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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!

Ron

 

 

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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.

-Dave

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 http://www.netca.org/Operation%20at%20Meet.html

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.

Charlie

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.

-Dave

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.).

-Dave

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. 

Shortly after buying my first O gauge engine and cars in 2012, I joined this Forum.  Not long after that, Pittsburgh area Forum member Patrick H saw I was from north of Pittsburgh, and he invited me to a get together at his home layout with a breakfast at a local restaurant.  It was shortly before the Spring 2013 York meet, and nearly everyone I met asked if I was going to York.  You may have been one of them, Andy Hummell.  I didn't get to York for 4 more years, but I did join the TCA with that in mind.  I have only been to York twice.  Yes, I can get into the Fort Pitt TCA meets as a visitor an hour after members get in, but I thought I should support the organization that puts on the meets. 

 I think that the founding members of the TCA would think this topic a joke...

Would they find it a joke... Or would they be disappointed that a majority of replies from today's members have joined just to attend shows?  

It's today's leaders who have not found new and interesting ways to show membership has many different values to current members.

For instance, their publication mainly focuses on pre and post war toys and is still printed on newspaper print.  That leaves the rest of us in the hobby uninterested and out in the cold.  I am saddened to say my publication hits the recycle bin within 30 minutes of its arrival.  For about half the price, we can receive OGR on high gloss on varying topics from the last 100 years of model trains.

And the "making friends" part...  I've been a TCA member for a better part of a decade.  I've made more friends and acquaintances on this FREE forum than I have through the TCA.  So they have some competition there too.

No one should think this is a joke.  If TCA shows continue to get cancelled or fade away, by looking at the replies above, so would a good portion of membership.

TCA should be concerned... not laughing.

Respectfully submitted.

Ron

 

@Ron045 posted:
..................................

For instance, their publication mainly focuses on pre and post war toys and is still printed on newspaper print.  That leaves the rest of us in the hobby uninterested and out in the cold.  I am saddened to say my publication hits the recycle bin within 30 minutes of its arrival.  For about half the price, we can receive OGR on high gloss on varying topics from the last 100 years of model trains.

..........................

 

I'm curious the math you are doing there.  Are you comparing the price of a year's membership in TCA to the price of a one year subscription to OGR?

Apples and Oranges, if that's it.  Unless you can tell me where to go visit the OGR Model & Toy Train Museum ! (or many other TCA things that are supported by general membership dollars, but that is admittedly the biggest one).  The paper Headquarters News is not meant to be like an OGR magazine.  The TCA Quarterly (while still obviously not as big as an issue of OGR) is the publication with a little more "in depth" articles (I will admit many are of topics on older items).

The Headquarters News serves it's purpose.  And it generally has many listings for modern trains as well, it doesn't end at 1969.  Obviously the numbers of ads are going down as more people use the electronic format, but the listings are still there.

Not that I was opposed to eliminating the 2 signature rule, but by doing so, it seems (based on some comments in this thread) like it might have hurt people keeping membership up continuously.  With the ability to drop and rejoin at will, it seems at least some people are looking at it as "I'll join if I want to go to the next York and then let it lapse until the next time I want to go to York".  I don't think a lot of people were dropping in/out like that in the signature days.  At some point there may be no more TCA to join or York to go to if the majority of folks start operating like that.

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

I originally joined TCA to go to York, in fact, it was in the parking lot near the Red Hall that I got 2 signatures from guys I met there.  That was Fall 2000.  Since then I have missed a total of 4 meets.  So yes, York was (and is) a big reason for my membership.  However, I also attended a number of the Keystone Division meets when I lived in the Hershey / Hummelstown area.  I've also attended one of the Fort Pitt Division meets, although the scheduling of their meets on Sunday mornings is a bit disrespectful and inconvenient.  I won't skip church to go to a train meet.  The Keystone Division "leadership" doesn't seem to read or react to emails or even requests for business meeting dates / times.    They are certainly not a reason to remain a member.

I've bought things out of their HQ news.  The TCA Quarterly is a brief, but occasionally amusing read.

But York remains the major reason for membership, although it's more about the people I see there rather than trains at this point.  Trains are a close second. 

George

@Dave45681 posted:

...Unless you can tell me where to go visit the OGR Model & Toy Train Museum ! (or many other TCA things that are supported by general membership dollars, but that is admittedly the biggest one). 

How many rare and unusual items would we have the chance to see if we had to rely on access to private collections?

@Dave45681 posted:

 

...At some point there may be no more TCA to join or York to go to if the majority of folks start operating like that.

Bingo and amen!

@G3750 posted:

I originally joined TCA to go to York, in fact, it was in the parking lot near the Red Hall that I got 2 signatures from guys I met there.  That was Fall 2000.  Since then I have missed a total of 4 meets.  So yes, York was (and is) a big reason for my membership.  However, I also attended a number of the Keystone Division meets when I lived in the Hershey / Hummelstown area.  I've also attended one of the Fort Pitt Division meets, although the scheduling of their meets on Sunday mornings is a bit disrespectful and inconvenient.  I won't skip church to go to a train meet.  The Keystone Division "leadership" doesn't seem to read or react to emails or even requests for business meeting dates / times.    They are certainly not a reason to remain a member.

I've bought things out of their HQ news.  The TCA Quarterly is a brief, but occasionally amusing read.

But York remains the major reason for membership, although it's more about the people I see there rather than trains at this point.  Trains are a close second. 

George

George, You are like me.  Until I get out of church in Butler and make the 45-minute drive to Harmarville, I don't get there until well past noon.  It was the same distance for me to the meets when they were held in Cranberry; perhaps before you moved back to the area.  I attended one meet.  I know that many folks would not be able to attend a Saturday meet because they work on Saturdays and not Sundays, and I am respectful of that.  Each of us has to set his or her own priorities as does each division.

There are easy ways to have small meetings when the weather is nice.  NETCA is having its first meeting of the year this coming Sunday.  IT will be in the parking lot of the Minute Man Visitor Center, part of the NPS.  We'll be able to back up our SUV's, vans and pickups to a grassy area where there are a few picnic tables.  There will be some selling but a small group.  So far I have 16 members in 14 vehicles who are planning to come.  There's enough room to minimize the necessity of masks - part time where we crowd together.

