What a wonderful hobby model railroading is. In addition to meeting and interacting with some of the finest people you’re ever likely to meet, there are, of course, the trains. Aahh the trains… those miniaturized, motorized masterpieces of commerce that transport freight and passengers to the near and far corners of this great nation (or at least as far as the limits of our imagination choose to take us). As a died-in-the-wool model railroader, it never ceases to amaze me that there are so many ways to enjoy this great hobby.
Some of us have a favorite railroad. For me, it’s the B&O. That makes for some great friendly rivalry among those with other favorite lines. Then there are those who are the collectors among us. Several model railroaders I know collect beer cars, while others collect milk cars, circus equipment, gas and electric doodlebugs, and orange juice cars, to name a few (I even know a real diehard who collects 0-4-0 docksiders; imagine that).
While some modelers are good at planning and designing a layout, others excel in the actual construction. Some are fine carpenters. Others are quite good at electrical wiring. Still others take pride in realistic scenery and structure building. Since we’re all amateurs, we can try our hand at any or all of these various phases of producing a layout.
Some modelers are content to just watch their passenger or freight trains run on a well-planned layout with plenty of dramatic scenery. Others favor prototypical railroad operations. There are those among us who like to run very long trains. The other night I watched a train of 54 beer cars and a caboose make its way along the West Pasco layout. Years ago, some of us in our club made a train of 62 hopper cars on our modular layout. I believe John Olin still holds the record with 104 ore cars on the old modular layout in Ted Winberg’s garage. What a sight that was!
What’s that? You don’t have room in your home for a layout? Another important aspect of model railroading is modular layout construction. The Tampa Bay Model Railroad Club is in the midst of building a Free Mo layout where club members each build one or two (or more) modules meeting national Free Mo specifications. That means your module built in Florida should be compatible with other Free Mo modules anywhere in America.
So you see, there are virtually infinite choices to make in this great hobby of model railroading. You can do some of it, or – if you wish – you can do all of it. The choice is yours.