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The only reason I joined the TCA is for the sole benefit of being able to attend the York train shows on member only days.  

According to their membership benefits page, Train Meets is their #1 reason for joining (See picture). 

So I'm just curious, how many of you (attendees or vendors) joined the TCA for the sole benefit of attending one of their train meets (shows) around the country?

Have Fun!





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Last edited by Ron045
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@Ron045 posted:


So I'm just curious, how many of you (attendees or vendors) joined the TCA for the sole benefit of attending one of their train meets (shows) around the country?




Aside from York, the public (at least in my area) has always been able to attend local TCA shows. Usually a TCA member could get in a hour earlier (8 instead of 9). Most of the big shows around here, like Allentown, Greenberg, and WGH, are not TCA affiliated.

Interesting question. In the beginning half the train friends belonged to TCA to attend York and local meets. As they quit going to York almost all have dropped their memberships feeling the Divisions didn't offer enough to justify paying local and national dues.  

With the end of MTH will it change York attendance? Plus with the uncertainty of this virus issue will there be many meets at all in 2021? 

Last edited by BobbyD

I originally joined the TCA in 1989 to specifically go to the Eastern division meet in York . Started off going twice a year. Then they was a lapse of a number of years when I did not attend York . York will continue to evolve. Lionel does October now and MTH will be done this coming  April. How much that will eventually affect York is anyones guess. As it stands now and not knowing how train shows are going to fair in the future I do like the monthly publications they send out each month so I wil continue to be a member of the TCA. ....Paul 2

There are definitely "fair weather" members. 

I guess I should have fully expected it considering the way these discussions have gone in the past, but I was saddened a bit when I saw  one forum member mentioning being a former TCA member due to allowing his to lapse due to York being cancelled this year.

So I joined initially to go to York (paid membership at the door to join my first time), but I've certainly gotten enough enjoyment of the organization over the years, there is no way I am letting it lapse just because York doesn't happen due to the pandemic.

@Joe Hohmann posted:

Aside from York, the public (at least in my area) has always been able to attend local TCA shows. Usually a TCA member could get in a hour earlier (8 instead of 9). Most of the big shows around here, like Allentown, Greenberg, and WGH, are not TCA affiliated.

If you mean Atlantic Division meets, it has been that way for a while, but I'm pretty sure it was not always that way.  I want to guess that changed in the early 00's (maybe very late 90's), but I forget the exact year.

I'm thinking it may have opened to the public around the same time all the different venues were being tried out after the meets moved away from the Westover County Club.


Last edited by Dave45681

I joined because my father and my uncle co-sponsored me back in the day when that was a thing.  I stayed because of the people, not the trains.  Desert Division for me has been a wonderful experience.  They have put up with my endless PRR presentations, 3rd Rail presentations, HO presentations and everything most of the members don't collect.  We have our first socially distanced meeting on the 12th and won't they be surprised with what I bring this time.  Well surprised or bored.  Take your pick.

As an aside I wrote the original bylaws amendment for approval of the national BOD to eliminate the two signature rule when I was a director.  No disrespect towards my family though as having two family members sponsor me was a very cool moment that I didn't appreciate at the time.

I originally joined TCA to sell trains at the Nor-Cal meets.  The monthly pre-covid Nor-Cal meets were open only to TCA members.  There haven't been any meets this year.

However, I maintain both my TCA and Nor-Cal membership because of all the wonderful friends that I have made.  I wouldn't have met any of these folks but for my TCA membership.  I have also had a great time at the two TCA National Conventions that I have attended.  I have never been to York.

For me the benefit of TCA membership boils down to:

1.  Wonderful friends who share my passion for trains of all types.  

2.  The opportunity to attend TCA only events.

3.  TCA National Conventions.

4.  I plan to go to York someday.  

NH Joe

Very interesting Question, actually, I joined to go to York with TCA members as a guest at first. I joined in 2003, attended York, was totally amazed at the Orange Hall, and all the other buildings, and the OGR Meeting in The Grandstands. Wow, a fantastic memory of a fantastic time, with Big Jim Bengert, whom passed away several years ago. We took a whirlwind tour of Howard Zanes fantastic home HO model railroad, SteamTown, in Scranton, drove past Gryzboski’s older store, and the great countryside of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and oh yes Dover Delaware, visiting “Just Trains”. I joined for going to York, but, all of the fun we had involved People, the most important ingredient of the TCA. We also went to Patterson New Jersey to see the most humongous layout we’ve ever been to, “The New Jersey’s Hi Railers layout, unbelievable..... It’s about the people.... I love the booklets like the headquarters news, (Newsletter), “the train collectors quarterly”. Trains are fun and there’s a lot of knowledge of our toy trains in the TCA. A great organization of fun to meet people. Great thread. Happy Railroading Everyone 

I joined back in 2010 to go to York. I was sponsored by two people on this forum (names withheld to protect the guilty parties), and was probably one of the last who had to be sponsored. However, even without York this year (never been to another TCA train show) I kept my membership. Here is why:

-Support the museum (a great place and good source of obscure information)

-Keep my TCA number (add credibility if needed when selling stuff)

-Support their efforts to keep young people in the hobby (I don't want to be doing this by myself in 50 years. If this quarantine has taught me anything, its that this hobby is more fun with others). 