Anyone can set up a meet like this.  All that is needed is someone who will take the initiative to check out likely parks and their parking and lawn configuration, set a time and invite the membership.

Speaking of invites, a local email list is needed.  All division officers have access to the national list, which has email addresses for 897 of the 1087 members in the NETCA area.  I set up NETCA-meets@groups.io and sent invites to join to all of those 897 members - got 50.  So there's a way for those really interested and willing to exert a bit of effort to have some local meets.

 

 

There are easy ways to have small meetings when the weather is nice.  NETCA is having its first meeting of the year this coming Sunday.  IT will be in the parking lot of the Minute Man Visitor Center, part of the NPS.  We'll be able to back up our SUV's, vans and pickups to a grassy area where there are a few picnic tables.  There will be some selling but a small group.  So far I have 16 members in 14 vehicles who are planning to come.  There's enough room to minimize the necessity of masks - part time where we crowd together.

Anyone can set up a meet like this.  All that is needed is someone who will take the initiative to check out likely parks and their parking and lawn configuration, set a time and invite the membership.

Speaking of invites, a local email list is needed.  All division officers have access to the national list, which has email addresses for 897 of the 1087 members in the NETCA area.  I set up NETCA-meets@groups.io and sent invites to join to all of those 897 members - got 50.  So there's a way for those really interested and willing to exert a bit of effort to have some local meets.

 

 

I am in central Massachusetts and I would like to be included on your email list. I tried to send an email to the address embedded in your post but it was kicked back.

Back in the 70's when I lived in Ann Arbor I was buying trains at garage sales.  Met someone who said that were a lot of people that liked trains and they had a club.  I joined the TCA in 1970.  It was fun going to meets in Michigan and Ohio.  Never made it to York.  I suppose it is still the Holy Grail.  Now live in deep south Texas and there are no meets south of San Antonio 250 miles up state.

It never occurred to me to not be a member of the TCA.  Don't have the benefit of the closeness of people and meets as in the northeast but the internet has leveled the playing field in terms of finding and acquiring trains.  The other day I received an envelope from the National Headquarters.  It wasn't a Gold Watch but was kind of nice.2020-09-29 08-07-43_0219

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I live in CA and joined TCA in 1976 and got to go to meets and see Layouts,now not so much.I just paid my dues renewal probably for the last time due to the fact that we paid full dues for no events in 2020.I have attended York five times as late as Oct 2019 and Even they are starting to fade.It is a very pricy trip to fly Cross Country and get a Hotel and rental car.I can buy what I need from the Sponsor vendors on this Forum.I hope TCA realizes that members should get some return for their dues.

Mikey

@mikey posted:

I live in CA and joined TCA in 1976 and got to go to meets and see Layouts,now not so much.I just paid my dues renewal probably for the last time due to the fact that we paid full dues for no events in 2020.I have attended York five times as late as Oct 2019 and Even they are starting to fade.It is a very pricy trip to fly Cross Country and get a Hotel and rental car.I can buy what I need from the Sponsor vendors on this Forum.I hope TCA realizes that members should get some return for their dues.

Mikey

Being a member since 1976, you certainly have a long view perspective. You mention "I have attended York five times as late as Oct 2019 and Even they are starting to fade." 

I'm curious, when was your first York and how has York changed and evolved compared to the last time that you went?

 

Truth be told, yes, it was to attend the York Meet.

And an interesting story on the old two signatures rule. When I called the TCA office, the helpful woman on the phone said the following..." I'm going to fax you an application with two signatures of members on it. Use that." And she did. The form had two members names/signatures that were all but illegible and the form had obviously been duplicated many times over.

I did not originally join for York but over the years, York is why I continued to be a member.   I just let my membership lapse 2 days ago as to me the cost of membership is not worth it without the York meet.  Once York starts back up, I'll rejoin.   I will state this - if they had a $25 membership option with no York I would join to support in years there is no Meet.  Your mileage may vary.

-Greg

Sadly I find no value in a TCA membership.  The organization is stuck in the past. I'm not into prewar, post war or anything pre 2000.  The quarterly is boring, the insurance is over priced,  nothing has ever interest me at the chapter meets.  York is the only reason to join in my opinion but since I never find any diamonds in the ruff in the member halls and the dealer halls are open to the public, what's the point of joining period????

100% for the access to York, when I first got access to the TCA site I was a bit disappointed. I think the market place is a bit of a hot mess.  I would love to buy and sell trains there but it's so unpleasant to work with, and no real search. Can some one's kid just re-do it on square space? I agree the publication also leaves much to be desired. 

When I first got back into the hobby in the late 90’s I didn’t know anyone else interested in trains. I found out about York through the pages of OGR so I decided to join the TCA so I could go to York and hopefully make some friends in the hobby. I did eventually make friends in the hobby and I have enjoyed the times I have gone to York. Meeting friends there always makes the meet more enjoyable. Also on at least 4 occasions going to York has saved me a significant amount of shipping on certain items which completely or almost completely covered my dues for that year. Recently when I had an issue with a vendor at York the TCA really went to bat for me to resolve the situation. I couldn’t be happier with the TCA. 

My one criticism is I wish the Quarterly had a little more space on scale trains and model railroading but I guess they go with what is available or sent to them. I understand it is the Train “Collectors” Association but in this day and age there are a lot of operators. 

In closing it is my opinion that the TCA is well worth the $4.17 a month that I pay them. 

 

I originally joined TCA to go to York in 2005, but that was just a start of my adventures with all the great individuals I met over the years.  I started getting involved with the local shows and had a desire to do more then just going to the shows.  The greatest joy I get in the hobby comes from working with the Ft Pitt Kids Club.  I just love seeing the joy  young people get from watching and sometimes running the trains.  As a club member, and currently the Secretary of the Ft Pitt Division, I have never thought of not being a member and only hope others will continue to support the TCA.  Our board members continue to look for ways to give our members value from their membership.  It has been a difficult year just waiting for when we can get together for meets and all the other activities we did in the past.  I am thankful to all our local members and their continued support of the TCA and the Ft Pitt Division .  Our website hobbytraincollectors.org lets everyone know what is currently happening with the division along with some interesting articles from our online news letter.

