% of Real v Fictional MRRs

MarkInLA May 25, 2013

  1. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well I don't know! I subscribe to 3 model magazines and I don't see 100% craftsman type layouts - 'tho that could be just me. I've seen photos (and models) that had me saying "wowser - that looks real!" Then other photos and models - "naw, mine looks more realistic!" It gets real subjective real fast.

    Back in the 60s/70s we had a kind of loose round robin of 5 to 7 modelers. The second guy I met was stationed here in the Navy. Now that guy was a "craftsman." His favorite kits were, as I remember, produced by a company called Cannonball Carshops. Those kits were absolutely state of the art back then, not easy to find but he did. And by the time we saw them, not only were they perfectly decaled - they had uncoupling levers! And if you remember the Varney F-3, it was at best a noisy beast. Not his set. They did make a soft purring noise while running in ACL's purple & silver scheme that made Mantua/Tyco's factory equivalent look not so good. Painted by guess who?

    But, his layout - the "Plywood Pacific" personified. A 4'x8' piece of plain 1/2" plywood. It did have 3 turnouts (which worked perfectly), rail, Kadees and ramps, and perfect electrical connections, i.e. nothing ever failed or malfunctioned in any way that I ever saw. For 3 years that was it!

    His polar opposite - well he had as I recall a lot of Penn-Line and Mantua r-t-r cars. He bought Penn-Line train sets in multiple, r-t-r you know. I still remember the 2 back to back work nights we spent converting all those Mantua cars to body-mount Kadees. Directed and helped by our resident craftsman. Now this gentlemen had a 20' x 24' foot space. Scenicked with plaster, twigs with globs of lichen attached and more dyed sawdust than you can imagine. His track, questionable in several locations. Block control - well it mostly worked. But he had done his best to lay it out as a real railroad. We could and did move trains and cars as close to prototype as we knew how.

    Guess which model railroad was hands-down our favorite to visit and "operate" on. Even our craftsman said "I may have built a perfect machine, but K---- has built a model railroad."

    So there again, a commonality of purpose, regardless of how achieved, seems a unifying purpose.
     
  2. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    "Well I don't know! I subscribe to 3 model magazines and I don't see 100% craftsman type layouts - 'tho that could be just me. I've seen photos (and models) that had me saying "wowser - that looks real!" Then other photos and models - "naw, mine looks more realistic!" It gets real subjective real fast." - Dave Jones

    Well, Dave, I'd certainly be very much interested in knowing just which magazines you read that include the work of neophytes, or even just "average" hobbyists. Certainly, it is none of the Big Three as even MR, the least impressive of today's major model RR publications, still presents only high quality layouts as has been their tradition for decades. I would note that with the huge improvement in scenicking materials seen over the past decade, or two, even neophyte hobbyists should be capable of building outstanding layouts these days. The fact is this is far from being the case from what I see generally, with most doing little better than many hobbyists of similarly limited experience four or five decades ago. The claim made by so many newcomers that buying RTR freed them up to model superior scenes and buildings appears to have turned out in the end to be utterly false.


    As to those playing with little or nothing more than RTR, that element has always been with us on the fringe of the hobby, but only comprising a very small segment of it until recently. The Tyco people were always considered with tongue-on-cheek by traditional hobbyists, but their modern incarnation is now considered as mainstream. This unquestionably represents a radical departure in the very nature of the hobby, as I've stated previously. MR's efforts to promote the RTR, buy-only, segment of the hobby between 2000 and 2010 almost sank the magazine itself as the hobby's serious modelers dropped their subscriptions by the thousands. Overall, this approach lost MR more than 45% of its readership, indicating that most real enthusiasts still regarded the hobby as far more than about just purchasing things to put on train tables.

    NYW&B
     
  3. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    You take a very hardline stance and your references to the scourge of plastic kits and RTR draw comparisons to those modern scenicing materials.

    If you aren't grinding your own foam and harvesting your own weeds for armatures, then you are no model railroader, you're just an assembler of prefabbed materials.

    I'm kidding of course, just turning your attitude back on you.

    MR's current golden child modeller is Pelle Soeberg and his old Layout looked wonderful, but almost none of it was scratchbuilt. It was literally a collection of commercially available product assembled and arranged well.
    Is he not a model railroader?


    And don't get me wrong, I think there is value in noting and elevating those among us who exemplify the ideals of model railroading, but I don't think there's any value in being exclusive.
    The RTR revolution has certainly broadened the nature of the hobby in some ways, but I would argue that the essence of model railroading has always been in the layout, not in the rolling stock.