-The quarterly magazine

Are any of these reasons alone enough to maintain membership? No, not at the price they are asking a year. However, many other organizations are charging this much to belong to a museum and you don't get all these other benefits! Because of this, I think it is still worth it, and plan to continue my membership for a long time.  

@RoyBoy posted:

I joined in 1972. In Minneapolis at that time, TCA was the only game in town.

I joined TCA in late 1972 ... and TTOS at the same time.  TTOS was a pretty strong national organization then - but most particularly in the west.  I lived in the Bay Area at the time.

My membership in TCA (and TTOS, et. al.) is not related to the "ability" to attend train meets.

Not initially (I've been a TCA member since 1983.)  I guess during the '90s and early 2000s there were a few years where I re-upped my membership just because of York.

After several years I realized that LOTS and LCCA are more operator-oriented, and maybe a better fit for what interests me about the Hobby.  But we have a fairly active local TCA chapter, and the national headquarters research library is a great resource that I hope to make more use of in the future.

I don't have the time to take an active role in more than one group, so I probably won't change horses at this point.

@CAPPilot posted:

No. I belong to several model and prototype train organizations for the sole purpose of supporting them

Truth be told, I'm with CAPPilot. I joined the TCA, and a good many other hobby-related organizations, primarily as a way of supporting the overall hobby in some small way. Participating at the York Meet was, and is, certainly an advantage--a big one--but I also enjoy the TCA Magazine and the TCA Museum, as well.

I joined to try to learn about my childhood trains, and to discover what l never had and did not know existed.  That goal was achieved.  The friends l made with similar interests ...unfortunately one has passed, and l have stopped making the the long monthly trip to a show that seemed more shrinking and picked over.  I guess l went for the trains.  That applies to me for York.  I want to see new and different and don't feel that has been true for several years.  I hope something happens to rejuvenate the hobby.  The loss of the several makers is scary.

My TCA interest has nothing to do with York.

The first couple of meets that I went to (New England Division) I was just part of the public paying admission.  Then I joined TCA in 2014, for more than one reason.

I found that it was a group that I wanted to be with and that should be supported.  

I had offered to set up an operating layout so that members could show off their own trains to other members in operating.  So they gave me four tables and I was allowed to have my own stuff for sale without paying a table fee. See

When they didn't have room for that, I paid the $25 for a table just to have a home base while I wandered around - mainly social interaction with an occasional buy where I could get good at a very low price - I a big fan of the junk boxes under that table.

I also have test tacks set up for O, O-27, S and Standard.  The Standard gauge track is powered with an Ives 1288 transformer - to get 24 volts.

So the annul $50 is supporting a very useful activity.  I've never gone to York and probably never will.  When I add up the expenses for getting there comfortably and staying and eating in reasonable places, it's at least $700.  I have many things I can do with that money that sum to much more pleasure than two days at York could.


No, York was just a side benefit, the main for me was to become part of the Midwest Division Modular group so I could run my larger engines/trains. I did not know anyone and now consider many of them friends that I could call in an emergency and know someone would be there for me... and that far exceeded the price of admission.


I joined after attending York as a guest in 1989 then moved to OKC. Upon moving to PA in 1990 I continued my membership for almost ten years but it seemed the TCA was more for a Lionel Purest Collector and I was am operator and was operating most MTH products.  After joining this forum around 2010 I have considered rejoining the TCA but not sure if the cost is worth what return I would receive. I lost interest in their publication but know that I have more time and can afford to invest more in the hobby I am reconsidering again. As I stated in another post "York" I attended the show twice a year as a member working tables for friends and had a great time. Now with some of the friends I have meet here I am looking forward to attending the show, but not for the show but to attended th outside events such as the breakfast and met the folks I have meet her virtually. Somewhere I may even have some of my badges.

Sorry for the novice question, but can one just join the TCA? I wanted to join but was turned off by the language on their website about applying and going through an approval process. I think joining and being a part of a local chapter would be good, but the language on the tca site makes it seem like too much effort to join a hobby group with the language of being approved, punishment for complaints, etcetera. 