Used to go every show  every year  in the early '90's  when I was building and the social exposure was great, however nothing got done on the layout while I was gone.  I have a rather busy weekly schedule so, in losing a Friday once or twice a year, York lost it's appeal to me. 

I now buy the membership every 3 or 4 years just to go to York however on the way home, I usually regret losing a work day.  

There is really not that much different to me from show to show.

Last edited by Tom Tee

Another issue of "Toy" Train Collectors Quarterly showed up today and promptly found the recycle bin after 15 minutes of browsing.

In the past I would not care if my segment of the hobby was not represented... because I just focused on York. 

But now with two missed York shows and an uncertain future, I feel as if the dues for this year was just a waste. 

My membership expires just before the next scheduled show.  I wrote to them and asked for an extension since I did not receive the full (and only) benefit of my membership.  I received a scathing response that not only said no, but then proceeded to tell me I should be donating more money to help them out.

Huh?

Is anyone else frustrated with this organization and want to do something about it?  Feel free to contact me.  Email is in my profile.

Ron

Last edited by Ron045
@Ron045 posted:

 

Is anyone else frustrated with this organization and want to do something about it?  Feel free to contact me.  Email is in my profile.

I'm not frustrated at all.  Of all the organizations I belong to, they seem to be better run than most (a rocketry organization I belong to is in absolute chaos).  TCA's magazine does lean towards the "Toy" aspect of their name, which has little appeal to me.  But it does provide me with good info for when I talk to my toy train friends

This has been a terrible year for all social and service organizations.  For example, Civil Air Patrol has lost many members due to lack of activities, as well as a local train club I belong to.  I'm not going to bail on TCA because the pandemic has limited their ability to support the hobby, because in a normal year they do a lot for the hobby and I support them for that.

York is not a TCA event, it is a chapter run event.  And I fully support Eastern Division's decision to cancel both of this year's shows.  I really hope next year will be better, because I always got great deals at York.  Plus I miss seeing friends.  However, York is not the reason I will stay a TCA member.

@Ron045 posted:

...My membership expires just before the next scheduled show.  I wrote to them and asked for an extension since I did not receive the full (and only) benefit of my membership.  I received a scathing response that not only said no, but then proceeded to tell me I should be donating more money to help them out...

 

In essence, you want to hold TCA liable for being unable to hold the York meet due to circumstances beyond their control, and punish them financially?  In these unusual times, many organizations are facing financial shortfalls - helping them to go broke faster helps nobody.  

And as for the Quarterly not addressing your interests, the publication is only as good as the content that is provided by members - have you offered to write an article?

Most divisions and chapters are dying for people to step up and take leadership positions and provide initiative.  How many of the naysayers have offered to step up and do something other than complain?

So many of the replies to this thread focus on "what's in it for me?" rather than "how can I contribute to the success of the organization and the hobby I love?" - it's a sad commentary on our society. 

Last edited by Mallard4468
@Mallard4468 posted:

In essence, you want to hold TCA liable for being unable to hold the York meet due to circumstances beyond their control, and punish them financially?

Just like everything else in life.  I paid for something.  I expect to receive what I paid for.  If I can't receive what I paid for it reasonable to expect some restitution of some sort.

If someone took your money and gave you nothing in return...  you'd be ok with that?

 

@Ron045 posted:

Just like everything else in life.  I paid for something.  I expect to receive what I paid for.  If I can't receive what I paid for it reasonable to expect some restitution of some sort.

If someone took your money and gave you nothing in return...  you'd be ok with that?

 

Aside from presumably one outstanding admission to York (assuming you had pre-registered for April 2020), you have gotten what you paid for.  (And Eastern Division TCA has said that all pre-registrations from April 2020 will be honored the next time there is a York meet.)

You voluntarily signed up for TCA National in order to be able to attend the York meet as a TCA Member when offered by the EDTCA. 

The York Meet admission is a totally separate item from the TCA National dues, whether you like what the TCA National dues deliver for you (outside of being your pathway to being able to purchase York meet admission as a Member) or not.

Wow, don't you realize what is going on? Go ahead sue the TCAED and put them in such a financial condition that York may be discontinued, that would be great for all the members. 

I have gone to every York since 1984 and missing 2 or more because 2021 is not written in stone  yet so your saying I should get a refund because there was no York!! Give me a break, your acting like a child.

Dave

@david1 posted:

 Give me a break, your acting like a child.

Well... trains are supposed to bring out the kid in us. 😘

...and, I have to assume you believe their is some validity in the comments made on the issue.  The fact you believe TCAED could be sued and put in a financial condition (your words) as a result would indicate an injustice was made.  Glad you are on board with that idea.

Last edited by Ron045
@Dave45681 posted:

The York Meet admission is a totally separate item from the TCA National dues, whether you like what the TCA National dues deliver for you (outside of being your pathway to being able to purchase York meet admission as a Member) or not.

According to the National TCA, the number one benefit to membership is train meets.  So I have to assume all train meets around the country have been cancelled.  That means the number one reason for joining the TCA could not be delivered and should be credited somehow.

Yes... I have my tickets and have to assume they will be valid in April even though my membership expires in March.  At least I certainly hope so.

But what about the next meet I should have been entitled to attend as a result of membership? Shouldn't I be permitted to buy tickets for that event as a result of my paid in full membership? 

Screenshot_20201007-230649~2

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@Ron045 posted:

Well... trains are supposed to bring out the kid in us. 😘

...and, I have to assume you believe their is some validity in the comments made on the issue.  The fact you believe TCAED could be sued and put in a financial condition (your words) as a result would indicate an injustice was made.  Glad you are on board with that idea.

Don't put words in my mouth, I don't think like you on this subject and the only thing you did was prove my point, and yes you are a child.

