FCSME Member: Ken Braden
Modular Railroading at its Best
Welcome to my little portion of the FCSME web site.
It all started for me, as with most, as a child. I loved trains. My father enjoyed HO gauge model trains and he got me hooked at an early age. I remember countless hours with my father constructing and playing with our trains. Thanks Dad!!!
However, as time went on, I grew up and became interested with other things. I did not have any friends interested in trains so trains seemed to take a back seat to football, hunting and summer jobs. Then it was off to college and dorm life. No room for trains there (well, almost no room)
However, in my sophomore year, my roommate was also into trains and he was a local boy. He got us invited to a gentleman's house and there was the final nail in the coffin of my railroading interests. You see, up until that day, I was use to table top railroading. Cookie cutter style, don't you know. But this guy had his "BENCHWORK" at chest level and yes, he was using Keller's Onboard System. Two brass steam engines sitting right next to each other, moving in opposite directions and making NOISE. I was hooked. Didn't have any money, but was hooked.
I got married before my senior year of college and my wife and I were fortunate to live in a duplex just off campus. It had a small utility room/area and I was able to squeeze in a small 3+ by 7+ size layout. It was simple, but it was railroading!! I remember that while my friends were studying our comprehensive exams I was interested in more important things, building a Campbell water tank for my layout. (And yes, I passed my exams)
After college, my wife & I moved back home and bought a town house (thanks mom and dad, xoxoxo) and I turned the third bedroom into my train room. I even cut a hole in the closet wall so I could get as much main line running as possible. Well, my interests continued to grow (engine detailing, custom painting, etc.) and with the completion of the house that we now live in (some fifteen years later), I had the space available for a larger layout. Now, what do I do with that space? Since I had never really completed a layout (for one reason or another) I wanted to have input from more knowledgeable people than me. I wanted their knowledgeable input BEFORE I actually began to construct this massive layout. (Wisdom comes with age) So, I thought about that model railroad club I had visited in my home town of Mt. Airy.
I strolled into the train store to see if the new owners knew of the whereabouts of the former club. They gave me a brochure for the club which was now operating as a modular club. Modular, YUCK!!! You know, flat, painted brown plywood, straight as an arrow main lines, poor detail, toy like quality, you know, YUCK!! Oh, I was so disappointed.
That afternoon I went ahead and looked at the brochure for the Four County Society of Model Engineers. Their web site was on the brochure so I decided to check them out. I was impressed! NO, I was astounded at what I saw. Detail, changes in elevation, quality workmanship. Did you check out the clinics yet?? The attention to detail was awesome. Check out the Photo Galleries. I was so encouraged I decided to contact the club and then visit them at The Great Scale Model Train Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. (Excellent show by the way).
The club members were very nice to talk to and eager to answer any questions that I had. You should have seen me. I arrived at the show with my scale track plan and a hundred and fifty questions. What a goober. But the members that I talked to were helpful and polite even though I was not even a member. Well I joined the club in January of 2002 and began my module shortly thereafter.
As far as I am concerned, the Four County Society of Model Engineers live up to their motto, "Modular Railroading at its Best".