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Thread: How to start a club?

  1. #1
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    Default How to start a club?

    There is no N scale club in my city and I don't have room on my little layout to run big trains. I have 30 engines and 500 cars for a 15 square foot layout! What I really need is a space large enough to build. Is it wishful thinking to start up a club in my town? How have others gone about this daunting task? I'm in Fort Smith, AR.
    Daniel Dawson

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    I guess the first step would be finding out how many fellow n-scalers (or multi-scale) are in your area within say a 45 minute radius. Proximity to each other will be a huge influence on where your club should be located and if it would even be feasible to have a club building. I'm sure there are a lot of local buy/sell/craigslist/free ads that you could put feelers out and try to get that info by advertising a new potential club.

    If there are enough people you'd then need to decide on a location and whether you would try to rent/buy/build the clubhouse. Most likely you'll rent, so keep any layout plans easy to disassemble should your lease expire or landlord switch gears, it's happened to a lot of clubs around me. If you're lucky perhaps one of your members will have a large space (or a full layout) where you all can meet to build or run trains.
    Tim

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    Start by building some modules, take them to shows. Find like minded people who like what you are doing. Hang out, run trains. Help them build modules, take them to shows. Find more like minded people. Hang out, run trains. See what happens.
    Karl

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    Do you have regular train shows nearby? If so, there are probably some established clubs that operate the display layout(s), you might talk to some to see where they are located. It may be that there is already a club within a reasonable distance, that you can join.

    Even if you don't join per se, you can adopt a modular standard like N-Trak and ask to be included in a club's display layout when they are set up in town. Might not even have to provide the module; you might just ask, and be allowed to run your trains on their layout. Of course, that would only be once or twice a year, so maybe you do want to be part of your own local club just to deal with the remainder of the calendar.

    Get yourself a Rail Pass for free travel on the WP&P: wpandp.com

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    Here are two previous posts with this question:

    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...ster-County-PA

    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...t-a-model-club

    Just trying to increase the info on this topic.
    AT64

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    It seems that the original / most basic problem you highlighted was a lack of space.

    If getting a larger space is the key outcome you need to achieve their may be other solutions besides a club. For example, is there a church, youth organization, etc... that would let you build a layout in a large room they have if you would do events for kids or other members periodically. Or maybe is there a train store that would give you space to put a large layout since it might attract customers.

    I suppose that sustainably paying for a space that you might rent would be an underlying issue if a partnership does not work -- I know that a local club here in NJ makes most of their annual budget doing train shows around the holidays. Could you simply rent a place, build a layout, and then sell tickets to events / showcases that would pay for the space (and might make your hobby tax deductible).

    There are a bunch of benefits to a club -- camaraderie, lots of people to work together to create a substantial layout, dues pay for space, etc... -- but if you understand all the outcomes you want to achieve there may be other solutions besides a club.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac View Post
    I know that a local club here in NJ makes most of their annual budget doing train shows around the holidays. Could you simply rent a place, build a layout, and then sell tickets to events / showcases that would pay for the space (and might make your hobby tax deductible).
    You've got me curious. What kind of events do they do that people are willing to pay money for? Are they just setting up displays in various places?
    Daniel Dawson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile One View Post
    You've got me curious. What kind of events do they do that people are willing to pay money for? Are they just setting up displays in various places?
    They have a pretty massive Ho layout in a really crowded room in the back driveway-side / basement of a commercial mini-mall -- I think they have been there for 50 years or something crazy. They sell tickets for $5 or $8 if I remember for adults w/ kids free and give out some cookies or hot chocolate. They advertise it as their fundraiser and it is covered on local radio and newspapers. I thought I overheard that they bring in $8,000 or $10,000 or so over a couple of weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- I know when we went there were easily 100 or so people packed into that little hot room.

