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Utah Free-mo
Our Past, Present and Future

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 the latest in modular model railroading in this country. 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.

In Dec 2000 a group of Ophir Tintic & Western Model Railroad Club members decided to convert and build modules to this new standard. The group members had tried for some time to incorporate realistic operation into the existing modular layout built to the NMRA standard. But they had only marginal success. In an effort to realize their goal of realistic operations they had begun investigating the use of DCC on the existing layout the previous year. Despite these efforts the group had not been able to fully realize its goal. About this same time Rail Model Journal published and article on Free-mo in its November 2000 issue. After reading the article several club members expressed an interest in converting to or building a Free-mo layout.

In February 2002 after setting up their first layout at the Annual OT&W Train Show the previous month members of the OT&W free-mo group decided that in an effort to interest more people in building modules to the Free-mo standard that an umbrella group for all Free-mo modelers in Utah needed to be formed. The name of Utah Free-mo was chosen. Because 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. At the Hostler's Model Railroad Festival at Ogden in March 2002 the decision was finalized and, the new group was officially formed.

It is important to understand that while Utah Free-mo was created from the OT&W free-mo group, it is not a splinter group of the OT&W. Utah Free-mo needed to be created as an umbrella group for two reasons. 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. There were 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.

Utah Free-mo was created for two additional reasons. First, 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, regular monthly meetings, a newsletter, or even club officers. It was their belief, 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. Additionally, the group has adopted a policy of no club owned materials or equipment. 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 owenership of key items.

The second additional reason for forming the group was to raise the bar of modular railroad modeling. It is the belief of Utah Free-mo members that the group structure and an atmosphere amongst groups members that has been established will encourage the mutual improvement of talent, ability and craftsmanship of all group members. The combined finished product of each modelers efforts will be a better and more realistic looking and operating modular layout.

The group is following the modular standards developed by 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. It is hoped that at some point in the future the Utah Free-mo will participate with these groups in creating large layouts for significant shows and conventions.

The group is currently following a set of Policies and Procedures concerning club organization, module, scenery and rolling stock standards. Additionally, the group has established guidelines for membership.

Again these steps are being taken to promote and insure better operation of the layout. This subsequently will promote and insure harmony within the group and, the enjoyment of each group member. Rules and policies for the group may be added or changed as the group deems necessary.

More detailed information about the layout as set up at different shows and meets, as well as more information about each module (along with pictures) has been posted on the Show Page . These pages change from time to time so be sure to check back.

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© Utah Free-moNovember 2003