Response to “Refresh of NorCalF’s Goals”

Gary Green

September 2017


Thanks, Gregg, for the great summary of NorCalF’s roots and your encouragement to keep improving our modeling. You remind me of some of Chris Palomarez’s articles describing the founding philosophy of Free-mo.


If I could, I’d like to add several additional observations:


·         As a passenger train modeler, prototypically realistic trains require that I identify the era and location that I’m attempting to model with my passenger train. It’s all too common for a knowledgeable observer to note that a passenger train being run on a Free-mo layout is either wrongly assembled or is a foobie. It takes historical research and focused collecting to get this right.


·         As a freight train modeler, prototypically realistic trains require that I identify the era and location that I’m attempting to model. You may not recall this, but at a BarnBQ a few years back you spent a bit of time examining build dates on cars in a freight train I was running. Realizing that I wasn’t being careful about my freight train consists, I have now sorted my freight car fleet and freight engines into eras so that freight train consists that I run are plausible.


·         As an occasional run chief for shows, I find that I am very limited by the relatively small number of modules that are show ready. Modules that otherwise would be very desirable don’t progress to minimal show ready condition, and some that do make no or very little further progress. Consider the similarity in the condition of modules included the more recent BarnBQ layouts. As a group, NorCalF hasn’t made progress at the rate that we did in the early years. And I fear that the layouts we’re presently capable of putting together would fail to be interesting to serious model railroaders.


·         Motivated by the lack of a prototype for Shandin Loop and Mojave Yard, I’ve worked hard to encourage myself and others to create modules whenever possible that are inspired by some prototype location. Modeling turns out to be far easier that way, since imagineering is really difficult to accomplish convincingly. Our most impressive completed modules were the result of a desire to model the prototype as accurately as possible…Glen Frazer, Apache Canyon, the Hearst modules, West Fontana, etc.


To my knowledge, no group or collection of groups is leading the Free-mo community to a higher level of modeling excellence. It could be us. I hope we’ll rise to the challenge.