The Engineers

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Utah Free-mo
Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is Free-mo?
Free-mo was developed to take the boredom out of the monotony of running trains around in cirles on a modular layout with a double or even a triple track mainline. The standard also was developed to raise the bar of realism of modular layouts.

Q. How old is the Free-mo standard?
The concept behind Free Mo railroading isn't a new idea. The concept originated in in
Europe where they have been building modular layouts using this Free modular concept for some time. However, it is a relatively new standard in North America.

Q. Where can I get a copy of your module standards?
The group is following the modular standards developed by The standard are available online at the website. All standards will be strictly adhered to in an effort to insure that these new modules will be compatible with others that are being built by clubs in other western states, and nationally.

Q. What is Utah Free-mo?
Utah Free-mo is an umbrella group for all Free-mo modelers in Utah. It is independent of all other clubs. Utah Free-mo is designed to draw those interested in the concept from all other clubs, as well as those who don't wish to be affiliated with a "traditional" club. The decision was made in the spirit of the Free-mo movement in other states, where umbrella already groups existed.

Q. Isn't Utah Free-mo just a splinter group from an older club?
While Utah Free-mo was created from the OT&W Free-mo group, it is not a splinter group of the OT&W. There are no bad feelings between Utah Free-mo and the OT&W. Utah Free-mo did not "break away" from the OT&W. Rather, a separate group was created where everyone who wished to build to the Free-mo standard would be welcome. Utah Free-mo is an umbrella group that includes OT&W members as well as everyone else interested in Free-mo in Utah. Many of the original OT&W Free-mo members continue to maintain their memberships and good relations with that club.

Q. Why do you claim that Free-mo is able to promote multi-group layouts more than the NRMA standard?
First, Free-mo is more modular than regular modules built to the NMRA standard. Because there is not a need to always have four corners to make a loop, Free-mo is more conducive to mulit-club, or multi-group layouts. Second, the standard is new and different, and there are not many people familiar enough with it in any given club to build an entire layout. Both of these facts combined mean that Free-mo just doesn't encourage interaction, it relies on it. It is essential that people come together from many clubs and areas to set up, and operate a layout.

Q. Why do you call yourselves a group and not a club?
It was felt that there were many modelers in the state that would build and operate a module if they could avoid the politics and formalities involved with traditional clubs. In this effort the group exists without dues, a club checkbook, club property, regular monthly meetings, a newsletter, or even club "officers." It was believed, that if these formal structures were done away with, the group will be able to remain free of the normal issues that can create dissension amongst club members. Further, the energy and expense that are put forth in monthly meetings, newsletters, etc. could be directed toward module construction and operation.

Q. Does Utah Free-mo have bylaws?
While we do not call them bylaws the group is currently following a set of
Policies and Procedures concerning club organization, module, scenery and rolling stock standards.

Q. What do I have to do to join the Utah Free-mo?
The group has established guidelines for
membership. There are three levels of "membership" in the group. Full membership is based on ownership of essential items.

Q. Why do I have to own a module and a throttle to be a member?
It was felt that individual ownership would help avoid the politics that arise around club owned property. Additionally, this also greatly reduces the reliance of club members on these assets and those club members who are required to maintain, haul, and setup the club owned modules and equipment. This is how the club is able to operate without dues, and why full
membership in the group is based on individual ownership of key items. It was felt that if each person contributed a module to the layout it would promote and insure better operation of the layout. Also, with each member responsible for hauling and setting up their own module the work load would be spread more evenly. This subsequently will promote and insure harmony within the group, and the enjoyment of each group member.

Q. How many shows has Utah Free-mo been to?
As of November 2007, eighteen. In addition the group has setup the layout at our own events and work sessions. More detailed information about the layout as set up at different shows (along with pictures) has been posted on the
Show Page . These pages change from time to time so be sure to check back.

Q. Aren't your modules to high for kids to see?
Yes, the 50" height does make it hard for young children to see. However, parents can hold their children or place them on their shoulders. This has the added benefit of keeping children's hands away from the models as they have more supervision. While it is a little inconvenient for them the 50" greatly enhances the enjoyment of the group members operating on the layout. We have noticed at shows that it is often the parents that tire of looking at any layout before the children. We have also noticed that while children enjoy watching us "operate" trains their parents don't.

Q. But the reason clubs set up layouts at shows is not for their own enjoyment, it is to promote the hobby. How can you promote the hobby when kids can't see the trains run?
The "hobby" of model railroading means may things to many people. What version of the hobby should we be promoting. Our group members are in agreement that our hobby is not running trains in continuous circles. We promote "the hobby" as we practice it, realistic modeling and operations. Our aim in not to promote "the hobby" to young children who won't be able to model as we do for many years. Instead we promote the hobby of high fidelity model railroading to teens and adults who will be able to jump right in and enjoy the hobby as we do.

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© Utah Free-moNovember 2007