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The ACCMRS- Pleasanton, California. Layout Tour.

April 14, 2008

The Alameda County Central Model Railroad Society located in the Pleasanton, Ca Fairgrounds is an excellently designed large model railroad built over the last 40 years by a volatile group of Model Railroaders. When you visit you’ll be amazed by the huge scenic vistas, carefully built to look realistic, and not cartoony looking, like Northlandz. There’s some excellent structure modeling and some of the landmark buildings were scratchbuilt specifically for the layout.   

-What I learned as a member (2003-2005)

The Good: 

During my early years, I was a member of this club. They taught me a lot of what is a good basis for prototype modeling, and good operating and model railroad equipment standards. I met some excellent people, that would really cement my enthusasiam for model railroading realistically. I was also introduced to DCC, and bought my first good locomotive, a Proto 2000 GP7 in ATSF zebra stripes, and combined the two by purchasing my first decoder so I could operate on their layout. All my rolling stock since I joined that club has been outfitted with Kadee #5’s and #(1)58’s and metal wheels, which adds to operational reliability. A small handful of people were smart enough to realize that I am the future of this hobby, and they opened new doors for me and allowed me to bridge the gap between “toy trains” and model railroading, a wonderful gift. (Special thanks to Wayne T. ,Seth , Steve, Andy H., Garret, and a handful of others.)

The Bad:

Of course for all that foundation building certian people, who out of courtesy won’t be named, wanted to undermine my enthusasiam, and hinder any efforts I had at progressing my interest in the hobby through snide remarks, arrogance, and elitism…in a train club!? *sigh* Isn’t model railroading supposed to be fun? not for these people.

 The Ugly:

Who would have thought that club politics was such a serious affair? The harsh rule of a few people really undermined the efforts of not just myself but a score of other members who wanted to improve the layout scenically and operationally. Also some devious political manuvers accomplished by a few of the head Junta served to create animosity and a division of people (*unnecessarily so) inside the club which made club meetings hotly intense…for almost no good reason. THEY’RE JUST TRAINS PEOPLE, get over it.

Epilogue:

Since I left the club, mostly due to a move away from that town, things have mellowed out considerably. The power has shifted to a more peaceful leader, and things seem to be working well again after 7-10 years of turmoil. The layout has improved scenically tenfold and lots of attractive improvements have really made this layout one of the best club layouts in the country.

Layout Tour.

The Bascule Bridge and Tower Lift bridge are nice additions to the layout. Superior Paper is on the Right, with a scrapyard on the left.

A better view of Superior paper. The Background was done by a professional artist 25 years ago. I never liked those fake-looking hills in the background, considering the sky and water are so nicely done.

A view of the newly completed pint-sized container terminal. I think it’s pretty well-done. This was another huge political squabble to get this installed, built and finished..

Nice repair company scene with a flashing welder circut inside the Quonset hut. Bachmann Spectrum Sears Catalogue home in the background. This whole area was a quaint row of homes before this was added about the time the container port went in.

 

Just beyond the row of homes, a steep hill gives way to a mountain, and a logging scene. The Yreka Western freelanced switcher (no relation to the real Yreka Western) sits awaiting its next assignment. I haven’t ever seen anyone operate this portion of the layout. It does feature the ENTIRE walther’s “Trees & Trains” series though.

This HUGE steel road/rail bridge (road on top, rail on lower deck) is the centerpiece of the center of this large layout.

A straight-on bridge reveals a bit more of it’s structure. You can see the Dam behind the bridge and check out the name on the boxcars, it MUST be an inside joke.

The silver AT&SF worktrain is on an isolated portion of track, and has been stuck up there for more than a decade. The Orange unit is the Club’s freelanced railroad, the Sierra Western. Excellent weathering on the tank farm above the town, don’t you think so?

 

This EXCELLENT looking city was re-built in 2004-2007. At night it all lights up, and about a dozen AMB laser-kit billboards light up, it’s pretty awesome! (Queue Petula Clark’s “Downtown”)

 Overall this club is great to be a visitor, but I probably would definately be careful about joining it, but hey, if you live in the Tri-Valley, I don’t see why you wouldn’t!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian permalink
    April 14, 2008 3:24 am

    The thing is, that place was run by a bunch of very conservative, very narrow minded old men. They didn’t see much past their making a profit from visitor sales. Also, they were pretty mean to us…as well as anyone under the age of 40, who “dared” to dabble in a fun hobby.

    I’m glad its been passed to new leadership.

  2. George Panzitta permalink
    April 14, 2008 10:23 pm

    Why the jab at Nothlandz? Have you ever been there? In the one mile, of three level ,display, there are some of the finnest work and detail in the nation. Only a hand full of people made Northlandz what it is. WORLD’s LARGEST MODEL RAILROAD!

  3. April 14, 2008 11:17 pm

    I respect the awesome bridges on their layout, and if nothing else, the sheer amount of track and maintenence that must go into Northlandz, and even the humorous bits like Granny’s House in the strip mine, but it doesn’t excite me the way that something can be well-modeled enough to be a realistic scene. (Think Lance Mandheim’s “Voodoo& Palmettos”) [ see that here: http://www.lancemindheim.com/toppage1.htm ]Sheer cliffs, four track mainlines, and lackluster buildings are major turn-offs for me.

    However, even though it doesn’t excite me when I see Northlandz, the people behind the operation deserve my upmost respect for their work, and to the person who builds those deservedly AWARD-WINNING bridges.

    It’s just my personal preference.

    If you want to see the largest model railroad in the world as of 2007, check out one of the MOST AWESOME model railroads around.
    http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/
    Their attention to detail and flawless precision, not to mention the sheer amount of effort it took to build such a masterpiece is unparalleled in the modeling world.

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