Setup cDanvile 2014


Since 1994 the hobby of model railroading had been undergoing a major revolution in terms of the use of electronics in the hobby. At the forefront of that revolution is Digital Command Control (DCC). Starting with early systems in 1994 following NMRA approval of Standards and Recommended Practices, DCC has seen rapid growth, especially with the widespread availability of locomotives designed to be DCC-ready and the availability of Plug 'n Play decoders for simple conversion. Wireless throttles add an additional touch of realism, as does the addition of sound.

The advanced DCC components now available — such as detection, transponding and signaling — coupled with commercial and/or free software allow setting up very realistic operations on N Scale, NTRAK and T-TRAK layouts.

DCC is a growing part of the hobby of model railroading, and that growth is accelerating. Click here for information on the benefits of adopting DCC for your NTRAK club.

The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club has operated with DCC at Train Shows since 1995 when one member ran DCC on the red track for a couple of hours at each show. Now, several club members are using DCC to control their home layouts (all using Digitrax systems), and almost all members have DCC-equipped locomotives. The Club now operates virtually 100% with total DCC control of the layout.

The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club has adopted the Digitrax Digital Command Control System as have about 88% of all NTRAK clubs that have adopted DCC. The bulk of the information provided on these pages is applicable to DCC systems from other manufacturers.

With the advent of larger and larger NTRAK layouts starting in 1999 it is necessary to plan the DCC setup for each layout with a view to the successful, continuous and reliable running of trains on these large layouts. This effort has evolved from writing design rules based on experience, specific testing and new DCC hardware. The latest evolution of the design rules is based on the Derby City Express Design Specification, and is available from the Table of Contents at left.

This and the subtending pages are intended to assist the Club with this transition from pure DC to a combined DC/DCC environment, and finally to a pure DCC environment, as well as to provide complete knowledge about the design and operation of NTRAK and T-TRAK layouts large and small. As such it is a continuously evolving set of pages, as new material is added based on our experience, and from information published in the various DCC-related Internet mailing lists, DCC system and decoder manuals, and other sources. We hope it will prove useful beyond the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club.

In the early 1970's North Hills Mall (now The Shops at Lassiter) was something of a Mecca for Raleigh-area rail modelers. Jim Collier's hobby shop was located there, and the J.C. Penney store had a good-sized hobby department. It was also the site of a train show in November 1973 featuring three layouts, Lionel, S-gauge and HO scale, put on by a very loosely organized group of enthusiasts. Shortly afterward, in early 1974 the participants started meeting regularly in each other's homes. The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club (NRMRC) was born.

NRMRC membership originally was divided fairly evenly between HO- and N-scalers. The shift toward 1:160 railroading gathered momentum after Jim Kelly, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) journalism school and an N-scaler, began attending NRMRC meetings. Jim was a persistent advocate of NTRAK. The Club's first discussion of the N-scale modular railroading concept occurred at a summer 1974 meeting.

Ultimately, Jim persuaded the group to try NTRAK. Six modules were framed up during a couple of evenings at the N.C. State woodworking shop — enough for a 24-foot “dog bone” layout incorporating two, 4-foot turnarounds. The NTRAK setup made its inaugural appearance at North Hills Mall in November 1974. Model Railroader ran its first NRMRC show advertisement in the October 1976 issue. Jim Kelly went straight to Model Railroader magazine after obtaining his graduate degree from UNC, ultimately becoming the magazine's managing editor.

For the following several years the Club was more of a social organization, meeting once a month at different members' homes to discuss model railroading and railroading in general. The Club participated in one train show per year at North Hills Mall in Raleigh, where those with NTRAK modules assembled a layout and ran trains. Almost all members lived in North Raleigh.