Dave

@Ron045 posted:

Just like everything else in life.  I paid for something.  I expect to receive what I paid for.  If I can't receive what I paid for it reasonable to expect some restitution of some sort.

If someone took your money and gave you nothing in return...  you'd be ok with that?

 

TCA is a non-profit, volunteer organization.  It provides many benefits in addition to the York meet (which isn't a TCA function, BTW). 

Even without the ability to attend York this year, TCA has not taken my money and gave me nothing in return.  No restitution is appropriate or expected.

Yes, I'm absolutely OK with that. 

The TCA is not a retailer nor provider of services, as pointed out.  Membership is not a contract. You have no legal rights to restitution if train meets cannot be held due to a public health emergency.  Of course, you are free to discontinue membership.  As pointed out TCA provides lots of benefits to many of us, and I am happy to support the organization despite only having gone to York a few times in my 26 years of membership.

@Joe Hohmann posted:

Hot debate going on here. Let me say that I'm expecting my Spring 2029 name tag to be valid at the next meet, whenever that takes place. This assumes the ED did not have to forfeit any $ to the fairgrounds. If they did, I'll rip the tag up now.

Spring 2029?

I got an email from the TCA recently that said if I registered for either 2020 York Meet (April or October-which I did for April) my registration would be good for the April 2021 York Meet. I don't have to do anything but show up with the registration card.

Last edited by Hudson J1e
@Ron045 posted:

 

Yes... I have my tickets and have to assume they will be valid in April even though my membership expires in March.  At least I certainly hope so.

Hey guys I tried looking for that email I thought the TCA sent me and then I remembered that it wasn't in an email. It was from Clem's primer. Here is a screen shot.

TCAYork

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@Joe Hohmann posted:

Hot debate going on here. Let me say that I'm expecting my Spring 2029 name tag to be valid at the next meet, whenever that takes place. This assumes the ED did not have to forfeit any $ to the fairgrounds. If they did, I'll rip the tag up now.

Agreed.  If ED loses money due to the cancellations, I'll gladly pony up the additional $20.  

I'm guessing that one will be able to enter the next York meet using a name tag from the April 2020 meet even if their membership has lapsed; however, doing so would be neither moral nor ethical.  Attendance with a membership badge implies that one is subject to the TCA bylaws with regard to trading - IANAL, but IMO a non-member attending using a member badge is committing fraud.  Don't be "that guy".

+1 on not worrying about the money from April 2020 at this point.  As a table holder, I never did receive my badge (they send them out later than members without tables, so they might have just not sent out some table holder badges, I never inquired since everything got cancelled).

I'll call to find out sometime between now and April.  I'm more interested in getting my same table location(assuming any potential new organization for distancing does not reduce tables/aisles to where that is impossible) than worried about the money.  I'll pay for April 2021.  Hopefully the order of events in April 2020 (York Fairgrounds effectively cancelling for the TCA by halting events) got the TCA out of any monetary penalties that could have arisen had they cancelled on their own before the Fairgrounds and State of PA made announcements that forced the issue.

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

I am not a TCA member up until this point, not much of a joiner in general, but from my outsider's perspective I see a couple of things here that if I was one of those running the TCA I would be concerned about. The first is that many have said outside York, there wasn't much to the membership that interested them, that they aren't into pre war and post war and the like. That makes sense that the TCA first and foremost was a collectors group, but maybe kind of like OGRR changed from being 2 rail scale to primarily 3 rail, they need to change focus and embrace other things (yes, I realize there is LOTS and  other operation focused groups....).   The museum is great, the library is great, but maybe the real problem is York overshadows everything else because that is all most people see of value...not criticizing the leadership, running something like the TCA is about the most thankless task I can think of, outside of doing a church newsletter.

For those who see York as the only benefit (which I can understand), given how many people have said York is what it is pretty much about, what happens if people leave TCA, disgruntled that York didn't happen?  I don't know all the ins and outs of how the TCA or York is set up, but I suspect it is likely if the national TCA starts hemorrhaging members, York may not happen, not enough volunteers to man it, financial support they give, etc. I don't know how TCA national is vis a vis york, but in most of the groups I have belonged to (the few that I do), usually the local group hosting events, especially big ones like a national convention which York sort of is, get money that comes from dues across the organization (I know this from a car club I belonged to)....so in a sense, as a York attendee you get that benefit out of it, whereas the person who can't/doesn't want to go to York , doesn't use that benefit, is helping subsidize those who do.

The point is that York is one of many  benefits of belonging to TCA, it isn't TCA, and by withdrawing membership because York isn't there could end up meaning it doesn't happen in the future, either, because National may not be able to do their share with York, whatever that  is (if York on the other hand is totally independent of national, the people running it don't get anything from national dues, just their share of local dues, then this wouldn't be true, though if national membership declines  fewer people would go to York, and it would be a death spiral, others seeing less people there, would pull out of TCA saying York wasn't worth it......or the show would *gasp* become a totally open show, with nothing special for members.

Again, I don't have an iron in the fire with this, I don't belong to TCA because with where I am right now, I likely wouldn't get any benefit out of it, I don't go to York (never seem to be able to get the time to go), not really a collector and not much for belonging to a local TCA group...but even if TCA to you means York, then realize staying a member can mean future shows happening because it keeps TCA itself afloat. I have had tickets to performances at a local performing arts center (a non profit) cancelled because of Covid, and rather than get a refund I turned my tickets into a donation so they could keep the place limping along until better times returned.

I joined the Mid-West Tool Collectors just to buy user grade wood working hand tools but discovered there was so much more.  I suspect TCA will be the same.  I've been to York as a guest of a member, my brother.  Wow.  It was like toy train heaven.  Being at the meeting under the bleachers when Rich announced his retirement was something special.  Almost all of my toy train experience has been in my own home, so the connection with other people made the hobby more "real" to me.  I have not joined national yet but the local chapter welcomed me anyway.  Only got to go to one meeting before Covid put it all on hold.  Even though I'm not interested in collecting the old stuff, the presentations still held my interest and I'll be back as soon a Covid is over.  (The second presentation at my first meeting was on the first train Lionel sold after WWII and its variations and theories about production.  I'm not going to buy one but it was fun to learn about and the next time I see one I'll appreciate it.)  A few other guys have said it.  Came for the trains and stayed for the people.

