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 History of the AM Express N Scale Club


Club Layout

Club Layout Photos

Layout Construction

Membership Info

Club History


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The NEW HCRR -- Modular Layout Construction Underway

History of Miami’s AM Express N Scale Club

Miami’s 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 club’s 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 Alex’s 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 couldn’t 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.

That’s 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!

Layout reconstruction is underway on the new, expanded, more operational Heartland Central RR


AM Express takes great pride in being featured in the January-Februay, 2000, issue of N Scale Magazine.

The Club's URLs are:


Contact the Club President or the webmaster with questions or comments.

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