    The hobby is already extremely divided between the scratchbuilders who rarely have anything like a layout and the operators (broadly)
     
  4. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark, you ask the dammed-tis questions.

    Ok here goes but I thought I already sounded off here or on a thread like this.

    Prototype equipment is preferred on my layout. At least as close as I can get it. Free-lanced, in that the layout is not of one place specific but rather a snap shot of two or three locations. Ie., Cajon Pass, San Berdu., Flagstaff, Verde Canyon, and the coal mines of Colorado. That is once the scenery is added in. I do have some train equipment that is free-lanced I.e., My work train or M.O.W. equipment.

    I think someone coined the phrase Protolance. In this application as per the accepted definition, regarding my model railroad activities... I'd say that get's-r-done.

    I just checked on another thread here and the poll shows Protolance ahead of the others.

    Look straighten up and drive your trains right. Ok having a little fun here BUT! My hat's off to those who can sit down and bang together a building from scratch. On my layout: Most of a mini-city I have on my layout was banged out by one Greg McGinnis. He also did some nice scratch building using various commercially made plastic kits. In my not so humble opinion he qualifies as a Model Railroader. See my signature click and scroll away on the Howland Pacific or H&P Railroad slideshows to see the buildings and mini-city he built.... featured there.

    ALSO: One awesome grain silo is featured. You won't find a kit for it...anywhere.

    You need to stop by his place sometime and check out his HO scale layout. You won't believe the buildings. He isn't the only one in the Big Bear Valley. There are some other layouts you need to see.

    Uhh...errr....You won't find me banging out anything from scratch or scratch building, anything. Humm, I wonder what does that make me? I heard that! LOL

    Edited add on:
    From the Side Door Pullman: "Special Request" If you guys are going to quote each other could you please use the "Quote" feature provided here. At least then I would know who's original post to go back to and when the quote starts and stops. OR you could also use this format, I.e., Matt Davis originally wrote: """I don't like modelers who use...."" Or not, hell why should I care but you won't find me reading through all the repetitive stuff. Are you still reading this...LOL. Thanks for giving it an ear. I said with a stern grin.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2013
  5. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Technically what you describe is not Proto-freelance as the people that coined the phrase defined it. If anything it's prototype. Assuming there are degrees of prototypeness.

    Proto-freelance as the term was originally defined in the 70s means a fictional railroad that goes between real places and maintains a prototype level of detail in the entire story of the railroad.

    It doesn't exist, but it could.

    The Famous examples are Tony Koester's Allegeheny Midland which is a fictional Coal Hauler owned by the NKP. so NKP's operations and rulebook, but C&O's west virginia scenery.
    That would be the most perfect example of the type. And Tony was the one that made the phrase common in the pages of RMC and MR.


    In the other thread I pointed out that most likely a large portion of the people who voted in the poll didn't know the definition of the term and nobody defined the terms beforehand.

    Many people now adays, on this website anyway don't know the history of the Term Proto-Freelance. Like they haven't read an issue of model railroader or RMC from the 70s, 80s or 90s.
     
  6. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    For the record, I'm a big fan of the Proto-Freelance type. I aspire to it, but I don't have the gumption to put the effort into all of it, so I do Proto-Freelance light.

    That's why, when we have these threads, I'm a stickler for the terms. It's my favorite type of model railroad and we can't have conversations if we don't agree on terms. See Turnouts v. Switches.
     
  7. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    YoHo when did you become such a "Know-it-all"? Let's see...were you even around in the 70's? Doing the math...based on age indicated, when you were 5 years old, a new decade was just getting started... the 80's.

    I take it you've been reading a lot of older model railroad wig wags. Still, I don't recall "Protolance" being coined until recently. "Proto-Freelance" I heard frequently during the 70's, actually during the 80's. Putting us on the same page...I think.

    An example of Proto-Freelance was John Allen's layout. He operated to a certain degree in a prototype manner but his railroad was fictional.

    Where I would differ... is "Prototype," defined. It referred to someone that selected an era I.e., Time and place and proceeded to model train equipment and supporting structures in accordance with all the photos and documentation available.

    Proto-Freelance, was defined as correct train equipment perhaps for a specific time period but the layout was anything but actual locations. For example a friend of mine models the most accurate and detailed prototype equipment I've ever seen. His layout is a fictional route with the towns or cities names based on his family I.e., Ricksville, Briansburg and so on. Today's coined "Protolance".

    Interesting how the definition has changed. The new-bies and some old timers to the hobby are changing-ing (spelling intended) everything including definitions we thought were set in concrete. Seriously. That however, is another discussion for another time and place.

