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North Raleigh Model Railroad Club

General Information

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Table of Contents

General Information

  The Early Days

  The 1990's

     Six Forks Depot

     Wake Forest Depot


     Train Shows

  The 2000's



  Club Name & Logo

  Club Publications


  Digital Command Control

  Record Train

  Organizations Supported &
  Other Events


Click on title for desired topic.


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), more recently, the use of wireless throttles and smart phones to control trains. 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, many club members are also using DCC to control their home layouts (all using Digitrax systems), and almost all members have DCC-equipped locomotives. The Club now operates 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 and T-TRAK clubs that have adopted DCC. The bulk of the information provided on these web 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 DCC link at left.

This page provides information about the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club, its history, accomplishments, current activities, its name and logo, and other general information about the Club.

The Early Days
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 dogbone 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.




The 1990's
Beginning about 1990, and continuing to the present, there has been much more emphasis on the construction of quality NTRAK modules, the upgrading of existing modules and participation in more train shows each year, some in other towns and cities. New members have come from towns and cities in all three counties that make up the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, and beyond. Associate members have lived 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 got space of its own, which we call a "Depot," with the specific name relating to its site. More information below.

The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club and its members now have NTRAK modules totaling more than 200 linear feet in length, the equivalent of a layout 20' x 80'. All modules feature a fourth track installed as the mountain division; some also have the alternate branch line and/or the orange line. Older modules are being upgraded.

The Club has been at the forefront of evolving methods of control of trains, such as radio-controlled throttles and Digital Command Control (DCC). At train shows AristoCraft radio-controlled throttles became 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; NRMRC layouts are 100% DCC controlled.

Monthly Club meetings are still primarily held at member's homes. These meetings consist of a business meeting, followed by socializing and then a model railroad related program/clinic, which can cover virtually any item from building bridges to weathering rolling stock, to proper installation and adjustment of couplers, for example. If the host has a home layout, this is open to members for viewing and running trains.

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 his 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 his 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 also held at Wake Forest Depot. Unfortunately, our 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).

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 received non-profit tax status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) corporation.

Train Shows
From 1998 – 2000 the Club, jointly with the Carolina Piedmont Division 13 of the NMRA Mid-Eastern Region, co-sponsored the Southern Junction Model Train Show held the second weekend in September in Dorton Arena at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. This show featured the layouts of the sponsoring clubs, the HO Great Appalachian Railroad and the NRMRC's NTRAK modular layout (including many visiting modules), along with invited layouts from other organizations. Also featured were many dealers of model trains, railroad memorabilia and related products, and various Clinics presented to educate model railroaders and the public on the building of various aspects of model railroad layouts.

For a number of reasons the Club decided to host smaller train shows, but more often.

A listing of the train shows in which the club is participating this year can be found on the Shows page.




The 2000's
The Club continues its tradition of education, socializing and model railroading. The format of our monthly meetings has been changed so we spend less time 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.

Starting in 2003 the Club has formed close alliances with a number of other NTRAK clubs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey— the Eastern N Lines Partnership™. Clubs in the Partnership work together to organize and put on regional train shows, especially larger train shows, and visit with each other at local train shows. Click here for more information.

The club continues to participate in all appropriate train shows with our NTRAK layouts. Some new modules have bneen constructed and many refurbished and updated. Electronically controlled turnouts (Via puchbutton or DCC throttle) have been installed in severla modules, especially in our yard modules and junctions. Track alignment signals in our yards and jnuctions have been installed. Lighting effects are being installed on several modules. Floding legs have been instlled on most modules, and a track measuring gauge is being used to correctly identify the length of needed joiner tracks, thus speeding up the l;ayout setup process.

Operations on our NTRAK layouts are 100% DCC. Train control is wireless using either Digitrax throttles or smart phones.

Beginning about 2010 members have increasingly adopted a new N Scale modular standard known as T-TRAK. T-TRAK originated around 2000 in Japan where space isevery constrained, and is increasingly popular in the USA.

Club members now have more than 70 T-TRAK modules and growing.

T-TRAK modules are much smaller than other modular systems. They feature sectional Kato Unitrack as the standard track, which is also used to "clamp" the modules together to form a layout. T-TRAK layouts sit on banquet tables; they are not self-standing like NTRAK modules. However, smaller does not mean less. T-TRAK modules are just as realistic and fully scenicked as NTRAK modules.

The smaller and easier to set up T-TRAK modules and layout allow the club to participate in one-day trains shows, such as at retirment homes. The club currently participates in about 6 retirement hoem shows a year.

Like NTRAK, our T-TRAK layouts are 100% DCC-controoled with wirelss throttles and smart phones for control.




Club Name and Logo
The name North Raleigh Model Railroad Club 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, as shown at the left, below. 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 throughout these pages, and at the right below.

Old Logo New Logo

Old Logo

Official Club Logo




Club Publications
The Club publishes various Publications related to model railroading and of interest to model railroad clubs, including Standards & Recommended Practices, Application Notes, and Digital Command Cointrol topics. Go to the Publications Page.




Since its founding in the early 1970's the Club has achieved many goals. Some of these are listed below:

  • Developed a club logo that lasted for more than twenty years, then updated the logo to reflect the club as it has evolved over the years. Obtained illuminated logo signs and v inyl signs to advertise the club at train shows.

  • Designed and starting wearing uniform Club shirts.

  • Constructed skirting for our layouts. Replaced the early material with fire-resistant material to meet applicable fire codes in train show venues.

