yourself and that costs money! Liability insurance is much cheaper than paying a lawyer directly.

Just to show you how stupid people can be, at our last show and sale one of the vendors backed into another vendor's van while trying to unload before the show. The first vendor, the person who hit the other vendor's van, is suing the other vendor for failing to allow him proper access to the unloading area! The vendor who's vehicle was hit and was there first and already parked is getting sued!!! I'm surprised the club isn't getting sued too. In fact, I'm expecting we will be sued when the first vendor finds out that he is no longer welcome at our shows.

In order to get insurance you will probably need to incorporate. That you can do yourself, at least you can here in Canada.

Good luck! I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but you would be wise to protect yourself IMHO.

Dave

 

Thank you for the helpful advice. A few questions about liability insurance. One, what are some of the common restrictions on club members? I don't want to make the same mistakes that Elmhurst made. (when I took my then girlfriend with me, she compared it to the Gestapo). Does it have an effect on things like module storage? And, say if and when I get a club running in an at least semi-permanent location, if a member hits my car in the lot, would it protect me from being sued over parking by that person?

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Posted by Pennsy_I1 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 12:36 AM

Another question: Should I build a layout on a ping-pong table or a 4 x 8 to get it started?

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 1:18 AM

Pennsy_I1
One, what are some of the common restrictions on club members?

We have very few rules for our club members. The most important ones are the requirement to act in a pleasant and respectful manner towards other members of the club, and to not place the club at risk by doing stupid things.

We recently expelled a would be member because he had done some incredibly stupid things at our last show that could have resulted in law suits or having the club's public image destroyed. How about potentially causing food poisening despite being instructed several times on how to handle the food, and this clown has a food handling license?!? How about abandoning his position as a safety guard at doors that the Fire Marshal had deemed to be unsafe in the event of an emergency?!? I could go on.

As far as operating rules go, we have very few. We politely request that you follow your train at all times in order to prevent collisions (that has proven to be hard for some people who love to chat), but we don't give a hoot as to what you are running as long as it isn't stalling or derailing constantly and interferring with other trains.

Regarding getting sued, nothing can stop someone from suing you! Like I said earlier, it doesn't matter how stupid the law suit is. That's what the insurance is for. I would suggest that you talk to your own insurance agent or a lawyer to get advice that is appropriate for your particular situation. In Ontario you can get a 1/2 hr consultation with a lawyer at no charge through the Law Society of Upper Canada. There might be something similar in your area. If you have a law school close by the students may be willing to do more for you.

I should mention that, as the club President, it falls to me to address any abhorrant behaviour. I don't have a problem with that, although it can be disheartening to have to speak to a supposedly intelligent adult about their childish behaviour. I see that as part of the responsibilities I took on when I put my name on the ballot. Fortunately, such events are very rare. Patience is a virtue!

Something that you might want to do is organize a meeting for potential club members and see if your local media will post the event in their upcoming events calenders. Model Railroader and other hobby publications might be willing to allow you to post in their on line upcoming events calender as well. Maybe print up some posters to distribute to local hobby shops (if any). You might be able to reserve a room at the local library for little or no money.

Again, good luck! Don't hesitate to ask more questions. My advice is probably as bad as everyone else's Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh

Dave

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Posted by Jimmy_Braum on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:50 AM

IF you and any other potential members are NMRA members, the NMRA offer insurance for 100% clubs. 

  My club is pretty laid back.  We have the upstairs of a borough owned building(6 room old apartment), and have a double decker HO scale layout that runs the length of the building.

 

anyway, our rules are :

any new members are on probation for six months.  If after 6 months it will work out, the member is off probation and gets a key to the club.

Any new members need to join the NMRA-Insurwnce requirement 

any layout renovations are brought before the club st our business meeting and approved.

all junior members are required to have their parent/guardian with them at all times  when in the club.

You can bring your own equipment, or run club equipment.  Respect club equip if used  

 

(My Model Railroad, My Rules) 

These are the opinions of a 26 year old, from the east end of, and modeling, the same section of the Wheeling and Lake Erie railway.  As well as a freelanced road (Austinville and Dynamite City railroad).

