This month’s feature is the St. Alban’s Railroad Fellowship (StARR) submitted by Frank Martin, StARR’s Operations Manager.  The StARR is a large HO scale layout includes both 2 and 4 track NMRA modules with strong point-to-point operations, and in the future, will include Free-Mo modules.  The StARR is located in the suburbs west of Philadelphia.

Club Name: St. Alban’s Railroad Fellowship

Famous for:  The club is most proud of Albanwood Steel.  There is no particular prototype but its basic layout and operations were designed by our regional “steel mill expert”, Mike Rabbitt.  It is a 24-foot module in three 8-foot sections with a blast furnace, electric furnace, soaking pit, rolling mill, and administration building.  Most of the buildings are from the Walther’s cornerstone series.  During an operating session, the steel mill is served by three trains: a coke/limestone train, an ore train, and a mixed commodities train; and, two “pours” of the blast furnace are simulated during each operating session.

Description:  Fellowship includes railfans and model railroaders from all walks of life.  While individual interests and skills vary widely, the railroads that helped build our nation are the common bond.  To satisfy varied interests, the program includes clinics, presentations, videos, socializing, trips, and model railroading.  While affiliated with St. Alban’s Church, the fellowship is a non-sectarian group of railfans and model railroaders mostly in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »

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The NZ120 module standards are an interesting example of localization and adaptation using availbable materials to model New Zealand local prototypes.

The Automationz webpage explains, “NZ120 is the common name (within New Zealand Model Railway Guild circles) for a scale more accurately referred to as TTn3.5, that is 1:120 scale (or 1/10″ to the foot) modelling of a 3’6″ prototype (the gauge of all of New Zealand’s rail lines).”  This page also has a thorough review and comparision of other popular module standards and how NZ120 came to be.

 The New Zealand Model Railway Guild publishes the NZModel Railway Journal and has links to plan sets, FAQsuppliers, photo gallery and events listings.  The sample article, One Thing or Another, is a sample article showing the flavor of New Zealand railway modeling, including wonderful railway model photos.

 The Chosen Scale Cooperative has their 1999-2002 newsletter index online and provide additional details regarding NZ120 cost, model availability and techniques.  The Cooperative also has a brief “What is NZ120” introduction available.

The Railmodel Electronics and NZ120 page as links to photo galleries, NZ120 module standards, and thorough discussion of the NZ120 design concept.

 There are also several active blogs covering the world of NZ120, including:

Finally, there is also a very active Yahoo NZ120 group with almost 100 members and 20-80 messages per month as of December 2008.

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Your local hobby shop is your best source of supply.  Returns are easy, advice is available and your local hobby shop can get anything you can find on the internet.  For those of us without a local hobby shop nearby, the following is an alphabetical list from various threads at the Model Railroader forums: Read the rest of this entry »

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The following is a collection of links and how-to articles that may be useful when building sectional, modular or portable layouts:

DCC University and Realistic Scenery clinics from Joe Fugate’s forums

Schedule of Model Railroad Shows – Little Toy Trains

Ten Commandments of Model Railroad Yard Design – Houstonic RR

Make Your Own Homasote Roadbed – Houstonic RR

Backdrop Painting with Artists Oils – Houstonic RR Read the rest of this entry »

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This month’s feature is the Pocatello Model Railroad & Historical Society’s large NMRA HO modular layout located on the Union Pacific Railroad’s premises in Pocatello, Idaho.  The club’s history details various moves that have been possible because of the modular layout.

Club Name: Pocatello Model Railroad and Historical Society, a 501c3 non-profit.

Famous for:  Replica of the Oregon Shortline Roundhouse with 53 stalls set at 6 degree intervals around a 100 foot long turntable.
     Walk thru module published in Model Railroader magazine.  Website has details for the prototype Lift-Bridge Module or an alternative Swinging Door Module.

Address: Union Pacific uilding B-59 SouthWest, near intersection of Main and Bonneville, Pocatello, Idaho, USA


Photo Album: Yes, both of modular layout and historic Pocatello. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society will host a meet at La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona, on Saturday, April 19. Here’s the official meet website including the clinic line-up:

You do not have to be a Society member to attend the meet.

SouthWest Free-mo will again be part of the Society’s meet and will set-up trackside in the Depot waiting room at the La Posada Hotel. SouthWest Free-mo will be in the Depot on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 18-20. Here are photos from last year’s SouthWest Free-mo Winslow set-up:

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The Hostlers 2008 Model Railroad Festival will be held February 29 to March 2 at the Union Station in Ogden Utah.  Adult admission is $5.00 and includes all Festival attractions as well as the Ogden Union Station Museums.  Children under 12 are free.  This the the intermountain West’s largest show, attracting about 7,000 people in 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

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NMRA 4th Div, Pacific Northwest Region HO Module SIG has a photo album of its recent setups.  Of great interest to module builders are the two pages of recommendations and procedures on making setups at shows a better experience for both the public and the club.

The first page is titled, “Procedures and Reliability” and links to “during show” topics including: Read the rest of this entry »

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 Z scale is the smallest, electrically operated model train scale commerically available.  Z scale (1:220) is about 3/4 smaller than N scale (1:160).  Z scale is a fascinating scale because the diminutive size of the trains can be realistically overwhelmed by the scenery.  Additional general information on Z scale model railroading is can be found in the bi-monthly magazine,

There are two modular standards for Z scale, both have similarities to the Ntrak standards interface standards.  Unlike Ntrak, both Z scale standards are endplate or interface only standards and do not specify module length or angles.  This allows the free form of Free-mo modules with “balloon” turn around loops. Read the rest of this entry »

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Montana NTRAK will be at the Gallatin Valley Mall in Bozeman, MT on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26-27, 2008.  The Exposition will introduce Montana Ntrak and the hobby of Ntrak modular model railroading to the Bozeman general public.  We will have trains running continuously on four lines: Red, Yellow, and Blue with the big radius turns, and Green (the Mountain Line) up top.

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Spring Free-Mo at RIT will be held at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, New York on March 21, 22, 23.   Please contact the run chief, Mike Walsh, by February 3, 2008 to participate with modules in this event.  More information is available in a pdf at:

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“Dominoes” are typically 2 x 4 foot sections or modules of “open grid” benchwork that bolt together to make a railroad layout.  The use of dominoes has been credited to and popularized by David Barrow on his Cat Mountain and Santa Fe.

 There are several nice forum threads and photo albums detailing the layout construction using domino type construction: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Eagle Rock Railroad Historical Society (“ERRHS”) in Idaho Falls Idaho held their annual Railshow 2007 on October 13-14, 2007.  The Great Basin Lego Train Club, the Rocky Mountain Hi-Railers and the Hostlers displayed operating layouts, along with the Eagle Rock’s permanent club layout in the basement.

Hostlers Model Railroad Club (“HMRRC”) from Ogden, Utah had their HO modular layout on display.  The Hostlers run NMRA compliant modules with 3 lines.  The outer line is DC and the two inner lines are DCC.

Hostlers wide radius corner modulesHostlers wide radius corner modules. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Four County Society of Model Engineers (““)modular club was started in 1975 and is located in Central Maryland.  FCSME uses module specification that is “backward” compatible with the NMRA standards.  The FCSME module standards are available on CD for $10.  The FCSME website also features extensive photo galleries of past shows and layouts. Read the rest of this entry »

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YouTube has a nice series of 9 videos by Evert or “thebige61″ on making scenery using extruded foam (pink or blue).  The videos are very thorough and well done.  They cover everything from tool selection to completion of the scenery with dirt and grass.  Highly recommended. Read the rest of this entry »

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