Beginning in the early eighties, the Club began to build more NTRAK modules and to participate in additional train shows, mostly at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh and Cary Village Mall (now Cary Towne Center) in Cary. New members came from further afield. The Club, however, was still mostly a social club, continuing to meet once a month at various members' homes.
In the nineties, the club began to expand. New members from towns and cities in and around the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina and beyond joined the Club. Associate members live in places like Winston-Salem, NC; Irmo, SC; Stroudsburg, PA; Danville, VA; Richmond, VA; Chesapeake, VA; Herndon, VA; Wilmington, OH, Oro Valley, AZ, Tallahassee, FL, and Myrtle Beach, SC. The Club also secured its own space, which was called a "Depot," with the specific name relating to its site.

Six Forks Depot

In 1993 and 1994, the Club had access to an empty store in a local Mall in North Raleigh. This was named "Six Forks Depot" since the mall was located on Six Forks Road. Here the Club set up modules on a semi-permanent basis; trains were run and modules were constructed, finished, modified and upgraded. The person hosting the monthly Club meeting had the option of holding the meeting at home or at the Depot, and several were held at the Depot. Members had keys to the depot, and could make use of it at any time, although Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings saw the most use. One Member, who was retired and lived nearby, spent virtually every weekday afternoon in the Depot working on modules and just plain running trains.

Wake Forest Depot

In mid-1996, the Club acquired access to one of several large rooms in the basement of an office building that had previously been used as a computer center. Since this building was located a block off Wake Forest Road, a major artery in north Raleigh just off the Beltline (Interstate 440), it was called "Wake Forest Depot." Modules were again set up on a semi-permanent basis where trains could be run, and modules constructed, finished, modified and upgraded. Some Club meetings were held at Wake Forest Depot. Unfortunately, the space was rented out to someone who could afford the going rate (more than 10 times what the Club was paying), so the Club moved out in November 1997. For the last six months in Wake Forest Depot, the space was shared with the modular HO scale Great Appalachian Model Railroad (KMA Division).

Today the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club and its members have NTRAK modules totaling more than 200 linear feet in length, the equivalent of a layout 20' x 80', and more are under construction. All new modules feature a fourth track installed as either the mountain division or as the alternate branch line, or both. Older modules are being upgraded.

The Club continues its tradition of education, socializing and model railroading. The format of its monthly meetings has been changed so less time is spent on business and more time on education and model railroading. The Board of Directors now conducts much of the Club's business and provides a summary at the monthly meeting; votes are held on items requiring member approval.

The Club has been at the forefront of evolving methods of control of trains, e.g. radio-controlled throttles and Digital Command Control (DCC). At train shows, AristoCraft radio-controlled throttles were the preferred control for analog tracks, while DCC is used to operate as many as four trains on one of the main lines, sometimes with trains running in opposing directions. The Club has clearly moved to DCC as the standard method of control.

For liability reasons relating to the Club's increased participation in train shows and especially the former co-sponsorship of the Southern Junction Model Train Show, the Club voted to incorporate in early 1999. The Club was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of North Carolina on March 26, 1999, and has since received non-profit tax status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) corporation. Click here to review the Club’s (Bylaws)
The name North Raleigh Model Railroad Club (NRMRC) was selected at an early date in the Club's history, and within a few years a Club logo was developed. This logo took the form of a steam locomotive plus the Club's name inside a border made up of track.

Old Logo

Old Logo

As the Club became more of an area club, some Members felt that the name should be changed to reflect its regional membership, and, while we were at it, change the logo.

The vote on the name took place at the Annual Meeting in January, 1996. Since the Club's By-Laws specify a simple majority vote on any item, it was decided to conduct a number of ballots on the proposed names until one achieved a majority, then have a run-off vote against the current name. So what was the result? By a single vote, Members decided to retain "North Raleigh Model Railroad Club." The logo is a different story. Following several months of discussion, sample designs and revisions, in June 1996 the Club voted to adopt a new logo. It is the one you see below and throughout this site.

Official Club Logo

New Logo





Copyright © 1997–2018 North Raleigh Model Railroad Club. All rights reserved. The NRMRC is a Not-For-Profit Corporation incorporated in North Carolina. The various logos and heralds shown here are the property of their respective organizations.


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