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:20 AM

Victoria,

.

I am terribly sorry to hear that you were not treated fairly because of your identity. That is an unforgiveable situation.

.

Is there any chance you could relocate to a more tolerant community and join a club there?

.

I was a founding member of Scale Rails of Southwest Florida back in the early 1980's. I was not involved in the legal side of matters, but I can assure you that it was not simple. Fortunately we had to attorneys in the group, and without them, it might not have happened. Starting a club will always be difficult.

.

Good luck. Please stick around in the forums.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by emdmike on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 10:30 AM

I would love to get an HO modular group started in north central Indiana myself.  Both local clubs, one in a hobby shop and a round robin style group are way to much dictatorships and political BS. It totally takes the fun out of the hobby. But I also enjoy taking my trains to shows to run for the enjoyment for others.  Only nice modular group around my parts that I know of is a large Ntrak group, N is to small for me anymore.  From past experiences with modular groups when I lived somewhere else, the corner modules were club owned, as was the control system be it DCC or Analog throttles, the straight sections were member owned with the track end points at each module set to a standard so all would line up, same for table design, leg and leveling bolt designs.  What went on the module(s) was up to each member.  Some were incorperated into the members home layout between shows.  Some had several modules that all went together to achieve the scene.   Curve radius was 22" or larger, mainline turnouts were #6 or #8 to allow for smooth transistion from main one to main two or into sidings.  Some larger modular groups have a large single ended yard inside the layout to make up and break down trains.  Some also incorperate operation with switch lists or a car card system.  What I have found is finding enough people to get the whole operation started.  Enough to buy the wood/track/scenery for the corner modules, then to build the straight sections.  I would suggest making the layout able to run both DCC and Analog as not everybody is on the DCC bandwagon.  This was one big issue at one of the local club, they dictated DCC or nothing.  This ran off several folks, along with the "dictator" mentality of the president and VP.  That said, if anybody near me wants to get something started, post here!     Mike the Aspie

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 11:39 AM

Pennsy_I1
It was xxxxxxxx that did this to me.)

We have only heard your side of the issue.  Personally, I don't care for the idea of dragging a particular club through the mud without allowing them the opportunity to respond.  In fact, I'm surprised that the moderators would even allow any reference to this portion of your posts.

My opinion would be that all references to this be edited out.

Pennsy_I1
I don't want to have strict rules, just a system based on trust. (If you move club equipment, let someone know.) Personally, I model the Pennsy around the WW2 era, but anything I'd build would be Pennsy theme, but generic enough.

Yeah, right.  Good luck.  This always amuses me. "I don't want to have strict rules".  What is the definition of "strict"? None?  Or everything other than moving equipment is allowed?

And it sounds like you have already defined what the railroad theme is to be.  So now you only have to find X number of individuals in a limited population who will agree with you.  Seems like the street might be named One Way.

The only way I see any of this happening is for you to have a benovelent dictatorship.  That is, you build the railroad in your basement and invite people in to help you build and operate.  Then you can un-invite anyone you please.

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Posted by Steven Otte on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 11:58 AM

maxman

 

 
Pennsy_I1
It was xxxxxxxx that did this to me.)

 

We have only heard your side of the issue.  Personally, I don't care for the idea of dragging a particular club through the mud without allowing them the opportunity to respond.  In fact, I'm surprised that the moderators would even allow any reference to this portion of your posts.

My opinion would be that all references to this be edited out.

I hope you are referring to the name of the club, since that's the only portion of the OP's post that I think should be edited out.

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Posted by Graham Line on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 12:29 PM

Our group started out with very few rules. Dues, voting on new members, that sort of thing.

Over a couple decades we have had to add regulations on all sorts of things to enforce common sense.  One member railroaded in a thick set of very strict rules from a much larger club in a much different situation.  We have been gradually shedding those that don't apply.

Like the US Constitution, it is probably best to start out with a bare-bones statement of purpose, a few rules to regulate how you conduct business, and thrash out amendments as they are needed.

