There are 3 train clubs with large layouts within 25 miles of my home. I enjoy visiting their open houses and seeing the layouts progress. I have two tables at one of these club's swap meets 5 times each year.

Having my own "large" layout, and a group of train friends that I have lunch and/or layout get-togethers once a month, I'm thinking about what the pro and cons would be to joining one of these train clubs. I'm retired and would have time to devote.

One of my concerns is that when talking to members of all three clubs is that they seem to frequently complain about other club members. I'm looking for a positive experience.

Do you belong to a local train club of this sort? Pro and con advise please

Original Post

I have been a member of NJ Hirailers Club in Paterson, NJ for over ten years. Without getting into the weeds, overall it has been a positive experience. Our members share a common interest in hi rail model railroading. Each one contributes their skills in maintaining a large 185' X 35' layout.  It is a club and members do have different personalities, opinions, etc. which is to be expected.      

Lionelski posted:

One of my concerns is that when talking to members of all three clubs is that they seem to frequently complain about other club members. I'm looking for a positive experience.

Do you belong to a local train club of this sort? Pro and con advise please

You will have to decide if the (hopefully few) members that believe they run the show and their friends are worth the grief. Like Paul mentions, with any large group of any kind there will be some issues. If you can tolerate it and not let it bother you give it a try. Have volunteered with a local organization for 20 years, they have been through 5 leaders, all female and last one is very nice too though she has a "my way is the only correct way" even to placing bags in a pile and they have lost over half their employee volunteers. For me, it's not a job and it is for a good cause so I let it roll off.

You'll have to see them in action a few times. Was at a multiple layout facility and the N guys wanted nothing to do with you while the HO guys right next to them said "Come inside the layout" and explained their layout which was fully signaled and able to run multiple trains without human intervention.  If I lived there and was in N I'd have converted to HO and joined! I hope your potential guys are a good group and you enjoy it.

In the past I was a member of a couple train clubs with large layouts, but once I got my own large layout, I was done with the clubs. Clubs are a real trade off between the social aspects and the politics of an organization. A home layout you are the boss, but a large home layout is a lot of work. In the end only you can decide which best suits your desires, as both have advantages and disadvantages.

You should check out my layout construction topic, by clicking on the "follow the progress" link in my signature. There are 50 pages and six and a half years of material to look at. Just skim through it to get an idea of what it is like. Many have asked if my layout was a club, it's that big.

PAUL ROMANO posted:

I have been a member of NJ Hirailers Club in Paterson, NJ for over ten years. Without getting into the weeds, overall it has been a positive experience. Our members share a common interest in hi rail model railroading. Each one contributes their skills in maintaining a large 185' X 35' layout.  It is a club and members do have different personalities, opinions, etc. which is to be expected.      

With any organization there are always going to be some folks who disagree with the majority but isn't government by the majority the definition of a democracy?  Why should a club be any different (unless it's one that is not run by the membership).  I state this as a positive - if the folks who are saying bad things are still members how much is it about a real issue vs being of a different opinion?  If it was a real issue I would think they would cease being a member.

I thoroughly enjoy being part of the NJ Hi-Railers even though I have not had the chance to meet everyone.   Working all our open houses and attending various meets and shows with fellow members is a blast as well as getting to share the hobby and interact with the general public.   My only con is I live 2 hours away and until my son goes off to college in a year, I'm limited to being an associate member - but that's ok.  It's great the club has a level of membership which fits my current situation. 

As long as you are able to meet the requirements of membership and are welcomed by fellow members I say go for it.  If it's not a good fit you can always end your association with the club.   You really have nothing to lose and the potential to gain something very valuable far outweighs any doubts you are having now.

-Greg

 

Member of the Brotherhood of the Crappy Basement Layout

Associate Member of the NJ Hi-Railers

Image result for nj hirailers logo

 

overlandflyer posted:

in any club with more than two people, there is always going to be a time when you will hear someone complaining about another club member...  and if you don't, they're complaining about you.

Given the divorce rate in this country, even clubs with only two people don't always see eye to eye.

Here, the Paradise and Pacific RR Club is about 80 full members, has a large layout available to all members during the week, and 2 members are assigned to run each weekend day so all get a day every 2-3 months all their own. The personalities can be diverse, and some have issues but the club does not allow political or non train issues at the club, we want people into running trains and having fun as share their talents and trains for others to see and enjoy, the public is in our building 363 days a year.

Paradise & Pacific Railroad

Been a member of the Ocean County Society of Model Railroaders in Lakewood, NJ for close to 20 years. I am now the president of the club with my former president taking a step back as the vice. I handle all the issues that arise and our treasurer handles the finances.