-Nathan Muenks

Back in the early 80s, when I was a single medical resident in Baltimore getting back into trains after a hiatus for school, I heard people at shows talking about the TCA and York. Yes, I joined in 83 to go to York (less than an hour from where I lived in Baltimore County)....but I have gotten so much more. Let me explain (sorry if I ramble).

I moved to Philly in 83 and stayed till mid 85. Philly was the hub of the very active Atlantic Division. I joined and got involved in their portable layout, where I met like-minded train enthusiasts, including a Mr Nick Ladd, who used to fascinate me with his knowledge of the industry.

In 1985, I moved to Richmond and joined a nephrology practice. I had gotten married and had a young family. I was back in the Eastern Division. The TCA provided me the Quarterly and access to York twice a year.....I am fortunate to have only missed twice since April 83.....

Then comes the internet and this wonderful Forum. I had already met Myron and Fred many times at York in the Yellow Hall......I feel very fortunate to have joined the Forum in August 2020....I was a "lone wolf" hobbiest who found participation easy to fit into my schedule. Then it happened....many of us realized we knew each other when we spoke about our York experiences. We started meeting at York ........and the York Trip has become a social event as well as a buying event....My TCA membership coupled with this Forum has given me good friends all over the country......

Yes, I originally joined to go to York, but I have received SO MUCH MORE......

Peter

I joined the TCA a "non Profit" to further my interest and experience with Toy Trains with the NETCA and Northern New England Divisions. I've meet a few old timers that Sponsored me and have helped along in the hobby. I went to York a few years ago and took the whole family/kids we had a blast in the Lancaster area too. That said I might donate a larger sum of money to keep the TCA organization alive for future generations to enjoy which means - my donation wold be worth much more than a TCA ED York Show ticket. I'm not wealthy financially but wealthy through the TCA friends I've meet. I can't imagine putting a cash 💵 number on the time (time is money) they helped me, and the ensuing friendships I've developed.  

@Seacoast posted:

I joined the TCA a "non Profit" to further my interest and experience with Toy Trains with the NETCA and Northern New England Divisions. I've meet a few old timers that Sponsored me and have helped along in the hobby. I went to York a few years ago and took the whole family/kids we had a blast in the Lancaster area too. That said I might donate a larger sum of money to keep the TCA organization alive for future generations to enjoy which means - my donation wold be worth much more than a TCA ED York Show ticket. I'm not wealthy financially but wealthy through the TCA friends I've meet. I can't imagine putting a cash 💵 number on the time (time is money) they helped me, and the ensuing friendships I've developed.  

Well put!

When there was a bunch of griping years ago when the annual dues went from $35 to $50 and some people moaned/groaned, etc and dropped out, I decided to try to help offest that "loss" a bit.  When I renew each year, I also include an additional donation equivalent to a couple of memberships for those people who dropped out over the $15 a year.  It's not a huge amount of money, but I figure it hopefully helps the organization I've gained so much from out a little bit.

-Dave

@eddie g posted:

BIGKID, You don't go to York, BIG MISTAKE if you are a train collector or operator. I don't know how you can judge YORK if you have never been there.

I don't know where you got the idea I was knocking York, all I said about York personally is I have never gone because I didn't have the time. I also said I personally didn't belong to TCA because where I am with trains didn't see a reason to belong (to TCA), I am not a collector and not sure if I would go to local events if a member, that's all, not knocking it, far from it, just giving my mindset.  I gave comments as an outsider that if most people see York as the reason for belonging to TCA then it may be wise for TCA leadership to figure out how to make it more than being about York to people and conversely for those who belong because of York that if they drop their membership to TCA it could mean York being  pulled, if my assumptions are correct, that's all.  I think both TCA and York are great things, just for where I have been and am for me personally they haven't been part of my train experience, that's all (and keep in mind I am not much of a joiner as a whole, it is mostly about me).

@rattler21 posted:

Does TCA have standards or guidelines for vendors at York?  If complaints are received about specific vendors are those vendors disciplined in any way?  john

Vendors (including dealers) must be TCA members, so the regular TCA standards and trading rules apply.  AFAIK, the complaint process is the same as for any other member.  ED requires tableholders to have trains on their table until 2pm Saturday.  By rule, the penalty is to be barred from having a table at the next meet; I don't know how rigorously that rule is enforced, since it's a ghost town by noon on Saturday anyway.

I joined TCA so I could go to York, as I had heard so much about it here in the forums. I had been to the museum several times before I joined, so it was nice to walk in as a member. At some point, I got a letter from the Atlantic Division, so I joined that as well. I try to attend all of the division shows, but never screwed up the courage to attend the social events.
I’ll admit I don’t get as much out of membership as I should, but that is my own danged fault. I’m pretty much a social cripple, so walking up and starting a conversation is beyond my skill set.

Last edited by Scrambler81

Mine was a hard decision at renewal time.  I thought about past York Shows and our annual trip to Gettysburg.  I was lucky to have $52 bucks burning a hole in my pocket to renew Theresa and I.  This week with the great news about the vaccine and hopes for a breakaway spring, it makes me Chomping at the bit.  I joined TCA to attend, but reading about legends in our hobby passing and the news about Mike closing business, makes me more eager for York 21 in the fall.  I can say that I now renew to support the brother and sisterhood that reside here.  Let’s say hi at the breakfast and dinner.

Last edited by Bryant Dunivan 111417

For the first time since I joined I am examining the efficacy of remaining a TCA member. I originally joined for the privilege of attending YORK. Also, I paid my entry fee for YORK the first October it was closed due to Covid - never could reuse that pass, and never received compensation for it. A donation is one thing, but just taking my money is another.

For the first time since I joined I am examining the efficacy of remaining a TCA member. I originally joined for the privilege of attending YORK. Also, I paid my entry fee for YORK the first October it was closed due to Covid - never could reuse that pass, and never received compensation for it. A donation is one thing, but just taking my money is another.

