History of Miamis
AM Express N Scale Club
Miamis AM Express N Scale
Club was founded by Alex Gonzalez and a few of his modeling friends
in 1994. The current layout is actually the clubs fourth
layout. The first layout expanded almost yearly until two years
ago when it became a massive modular design with a mainline with
five scale miles of track! Alex and a few friends were building
it piece by piece, section by section, modular style in Alexs
double car garage. Their goal was to show it at the annual December
train show in Fort Lauderdale. The club had taken third place
a couple of years earlier, second the previous year, and was
really going all out for first prize this time! But try as we
might all we could do is get another second prize.
That layout was basically a single
long track that went around a big zig zag with a two scale mile
short line attached at both extremes. But due to the fact there
was no place to assemble the layout, other than in a very large
hall, we had no place to run. So
the club was basically a bunch of guys who were spending every
Wednesday night laying track, painting scenery and building a
layout we couldnt run! We could only see small trains run
back and forth, up and down very short pieces of track on the
modules which could easily be attached in the garage. That was
until Tex N Rails, a local mail order and retail model railroad
dealer, stepped in and offered to sponsor the club.
At the beginning of 1998 TexN
Rails rented the club a permanent place to work and run which
was shared with an HO club that would use the upstairs while
the AM Express got the downstairs. The downstairs was also shared
with TexN Rails who used the area for the storage of a company
vehicle and merchandise. The only major problem was there still
was not enough room for the club's gigantic five scale mile modular
layout design! So, with a lot of consternation, we just scrapped
the whole thing and began to design layout number four! And the
latest version of the AM Express is now a functional fully digital
layout with ample passing tracks, two independent two scale mile
mainlines, and a ton of scenery!
The club layout is in the shape
of an inverted capital letter "G" (see the layout plan).
Imagine the "G" upside down with a mountain area on
the top of the "G", two long runs along the backside
of the "G" and a river town along the lower leg and
the upwards curve. Twenty two feet
by ten feet, with two independent yet connecting main lines and
another scale mile of passing tracks, sidings and yard, the layout
is designed so members and guests can walk around two sides and
into the middle to access trains and digital controls from numerous
locations. Designed for DCC running, every club member is assigned
his/her own digital addresses. Members are not confined to any
particular time or era, even though the layout has the general
appearance of the 1950's and early 1960's. Several members have
now incorporated digital sound systems into both their steam
and diesel locomotives. It's pretty impressive to see and hear
a tiny SP Cab Forward climbing up the mountain with the articulated
drivers double chuffing and puffing while the bell clangs and
the steam whistle screams to the bears and deer down by Bear
Creek Falls to get out of its way!
Originally designed to be moveable
for train shows on six large modules, after only one show the
layout was permanently assembled. The stress of moving it was
too much on the scenery! The layout is most impressive when trains
are run in opposing directions utilizing the passing tracks which
are found all around the layout. But every "engineer"
really must keep their eyes on their train!
The top of the inverted "G"
(actually at the bottom of the club layout), called the Mountain
Division, is 10 feet by 4 feet and includes a small store and
a mining facility with a loop-back track which runs up
from and back down into the "green" mainline. The "red"
mainline runs through the town of Dry Creek through one end of
the mountain division into a short tunnel and loops back on itself
to go back through Dry Creek and back to the railroad town of
Dogwood at the other end of the layout. Interestingly, these
lines got their "red" and "green" names when
we originally mapped out the tracks using red and green knitting
twine. The names have simply stuck ever since.
Thats how the AM Express
arrived at its present state. There is plenty of room for expansion
and there is talk the layout may someday more than double in
size. All is needed is more members, more man power, and cash!
Since the main layout is now too large and detailed to be easily
moved, the club is in the process of building another show layout.
This one is being built to "near" N track specifications.
Each member is building their own 4 foot by 2 foot module with
a semi-continuous scenery theme. Some time this year these modules
will be ready for the first local train show.
By the way, the
club got the "first prize" the one and only time this
layout was shown in Fort Lauderdale! For much more info on how
the layout was constructed be sure and buy a copy of the January
2000 issue of N Scale Magazine!
reconstruction is underway on the new, expanded, more operational
Heartland Central RR