An Operations Weekend – A Different Kind of Model Railroad Event

The public is enjoying watching model railroaders operate the traveling 120 foot by 60 foot portable layout of the Miami Valley Modular Club from Dayton, Ohio.

Most model railroad events involve layout tours, instructional clinics and meetings. The Crossville, Tennessee Model Railroad Club in conjunction with the Headquarters Division of the National Model Railroad Association’s Southeastern Region changed it up a little bit. They sponsored their first ever operations weekend in the area.

The two groups charged model railroad operators a fee to attend, and then opened the rented fairgrounds space to the public for an admission charge. In addition to the huge traveling layout, the Crossville club’s regular layout in a local outlet mall was also open for tours and operation. In fact, the club’s layout is the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in Crossville, Tennessee, an area known for its many fine golf courses.

Besides the operating layouts there were a few additional display layouts for the enjoyment of the public. It was great to see young families and individuals come and get a glimpse of what our hobby of model railroading is all about. There were many smiling faces at this event.

The operators worked in the cordoned off area next to the layout. The stanchions and rope kept casual observers and little hands from getting too close to the trains and the layout details. The Miami Valley group can set up this layout in about 2 hours, and can tear it all down in even less time. It travels in a 48 foot trailer and a smaller trailer.

The layout is controlled from this dispatcher’s panel in the middle of the railroad’s foot print. The Miami Valley group has been in operation for about 4 years and travels to a number of events and train shows every year.

I can only imagine how challenging it is to get a huge portable layout set up and running well in only a few hours. That means that track and electrical work must be flawless—a great credit to the skills of the modular club members.

Besides the operating layout there were a few vendors selling model railroad items. Here (above)

Diane Martin is working with Nanotrains. These small trains can be set up as a Christmas tree display or as a small and I mean small model railroad. The trains are simply magnets with a shell on top that move around a track covered in electrical coils. The electrical induction from the coils pulls the train around the track. This is small scale mag lev. i.e. Magnetic Levitation. It’s a real conversation starter!

Instead of a train car or an engine, figures and/or horses can be glued to the top of the magnets. Here is a horse race track. These small trains could be used as a garden style railroad on an HO or larger layout.

Find more about Nanotrains at their website here, or give them a call at 770-710-8522.

Arcy Hobby shop and several individuals had new and used railroad supplies for sale throughout the weekend.
Here are 3 of the modelers responsible for organizing the event. On the left is Pat Taylor president of the Crossville Club.

There were a total of 8 clinics over the 2 days. Topics covered ranged from using the JRMI program to set up an operations scheme to building removable loads for hopper cars. I hope the club can offer this Operations Weekend next year or at least the year after. It was a great way to meet other modelers and enjoy a fun filled two days.

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2 Responses to “An Operations Weekend – A Different Kind of Model Railroad Event”


    I really the love the train setups but it bothers me that there few, if any, model figures on the scape. People are the one constant around the rails- especially in the towns and cities.

  2. Garrett Drozd

    looks like an interesting event with good subjects