I'm tossing this out with the hopes of getting a feel for how some of the
model railroad clubs are structured.
I'm currently the president of a club that has 8 paid members, roughly half
of what it was a few years ago. We enjoy, free of charge a 13 x 40' room in
the basement of a municipal building. The HO layout fills roughly half of
that space and there is a G scale double loop around much of the wall about
5.5 feet off the floor.
About 4 years ago, we voted to allow the construction of a U-shaped G scale
layout but unfortunately, the 2 proponents went too far and build it bigger
and this caused a lot of friction in the club. Over the next couple of
years, it was voted to tear it out, to keep it, to tear it out etc. Before
we finally reached a compromise that saw the G-scale layout cut back to a
smaller loop with a liftout section and separate operating nights, we had
lost half of our members.
Personally, I feel our dues of $30 (CDN) per year are way to low. It is now
our main source of income and if you do the math I think you will see how it
is nearly impossible to support not only one, but 2 scales. G-scale track is
VERY expensive. To make matters worse, the membership, led by the G-scale
faction, have voted to drop the dues back to $20 (CDN).
Now to the purpose of my posting:
What do other clubs charge for similar privledges? Specifically access to
the clubhouse 24/7 etc.
How many members in your club?
How strict are your rules? Especially in regards to members pulling their
weight, different scales etc.
What are your qualifications for membership? A probationary period?
Any advice or input would be much appreciated.
Dues $48 per year with voting rights, $36 without, (very few)
22 paid, about 12 are active in club functions
Not very strict as far as members pulling their weight, not been a real
problem, the regulars are a close circle of friends that get along very
well. One guy went postal one time and left leaving the door hinge screws
on the floor in the process. No loss. We are all coping pretty well with
the reduction in membership. Few rules, mostly control the kids etc.
HO only. DCC only. Mostly anything goes as far as equipment, lots of
variation in budgets between members, never been a problem. No real
structure to run sessions, actually just looking into operating sessions now
that we have room the set everything up. Club layout room is 22 by 55 plus
work room and other storage areas and we are expanding the layout all the
time on a very tight budget. We converted to DCC one year ago, have never
looked back. A few guys still having trouble spelling DCC.
We are located in Appalachia, VA and just recently conducted our open house
and fund raising activities during the annual Railroad Days celebration.
This is coal country and we are located in a railroad town. We were able to
raise a year's rent on the building we are in.
New member has to be sponsered by an active member, application read first
regular monthly meeting, usually applicant attends regular run sessions
during next month, if he doesn't run out screaming and doesn't have human
heads in his fridge at home, he is usually voted in at the next business
meeting. No probationary period.
If anyone reading this is close, please drop us a line. We would be pleased
if you would stop by.
President - LPMR, Inc.
I belong to two clubs. Each has its own unique features and flaws. To see
details on each:
HO scale. Two layouts. One fixed running DC about 20' by 20' and a
modular running DCC in a second room about 25' by 30'..
HO scale. One layout running DC about 60' by 20'.
SMRC: $5/month Members have keys but its in the local legion hall so they
have to be open, but are most of the time. Holds annual show on site and
generates large chunk of operating budget from that.
CNYMRC: $10/month Members get keys after 3rd month of membership.
Standalone building that was a station on original NYC route. Minimal other
sources of funds.
about 10-14 each. Has active and a few seasonal.
SMRC: work contribution is highly variable from person to person.
Inconsistent attempt at operating every third Wednesday.
CNYMRC: each is expected to do something according to what they are capable
and desire to do.
Generally everyone has an area of the layout to care for and a 'project'
Projects must be approved by membership. The president can approve up to
$100 for 'needed' expenses, anything bigger is membership.
Every first Friday is operation session. Very consistent.
SMRC: Paying dues and showing up now and then.
CNYMRC: must attend a months worth of work sessions and a business meeting.
Then keys are passed out after 3 months membership.
