|Initially I completed just 2 sections of the module set before starting on the shorter bridge scene section.|
Thursday, January 28, 2016
TBT - Free-mo module
Getting the module together for the trip up to Springfield got me thinking about when I started to build it and everywhere it has been. It has also led to new friendships and good times with modelers and folks I otherwise would not have met. I am certainly glad I embarked on this project. So here is a Throwback Thursday look at my Woodstown Junction Free-mo module.
It started with an issue of Railroad Model Craftsman in 2008 where Free-mo was explained and demonstrated, including construction ideas. This looked like a great way to do modular railroading, something I had participated with in the past with traditional style modules in the 1980s. Back then, an HO version of what N-trak was doing was all the rage. That group fell apart after a few years and modules built by me and some friends were disassembled.
I certainly did not need a new model railroad project as I was fully involved with my home layout. But this looked like something that could augment that and allow me to participate in other events besides home layout tours and open houses. I've always enjoyed the idea of modular layouts coming together at shows and events, and this new (to me) style had a lot going for it with a more prototypical look to things, and no difficult backdrop to deal with.
So I embarked on a design inspired by a prototype scene in Calais, Maine, the end of a Maine Central branch, I am not sure how I came upon that idea exactly, but it probably was from studying some pictures and seeing a view much like the picture below. The arrangement of track seemed like it would fit nicely into the parameters of a module, and offer operating potential even without other modules attached.
This early picture shows construction progress in early 2009, shortly after I started building. Here the track is in with basic wiring. It was just about ready for it's debut at an NMRA Division Meet, demonstrating Free-mo to a group who had never seen it before.
That the module was something that could provide operations when set up by itself was important as I was the lone pioneer in the New Jersey area with Free-mo. It would be a few years before more modules came on-line in our area, so it was great to have what was essentially a self contained portable layout. It certainly would have been easier (and maybe wiser!) to start with the traditional 2x4 module with maybe a single siding, but luckily things worked out well construction-wise and the module has performed well.
Since that debut in May of 2009, the module has been to 23 events, traveling nearly 5000 miles and getting looked at by thousands of people. Pretty cool when you step back and think about it!
When the modules were 2 years old they had their first chance to connect to other Free-mo modules, traveling down to Timonium to integrate into the Capitol Free-mo group's layout. This was certainly a moment of truth to see just how well a Free-mo module built in a vacuum might hook up with other modules from other builders. Luckily there were no issues and the module performed well. A testament to the Free-mo standard that I could build this and have it work so well right away.
The modules have attended multiple NMRA Regional conventions, public train shows such as Timonium and Springfield, numerous NMRA Division Meets and a few public displays. The modules have also participated in numerous formal operating sessions.
My module is somewhere around 80% complete. I still have a little more scenery work I'd like to do and finalize some structures. Certainly if I did not also have a home layout I would have completed these things long ago. But the fact that the module is operationally sound and relatively complete looking has not let these things deter from my enjoyment. I look forward to many more adventures with these modules!
To get a full look back at all my posts that included Free-mo, click on the 'Free-mo' link at the right under Labels to filter just for those posts.