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 1:39 PM

Steven Otte
I hope you are referring to the name of the club, since that's the only portion of the OP's post that I think should be edited out.

Absotutely.  That's why I put in the xxxxxx.

And in any of the subsequent posts where they say things like "xxxx, that crazy...club".   What is our basis for all that?  Hearsay?

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 1:40 PM

Graham Line
Our group started out with very few rules. Dues, voting on new members, that sort of thing. Over a couple decades we have had to add regulations on all sorts of things to enforce common sense. 

.

Scale Rails of Southwest Florida started in 1982 as an informal group with no layout, no meeting location, no real vision, and no plans.

.

We were just a group of people who loved trains. We had members building 7 1/2" gauge live steam, full sized speeder cars, and Z through G.

.

The club has evolved into NMRA only membership in N and HO only, with a list of rules that could choke a donkey. 

.

Yep, start simple and let things evolve.

.

With Scale Rails of Southwest Florida, it was about 8 to 10 years in when the club evolved to the point that Bruce, who formed the club, felt it left him and his interests behind, and he resigned from the club.

.

I left the club in 1994.

.

It is still going strong without us.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by CGW121 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 2:42 PM

I am from that area as well. I know people in that club and have heard good and bad things about it. But there are a lot of other clubs in the general area. And I know several are member searchiing. Best bet is to ask around and see which clubs are looking for members. Most hobby shops can give you leads.

 

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Posted by Paul3 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 2:45 PM

maxman,
C'mon, man.  I said they were in a "...crazy locale that requires all the tenents in the above floors to have access to the club 24-7 due to all the utilities running through the club..." not that they were a "crazy...club".  I know the rules of their locale to be true because I've been there.  I talked to several of the members during one of their open houses and they are the ones that explained it to me.  It's a big club layout with almost no cars or engines on it...and that was during an open house.  I asked why not, and got the above answer.

IMHO, a club locale that requires giving 24-7 access to the club to non-members who happen to live in the multi-story building above you is crazy.  One destructive/disgruntled renter and the club layout would be wrecked.  My family rented out our old house once to a family while my layout was still in the process of moving out of the basement, and the little brat they had sprayed orange spraypaint all over everything that was still left (mostly buildings).

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 4:49 PM

Paul3
C'mon, man. I said they were in a "...crazy locale that requires all the tenents in the above floors to have access to the club 24-7 due to all the utilities running through the club..." not that they were a "crazy...club".

Yes, that is what you said.  It was the preceeding sentence identifying the location that bothered me.  If you had said "is that the club in a location where...", then no problem.

Why am I sensitive to this?  Because I belong to a club that had a problem member.  And I believe that he uses every opportunity to drag the club's name, and the officer's names, through the mud.  What he doesn't bother telling anyone is that he has been asked to leave multiple other organizations before and since for the same reasons that got him banned from our playground.

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Posted by chutton01 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 4:57 PM

Pennsy_I1
Another question: Should I build a layout on a ping-pong table or a 4 x 8 to get it started?


If you're thinking modular, then in HO you'd likely be going Free-Mo, and so each module would be "self contained" in respect to having its own legs and frame:  Standards. You can do a lot within Free-Mo, but there are some constraints.

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Posted by Paul3 on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:47 PM

maxman,
You deleted 25 of my words between "crazy" and "club".  It is clear that I was talking about their locale that is crazy, not the club itself.  I can get into enough trouble with what I actually mean at times; I don't need any help with that.  Big Smile 

I sympathize with your situation about the bad ex-member as we've had them, too.  Thieves, embezzlers, bullies, etc.  But I disagree with the idea that legitimate complaints cannot be made against clubs.  There can be bad clubs just like there can be bad ex-members.  In this particular case, I have no opinion.  As you said, we've heard only one side of the story.  But that does not change my opinion that having 24-7 access to non-members is crazy.  That's all I meant, and that's all I'll say about them.

