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Family Hobby

Can you remember the thrill you felt when, as a child, you looked in wonder at an operating model railroad layout?  You can share that joy with your family at International Railfair!  If you are not already interested in model railroading, donít be surprised if you become very much interested in model railroading!  Itís a great hobby!

Most of us have the same problem when we decide to build a model railroad at home.  Space.  There isnít enough space inside our home to build the layout we want to build and operate.  Beginners often think of model railroad layouts as a train going around an oval track on top of a sheet of plywood.  Real railroads do not operate in circles.  They operate point-to-point.  For example, a big freight train will depart Roseville Yard for its destination of West Colton Yard.  When it arrives at West Colton Yard, the trainís cars will be reclassified and placed in other trains enroute to other destinations.  Local trains switch the local industries.  So, a model railroad may be an "L" shape that fits against two walls, or any shape that will work for you.  There are numerous layout books available with plans for many types and shapes of model railroads.  The scale you choose (HO Scale, N Scale, etc.) will make a big difference in the size of your layout.

The model railroads you will see at International Railfair are modular railroads.  A modular layout consists of individual modules that are clamped together to create one model railroad.  Modules are usually lightweight and are about 30" wide and 4í long.  Legs fold out from underneath the module and the required electrical wiring drops down at both ends of the module.  The module is moved into place, clamped to other modules, and the wires plugged together to link the entire modular railroad to the operating system.  Modules might work at your home, too.  The layout can be assembled for operating and disassembled quickly for storage.  The club members at International Railfair will be happy to show you how their modular railroad works.  Model railroads are not built overnight.  Thereís no rush.  In fact, no model railroad is ever finished.  Thereís always something to add or change and thatís fun!  Model railroading is a living hobby.  It evolves every single day!  Itís an all-weather hobby, too.  When the weather is bad, you and your family can still enjoy the hobby inside your home.

Itís truly amazing what you and your family will learn while designing, building, and operating your model railroad.  Most beginners will eventually become an experienced craftsman.  Your children will also learn during the many projects related to your railroad.  You and your family will learn how to use basic hand tools, power tools, saws, clamps, levels, sanding, surface putty, soldering, wiring, glues, paint, drills, bolts, screws, nails, tape measures, squares, stripping wire and cables, wood staplers, files, hinges, plasters, plastics, and many, many more tools and construction products depending on the design of your model railroad projects.  Itís no secret that many young men today did not have an opportunity to learn building techniques, or use tools, because many school districts have discontinued their wood, metal, and auto shop.  Well, hereís your chance to learn what you missed in school and have a lot of fun, too!  What you learn as a model railroader will also be useful in other projects at home.

Modelers often take their time when deciding which scale to model and which era to model.  There are many products available.  Steam era?  Steam-Diesel Transition era?  Modern diesel era?  International Railfairís vendors and the operating layouts will have trains and scenery in all eras and you will have an opportunity to see the different scales in operation.  There are hundreds of simple "how to" books available that cover every possible model railroad subject, from layout design to realistic scenery.  The Walthers Reference Book, published for several different scales, is a catalog that lists and illustrates thousands of available products for building and operating your model railroad.  Another source for information is the Internet.  There are thousands of websites related to model railroading.  Many model railroad clubs have websites that describe their railroad and building techniques.  Model railroad magazines list upcoming shows and club tours you can attend to see model railroads in action.  I have never met a model railroader at a show, or club, who was not more than happy to show me and describe to me how he or she designed and built a project.  Model railroaders are friendly and eager to help other model railroaders and the public.

Many model railroaders are, or become, prototype railfans, too.  Model railroaders often visit railroad "hotspots" to watch trains and observe the scenery and structures around railroad yards and along main lines and branch lines.  Not all trains, locomotives, and freight cars look alike.  Modelers and railfans often take photos and videotape of trains and railroad operations to use while designing and building their layouts.  Some railfans carry radio scanners while watching and looking for trains so they can better prepare their camera location for approaching trains.  Railroad magazines are also a good source for railroad photographs and information.  On the Internet, there are thousands of railfan railroad news sites, photo sites, corporate sites, and very active discussion boards.  Railroad history is a major topic.  So, as you can see, model railroading can take you and your family in many different fun directions!  

We at International Railfair hope that you and your family enjoy a day at our November show!  Please take advantage of our special Sunday Family Discount.  $15 admission for parents and their children.

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