    If you want to do this, plan plenty of space for a crowd (also low benches against layout for kids to stand on). They are making a new layout in the next space over and are planning it with quite a bit more space / better electrical system

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    When we started, we all responded to a notice on the bulletin board at the local hobby shop. It just said "Organizational meeting for a new N scale train club" . Many of the people were not Nscale, but were interested in the club anyway.
    I'm in an NTRAK club and they have a number of advantages over a fixed layout. The first being no overhead. We set up 10-12 layouts a year . We set up at the local mall quite frequently, and do the local library at least twice a year. We have set up for the local high school, and several museums including NP and Milw. depots. We also do the local county fair and the big (for our area) train fair at the state capital. We put out a tip jar at each event, and that plus dues ($80 a year) keeps the club in the black. The other advantage of the modular layout is because of the locations we set up, we reach people that a fixed layout wouldn't. If we're at the mall, everyone shopping/walking the mall comes by our layout, and while not everyone stops, the majority do, at least for a few seconds......most at least do a lap around the layout before moving on. How many of those people would have come to your clubhouse, or even known your clubhouse existed. Also, we usually have plenty of space to set up and for guests to move around the layout. Our next setup will be for Christmas at the local history museum, which is about the smallest we do (10' X 22'), but that's another advantage of going modular.......we can fit into virtually ANY space. As long as you can squeeze in a 6' circle of track we can set up. The club has about 30 modules available, along with 6 corners and 2 inside corners, so we can do the usual squares and rectangles, plus L's , T's , U's , and what I call double diamonds, which are 2 squares that meet at a corner. The layout changes at virtually every set up.......your always running on a "new" layout.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    As mentioned, the big factor is number of people interested. You may need to do multi-scale in order to make a club feasible. If you have a small base group, you may have to settle for doing a round-robin meeting at various members houses and running on those layouts.

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    Besides a full out club, many modelers enjoy round robins. It is a loose organization of model train enthusiasts. Meeting gather at each members house in turn. No dues, no clubhouse, the layouts are the members' own. Meetings are first social but include the members helping out on the hosts layout. Meeting length and how often they happen is up to the group. From this simple ad hoc group a larger more permanent one can grow with all the trappings.

    Putting up a flyer in the local hobby shop or library is often a good place to start. Local churches are another option. It might even be possible to have the club connect to the Boy and Girl Scouts. The Boy Scouts even have a merit badge for Model Railroading.

    Putting a notice in the local papers may or may not cost. Since you are not for profit entity. It might be possible for you to have your "request for members"as PSA. Like a Red Cross Ad. They are only put in the paper to fill space. The ad could be as tiny as a couple line classified or a few inches tall across a column or two. Ads that could just be dropped in make them more likely to be dropped in to fill a hole. Depending on how big the local population is will dictate how much of a response you will get.

    The M.A.N.S. Club just north of Atlanta keeps in touch through a Yahoo Group. It gives a safe free private space to communicate and promote the future club. The electronic club could evolve into something else.

    Have you checked the NMRA club list for what is happening in your area?
    Use what you know about the world to model…
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    Hey guys, thanks for all the great ideas. I didn't expect such a variety of responses. It's given me a lot to think about.
    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    NMRA club list
    I didn't know there was such a thing but I do now. The only 2 in AR are about 2 hours away... not really ideal for me, but thanks for the tip!
    Daniel Dawson

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    As far as posting to check interest would also recommend the various FaceBook groups focused on N-scale (and all scales). Those groups have thousands of members and may have some folks in your areas. You could also use a Facebook group to originally organize the virtual group (like a Yahoo Groups).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpwisc View Post
    Start by building some modules, take them to shows. Find like minded people who like what you are doing. Hang out, run trains. Help them build modules, take them to shows. Find more like minded people. Hang out, run trains. See what happens.
    Plus even if the others are too far away for meeting every week, you might still be able to get a meet together once, twice or maybe four times a year... just need to agree on a standard. It's probably also easier to find setup space for a long weekend a few times a year than continuously...

    Just for a quick idea what can be done, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d99rhE7PEy8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOY802ZKfqw or any of the ntrak videos out there

    Heiko

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