I thought that they offered a refund last year and you had to contact them if you wanted it.

For the first time since I joined I am examining the efficacy of remaining a TCA member. I originally joined for the privilege of attending YORK. Also, I paid my entry fee for YORK the first October it was closed due to Covid - never could reuse that pass, and never received compensation for it. A donation is one thing, but just taking my money is another.

As far as  I know they honored the passes from cancelled prior shows, when I was there this fall (my first), there were people with 2020 passes getting in as well as April 2021. Did you try contacting the EDTCA people and ask about a refund, if you decided you wouldn't use it again?

For the first time since I joined I am examining the efficacy of remaining a TCA member. I originally joined for the privilege of attending YORK. Also, I paid my entry fee for YORK the first October it was closed due to Covid - never could reuse that pass, and never received compensation for it. A donation is one thing, but just taking my money is another.

I used my 2020 Spring pass at the last York, no problem at all.  You could have most certainly reused the pass for the next York show that didn't fall victim to COVID.

I did finally join TCA to be able to go to York and other meets, and it was well worth it. Even if I don't go to meets, having the ability is nice and honestly the way I see it, if my membership helps keep the museum going and the library and keeps the organization going, even if I get no direct benefit from it (ie going to shows, buying stuff off the TCA website [which to me is still a mystery, plus I am not a collector]) I am all for it (and yes, I did donate more, I am fortunate I can be generous). If for some reason I couldn't go to York , had to bail, that 16 bucks to me meant that EDTCA could live to put on another York *shrug* (and please, this is not a criticism of anyone, this just is how I view things).

So do I still consider it worth it? Yep, because hopefully I am helping support a group I think has a really important purpose, like being a supporting member here. I enjoy reading the quarterly, and will occasionally browse the website, so I do get things out of it, I just don't see it as being entirely transactional.

You know, I had thought I had commented on this before, but I didn't. I would have said for sure that is why I joined years ago, but being that I found myself scouring the ads last year for things, that makes it a no I guess. I've made 2 purchases from the ads on the TCA site, and I do find myself browsing occasionally when the newsletter arrives. Why, I guess just curious to see what all is out there. I doubt I will be attending October York this year(if held) because of other reasons. That being said, I most definitely will be up for York come 2023(I hope, lol).

I joined because of the history and resources TCA has to members one of them is the York meet. TCA does alot for the hobby worth every penny. If you joined for the meet only shame on you.

Agreed. The research resources are the best out there, including the ability to reach out to the membership for answers to questions. The York meet is great, but secondary to the massive amount of information available.

PD

Sorry, York is the only thing that TCA has that I'm interested in.  I am sure that TCA national realizes how tightly coupled they are to the Eastern division York show.  My division meets are rotated once a year among four cities.   And they are 80, 245, 210 and 470 miles away. 

But then I only go to DQ for a blizzard, nothing else.

And don't forget the museum - it preserves and presents a wide range of items that most of us would never be able to own. 

York is 550 miles each way, and it's been well worth the trip.  But even without York, I would support TCA for everything else it represents.   IMO, everyone who enjoys toy and/or model trains owes it to each other and to future generations to be a member of at least one of the organizations that support the hobby.

I joined so that I could purchase inventory for the store. Going to York and spending two days with my friends twice a year was the greatest. I never have had so much fun as I did at York. I believe the first time I went was in the fall of 1976. A friend of mine from Blairsville, PA. went with me. That year, I bought all American Flyer S Gauge.

Last edited by jim sutter

I first joined in 1990 and was a junior member under my Dad (he joined in 1966) before that, so TCA membership is a fairly long family tradition. Yes, the ability to go to York is a big benefit of membership, but if that is the only reason you pay your dues, you're missing out. Admission to the York meet (or any TCA meet) is not mentioned anywhere in the TCA mission statement. If I never go to another York meet, I will remain a member of TCA until I die as I believe in what the organization stands for and believe in supporting the organization that does so much to promote our hobby.

As for the "2 signature rule" for membership, I would like to see that reinstated. There is nothing wrong with a sponsoring / vetting process for new members. Many organizations have this in place. It places value on membership and adds a degree of security at events like York (which I'd like to see go back to members-only), where there is a lot of inventory and money changing hands.



John

As I've just passed my 20th year as a member, I get most of my benefit from being active in my Division.  Desert Division is small, but we are likely the most active Division in TCA.  Most of my closest friends in the hobby are in Division.  As a result, TCA has transcended trains and is all about the people for me.  I came into TCA as loner HO modeler and have broadened my knowledge and my interests greatly by learning what drives everyone else in this hobby. 

As for the two-signature rule, I authored the motion that went before the national board as a director at the time to eliminate the two signatures and it was passed both by the national board and by the membership.  I believed then as I do now that requiring two signatures was a way to keep people away from the hobby rather than expand the broad tent that it truly is. 

As the Eastern Division event, York is fun.  No question about it.  However, it is not the reason I belong to TCA.  It is simply another benefit should I choose to take advantage of it.  If I lived closer, I would try and be there more often.   

@GG1 4877 posted:

As I've just passed my 20th year as a member, I get most of my benefit from being active in my Division.  Desert Division is small, but we are likely the most active Division in TCA.  Most of my closest friends in the hobby are in Division.  As a result, TCA has transcended trains and is all about the people for me.  I came into TCA as loner HO modeler and have broadened my knowledge and my interests greatly by learning what drives everyone else in this hobby.

As for the two-signature rule, I authored the motion that went before the national board as a director at the time to eliminate the two signatures and it was passed both by the national board and by the membership.  I believed then as I do now that requiring two signatures was a way to keep people away from the hobby rather than expand the broad tent that it truly is.

As the Eastern Division event, York is fun.  No question about it.  However, it is not the reason I belong to TCA.  It is simply another benefit should I choose to take advantage of it.  If I lived closer, I would try and be there more often.   

What was the purpose of the two signature rule in the first place? Membership in the TCA has been on a steady decline now for a long time. I'm not sure removing the two signature rule has made much of an impact.

