• How to start a model railroad club...

  • Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.
Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.

Moderators: 3rdrail, Otto Vondrak, stilson4283

  by JDFX
 
Ok folks,

Something I have been pondering for a time now is how to start a successful model railroad club...

I know its relatively easy to get a bunch of guys together and do round robin events, but seriously, some clubs really got it going in the right direction...

Searching the web for a page didn't yield me any specifics, so I am tapping into the infinite resources here at rr.net to see what I get..

For instance, some clubs get museum status... Hows that work?

501c3?

Buildings donated for a buck a year?

I am hoping to kick off a very lengthy thread on this, and get many different peoples perspective as well as what works, and what was tried, and didn't work...
  by Paul Cutler III
 
As a 11 year veteran of a club (and was also in a start-up that failed), allow me to give you this advice:

First, you need to get together a good group of people. Not everyone has to be a master model railroader, but at least one person ought to know how to do things "right", like making sure the track is straight and the switches work, etc.

You're going to need at least one person who knows how to turn a screwdriver and cut a board without killing themselves. :wink:

You're also going to need at least one person who can solder and can be trusted to wire up the layout without setting fire to it. :-D

Scenery is in the eye of the beholder, so it's not really as critical. But if the trackwork is impassable, the benchwork unsteady, and the wiring atrocious, then you won't have a club for very long. I'm not saying you need professional carpenters and electricians (it does help), but if all you have are total newbies, then life becomes a little rough in a club.

Now, in addition to all that, you need to find good "club" people. Not everyone is meant to be in a club environment, and those that try to join who are not routinely "poison" the club atmosphere. One really does need that, "All for one, and one for all!" mentality, where egos get checked at the door, and everyone has the same goal: building and running a great layout.

And, you either have to have no rules or total rules. An in-between situation is never good. These rules (or By-Laws) need to apply to all equally, with no exceptions.

My club has 501(c)3 Non-Profit tax exempt status. It's nice because everything we buy for the club is not taxed, and it allows us to pull in some donations that we normally wouldn't get. But for all that, it's only a small side of the club's ledger. Unless your rent hinges on it, then it's something that can wait until you are more established.

Also, my club is "Incorportated" with the State. This allows for some legal protection and other items that can be helpful.

Finally, the one thing you want to avoid is a single tyrant. This would be, say, if your club was set up in a building that a member owned. This member would then have final say on anything he wants because he could threaten to quit the club and throw everyone out if he doesn't get his way. It is much easier for the club to own the building.

  by Otto Vondrak
 
I helped start the RIT club, and I can tell you, it's not easy to find the right mix of people. In the college environment, though, the "right" people seem to gravitate towards us.

No matter where you start you club, you need some other things besides reliable people- you need a reliable location and reliable income. Estanblish a relationship with your community, perhaps there is a space you can use somewhere. As for income, you're going to need to fund things like rent and utilities... and then find something leftover to build a layout with (sounds like real life!)... will your income come from dues? from donations?

Also, be prepared to have this club be like your second job. It takes a lot to get a new club off the ground, and to keep it going. Also, it takes about two-three years for any organization to mature and get off the ground.

These are the by-laws and constitution of the MIT Model Railroad Club... we more or less copied them and adapted them for our own use... you can do the same. It just helps to have stuff like this written down somewhere.

http://tmrc.mit.edu/const/const.html

http://tmrc.mit.edu/const/bylaws.html

We also established certain offices within RITMRC to help organize the work. We have Foremen who head up various departments, like Scenery, Electrical, Track & Structure (rails and bridges), Signals & Power (our wayside signal system), and Construction (any construction of new benchwork, things like that).

Not everyone will want to be involved in every aspect of the club. People will gravitate towards their interest. Some will want to be involved in the track plan. Some will want to be involved in the wiring. Etc etc.

Have fun!

-otto-

  by SRS125
 
The club that I belong to is incorporated and registed with the state we pay no taxes. We pay rent for are space.
Try and find a store front or a room with in anouther building thats for rent. Museums are nice but they can make to pack up and move out! Are club has moved 4 times twice on the county museum grounds once. We moved are 3ed time to a building that was torn down and a year later. Are 4th location is nice but if it comes to anouther move were folding. Becuse were not for profit we have to give all club idems away for charity according to the state law for not for profit corporations.
We have dues the money collected gos to paying the rent, heat, and electric bills. We don't have a phone. cell phones are the norm.
All students from High School thew Collage along with senior citizens 65 and above, and people who have gone out of the way to make a major contrbution to the club are exempt from paying dues.
We have a standared age limit in which if the student is below I think 15 years of age they have to have a member of the club sponser them.

All scales are welcome keep a few extra locos that are club only for thows who may model outher scale to use. Alternate back and forth every outher week or month on steam or diesal panding on the pref of the outher members unless your working on early diesal and steam.