    Good to hear you sound off.
     
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  8. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

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    NYW&B - Well there go any hopes for Z or N Scalers ever to be "craftsmen" as you define it. But I submit (don't demand, but submit) that much of the work I've seen in N was done by my definition of "craftsman." Yes, they took r-t-r items and used them in unique and artful ways to build operating model railroads. Z scale, well can't address that - not enough knowledge.

    The 3 mags I read are MR, RMC, and MRN. One problem may be your conflicting statements of 25 May as opposed to that of 28 May as concerns 'Model Railroader.' It could be "...now its' content is more a catalog..." (25 May) or it could be "The magazines are populated by the work of the craftsman to the total exclusion of neophyte r-t-r enthusiasts."(28 May). It could be either one yes! Best bet yet - you read and get back to me on that fellow's CP Crowsnest division in the latest issue of RMC, N scale but that guy is a craftsman in most people's book.

    My point from the start is we're a small hobby. How many divisions do we need between "craftsman" and "r-t-r neophyte?"
     
  9. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'm not aware of anyone officially defining protolance at all. I think people have assumed an obvious meaning and I'm fine with that except that it's not agreed upon and is quite broad. I mean, by that definition, any selective compression could move you from prototype to protolance. You're a bit off in your famous modelers for proto-freelance. Allen McCllelan and his Virginian & Ohio is the original. Koester was Editor at RMC in the 70s and featured the V&O regularly. He then built the AM and featured it regularly as editor of RMC and then in Trains of thought in MR. If You read RMC in the 70s or MR in the 80s and 90s before Koester tore it down, then you got a steady dose of proto-freelance. More recently Eric Brooman's Utah Belt has been the standard barer for Proto-Freelance. I got my MR and RMC subscriptions in 1983 along with a spate of books written in the 70s. So I know the era.
     
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  10. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    "You take a very hardline stance and your references to the scourge of plastic kits and RTR draw comparisons to those modern scenicing materials.

    If you aren't grinding your own foam and harvesting your own weeds for armatures, then you are no model railroader, you're just an assembler of prefabbed materials.

    I'm kidding of course, just turning your attitude back on you." - YoHo


    No, you are totally off base with your analogy, said in jest or otherwise. It is not rendering one's own modeling materials from the most basic natural forms that might define a "model railroader", it is the creativity, developed skills and personal talent of one to take available simple hobby supplies and create a series of unique and quality models from them both in the form of trains and scenery to be combined into a realistic rendering of the real world in miniature. One can take personal pride in his/her ability to accomplish such, feelings that can hardly be justified in the opening of a box and the removal of a commercially made and finished loco, freight car, etc.

    Becoming a creative builder of models incorporated into a layout is what makes one a model railroader. This was the objective from day one of the hobby's beginnings, continuing to be so up until the advent of overwhelming RTR in the 2000's. This is not specifically my opinion, or any hard-line of my own. Rather it is the original nature and intent of the hobby and long established fact that is well documented in the pages of MR and RMC since the 1930's. I suggest you acquaint yourself more fully with the hobby's history if you honestly think the two approaches are identical in nature.

    NYW&B
     
  11. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    So again I ask, is Pelle Soeberg, MR's current resident MR expert a Model Railroader?

    His rollingstock is RTR with a few details and weathering. His structures mostly kits.

    Is he or is he not a model railroader?
     
  12. JB Stoker

    JB Stoker TrainBoard Member

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    Model Railroader? Sure. But then, so is an 8 year old boy assembling a train under the Christmas tree. I think the real question is whether or not assembling pre-manufactured items into a layout makes someone a Craftsman. My answer would be no. It's like asking whether assembling computer components into a computer makes me an Electronic Engineer. No. It doesn't. It makes me somebody who can take pre-engineered parts and make them into something functional. Most people can't do that, so to them it is impressive. To a true Electronic Engineer, assembling parts that they have pre-engineered is not impressive. Same thing with assembling pre-made parts into a layout. To somebody who would struggle for years to assemble pre-made things into a layout, it is impressive. To guys who hand lay track and mill their own locomotive assemblies, it isn't. It's all a matter of perspective,
     
  13. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's how you do a quote. Yes sir! Seems to me Mark W. got after me for the same thing. Grin!

    I don't know anything about Pelle Soeberg's, model railroad so I will refrain from making a judgment call. However, what you have described would be me, myself and I's model railroad. I sport some custom painted locomotives but I didn't paint them. I have scratch build structures and some banged out from scratch but I didn't build them. When I do build and paint my own it will be from pre-fab kits. You can ask the same question of me... Am I a Model Railroader?