$20 per quarter, but we have very limited access hours because we are in the
basement of a children's museum, and can only get in when they are open.
This is a big problem, but the space is almost free, so it is hard to
complain much. Also, because we are in a children's museum, we have to have
trains running during their Saturday hours for them to be happy hosting us.
About 20, but only about 2/3 of those every show up, and many of those to
run trains only. We have a distinct shortage of people willing to build or
maintain the layout (and I'm currently one of those who isn't doing much,
for various reasons). It is a very old layout and parts of it are a mess,
and that is our biggest problem. Because of the old layout, the limited
access hours, and the terrible wiring (not DCC), it is hard for us to
attract experienced modelers. Potential members interested in serious
operation would find our current layout unsatisfactory. Unfortunately,
because of our relationship with the museum, we can't tear out the layout
and start over. And we wouldn't be able to muster enough interested members
to do so even if we could. I fear the club will drift further and further
into obsolescence, and the membership will continue to drop, until the
layout finally collapses in a heap of plaster. Several other clubs in the
area are in similar situations, with aging layouts and small memberships.
Many of them are also hosted by public institutions, and several of them are
threatened with loss of their space. The cost of real estate in the Bay
Area makes locating a club in rented or owned space impossible. I expect at
least a quarter of the clubs in the area to disappear in the next decade.
No rules on members pulling their weight. As we are hosted by a city
museum, we have to accept just about anyone as a member. We are strictly an
We do have a probationary period, but it is mostly there to weed out people
who show up once or twice and are never seen again. I can recall a couple
of other times a probationary member was denied full membership because of
behavioral problems, but it is very rare.
Mark Alan Miller
Those of us in the Jackson Society of Model Engineers feel we have been very
lucky as a club. We have 4 scales, HO, N, O-Gauge, and G(which is under
construction). We are based in Metro Center Mall in Jackson, MS. We raise
money for the Mississippi Children's Home Society. The mall donates the
space and the utilities with personal and business donations paying for the
building and upkeep of the layouts. Members pay $50 a year and membership
varies between 40 and 50. We operate every 3rd Saturday and most holidays.
Our big season is from early Nov. to mid Jan. when we are open every weekend
(Fri. through Sun.) and several special steam days in between. All door
proceeds go to the Children's Home with us giving over $9000.00 last year
and $70,000.00 since 1996. We have very few problems and when it has to it
goes to a vote and that's it. We get a lot of work done have a lot of fun
and learn tons from each other.
JSME Club Historian
The fact that your layout is in a public space tends to keep you focused on the
fact that you're doing it mostly for the public and a cause rather than for
yourselves. I think that makes a difference.
I hate politics, and the club I was in got very political. One member got
booted in the fight over DCC on what was a technical violation of the rules,
but nothing he hadn't done before with a wink and a nod. After the mysterious
"scenery committee" removed a mountain that I'd spent 3 weeks building (at
their behest), I was gone.
Their dues? $5 a month and membership? I'd guess somewhere between 40 and 70.
I'll do round robin, but no more clubs. I'm soured on the whole thing.
Wireheads of the world, unite!
Unfortunately, this isn't a unique experience
Here in Ohio, I was in a club with a large permanent layout and only 6
members. (Maybe that should have told me something.)
I'm a "doer", not one of those that stands around the edges and watches. I
asked what I could work on. I was told "we need some scenery done". OK,
what about here? "Sure... build a hill there"... So I did. Built a dam in
a valley between a couple of mountains, had the water in it all painted,
lacking only the gloss coat on the water and piping out of the resevoir.
Helped revise the trackplan so the lead tracks from a turntable to the
roundhouse actually went to the right places (it was placed too close to
the turntable) and laid out the centerlines for the tracks.
I missed a weekend due to a family reunion. Came back the next weekend to
find 5 weeks work crudely torn out (with no reason or explanation offered,
even tho I had been upstairs for an hour before going down to the layout),
and the track so poorly laid from the turntable it was inoperable - huge
gaps between the track and the turntable bridge, mismatched rails, rail
joiners still on the end of the recycled tracks (and therefore the tracks
the wrong lengths)... and got bitched at when I corrected the problems.
