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 railroading?
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 tourist railroad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-fm 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.
Being an ex railroad worker myself I would have to say that most of the people who work on the railroads have no interest in trains other than as a money cow. I knew 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 Shelby 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 is 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 into it.
Possibly just a step back, re-evaluation, and new approach can make it fun again.