We have 38 members of 30 are on the O gauge side and 8 are on the HO side. Both layouts are in their own room and are about 18 x 40 feet. Believe it not, the HO and O gauge guys enjoy the club together. They do their modeling and we run trains! No bickering, no bs goes on here. 

We attempt to grow the hobby and bring new folks into the club. The 38 members are quite diverse in their past careers as most of us are retired or work part time.

Great club, great members, we enjoy trains. We have an open invite to anyone in the NJ area to visit.

www.ocsmr.com

Thanks,

Ted Bertiger

Ted Bertiger, President

Ocean County Society of Model Railroaders Lakewood, N.J.

www.ocsmr.com

 

The train club that I belong to has 100 plus members and the Layout is portable and Set up at train Shows and conventions and it is 28ft long x 18 ft wide with 2 O gauge main Lines and a Bypass track and one Standard and S gauge loop.There is a Layout comittee that Sets up and maintains the layout,but as with all organisations the work is done by a Small core group.The main users are those members without home Layouts.

Mikey

I am an honorary member of a large HO club on Long Island.  Before I moved to Florida I had been on the Board of Directors, and several years was the Chairman of the Board.  After I moved they made me an honorary member.  They've had issues with a few members being "toxic" resulting in low participation by other members, and few new members joining.  Once the toxic members left participation has increased, as well as a lot of new members joining.

The club/museum I joined in Florida is smaller, with both HO and N scale layouts.  There has been some issues between some members, but nothing so bad as to endanger the club.  Some members, even though they only model in scale, help out on both layouts.

Stuart

 

The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an on coming train!

I belong to the Tidewater O Gauge Association (TOGA) here in Norfolk. We started out 25+ years ago as a small bunch of mostly (dare I say) older guys with a modular layout set up in a rented room in a church. We still have a modular "road show" layout that we set up at shows but we also have a large permanent layout as well. We have increased the size of our roster over the years but have always had a core group of members that gets stuff done and makes stuff happen. Some of that group are charter members and some came along later. We are a friendly - and sometimes rowdy - bunch and very informal. We've had some members who disliked our lack of parliamentary procedure at meetings, some who wanted to run the club like a military organization, and some with abrasive or in other ways annoying personalities. You'll find them in any social group. Most of those folks are no longer with our merry band, or have toned down their behavior. One thing I found out years ago when I first joined a club while stationed at NAS Whidbey Island: the hobby is a lot more fun when you have fellow model rails to share it with, than it is when you're a "lone wolf".  

Prior to moving south I was a member of Central Operating Lines on Long Island for 12 years. With about 60 members, there were occasional issues between members, but overall the positives greatly outweighed the negatives. I learned a tremendous amount about creating scenery, maintaining trains, trackwork, etc. Many of the members bought the newest, latest locomotives and scale cars, so I got to enjoy seeing them run. 

Though it is a cliche, you do get out of it what you put into it. Folks will join a train club for many reasons. Some like building the layout, some like doing scenery, some just want to run their trains on a large layout. Some are willing to work at swap meets or on the layout, others, not so much. Some are scale fanatics (it has to be prototypical!), others enjoy postwar, 027, etc. Everybody got the chance to run their trains, finances were transparent and Friday nights were always fun after a week of work.

Blend all of the above and you will get some disagreements. The skill of the club officers in keeping everybody happy is very important and we were lucky in that regard.

I'd do it again if there was a similar club where I live now.

 

I am a member of Train masters of Babylon LI NY and  for me it has been  and is a wonderful experience I have learned a lot  and gotten tons of help whenever I needed it  You can always quit if it is not right for you but if you do not give it a try you will never know

68B062EE-5DD0-411C-9319-3D536F088737  to Appalachian Model Railroad Society Club here in the Ashland,Ky / Ironton Oh / Huntington,WV  Tristate Area.

The club has a large O gauge layout that the club transports to shows all over the area.

It will be at the 2nd annual Morehead History & Railroad Museum train show ,Morehead Kentucky  next weekend Aug. 24th and 25th.

The club has various scale layouts all in one location and hosts an annual show at the Kyova Mall in Boyd Co. Ky.

The clubs Facebook is  " Appalachian Model Railroad Society Train Show and Sale " .

Collin "The Eastern Kentucky & Ohio R.R."

I have fully enjoyed my five years with the Milwaukee Lionel Railroad Club in New Berlin, WI, and here’s my summary.

Pros:

- Plenty of space and the ability to run 17 trains at once.

- Social connections with other hobbyists interested in the same scale of trains.

- Hands-on learning of modern control systems.

- Occasions to show off your trains to an appreciative public.

Cons:

- Occasional personality clashes, though nothing too dramatic.

- A tendency for some members to be inconsiderate (such as running three trains at once when the club is busy).

- Government-type atmosphere at certain points to manage finances, new ideas and other practical issues.

The pros far outweigh the cons.

Jim R. 

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