This page features information on Operating Groups open to our Division
on each group is available by clicking on the name below.
The preferred method of contact with each group is by the e-mail
address provided, however a phone number is provided if e-mail proves
unsatisfactory. Please respect any restrictions the contacts may
apply to calling times.
Operate Gently — Prototype railroad employees understand that
if shipped merchandise is damaged, the shipper will find some other
way of shipping it. As model operators we should behave like our
prototype brethren. For example, when coupling cars, use the
amount of force you would use to kiss a loved one, not the amount
you’d use to drive in a nail. Your hosts will appreciate not
having to replace couplers and draft gear you didn’t knock off their
Be Responsible — The Digitrax throttle uses a 9-volt
battery. While you can insert that battery in any of four
different positions, only one makes the throttle work. (Match
the plus sign on the battery with the plus sign inside the
case.) Some throttle owners flip the battery side-for-side (so
that the plus terminal of the battery contacts the minus terminal of
throttle) for storage without discharging the battery. Note,
however, that if you flip the battery end-for-end, its terminals come
in contact with the solid metal spring, and the battery starts
One guest operator did this and didn’t realize it until he’d destroyed
the rechargeable battery inside the host’s throttle. Puzzling,
as said battery became about as hot as the surface of the sun.
Anyhow, the guest had destroyed a rechargeable 9-volt battery, list
price around $10, and never offered to pay for it. Even more
Check Your Pockets — When I was in Army ROTC, when we came off
the firing range, each cadet would face an officer and state, “No
brass, no ammo, sir.” The Army didn’t want us souvenir hunting
on the range. When I’m leaving a session, I repeat these words
and check my pockets. You create extra trouble for your hosts if
you take home their car cards – re-creation is often a troublesome
Handling Two-Part Car Cards — Some railroads run with two-part
car cards. The car card itself is really a pocket, with car
information, and a waybill fits into the pocket. If you’re
operating on a railroad which has these, generally you’re not supposed
to remove the waybill from the car card. (Sometimes, certain
positions may be exceptions to this.) If you’re not sure, check
with your host first. I remember seeing a host at a loss for
words when a guest operator approached him with a handful of waybills
he’d just removed from his car cards.
Nothing on the Layout, Please —(A bad behavior I engage in but
don't approve of!) Our host had just installed static grass on
the railroad and had discovered that car cards leaned on the cars to
be picked up ruined his work.
Don't Pick the Cars Up to Uncouple, Please — If the models on
the railroad are finely detailed, your host may prefer that you
use magnets or picks to uncouple them rather than picking them up and
thus damaging the details.
Summary — Our hosts have spent tens of thousands of dollars to
put their railroads together, and in an act of enormous generosity,
have invited us to use them. We should be well-behaved guests.
We have 6 layouts in Montgomery
County - all HO; 1 is B&O, 1 Long Island RR, and 1 Providence
& Worchester; the other three are freelance. In DC, there is an O
scale freelance layout. All layouts are freight operations oriented
with car forwarding, etc. There are almost no passenger operations,
only locals and no name “varnish.” Time eras range from transition era
to second generation diesels. Informality and relaxed operation
prevail. No fast clock or TT operations. Attendance averages 6 or 7
members per meeting. Operations usually commence at 7:45 pm and
conclude at 9:30 pm. Refreshments and bull session follows until 10:15
to 10:30. The “core” members have been together over 30 years.
Meeting in Prince Georges, Charles
and Calvert counties in Maryland. All five layouts are freelance
railroads operating in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. All
layouts involve freight operations using different systems for car
forwarding and scheduled passenger operations. Time eras range from
the 1920s to second generation diesels. Informality and relaxed
operation prevail. Fast clock and timetables are in use on all
layouts to varying degrees. Attendance averages 8 or 9 members per
meeting. Operations usually commence at 7:00 pm and conclude at 9:30
pm. Refreshments and bull session follows until 10:00. The core
members have been together over 40 years.
Pete & Jane Clarke model the East Broad Top railroad in HOn3,
the year is 1926. The layout follows actual EBT practices except
that here the iron furnace has been re-opened. This makes the
operations much more interesting and varied. The railroad is
featured in Great Model Railroads, 2016.
Informal group of operators who share common interest in prototype
operations. Contact person maintains mailing list and selects
monthly dates - hosts volunteer for dates and invite operators for
sessions on their layouts. Tone is informal but operations are
sophisticated. Group has been meeting since September 2007 in
Maryland and Northern Virginia.
The Nickel City
Line operating group meets six times per year. Sessions are
usually Sundays. The layout is located in Dumfries, Virginia.
The layout is free-lanced and situated in the Allegheny
Mountains of Pennsylvania. Time period is modern day (1990s to
2000). Operations include freight, coal, local freight,
passenger and commuter service. Operation sessions work a 3:1
or 2:1 fastclock. The layout is powered by Digitrax. 10
operators per session maximum. Operations commence promptly at
11:00am or 1:00pm depending on the session. Refreshements are
SMORE - Southern Maryland
Operating Railroad Engineers' Group
on Bob Reid's Allegheny and Shenandoah. Format is
usually lunch at Roy Rodgers (14000 H.G. Truman Road,
Solomons Island, MD 20688, dutch treat) followed by the
session. Layout is freelanced, operating in Virginia
and West Virginia, and involves freight operations using car
cards for car forwarding. Scheduled passenger
operations are included. Time era is the 1920s.
Near-prototype operations prevail. Fast clock and
timetables are in use. Attendance averages 5 or 7 members
per meeting. Operations usually commence at 12:00 pm
and conclude around 4:00 pm. Refreshments, Show and
Tell, and Bull Session follow until around 5:00. The
“core” members have been together over 4 years.