  • Became a 501(c)(3) IRS-approved non-profit educational organization.

  • Migrated to total use of wireless train control using both Digitrax radio throttles and Wi-Fi connected throttles.

  • With the Carolina Piedmont Division of the NMRA hosted the Southern Junction Model Train Show for several years at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

  • Continued emphasis on the social aspects of model railroading and being a club member.

  • Became a founding member of the Eastern N Lines Partnership™, an association of regional NTRAK clubs that work together to organize, set up and operate out-of-town train shows and large conventions.

  • Continued participation in major conventions and uNcoNveNtioNs, both with NTRAK layouts and T-TRAK layouts.

  • Proactive participation in the DCC revolution and in setting and updating NTRAK standards and recommended practices.

  • The leader in DCC applications and developing procedures for stable and reliable DCC operation.

  • Adopted T-TRAK standards and modules in addition to NTRAK standards and modules.




Digital Command Control
The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club adopted Digital Command Control using the Digitrax DCC System in 1995. It is today used for almost all train control on NRMRC show layouts; analog DC control is available for train operation on request. Specific DCC achievements include:

  • Detailed and extensive testing of DCC wiring and commons (grounding) to ensure system stability and reliability of DCC operations on NTRAK layouts of all sizes.

  • Published on this site detailed instructions for installing DCC decoders in a variety of locomotives.

  • Developed and published on this site guidelines for DCC Design for NTRAK Layouts.

  • Provided Digital Masters to major national and regional conventions and meets.

  • Developed operating rules for bi-directional operations on DCC-controlled tracks when formal dispatching is not in use.

  • Developed methods for card order prototype operations on club layouts with DCC control.




Record Train
From time-to-time the Club attempts to set a record for the longest train run on the Club's layout at a Train Show. For the record to count, the train must travel around the layout a minimum of 3 times without having to stop due to a derailment or a breakaway.

The current record was set at a train show at Crabtree Valley Mall in 1993 on a layout measuring 20' x 48'. The record setting train consisted of 223 cars, mostly hoppers, equipped with a mixture of Micro-Trains and Rapido couplers, pulled by 9 diesel locomotives, 6 at the front of the train and 3 about halfway back.




Organizations Supported and Other Events

Displays at City/Town/Business Events:

Danville Old 97 Rail Days (Danville, VA)
NC Transportation Museum Rail Days (Spencer, NC)
Page-Walker Hotel (Cary, NC)
Selma Rail Day (Selma, NC)
Virginia Museum of Transportation (Roanoke, VA)

Displays at Malls and Shopping Centers:

Cary Village Mall (now Cary Towne Center)
Crabtree Valley Mall (Raleigh, NC)
North Hills Mall (Raleigh, NC)
South Hills Shopping Center (Cary, NC)

Membership Time:

UNC Public Television — Festival

Monetary Donations:

Hurricane Floyd Relief Fund
Hurricane Katrina Fund
September 11 Firefighters Fund
Virginia Museum of Transportation (Roanoke, VA)

Model Railroad Conventions

National NTRAK Show & Danville Old 97 Rail Days (Danville, VA) 2010
NMRA MER Convention "Rails to Raleigh" (Cary, NC) 2006, "Piedmont Crossing (Cary NC) 2011
NMRA National Train Show — Atlanta, GA 2013, Kansas City 2018
National N Scale Convention — Capitol Limited (Chantilly, VA) 2004; Derby City Express (Louisville, KY)    2008; Roanoke, VA 2014, Pittsburgh PA 2017, Nashville TN 2020
NTRAK East Convention — Alexandria, VA 1996, Orlando 1994, 1998; Capitol Limited 2 (Chantilly, VA) 2014
uNcoNveNtioN — No Bull (Richmond, VA) 1999, No Bull 2 (Richmond, VA) 2002

Assisted Living Facilities

Brookdale Cary Memory Care Facility (Cary, NC)
Carol Woods (Chapel Hill NC)
Cypress of Raleigh (Raleigh NC)
Forest at Duke (Durham NC)
Galloway Ridge (Pittsboro NC)
Litchford Falls Healthcare/Rehabilitation Center (Raleigh, NC)
Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community (Raleigh, NC)
StoneRidge Retirement Living (Cary NC)
Windsor Point Retirement Center (Fuquay-Varina, NC)

Other Displays and Train Shows:

Carolina Coastal Railroaders Show (New Bern, NC)
Carolina Piedmont Division 13, NMRA MER Mini-Meet (Cary, NC)
George L. Carter Railroad Museum (Johnson City TN)
Seymour Senior Center (Chapel Hill, NC)
Duke University Children's Hospital (Durham, NC)
Eno Valley Model Railroad Club Show (Durham, NC)
Grand Strand Model Railroad Club Show (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Great American Train Show (Norfolk & Richmond, VA; Raleigh, Greensboro & Winston-Salem, NC)
Great Train Expo Show (Raleigh, NC))
Lynchburg Rail Day (Lynchburg, VA)
National Train Day (Durham, NC)
Neuse River Valley Club Train Show (Raleigh, NC)
Ronald McDonald House (Durham NC)
Science Museum of Virginia (Danville & Richmond, VA)
Southern Junction Model Train Show (Raleigh, NC)
Southeast Train Collectors Association (Raleigh NC)
World's Greatest Hobby on Tour (Chantilly VA, Raleigh & Charlotte NC




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Copyright © 1997–2020 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.

Last updated: Monday March 23, 2020


North Raleigh Model Railroad Club
Webmaster: John M Wallis (Email)