    The question to ask here and the category ignored is: Are we Toy Train Enthusiast or Model Railroaders? Is there a fine line between the two? By asking I'm not saying being a Toy Train Enthusiast is a bad thing. There is loads of fun in either category.

    You ready for this...here comes another example. A friend of mine (yes I have friends...thanking the great spirit) wanted a layout built for his Lionel and American Flyer trains. I and another good friend Doug P., built him a railroad where he could run his trains. We borrowed some model railroad ideas. He ended up with a control panel that sported DPDT toggles and allowed for two train (separate) operation. Light indicators on the control panel that told him where his trains were. His O scale trains ended up with the long route around the room. Not a shelf layout but close. Benefits? It has an up and over, a single wye, reversing loop, two pull out bridges, a 4 track stub end yard, two long sidings and three industrial stub end spurs. His S scale ended up with a double track oval and one dead end spur, built over the top of the O scale. I ask does he have a Toy Train Layout or a Model Railroad? After he and his family being gone for a long weekend. He peeked into to see how much gotten done. A considerable amount I might add. Benchwork and some mainline was in place. When he saw it.... the first thing out of his mouth was "Oh $#!+", it became (can you guess?) the O&S Rail Link. Sigh! Just in case we missed it he is a Toy Train Enthusiast. His layout I'll leave you to your own conclusion.

    RMC was one of my favorite wig wags of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. I still prefer it over brand X. So, I'm heavily influenced by it's pages but not always in agreement with it's conjectures and conclusions. The closest presentations to replicating and representing the 1X1 foot scale...prototype.

    I hope you don't mind...finding me agreeing with Dave Jones. The way he puts things sounds like the old wig wags I used to read. Keep it coming Dave.

    Now this old fat (what did I call myself?) err, this old fart...grin... is tiring of this discussion and you youngsters will have to keep this going. I just hope I gave you something, uhh nothing, errr stuff to think about. No offense meant and none intended. Just enjoy the hobby and share it with all who show an interest.

    Carry on! Have fun! Be:cool:
     
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  14. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    Oh boy.

    Wow, "old-timer syndrome" is alive and well! I would accuse you of being in the NMRA, but even THEY have their standards. I suppose, since we are not following your derived definition of model railroading that Trainboard should probably close up shop and we should all just quit! We're all ruining the sanctity of YOUR hobby.

    :eek:hboy:

    In reality, if you actually read ANY of the magazines you'd know that what you are saying with regards to "everything being a high quality layout"--by your definition--is completely not true. Actually, from most of our standpoints it IS true...I enjoy almost every layout presented, and always learn something from every single one. I would wager that to be true for the majority of model railroaders. Look no further than the Salt Lake Route project layout--it must surely make your blood boil--but there are plenty of other examples.

    In reality, there are more true craftsmen in this hobby today than ever...to be quite frank, they are modeling circles around anything prior. But this hobby is not about that. Despite your assertions, this hobby has ALWAYS been about the multitude of aspects that the individual hobbyist/model railroader could focus on while putting together a complete package of skills to build models or layouts or operating schemes or electronics or whatever. The *diversity* of both skills, people, and products has been the wonderful thing about model railroading. There is no ONE recipe, as you contend.

    It's fine that you think because you carved a flat car out of balsa wood and put some bolt castings on it that you are somehow a "pillar" of our hobby. I'm sure diesel locomotives are worthless to you as well and we're all fools for running them. But as a few have alluded to, this "good ole days" syndrome where "my generation did things the RIGHT way" has been around for 70 years...nothing new, and still an irrelevant, tired, and flawed view of things. Your insulting and condescending attitude is very, very sad. This is a great hobby, with tons of great folks that are uber-talented. I hope you find a way to enjoy it with all of us "beatniks" ruining it for everyone.
     
  15. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    We're all playing with trains. We all have fun doing it.
     
  16. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    Anyway, to get somewhat back on topic... I think that a large majority are attempting some resolution of prototype model railroads these days. Not because we are lazy, but because the technology has allowed a fairly "legit" roster of rolling stock that means it's a fairly achievable goal. Especially given the time constraints that people work under these days, it would be close to impossible for many of us to scratchbuild everything. So we scratchbuild the really hard to find stuff, kitbash what we can, superdetail locos and freight cars, and....YES....we buy some RTR stuff to fill out the roster.