Just a thought: I felt at the time when I joined that having the two signature rule made membership in the TCA special and prestigious. Removing the two signature rule, while it had great intentions, perhaps took away some of the prestige of becoming a member.  Now its just another club like lots of other clubs.

What was the purpose of the two signature rule in the first place? Membership in the TCA has been on a steady decline now for a long time. I'm not sure removing the two signature rule has made much of an impact.

Just a thought: I felt at the time when I joined that having the two signature rule made membership in the TCA special and prestigious. Removing the two signature rule, while it had great intentions, perhaps took away some of the prestige of becoming a member.  Now its just another club like lots of other clubs.

The original purpose of the rule as I understand dates back to the early days when TCA was a small club and members truly knew who they were sponsoring.  As TCA grew to its peak of over 20,000 members, the two signature rule became anachronistic as anyone would sign anyone's application to bring in a prospective member.  One perspective is two signatures speak prestige while another perspective is they speak elitism.  I can be objective and see how both sides of that coin can be perceived. 

It is a bit ironic in my personal situation as my sponsors were my father and my uncle and I am proud to be third generation model railroader.  I also became a member at age 32 which is considered a child by today's standards. 

@GG1 4877 posted:

The original purpose of the rule as I understand dates back to the early days when TCA was a small club and members truly knew who they were sponsoring.  As TCA grew to its peak of over 20,000 members, the two signature rule became anachronistic as anyone would sign anyone's application to bring in a prospective member.  One perspective is two signatures speak prestige while another perspective is they speak elitism.  I can be objective and see how both sides of that coin can be perceived.

It is a bit ironic in my personal situation as my sponsors were my father and my uncle and I am proud to be third generation model railroader.  I also became a member at age 32 which is considered a child by today's standards.

I can see how the two signature rule could be interpreted as elitist. I would also concede that the TCA was more of a closed group of buyers and sellers back when it was founded and perhaps it made sense to have members you know and trust.

I also think that towards the end the spirit of the rule was violated by people signing for total strangers.

The slow and steady decline of TCA membership is probably due more to demographics than any membership processes.

Good posts by @GG1 4877 and @Madockawando

I joined in 1989, just as the uptick in membership was starting.  Here's my view on the 2-signature rule.

The dealer from whom I made some of my earliest purchases was an arrogant blowhard (and that's being nice about it), and not very approachable regarding TCA or much of anything else.  I read about TCA in CTT and sent a letter (remember those?) inquiring about membership - never got any response, which left a bad taste in my mouth.  Started buying from a much friendlier dealer who explained things and told me about local meets (remember those, too?).  He and another customer (who didn't know me) signed my application, so there really wasn't any vetting involved.

Reading about the old days of TCA in the 50s and 60s, I understand the idea behind the 2-signature rule, as many transactions were based on item descriptions in letters written between members, so a high level of trust was required.  By the time I joined, local meets were common, so I think it had outlived its usefulness.

I've never liked the idea of having to know someone in order to join an organization - strikes me as elitist.  I would never join a country club for that very reason.  I'm much more in favor of being inclusive and letting a person prove themselves.

Unfortunately, we're losing a lot of local in-person interaction.  Our local chapter's meets, which once included dozens of sellers and hundreds of attendees, dwindled down to where the small number of sellers outnumbered the buyers and died out completely about 5 years ago.  Most of this was due to demographics, but it was also pushed along by arrogant leadership at the division level.

For much of the 90s and 00s, TCA membership seemed to be very transactional to me.  In recent years, there's been more emphasis on relationships, which I think is a good thing, so I'm disturbed by the "I only pay TCA dues so I can go to York and buy stuff" mentality.

End of rant.    

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

@johnstrains posted:

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

And that is a perfect vignette on why the two signature had to end.

Last edited by Madockawando

Anyone who would like to support the TCA without any spending any extra money can support the TCA by going to smile.amazon.com when making purchases on Amazon. Just choose the TCA as "your" charity and 0.5% of the sale will go directly to the TCA. It may not seem like a lot of money but it adds up after a while.

IMHO, another great benefit of the TCA is if you have an issue with another member or a dealer who is a TCA member and you've tried everything to resolve it you can file a complaint and TCA will step in and help you with the situation. In my 22 years as a member I only needed this benefit once but the TCA was really great. They went to bat for me and the issue got resolved.

@johnstrains posted:

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

When I joined in 2010 I was sent that same form as well. I remember it was signed by people in the office. If I remember correctly, the rule was repealed the following year.



Of course, two forum members that I knew had already signed for me so I didn't need it.

I don't think getting rid of the two signature rule caused the decline in membership, that is demographics at work and changing tastes likely. I don't think the idea was to keep this an 'elite' club like a country club, the reason as I was told is because of the selling/buying of items through TCA between members, they were afraid of unscrupulous ppl joining and selling or buying stuff and stiffing someone else. Given the nature of it as a collecting organization, it was a way to have a mechanism to make sure the person was authentic.  The downside was, from personal experience, some did see it as a way to keep it a small group of cronies, especially at the local group level. The crowd that hung out at the local hobby shop were kind of the gatekeepers from what I could tell and some of them seemed treat TCA like a country club.

From what I know, that 2 signature rule extended to York as well. The member halls were designed for member to member transactions from what I was told (met a guy who gave me a non truncated history of York *lol*) so again it was making sure you didn't have unscrupulous ppl joining to rip ppl off. These days the member halls are really just vendor halls anyway, they may belong to TCA, but it seemed obvious these were dealers mostly, not TCA members selling off their personal collections (as the person I was chatting to put it, guys buy out estates for pennies on the dollar and attempt to sell it at ridiculous prices, though in more colorful language).

Given how much the world changed since TCA was founded, dropping the signatures made sense. Lot of people live in areas where there aren't places to meet TCA members, and given that today the world is increasingly virtual, just didn't make sense. With transactions going through the TCA website, it is a lot easier to prevent scams, ban people than the old mail based transactions. 