I haven't been back, either. (Who, me? Bitter? Can't imagine why...)
On the other hand, the (completely separate) modular group I belong to has
about 30 members, no membership dues, no real organizational structure,
does about 10-12 shows a year, and supports ourselves with our winnings
from GATS shows... including the purchase of 2 trailers to move and store
the modules, and our new DCC system. It's a great group of guys (and a few
gals) and we have a lot of fun.
anyone else getting an annoying horizontal scroll bar in the left frame of
I have to slide the scroll bar to the right to get all of the content and the
page doesn't let me resize the frame to avoid the scroll bar entirely.
Dean Wormer has in it for you and puts you on double secret probation?
Mark Mathu wrote:
How often does someone get voted out after the probationary period? What are
the usual grounds for voting someone out?
Here in Ottawa the last permanent-layout-club died c. 1960, due mostly
to lack of location (or so I've heard; this was well before my time).
The founders of OVAR (in 1961) explicitly decided never to have a club
layout, largely to avoid the politics and expense. OVAR seems to have
worked well as a sort of social umbrella organization. (Obviously
there's still some politics about dues, dinner charges, program, etc.
-- but nothing like there could be!) There are a number of round-robin
groups as well as HO and N modular clubs in town, whose members
regularly come to OVAR meetings. See:
"About" pages) for the details.
-- Steve (OK, I'll admit it, I'm just plugging the website ;-)
I agree with Jay, about he politics, I was in a club for about 4 years, and the
politics was bearable, as long as one of the members I was friendly with, was
there, he was a senior and founding member of the club, and he kept the self
appointed "King" in check, but, when my friend moved to Virginia, thngs got out
of hand quickly, and though there were others there that I was still friendly
with, Der Fuhrer went unchecked without Sarge around. I quit the club sonn
after. We had a public forum, in our club, the building was part of a public
display of antique buildings and farm equipment, and we were required to run
public displays a few times a year, as part of the agreement of our using the
building we were in, but, that didn't stop the politics, mostly from the one
individual. I've toyed with the idea of joining another club, even checking a
couple out, but clubs just get too cliquey (sp?) or the politics thing gets in
the way. When Im ready, I'll build my own layout, my way.... and just for
Froggy.... I might even have a section or two with no trains running on it,
just a static diorama, like maybe an airport, or a military base, or even a
small town that the railroad didn't come near........
Good Morning All,
I am the general superintendant of a local club in the Philadelphia
area. As there is in many clubs, politics can be and usually are, a problem.
One thing I have discovered is, the members who generally are the most
vocal about their dislikes of the politics are also the members who tend to do
the least at the club in any fashion.
I have never found a way to elimintate politics but communication goes a
long way to minimize the negative effects.
If politics tends to make you want to leave a club or not join in the
first place, let me make a recommendation.
I am also a member of a round robin group made up of five guys. Every
week we go to another person's house and work on his railroad. He is the sole
authority for what goes on that night. I have found that I can learn much more
with this type of activity, no dues, no politics, and most important, a
sense of accomplishment.
By the way.....if someone wanted to be in our group, and had no railroad
of their own.....so what....join us anyway.
Our local group (Flint, MI) has been successful for a long time (about
30 years). We are an outgrowth and evolution of two earlier model RR
clubs in the area, one going back to the 1930's. We are a little
different than many purely model railroad groups.
We are 'officially' the "Mid Michigan Railway Historical Society, and
Scale Replica Railroad Association" (MMRHS). We later added (officially,
on request) "Friends of the Huckleberry Railroad" (FHRR) to the title.