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Posted by emdmike on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 9:33 PM

I think with a modular club, the modules could be done as scenes, one module or a couple togther might feature a PRR scene with position light signals, the next could be out west on the Santa Fe, or any other line that module owner enjoys.  This showcases each modeler's tallent and taste.  Or just keep the scenery generic.  A club layout per say really cannot "force" a theme and expect to keep decent member ship numbers.  A local one that was a fixed layout in its own building was that way when I joined.  Run thru power was frowned upon, but after a few years of dwindling membership, we opened up the era of operation and it was anything goes era wise.  That helped keep membership numbers up for several more years till many of the younger guys moved away or got busy with family and were nolonger able to attend.  Sadly this club closed up a few years ago.  I would want to keep anything I got up and running as informal as possible, with the key rule to have fun running trains.  Life in general is stressfull enough, i get enough grief from mangement at the factory, I dont need it or want to give it out while running trains.  My trains are my stress relief, this is the primary reason I do not belong to any local clubs anymore.    

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Posted by Steven Otte on Thursday, April 11, 2019 9:55 AM

Paul3, Maxman, to your corners. Drop this bickering or I'll have to step in.

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Posted by Eilif on Thursday, April 11, 2019 11:21 AM

Pennsy_I1
 

I was thinking a modular group, but eventually having a club modular layout in a location. I am also in the Chicago area. (It was Elmhurst that did this to me.)

I don't want to have strict rules, just a system based on trust. (If you move club equipment, let someone know.)

Personally, I model the Pennsy around the WW2 era, but anything I'd build would be Pennsy theme, but generic enough. Can modular layouts include large passenger stations (think 5 station tracks 10 cars each and the main line) and roundhouses?

Another modular question. How many 2x4 modules can I fit in an SUV? Back seats aren't needed. 

 

As you're appear to be in the Chicago Metro area, I'd check out the other clubs first.  Google maps search for "Model Railroad Clubs) shows all the ones (zoom wide to see the ones in Will and Kane Counties) I know of except for the Oak Park society of Model Engineers.   I've not visited them myself https://www.opsme.org/

I'd take the time to visit those clubs and get a feel for what they're up too, how things are run, etc.

As for your specific questions.

-A modular club can include most things if the club has provisions for multi-module features and/or wider modules.  The important thing is just that the main lines enter and exit at the proscribed locations and other standards are kept.  Roundhouses are a tough one, though if you can add a module as a T intersection or perhaps a double-wide module that might be possible.   This is the kind  of thing you'd hash out with your club and with the standards you all decide to adopt.

-As for how many you can fit in an SUV, that depends entirely on how wide and deep your cargo area is and how tall your modules are.  

 

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Posted by emdmike on Thursday, April 11, 2019 11:30 AM

Depending on scenery height and the ablity to stack them without damaging said scenery, I can fit 2 or 3 in the back of my Jeep Liberty.  But they just fit, barely.  Most modular groups I see at shows(none local to me though) have a covered trailer that serves to purposes, to transport to the shows and to securely store the modules when not in use.  Just depends on who owns what, if most modules go home with the group members, then only the corner modules need a place to go/be stored when not in use.  I have also seen a varient of the T track design(N Scale) done for HO scale where the modules are much smaller and just sit on top of the normal train show tables.  These are much easier to transport and set up as they are much lighter in weight.  The group can either use the tables provided by the show, or buy thier own.  A bag of "wood shims" is handy as many of those tables do not always exactly line up heightwise.   

 

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • 6,651 posts
Posted by maxman on Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:46 PM

Steven Otte

Paul3, Maxman, to your corners. Drop this bickering or I'll have to step in.

 

I was not aware we were "bickering".
 
Paul3, were you bickering?
 
I thought it was just a couple old
                                               
having a discussion.  He is correct that I misread his post.  And for that I apoligize.
 
Unicode's New Emojis: 36 of the Most (and Least) Useful ...?
 
All that said and getting back to my original reason for posting in the first place, I still believe that unsupported acccusations about any individual or organisation do not have a place on this or any other forum.  Seems that I was incorrect.

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