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N Scale Model Railroading

First becoming known in Europe during the early 1960's, N scale model railroading is currently second in popularity only to HO scale, which is about twice the physical size. N scale modeling shrinks 160 feet into just one actual foot of space (12 inches) or, a ratio of 1:160. N scale's popularity continues to grow because of the much improved performance of locomotives, the wide variety of rolling stock, and the fact that model trains can be just as long as the real railroads' trains.

The artistry in creating details in a tiny N scale scene has matured to the point where it can be difficult to tell if a railroad photograph is an N scale model or the real thing. On quality models, the tiniest lettering can be clearly read, having a scale height of only 2 inches (about 1/64 of an inch).

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The Pikes Peak "N" Gineers Model Railroad Club

Pikes Peak "N" Gineers Model Railroad Club is incorporated in the State of Colorado as a non-profit organization. It was founded October 13, 1989 as a place for N scale model railroaders to meet, to help fellow members with model railroad problems, to foster interest in model railroading, and to build and operate a club-sized layout. There were 38 charter members.

Following two organizational meetings, one of the club's founders, Ron Theisman, found a place for the club to operate. The formal business meeting of January 19, 1990 in Suite 211, Plaza of the Rockies marked the beginning of the club's model railroading activities. Chris Mueller was elected as the club's first Superintendent (president) and the club grew and flourished. Liking what he saw and learned about the Pikes Peak "N" Gineers, television actor Gary Coleman donated his own N scale model railroad layout to the club in November, 1992. That gift is presently in storage.

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The First Years

On December 8, 1992, Scott Oakley was elected as the club's second Superintendent. Mere days later, on December 18, the club moved to a larger location at Shops at the Bluffs Shopping Center. The club layout was officially opened to the public on Friday, March 5, 1993 at 7:00P.M. The layout at the Shops grew to fill approximately 3,000 square feet.

In November 1995, the club had to leave the Shops at the Bluffs and store itself in a Junior Achievement Building storage room, downtown Colorado Springs. It languished there for a year and a half, losing a number of members. Because of the small space, the club could only build a very small layout in the storage room. It held its monthly meetings at the Police Operations Center.

John Roberts was elected as the club's third Superintendent on December 20, 1996. Four months later, on April 27, 1997, the club moved into its present 942 square foot location in Suite 108, 3645 Jeannine Drive. For the first time in its existence, the club found itself with a large monthly financial obligation: a real lease. However, the future looked bright.

Kirt Bailey supervised the weeks of planning to determine the shape and plan of the new club layout which was adopted on May 16. Guided by Joe Morgan's construction industry expertise, members tore a wall down to make its new space more suitable. The club built 12 new modules, 5 of which replaced the old poorly-made club layout yard modules. The remaining 7 new modules were eventually sold at cost to club members. The large number of new modules meant that a tremendous amount of work was required in order for the club layout to become functional once again. Finally, after months of track laying and electrical work by club members, Pikes Peak "N" Gineers officially and enthusiastically opened to the public at 10:00 A.M. Saturday, December 13, 1997.

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Adopting The NTRAK Standard

From the beginning, the club adopted NTRAK modular standards as the club's own. This important decision, which cost the club some members, proved to be wise as future events unfolded. It allowed the club to construct a large layout which could be moved from one location to another with minimal damage. Further, the club would have the flexibility to change the shape of the layout to fit the space available.

Within a matter of months of its inception, the first club-owned modules were built and put into operation. Individual club members began construction of their own modules which replaced the club-owned modules in the main club layout. Five of the club-owned layout modules are now used as a separate Traveling Layout which represents the club at model railroad shows, shopping centers, nursing homes and other locations.

The theme of the club is the Rocky Mountain area, modeled as either actual or imaginary locales. On several modules, mountainous scenery, bridges, and deep gorges typical of the region are prominent. Other modules have scenery which may be found along a railroad in any part to the country. The main yards modules provide a prototypical place for trains and cars to be sorted or held between and during operating sessions.

The club uses four separate rail lines, which are color-coded for electrical and identification purposes. The first track, closest to the visitor, is called the Front Main Line. It is also commonly called the red line. The second track is called the Inner Main Line, color-coded yellow. The third track back from the visitor is the Branch Line, color-coded blue. All NTRAK modules have these three lines. The club uses an optional fourth line which is located approximately 4 inches from the back of most of the modules and is about 3 inches higher than the main and branch lines. It is called the Mountain Line and is color-coded green.

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A Few Facts

The club can operate anywhere from four to twelve trains at the same time. With our new DCC system, we could run asmany as 62 trains with 31 separate operators. DCC trains can even run in opposite directions on the same track (think Gomez Adams).

Trains are operated generally according to prototype practice and in prototypical lengths. We have run trains as long as 200 cars. Working at scale speeds, trains can drop off and pick up cars at various industries and run in a continuous circuit of the layout in a display mode for the enjoyment of both visitors and members during the club's meeting days and open houses.

Members can choose to work on their own modules, help with the club's modules, or simply run trains. Members may also volunteer to be on various club committees which handle operational and construction projects.

A member may remove his module from the club should he have to move out of town and leave the club. The module could be used in any other NTRAK club in the world.

The club holds clinics and presentations for the benefit of the members.

On April 30, 2001, the lease expired and PPNG once more found itself without a home.

Current Statistics

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Statistic Description
Number of club members 21, includes several living out of state
Governing officers and two Members-at-Large to make up the seven-member Board of Directors.
Current Main Line length Exactly 142 actual feet which translates into 4.3 N scale miles.
Maximum/minimum grades 0% on the two main lines; 1.5% on the branch line; 3% on the mountain line.
Minimum track radii 24 inches for the two main lines, 18 inches for the branch line; 12 inches for the mountain line.
Most common module size 2 feet x 4 feet
Average train length 40 cars plus engines and caboose.
Longest train pulled successfully around the layout without mishap Rick Shumpert drove 8 engines pulling 200 cars plus a caboose around the Jeannine clubhouse layout more than three times on January 3, 1998.