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South East Kansas Free-mo

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Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is Free-mo for me?

A: First of all we will warn you, Free-mo is not for everyone. To explain exactly what we mean is adhering to the Free-mo Standard. There is very little room for error when it comes to construction, track, and wiring. By no means are we implying perfection, but the old "that's good enough" attitude won't cut it in Free-mo. We encourage a very high standard of construction, which means no warped endplates and extremely well laid track. Past experience has shown when these aren't met, you have tons of problems with locomotives and cars derailing, and in turn creates frustration. Free-mo can be a very enjoyable experience, but if all you are doing is trying to tweak the module, track, etc., are you operating? No. Also, the scenery must be believable. Don't panic, we have access to some talented people if you need the help.

Q: What are some of the benefits over "conventional" modules?

A: First, we are operating the layout. Other modules do not allow much operation except running around in circles. Conventional modules have to be a certain length, and there has to be corner modules. With Free-mo, the layout most likely never be set-up the same way twice. DCC. Enough said. Free-mo also supports Code 83 track, and is the standard for mainline track.

Q: Ok, I like the Free-mo concept and I want to participate, but what are the requirements?

A: To put it quite simply, you have to be willing to build a module. It can be a small module and for the first one you build, a smaller one is encouraged. In addition, you must have your own Digitrax Throttle. The more throttles available, the more people can operate.

Q: Why do we have to use Digitrax DCC?

A: Because it is the national standard. In order for us to hook up with other groups throughout the United States, we need the same control system. Also, the benefits of the Digitrax LocoNet are far more advanced than other manufacturers DCC Systems. (This is non-negotiable.)

Q:  Why is the height of the track 50" from the floor?

A: Since Free-mo focuses on operations, the 50" height allows for the average person an eye-level view, which is more appealing than a helicopter view. In order for younger children to view the layout, the parent must lift them up and therefore have "control" over them, which eliminates a catastrophe.

Q: Why are you so strict about the standards?

A: One thing you need to keep in mind, I nor anyone in this group set the standards in the first place. We have added to them due to past problems encountered, but I have seen what happens when they are not met. You spend hours of precious time doing and re-doing what should have been done from the start. Again this creates frustration and now we aren't operating. Endplates that aren't square, track which isn't perpendicular to the endplate, switches with electrical problems, and track that is not laid correctly leads to a recipe for disaster. Any module constructed which is apart of this group must be inspected before it's allowed to participate in a set-up. Our rule of thumb is no scenery until it's inspected so if you have to re-do trackwork, you are not destroying hours of ballasting.

Q: I've made up my mind I want to do this, so how do I start?

A: First of all, SLOW DOWN TURBO! Before you cut one piece of lumber, you had better draw up a plan for the module. There are several ways to do this. Programs such as 3rd Planit and Model Railroad Software will allow you to draw trackplans, track radius, etc. For those so inclined, CAD Software and Microsoft Visio will work. Even a piece of blank paper. Often you will find what you had in mind may not work, and it's easier to catch it in the pre-planning stage than after it was constructed. Please click here and read the section on Appendix 1: Planning. Once you have answered all of those questions, you are ready to start. _________________________________________________________________



©Copyright Perry Lambert 2008