From the Desk: March 2015

March is again upon us and there is very little model railroad activity in the works. The end of the month brings RailRun, an annual activity in the Boston area where many club members have had the good fortune to be participants in the past. A large number of the local model railroad layouts are opened up to a select group of modelers for operating sessions over a weekend at the end of the month. This year, Brian, along with club members Lorenzo Franchi and John Fleming, as well as our Canadian neighbor David
King, have been invited to attend this happening. Participation in this annual event often leads to many ideas about other ways of operating model railroads, including club layouts.

When there is actually a purpose for the trains other than to just go in a circle, it makes for much more interesting train running. continues attempting to
incorporate this idea of operations into the T-trak displays. This has been a slow and ongoing task, but progress is being made and hopefully will be more successful in the future. The RailRun experience provides encouragement for club members to develop more operational ideas for use in our club layouts when the opportunity arises.

The idea of having a purpose has lead to the construction of specific modules that have particular industries on them to support railroad usage and encourage operations. With industry, schedules, and a purpose, it is easier to develop a plan for operations. The one-trak concept has been a work in progress for nearly two years now and lends itself greatly to supporting the operations concept with the t-trak modules. Although DCC adds to the enjoyment of operations because of the added features allowing trains to operate without having to accommodate conventional DC methods, ’s one-trak modules are being constructed with conventional DC power in mind. This allows anyone to use their own motive power regardless if it is DCC equipped or conventional. All DCC locomotives have a conventional feature while not all conventional locomotives can run on DCC. A great advantage of T-trak is that no two setups need ever be the same and the diversity of modules means operations will be ever changing to maintain more interest and challenge for operators. With all of these things in mind, has managed to keep ahead of the game by planning ahead in the design of many of the T-trak modules, anticipating the inclusion of the modules in a layout design to accommodate operations using the features mentioned. These considerations have made ‘s layouts both interesting and fun for both operators and viewers.

The annual “Valley Rail Sights” club show coming up in April should prove to be more fun than ever this year if many of these operational ideas are included when setting up the T-trak layout. Come onout and join the fun.


From the Desk: June 2014

mark-bean-australianWelcome back to the “Hobo”! Mark and his family are scheduled to visit us at the end of June from “down under” in Australia. We are anxiously awaiting his arrival and looking forward to all the excitement, camaraderie, and fresh new ideas Mark always brings with him. It is refreshing to get a different perspective on things, especially model railroading things, and Mark certainly is noted for his different perspective.

Mark has been in Australia for over ten years now and is firmly established as a citizen and resident there but his roots are back here in the good ‘ol USA. Hopefully, he can get to see many of the things that make this country so interesting and great and show his family the better side of America. There is much to offer for visitors and residents alike in nearly every nook and cranny of this great country. In our little nook we have a rich history of baseball with numerous teams which originated in New York to the Hall of Fame here in Cooperstown. To support this great sport over the years the railroad transported many of the fans from upstate areas to the city where the games were played. This continues even today with Amtrak being one of the best means of travel for convenience to the games in New York City. More often than not the close proximity of the train stations to desirable landmarks makes them the logical choice for getting to your destination. Besides the tourism industry, trains are also a mainstay of transportation for goods. It is one of the least expensive ways of shipping large quantities of goods over long distances available to industry today. This real life diversity makes modeling the railroad industry both challenging and exciting. It maintains a keen interest in the details of recreating a miniature world of travel and adventure for those involved in the hobby. This is where Mark’s outlook shines.

He finds the details many overlook and shines his own light on the obvious to the amazement of others. This introspection makes Mark’s models stand out over similar models where the details he incorporates are not found elsewhere. Mark’s willingness to share his observations and ideas with others makes him one of model railroading’s true giants. Mark is always ready to help in any way he can if you have a problem or idea that needs to be expanded. He often shares some of his ideas with when he occasionally writes a column for Hobos Fire. wishes Mark well and hopes he not only has a great time during his visit, but also gains some valuable insight to develop new ideas to incorporate into his own model railroading and further share some of these ideas with us in the future.



club member John Fleming assembles another t-trak unique layout at the Family Fun Center in Mohawk where conducted its March monthly meeting. John has been responsible for much of the scenery work on many of the recent modules has constructed. His artistic talent is truly “magic” on many of these wonderful modules. More examples of the before and after effect of John’s handiwork are illustrated inside. Keep up the great work, John!

From the Desk: March 2014

The second annual Fisher Elementary Traintastic Show sponsored by and the Parent Teacher Organization has come and gone and has been regarded as a resounding success. Along with cooperative weather, the crowds were bigger, the layouts were different and upgraded from the last show, vendors were in attendance, the food was plentiful, the children delighted, and the adults had a great time. What more could one ask for?

This year, the show layouts expanded and included many new scenes, as well as modules for the public to peruse and enjoy. Multiple scales were represented so visitors could compare and appreciate the different model trains. The local news media came to enjoy our family-oriented activities and report on the educational value of the model railroad hobby. With the many skills necessary to construct a model railroad, the opportunity to learn a number of these skills is readily available to anyone willing to partake of the knowledge available from the experts at these shows. From art to construction, electricity to carpentry, math, history, and English, model railroading encompasses all these areas into one excellent, family-oriented hobby where everyone can participate and get hands on experience.

With today’s technology, many of these things can be accomplished with a computer. The research, development, and designing of the railroad can all be done via the many programs available, as well as utilizing the Internet to help. Videos for “how to” are available for nearly every facet of the hobby and the results of other’s efforts can be appreciated through this medium. We are truly in the middle of the “Information Age” where almost anything you want to know about can be easily found with the tools of technology we have at our disposal. Communication is remarkably fast. There is very little lag time between asking a question and getting an answer today. If you are looking for a satisfying hobby that not only can you enjoy individually, but also with friends and family, then model railroading may be the avenue you should consider. It will enhance the skills you already possess and allow you to learn new ones to keep you interested in the hobby. Help from others is always available from multiple sources and most often willingly supplied by the members of the model railroad community. Clubs always welcome new members where expertise abounds and camaraderie is the order of the day. So, in answering the question of what more could one ask for, why not a new and exciting hobby that the entire family can participate in and have a fabulous time?


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