Do real railroad workers build models of trains and layouts or just
laugh at those who do? Do they think it is a sissy type of thing for
men to play with trains or do they also enjoy the hobby of scale model
It's funny because at many public showings of our club's HO scale
modules, we often get people asking if any of us work for real
railroads. We had one fellow who did work for CPR, but he moved away to
follow his job. I think he's about the only one I personally know of in
our area. Some former railroaders are railfans, but that is different.
As for myself, I was with the Canadian Coast Guard for 35 years in shore
based technical positions. I have never had any desire to model ships
or lighthouses. That was work, trains are for fun! About the only
thing I did that was work related was make a few model helicopters like
I used to ride in. One ended up in a local aviation museum.
We have, or have had, several "Real" railroaders in our local hobby
group. These include a couple GTW or CSX locomotive engineers, and the
head and two other employees of our local 3' gauge historic steam
My impression is that the number of model railroaders in the railroad
profession probably isn't greatly different than that of the public as a whole.
I certainly have met a bunch of railroad professionals that have NO
interest in model trains. To them, it's just a job.
I think there are rather more 'railfans' or railroad history buffs than
model railroaders in the profession. It's not unusual for a train crew
to be taking pictures of their own, or nearby, equipment. Several of
these type show up regularly at out local 'railroad slide fest'
presentations given three or four times a year. Most are NOT model
railroaders. Even a very high ranking BN/GN executive is active with the
GNRHS, as are several other ex GN employees, and they attend most of the
society's meetings. Such persons are EXTREMELY helpful and useful in
dealing with the company, and is one reason the GNRHS is on pretty good
terms with the existing railroad.
"A. Paul" wrote:
A poorly worded sentence to be sure ...
I, of course, meant PERCENTAGE, not total number. It should have read:
"My impression is that the percentage of model railroaders in the
railroad profession probably isn't greatly different than that among the
public as a whole."
"Daniel A. Mitchell" wrote:
Yup -- Right Here!
Very Possibly many of these.
Very Possibly many of these.
Waiting for a bus is as thrilling as fishing,
with the similar tantalisation that something,
sometime, somehow, will turn up.
James B. Holland
? Holland Electric Railway Operation.......
"O"--Scale St.-Petersburg Trams Company (SPTC)
Trolleycars and "O"--Scale Parts
? Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
Pittsburgh Railways Company (PRCo),
1930 -- 1950
? N.M.R.A. Life member #2190;
An Assistant Superintendent (Don't know how that compares to hierarchies
of other companies but he has access to the executive fleet) of a UP
Division is a member of our club. He provides many insights into
prototypical operation which we incorporate into our models.
I know several who are into photography etc and attend historical rail
society functions. I only know of two, both locomotive engineers, who
have operating layouts at home. I find it amusing with the anti 3
rail attitude found on this forum that these two engineers have 3 rail
layouts for as they put it "fun". They both commented on seeing scale
layouts at trains shows on how the operators, headsets and all, did
not appear to be having fun. Interesting.
Oh, well, we'd all best pack up and go home then, if two engineers
reckon that scale model railroading isn't fun.
Funny how the "It's your layout, do what ever pleases you, model
railroading is about having fun" crowd get all sniffy when the scale
railroad modelling crowd do exactly that.
What? They should be swapping jokes over the headsets and laughing it up? Nope.
Probably trying not to rear-end the train in front or overrun their warrants
and such. I've seen role-playing gamers also take their "games" WAY too
seriously. But if it wasn't fun, would they be doing it? That's why I left the
Bristol Renaissance Faire. It just wasn't fun anymore.
CNS&M North Shore Line - "First and fastest"
I hardly think the two engineers were getting "sniffy". Probably just reporting
their impressions based on the looks on the guys faces. How many of us are
smiling broadly while running trains? Somebody'd probably try to lock us up for
sure if they saw it. Running trains is a satisfaction in life. Not an openly
displayable satisfaction, but an inward satisfaction, private, if you will. At
least for me. Your mileage may vary.
CNS&M North Shore Line - "First and fastest"
Depends... some do, some don't. At my model railway club, we have or
had an CR/Amtrak/MBTA engineer, two Amtrak Conductors, one MBTA conductor,
two Amtrak Red Caps, one NECR trainman, one Amtrak electrician, and one
shortline engineer/conductor. More or less, all at the same time. These
guys vary. Some just like trolleys, some only like scenery, and some just
like to operate.
Heck, my neighbor is an ex-towerman for the NH, B&O and MEC, and his
basement is full of American Flyer. I know a couple of retired NH guys that
collect trains and run them. They might not be big on modeling, but they
still go to train shows, etc.
Paul A. Cutler III
Weather Or No Go New Haven
Some of them go to rather great lengths, including a friend of mine who
not only has a sizeable HO railroad in his basement, but a good-sized
3-3/4" scale railroad outdoors on his property (see
At the operating session I attended at his place on Saturday, eight out
of the fourteen guys who attended worked for one of the major railroads
or another. These men are engineers, conductors and a signal maintainer
in their "day jobs". Other guys who operate there regularly include one
of the area FRA inspectors, and an Amtrak claims agent.
Operating there has been a great opportunity to learn how it's done on
the real thing and to hear the war stories from the field.
Webmaster, Rails on Wheels, Washtenaw County, Michigan's HO
Modular Club, at
The address in the header of this message is deliberately bogus to
foil address-harvesters. See my web sites for my real address.
There are MANY kinds of "FUN" and entertainment.
Some enjoy the challenge of a complicated game. It may require
concentration, patience, and skill to play well. There may be little
Others want a lighter hearted more joyful experience ... this can extend
all the way down to outright silliness.
Neither is any more 'right' or 'better' than the other. Both serve as a
release from the day-to-day problems life can dump on us all.
Go forth and have FUN ... whatever that means to you. And let the
'other' guys enjoy their own 'flavors' as well.
Being an ex railroad worker myself I would have to say that most of the people
work on the railroads have no interest in trains other than as a money cow. I
of only two other professional railroaders who were interested in scale model
railroading in a time span that exceeded thirty-five years. One is a signal
maintainer, the other is a now retired trainmaster. Another friend, the late
Lowe, was the Chief Clerk for the Atlanta Terminal Area. Shelby was not a model
railroader per-se, but was a rail fan, model builder of sorts, photographer and
author. He is the author of the much sought after "Southern Steam Power" which
forever out of print. Shelby died in August 2000.
I agree. As soon as it is more work than fun - give it up. That's why
I quit AD&D. It took 10-20 hours to prepare a scenario that the players
would do their best to "get around it" instead of putting themselves
Possibly just a step back, re-evaluation, and new approach can make it
I worked for a railroad and the common name for a railfan was "FRN"
(F***ing Rail Nut). However, I also knew a few co-workers that were
Some on train crews were photographers and took pictures as train went
along. I don't think they considered themselves railfans, just
photographers who happened to be on a train.