And honestly TCA is still doing its job. I enjoyed York and if circumstances allow it, I will be going regularly, and I have started going to local events where time allowed. Nice to see there are still people with enthusiasm to run things like TCA and York. I am sure some wish for the old days where it was a close knit community, I understand that, I grumble enough about other things that 'aren't the same' (comes with age and my expanding waistline), but I think they did the right thing. There are things I think TCA should do looking to the future,especially around the website and the like,  but I'll communicate that to them as suggestions

Very interesting thread. I originally joined for York. I look forward to all publications and totally enjoy the museum which I go to at least once a year. TCA Headquarters are 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on traffic, away. The interesting thing is, I just got invoiced for renewal. I thought about the TCA and is it worth it. I am now a HERITAGE Member, so I guess that answers it! Worth every penny. Publications, Library (which I have not used), Museum, Hobby promotion, News, Web Page, Ads (which I have used and searched for things I need or want) and most of all the COMPANIONSHIP of fellow FRIENDS (hobbyist) is worth it all. I do not attend my Atlantic division meets. I went to a show once and it was okay, but the only person who really seemed to care about talking or helping was the President at the time and the fellow who I gave my name to purchase the WAWA car they were coming out with. I do enjoy reading their newsletter. And YES I also donated a little extra. I did the math and if I live 10 more years it was worth going the HERITAGE route! If not it was worth promoting the hobby. Nephew and his son and my grandson are members due to me so YEP WORTH IT!

Curtis Homan

HE 16-71749

@johnstrains posted:

RE: The two signature rule. When I joined (a little over 10 years ago), the rule was still on the books, but as this story illustrates was more or less on the way out.

I was on the phone with the TCA office and the helpful lady said (paraphrasing)...I'm going to fax you an application with two member signatures on it. I received a faxed form and indeed the app had two barely legible signatures. The form looked like it had been re-copied at least a hundred times.

Worked for me.

If the 2-signature rule wasn't actually being followed, then I agree removing it was the right thing to do.  I still would like to see it reinstated and followed; not because I view the TCA as an elitist or exclusive organization, but because it places value on membership and adds a level of security at TCA-sponsored, members-only events. What is wrong with that? As a few posts here have indicated, some people let their memberships lapse if they have missed a York meet or 2 and will then re-join later only if they plan on attending an upcoming York meet. Removal of the 2-member rule essentially makes TCA membership a disposable thing, when it once was something special because you had to have 2 people vouch for you if you wanted to join.

@bigkid posted:

I don't think getting rid of the two signature rule caused the decline in membership, that is demographics at work and changing tastes likely. I don't think the idea was to keep this an 'elite' club like a country club, the reason as I was told is because of the selling/buying of items through TCA between members, they were afraid of unscrupulous ppl joining and selling or buying stuff and stiffing someone else. Given the nature of it as a collecting organization, it was a way to have a mechanism to make sure the person was authentic.  The downside was, from personal experience, some did see it as a way to keep it a small group of cronies, especially at the local group level. The crowd that hung out at the local hobby shop were kind of the gatekeepers from what I could tell and some of them seemed treat TCA like a country club.

From what I know, that 2 signature rule extended to York as well. The member halls were designed for member to member transactions from what I was told (met a guy who gave me a non truncated history of York *lol*) so again it was making sure you didn't have unscrupulous ppl joining to rip ppl off. These days the member halls are really just vendor halls anyway, they may belong to TCA, but it seemed obvious these were dealers mostly, not TCA members selling off their personal collections (as the person I was chatting to put it, guys buy out estates for pennies on the dollar and attempt to sell it at ridiculous prices, though in more colorful language).

Given how much the world changed since TCA was founded, dropping the signatures made sense. Lot of people live in areas where there aren't places to meet TCA members, and given that today the world is increasingly virtual, just didn't make sense. With transactions going through the TCA website, it is a lot easier to prevent scams, ban people than the old mail based transactions.

And honestly TCA is still doing its job. I enjoyed York and if circumstances allow it, I will be going regularly, and I have started going to local events where time allowed. Nice to see there are still people with enthusiasm to run things like TCA and York. I am sure some wish for the old days where it was a close knit community, I understand that, I grumble enough about other things that 'aren't the same' (comes with age and my expanding waistline), but I think they did the right thing. There are things I think TCA should do looking to the future,especially around the website and the like,  but I'll communicate that to them as suggestions

This makes as much sense as anything else posted on this subject.  Good observations!

I joined TCA in '72 (have '73 number since the Pony Express was slow late in 1972).  I certainly did not join solely to go to TCA Meets.

As stated, TCA provides much and asks for little.

Two signatures?  Yep.  I got an application from a train shop in Santa Clara, CA, and had two members (Hank and Vern) sign after a conversation with the group "assessing" my interest in the organization and my knowledge of trains.  That train shop - Schmidty's - was "inhabited" by dyed-in-the-wool, old-line train collectors.  But each had made some contribution to the hobby in his own way.  I was pretty much a young whippersnapper at the time, so, yes, I was certainly judged by the "train jury" at Schmidty's.  But that seemed fair to me since I was entering an organization, back in the '70s,  whose members wanted honesty between and trust among members.

The change away from two signatures is just a response, as bigkid says, to changing times and changing mores.

My membership has worked well for me & will certainly continue, train meets or not.

Bonus:  I've been able to attend 29 York Meets - traveling to each from the west coast.

  Up until 1978 I was under the impression I was the only adult in the world with an interest in toy trains.  Through bitter experience it was an interest I had learned to keep to myself (My G--!  You PLAY  with TOY TRAINS - Hello stupid, you're not a kid - whatsamatter you???? ...and things far worse) .  I was walking away from a yard sale with a very nice train set I had just purchased when one of the other browsers rushed up to me and wanted to know what I was going to do with it.  I gave him a puzzled/defensive look and said, "Take it home, clean it and run it. Why?"

  His response was, "Oh, so you're a member of TCA?"  To which I responded, " What is TCA?" When he told me what TCA was I couldn't believe it - I wasn't alone!  I got the two signatures, and attended my first meet - a local one - and came away feeling just great.  It was only later someone mentioned York and I made it a point to attend - I'm with Nation Wide Lines - York is fun but there is so much more to TCA.

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