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Hobby growth question

2297 Views 15 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Spule 4
A recent discussion with club members who model in various scales brought up the suggestion that G scale (1/29th etc) was the only growth segment of the hobby. Is this so? Any actual numbers? Based on....?

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The question of growth is an interesting one. Looking at my own association, the OVGRS (www.ovgrs.org ), I see slearly some trends.

First we are an old group age wise. Many of us are retired and our average age may be something like the average age here on MLS or in model railroading in general. It is sad, but each year, someone seems to pass away ... and as a result, the number of those involved is reduced.

Second, it seems as though no one in our group really leaves the hobby. Over the years a very few have drifted away but the number is so small as to be insignificant.

And third, most importantly, the number of operators on hand for our saturday morning ops sessions has slowly grown ... as each year we seem to find (or are found by) at least one or two or three new players in the hobby.

The point that lownote made about startup cost is very real. In fact, most members of the OVGRS including yours truly, started and still model in another scale. But we entered large scale with a minimum investment because ... the OVGRS has the use of a club railroad even though that railroad is privately owned. To join the OVGRS you just show up - there is no initiation, no dues, no elections and no requirement to spend a penny. Most of our new members just came to operate and eventually bought and radio controlled their own loco (we have no track power). Only a few OVGRS members have ever laid any track of their own. In other words, the OVGRS has eliminated the requirement for the big capitol outlay to enter the hobby.

When I think back to my entry as a youngster into HO, it took an amzing amount of work to build a layout. Everything came in kits and was either assembled or scratch built. The railroad empire was not a running railroad so much as it was a model building hobby. If you wanted to operate a railroad, joining a club was the only answer as it provided the necessary capitol investment in terms of hours of assembly of the component parts - track, electricals, rolling stock, buildings and scenery. Of course, the move to rtr in HO during the 70s-80s eliminated the necessity for a club and very few new HO clubs have formed over the last 20 years (outside the modular arena).

But large scale has a need to make the huge capitol investment more palatable for newcomers. And here is the perfect role for a club. We have hit on the formulation by accident but it has worked well for us in the OVGRS. The two or three true large scalers in the Ottawa area have been joined by a couple of dozen small scalers or newcomers to model railroading who for the most part would never have looked at large scale. The OVGRS offers them an inexpensive place in which to participate in regular operating sessions on a club sized railroad and in return we gain the infectious enthusiasm of many newcomers to the hobby.

Once upon a time 15 years ago, the OVGRS participated in shows with a loop of track on a modular setup. The layout was popular with showgoers especially kids but we never got a single new member. That effort was discontinued ... the OVGRS does not participate in any shows and as an organization is simply a bunch of guys playing with large scale trains. But the current approach has yielded and continues to yield new members every year.

Regards .. Doug
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The IPP&W fills a city backyard ... it is roughly 50 feet deep and 100 feet wide with the Craig Leigh area about 30 feet square and the Firgrove area about half that size. A mainline run from Craig Leigh to Firgrove is about 800 feet. We collectively have about 400 cars evenly divided between ng and sg. Ops sessions are run each saturday morning in season and alternate between sg diesels and ng steam.

Our first ops session of the 2008 season will likely be next saturday and we will run through till the week after Canadian Thanksgiving or about mid October. It is not much fun operating when it is around the freezing mark or colder on saturday mornings.

If any MLSers plan to be in the Ottawa area over the summer. let me know. OVGRS members would be delighted to have you join our ops session if you have time. Dave Winter was a visitor last season and we'd love to see him back. We will also host the American Invasion in mid July for a formal ops session (battery and live steam power) with our American friends. Again if anyone would like to take part in this year's celebration of the friendship between our respective countries, just give me a shout.

Regards ... Doug
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I forgot to add the details on the club.

The IPP&W is owned by Fred Mills. However, retired OVGRS members gather wednesday mornings winter and summer to do the maintenance on the railroad. Lawrence Watkins and myself have built many of the structures on the IPP&W. Gord Bellamy has laid most of the track. Ralph Dipple maintains the rolling stock and Paul Norton writes up articles for the website. Website hosting is provided by Peter Brameh. The non retired guys have to work :) but they help out when they can.

The rolling stock is owned by various club members and is stored in locked storage sheds. Fred owns the majority of the ng rolling stock. The sg rolling stock is owned by individual members but is pooled for our ops sessions.

Fred owns a fleet of ng steam locos but most members have acquired their own ng steam over time. Similarly, everyone has acquired a diesel or two (many members own several) for the sg diesel ops.

The club is informal with no structure and no officers dues or elections. We just get together to run trains and work on teh railroad. A great bunch of guys having a great time ... and newcomers who join in the ops sessions are easily enticed to take up the hobby permanently.

Regards .. Doug
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