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It’s all about the people you meet

Members of the Tri-State Model Railroad Club gather to hold their monthly ops session.

As we close out 2021, it’s time to look back at all the positive things that happened the past year and be thankful for the gifts of good friends and a great hobby. For me, it’s all about the people that you meet that make this a special hobby. Model railroading is unique in that there are so many great people that are willing to share their knowledge and experience if you just ask. While some model railroaders prefer to be “lone wolves”, only operating and building a layout by themselves, I think they are missing out on a lot. Yes, sometimes you do have to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone for help or guidance, but the rewards are immeasurable. I have made so many great friends over the years and it has been the hobby of model railroading that has been the important component.

This past year saw the release of my new book, Building the Right-Sized Layout, designing and operating a small switching layout. The writing of the text and gathering of photos took over a year, but what made it easier was that my friends were eager to help with providing photos, information, and guidance along the way. It was a bold step for me to write a book, but I knew that my friends would be there to assist me, which made the decision to accept the challenge of writing a book a lot easier. I am very thankful for all those friends that contributed material and photos for the book, and for everyone that purchased it.

Model railroad clubs and the NMRA divisions are a great way to meet other model railroaders. I belong to the Tri-State Model Railroad Club (TSMRI) which has a very nice double deck layout and approximately 30 members. Over the years we have developed camaraderie as we built the layout. Working on the layout I learned many new skills and shared my knowledge with others. Operating sessions are where the layout really comes to life. The club operates using Timetable and Train Orders (TTTO) and there is a steep learning curve on how to understand the timetable and follow the prototype rules. We treat each ops session as a learning experience, and work together to operate the layout with this type of train authority. It was a real challenge when I stepped into the role of Dispatcher, so much to learn and communicate to the rest of the ops crew to have a successful ops session it was intimidating. With the help of other club members guiding and training me, I was able to satisfactory dispatch the layout and got a much better understanding of TTTO. The club was not able to hold our annual fund raiser last year due to the pandemic, but this year things have turned around and we are back “on track” to keep the club open and growing.

The pandemic changed the way that model railroaders communicated from in person events to now meeting virtually. With the advent of Zoom and other online chat rooms, model railroaders “found” each other online and began to hold weekly chats. I belong to an informal Friday night chat group that has a diverse group of members from all over the United States and Canada. We all model different railroads, eras, scales, and types of operations, but what holds the group together is the interest with trains, model and prototype. The conversations range from different model railroading topics to prototype photos and information, but it all comes back to the friendships and sharing of knowledge that makes the chats enjoyable. My wife still does not understand how we can talk for over two hours about trains! The time just flies by and we all have a great time chatting. I am thankful for the friendships that I have made through this group and highly recommend finding your own group of friends to fully experience all the hobby of model railroading has to offer.

Through my YouTube channel and website I have met many friendly and incredible model railroaders from all over the world. No matter where they are from, they all share a common bond, the passion for model railroading, and it brings people together no matter what language they speak or country they are from. I truly enjoy meeting new people and helping answer questions whenever I can. Many people have helped me through the years so I can pay it forward by helping others. If you have a question please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’ll be glad to help, and in the process make a new friend.

The 3 rail O scale train set up under our tree brings back memories of my Lionel Train set I received at Christmas.

Many of us remember receiving out first model train at Christmas. It was truly a magical time watching that train run around the Christmas tree or on our bedroom floor. Those memories still hold true for many kids this year. We all need to do our part and help the hobby grow by encouraging younger model railroaders to enter the hobby. The next time a young person comes to visit your layout give them the throttle and let them run the train, and maybe even do some switching. You’ll be surprised how much they concentrate to operate the train realistically, and “get it” when it comes to switching operations. Reach out and become a mentor to a new model railroader, they will appreciate it and you’ll gain a new friend.

Finally, I am thankful for all the subscribers to my website and my family. I never imagined that so many would sign up to receive a monthly blog and check in to see what I am doing. I am glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and began this website with the help of my oldest son. My family has been very supportive of my hobby and without them I would not be where I am today. There is so much to be thankful for, and I am blessed to have so many great friends and family. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and for your friendship.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. Until next time, stay safe and keep model railroading.

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