Sorry for the novice question, but can one just join the TCA? I wanted to join but was turned off by the language on their website about applying and going through an approval process. I think joining and being a part of a local chapter would be good, but the language on the tca site makes it seem like too much effort to join a hobby group with the language of being approved, punishment for complaints, etcetera. 

Yes, anyone can join.  No more "2 signatures" needed.  You are still "applying", but you are basically a member.

Your name appears as an "applicant for membership" for I think 3 printings of the Headquarters News.  The idea behind that is in case someone who has a history of doing bad deals were to try to join, other members could flag the application for review.  (I'm not going to pretend to know that whole process, but that's the gist.  Basically if you are not in the habit of screwing people over, you have nothing to worry about.  Your application will have no issues, and you are a member in good standing while all this is happening.)

Similarly, one of the TCA benefits to members is to act as a mediator if necessary between members if any dispute does come up (thought it's encouraged to not make "log a formal complaint" the first course of action if some dispute does come up, it's more of a "we tried, but are at an impasse" last resort type of thing).  See the comment on the application process.  If you don't plan on screwing people over, you will not likely get any complaints, and there is nothing to it that you should consider "too much work".  Be honest, understand the grading information that is on the web site, and represent things as they should be represented, and you should have no issues.


Last edited by Dave45681

I joined TCA when they did away with the ridiculous two sponsor requirement and like Groucho should never have joined a club that would have me as a member.  Other than York the TCA does nothing for me which is why I dropped my membership earlier this year.  Although I miss (I kid) reading about the 4,875th amendment to the TCA bylaws.

I initially joined TCA in 1989 so that I could attend local meets, which were huge at the time.  Shortly thereafter, I discovered York and have gone on-and-off since then.  I rarely buy special-issue cars and have little interest in attending conventions. 

Local TCA meets have pretty much dried up over the past 10 years or so; most of the meets / shows I attend are not run by TCA.

By going to York, I discovered the museum and library - these are tremendous resources that deserve to be supported.  Between the magazine, museum, and library, I've learned things and seen trains that I never would have otherwise.

Along the way, I've met like-minded individuals and joined a club.  Don't know if this would have happened had I not joined TCA.  

I strongly believe that all of us who enjoy trains should belong to and support an organization that promotes the hobby, whether it's TCA, LCCA, TTOS, LOTS, or NMRA.  We owe it to each other and to future enthusiasts.  

For less than the price of a boxcar, a TCA membership supports meets, archives, grading and trading standards, and publications - I have no plans to cancel.

@Joe Hohmann posted:

I thought the "two signature" rule was for vetting people for use of personal checks in the pre-credit card usage days. My gun club has a 2 signature rule plus 3 hours of safety training. If you find that too difficult, we don't want you.


It probably was.  In that regard it would have still served a purpose.  While there may be a few members (not dealers) taking credit cards, I'd guess it's less than 10% if you walk all the halls.  Mostly people who have regular CC processing set up for their "in real life" business (so they've already got the infrastructure without it costing them a lot to set up for train transactions), or some who take "Square" or doing Paypal live on the spot, etc. 

Agreed the 2 sig rule was holding things back.  Though it's elimination did not spur the mass joining by those who found it  vexing.  (nor did the change on the cell phone rule at York, etc.  Each just bubbles the "next gripe down the list" to the top once removed.).


Last edited by Dave45681

I joined the TCA because of my interest in trains, not to go to any specific show.  I think that the founding members of the TCA would think this topic a joke, as the TCA was founded in 1953 or 54?, several years before the first York show.  They certainly did not join to go to York, but rather to share an interest in trains.  

As for York, I certainly have enjoyed going to it and the 2 TCA conventions that I have attended, but my remaining a member of the TCA has nothing to do with if a certain train show or convention happens.  I have met a number of great people through the TCA, some of which have passed on, and others who still remain with us.  I enjoy going to York, not only with the hope to find something special, but to meet up with the many friends that I have met over the years, to meet new people who share the same interests, and enjoy some fresh seafood.  I have also enjoyed meeting with and seeing many different member's layouts and collections, many of which are of different interests than my own, so it is always a learning experience to see another's collection and gain some new knowledge about trains.

Did I miss not being able to go to York this year, yes, but it is not the end of the world and will not be the end of the TCA.  The TCA offers many benefits, such as the ability to gain and share knowledge through the TCA Quarterly and E-Train, the museum and library, which is a great resource that I have used many times, and the many great members.

For those who simply joined to go to York, you are missing out on a lot if that is the sole reason for your TCA membership. 

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