We are a non-profit corporation, a 'charitable trust', and are IRS 501C3
tax exempt. We provide funding and volunteer labor to various projects
within our scope of operations. Much, but not all, of our effort goes to
support the Huckleberry RR. There are several classes of dues, from $25
per year to far more depending on what you want to do or support. See: <
We have always been a 'rail enthusiast's group'. We have never been
exclusively a model railroad club. We just like trains, any size, any
type. Some of our members have NO interest in models at all. A few of
the modelers have little interest in the prototype.
Those of us who care to also do 'real' RR restoration at the Huckleberry
shops (3' narrow gauge steam operation). The MMRHS group owns two 3'
gauge Fairmont speeder cars, both in need of restoration ... thus we
have our own prototype 'motive power'. :-)
We have a 12 X 20 ft 12-section modular HO layout that we display
frequently. It was built as a display layout, and can run three trains
continuously (double track main and a branch line). It has full scenery.
It is HO because, like most groups, our modelers are mostly into HO. If
the few N or O gaugers among us could get better organized, the club
would fund a layout in their gauge/scale as well (funding in proportion
to the number of interested members). The HO layout is displayed about
eight weeks a year, worked on perhaps four months a year, and stored
perhaps six months a year (we don't have a permanent place to set it
up). The layout largely supports itself financially via donations when
on display (to the tune of over $1000 per year). We recently installed a
DCC system, but retained DC capability as well.
The group, those who care to that is, also ride prototype fantrips,
visit RR facilities, attend flea markets, visit other clubs, attend or
put on clinics, play RR games, take RR photos, put on or attend RR
slide/movie/video shows, and assist in the construction and operation of
other member's home layouts. All this is within our scope. If it's on
rails, we are interested.
Nobody HAS to participate in anything they don't want to.
The group is run by a seven member "Board of Directors". The membership
elects the directors. Each serves for a three year term, in a 3-2-2
rotation. The Director's elect the officers, usually (but not
necessarily) from within their own ranks. The membership has *NO*
day-to-day say in the operation of the organization. We publish a
more-or-less quarterly newsletter, and have a Yahoo group and e-mail for
more pressing info dissemination. We have *ONE* business/dinner meeting
a year, at which the new directors are elected. ANY organization
business can be conducted at the annual meeting (assuming a quorum,
which is never a problem). It is the ONE chance each year for the
members to be involved with business decisions. Other than that, the
director's run the show. There are *NO* three hour 25-person squabbles
over how many paper clips to buy (BTDT). It works.
Nobody HAS to be involved with business decisions ... unless they WANT
to. If so, then they can run for a Board position. If the membership is
displeased with the Board's decisions, there is a procedure to remove
any or all Board member(s). This has never been done. There is a
procedure for the membership to call a special business meeting. This
has been done ONCE. A couple times the Directors have called a special
meeting, to get memebr feedback. Mostly the membership seems happy to
allow the director's to do their thing. We have very little dissension.
The system WORKS.
Of course there is MUCH behind the scenes discussion of important
issues. The Board memebrs are available to the memebrship for
consultation. *ALL* (by policy) Board meetings are OPEN meetings that
ANY member may attend. Usually only a few memebrs attend. Members may
express their opinions at Board meetings, but have no vote. ONLY the
Board makes the decisions.
The group provides a range of (usually weekly) activity opportunities.
each member does pretty much WHAT they want, WHEN they want. There ARE
some 'house rules' regarding equipment specifications and behavior. The
behavior relates mainly to when we are on public display. There is a
procedure to 'throw a bum out', but it has never needed to be used
(though a few members have had a 'talking to' from the Board. A couple
members didn't like the criticism, and resigned, but none have been
forcibly ejected from the group.
There are currently a few other groups in the area, including NMRA/NCR
Division 10. We are on good terms with all of them, and do things
cooperatively. Several of our members belong to various of the other
It's a good and very diverse bunch. We've had few real problems in
thirty years. During that period several other groups have come and gone
in the area, often degenerating into either inactivity or hissing and
Check your browser settings. The only reason this should be happening is
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