    When I say "some resolution", to me that means that there are degrees to which each modeler takes each category. Some may be a "protolancer" that leans heavily toward the prototype, and then there may be a "proto modeler" that uses a lot of modeler's license to achieve certain goals. And those two modelers may not be far off in their philosophies at all. I've seen some modelers model very specific prototype scenes, and I've seen some model a "region"....still very much based on a particular prototype and operations in that area, but not a track-for-track representation.

    Same could go for blurry lines between freelancing and proto-lancing, etc. Even the hard core freelancer probably has been influenced by something the real railroad did at some point. So, it's the whole gamut of options in model railroading that make the hobby great.
     
  17. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    I was concerned where this discussion might head considering that there is a significant segment of the hobby today that lacks any concept or understanding of what its actual nature was from inception up until beginning around 2000. It nevertheless is fact that the very nature and objective of the hobby as it is perceived by many of its participants today has largely transitioned from a craftsman's pursuit to simply the running of little trains. It would seem that only RickH appreciates that within today's hobby there are in fact true model railroaders and then there are model train enthusiasts. The aims and abilities of each segment of the hobby are decidedly different.


    For myself, I get great pleasure out of being a model railroader and were it simply that the hobby also included a parallel group of model train enthusiasts I would have no qualms whatever. But...the industry has seen fit to increasingly cater only to the needs of the latter group, more and more so over the past decade for obvious business reasons: the RTR folks who lack the traditional hobby skills are willing to pay big money for what the true hobbyist might fabricate himself at relatively small cost. Except for an ever dwindling number companies, kits are vanishing and undec versions of recent issue locos and rollingstock have become very hard to find. Even basic craftsman modeling supplies are dwindling as a result. Stripwood, metal and plastic shapes supplies have pretty much gone the way of the do-do bird as local hobbyshops have disappeared. Manufacturers of detail parts, especially for steam, have mostly packed it in. And ndividuality in one's layout has been replaced by operating only protype equipment since that is what is available commercially. Decaling is pretty much a lost art and now even Testor's Floquil and Polyscale railroad colors are being dropped from the marketplace. The industry itself is bringing an end to the true model railroader, replacing him with an updated version of the old Lionel/Flyer hobbyist - a long acknowledged separate hobby from model railroading.

    As I indicated upstream, hobbyists of all persuasion would really benefit from reading-up on the hobby's history and gaining some basic understanding of what it is/was supposed to be all about. That said, I'll withdraw from this thread since the depth of subject knowledge here is clearly lacking for such a discussion and this can only lead to a further intensification of verbal conflict which I do not wish to promote.

    NYW&B
     
  18. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well, you really are a legend in your own mind.

    And it doesn't surprise me you are ducking and running. Your "facts" are so wrong it's hard to know where to start.

    Good riddance.
     
  19. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yeah, I run "little trains." Have been since 1964, I'm fairly literate and understand a lot. One thing from early on - never assign your own status - it'll confuse everyone and aggravate way too many! Think I'm fairly up to date on the hobby's history, just gave about 40 plus years of RR model mags to the local MRC. What's that mean? Well I got at least a shakey understanding of the hobby's last 40 - 50 years. And, contrary to the view of a small number - ya got it wrong!
     
  20. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I decided to check in and see what's a happening. I found this profundry and thought I might be able to stir the hornets nest up a bit. Grin!

    So far the facts are pretty straight here. YoHo, Dave Jones, NYW&B and others are all saying it straight forward. No ducking and running that I can see. Even some of Doug A's, comments have benefited this chit chat.

    Doug, from the quote above. Whatever has gotten into your head that you feel you need to attack the old fart's syndrome. Your put down's are deplorable and don't suit you very well. You aren't the first to feel this way and you won't be the last. Do get it right. It's Old Fart's Syndrome. Got it! LOL Believe it or not there is a place for you in this hobby. Now allow us to our place...with a bit of dignity, added in with good behavior. We love our TOY TRAINS, and we've made every effort to turn it into a respectable hobby.

    It was the Grey Beards before me that established the hobby and set-up various descriptive terminology and definitions. I for one certainly respect that. We are just having some fun tossing around the definitions and seeing what jumps up.

    There are recognized degrees of Craftsmanship, Prototype Operators, Toy Train Enthusiast and Model Railroaders that are a mix of anything and everything. Freelance, proto-freelance, protolance and prototypers it's all a part of the basic fun.

    Boil it all down and we are all playing with "Toy Trains", period. You can enjoy any perceived phase of the hobby or make up your own rules. Heck, ""It's your model railroad, you make the rules and number one is to have fun...Jim157.""

    I'm going to get back to having fun.
     
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