RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

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RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

Postby umtrr-author » Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:26 pm

This just in from a reputable Model Railroad Group "on another network" ( RealSTMFC at Groups.io, the "Steam Era Freight Cars Group")... Thought I would post here - John is looking for support for the relocation of one of the all-time great model railroads out of its long time home.

Hi, I'm trying to send out this info to all our active club members and supporters but in my rush, I'm sure I'm overlooking many - please spread the word and for anyone who hears about this only secondhand, I sincerely apologize.

We have just gotten word that shortly, perhaps a few weeks, a professional mover is going to come in and crate up sections of the layout, along with everything else, and move them out of Davison. These will either be stored in a warehouse or if we are lucky, moved to a new permanent home. The school wants to rehab Davison over the summer with all new plumbing, etc., but wants the layout now. At first when they were talking about this, they were figuring they would totally box in the layout to protect it from swinging pipes around, but they would have to remove the backdrop and build us a whole new one. On reconsideration, they figured it would be better to move us instead.

So where? Barb Nelson, who used to work at RPI in space allocation, is now the Executive Director of TAP Inc. (Troy Architectural Program) and wants very much for us to move to some place where the layout can readily be seen by the public. She is very sympathetic to our needs and attuned to the entire downtown building boom. She thinks there may be some appropriate space downtown opening up. Many developers are having a hard time filling their first floor with retailers, and she sees the layout as generating a lot of foot traffic. We don’t have anything definite yet. If it does, our role might change, whether we stay a part of RPI, be a collaboration with say the county historical society, become totally independent, or who knows what. We know one important consideration no matter what would be to ensure this is a permanent home.

Or we have been talking about a new building, a simple (and thus cheap) steel shell building on a concrete pad floor somewhere on RPI property.

For years and years, we have looked at moving to an existing location in an unused space, but we take up far more room than people think. And if we were to move into J Building or Winslow, even if we fit – we don’t – it would cost so much to remove walls, etc. But now we are talking about a prime location, not a spare attic or unused basement.

Please spread the word to EVERYONE you can think of. Massive amounts of publicity are needed, and soon, both word-of-mouth and professional media. In this way, we may reach some wealthy benefactor, or even just convince the school the importance of not letting us wither away in storage. We will be looking into some type of go-fund-me campaign, hopefully in conjunction say with a local historical group. (We probably can’t do it under RPI without stepping on some toes).

The contract to move us has yet to be signed, but they are aiming for a few weeks. Then we will know the timetable but it likely to be soon after. Once we have a definite date, we are hopeful of holding one last operating session. If you know of individuals who need to see the layout, I can set up an individual tour - it may be now or never.

- John Nehrich
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Re: RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

Postby CNJ999 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:33 am

Indeed, very sad news if this comes to be. I visited the NEB&W several times years ago, as well as following all the articles John - to my mind the greatest modeler except perhaps for the late Art Curren ever - has had published in MR over the years concerning the layout and their employed modeling concepts and techniques. Now I've visited many a layout over the years, a number of them purportedly "world class", but none truly held a candle to the NEB&W. Far and away, it is the most realistic layout I've ever seen. This is undoubtedly because most every scene on the layout depicts a real up-state location - rural or urban - as it was decades ago and with only modest compression. In actuality, it is an truly an historic rendering of a vanished time. In particular, the city scenes of Troy, NY that are perfect replicas of what was there and the construction of the buildings absolutely second to none in their degree of realism!

But, I'm afraid, that the layout's potential demise is just another example of the hobby's decline in popularity/interest Stateside. One by one, long revered, large layouts of this nature, ones that many of us believed would endure just about forever, are vanishing from the scene as the owners of the structures within which they are housed find new uses and financial opportunities for their property. Here's hoping that this isn't the end of the NEB&W's story.

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Re: RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

Postby mcgrath618 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:43 pm

CNJ999 wrote:But, I'm afraid, that the layout's potential demise is just another example of the hobby's decline in popularity/interest Stateside.

I'm sorry to single this out, and my apologies for straying slightly off topic, but the hobby is not dying by any means. I am eighteen years of age and have joined a club layout nearby that has plenty of other young people. If anything, this is a result of unfortunate circumstances surrounding the redevelopment of a building.
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Re: RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

Postby CNJ999 » Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:10 am

mcgrath618 wrote:
CNJ999 wrote:But, I'm afraid, that the layout's potential demise is just another example of the hobby's decline in popularity/interest Stateside.

I'm sorry to single this out, and my apologies for straying slightly off topic, but the hobby is not dying by any means. I am eighteen years of age and have joined a club layout nearby that has plenty of other young people. If anything, this is a result of unfortunate circumstances surrounding the redevelopment of a building.



Ah, my young colleague, if you only knew the wide popularity the hobby enjoyed in decades past! If you are accurate in that your local club has plenty of younger members, then it is the rare exception these days. Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine polled its readership a year, or so, ago on a number of topics, one being hobbyists' age. The average came out to be well over 60. This is reflected in the few remaining clubs, or groups, I'm familiar with in my area of New York State, where the mean age of closer to 70!

Back in the 1950's model railroading was listed as the second most popular hobby in the United States. Today one can not find a polling where it even appears in the top 100 such interests. Serious scale modeling appears to have peaked in the 1970's and 80's, then started to fade. But in the 1990's a sort of revival took place as the last wave of 1950's-60's boys who remembered the Lionel, Flyer and Marx tin-plate trains of their youth reached middle age and financial maturity becoming once more interested in trains. At about the same time, the craftmanship aspect of the hobby was being suplanted by RTR trains in place of traditional kits, allowing for far easier participation. At that time, subscriptions to Model Railroader Magazine topped 225,000. Today it stands at only around 40% of that figure and is rapidly declining annually. MR likewise used to poll its readers twice a decade. At the start the age of the readership was averaging 30 (1 out of 5 was a teen!) in the 1950s. But the surveys were brought to a halt in 1993 when it had progressively risen to nearly 50 and advancing almost in step with the calendar.

Model railroading is largely a hobby that was instilled in the youth of the Baby Boomer generation and although a small group of participants outside that group has always endured they have represented only a relatively small segment of the total of recent years. The pages of the popular hobby magazines are populated by the layouts of old men, not examples of those of the middle age, or younger. This was not always so, with many of the authors of decades ago being under 40, some even in their 20's!The rapidly escalating prices that have appeared over the past decade, or so, have put an additional strain on those speculating on joining the hobby, as has the demise of local hobby shops, the place where local hobbyists used to gather and exchange ideas and techniques. In spite of what some might attempt to claim, the Internet does not offer nearly the same degree of quality advice to hobbyists, much of it on sites like YouTube and coming from hobby dabblers, rather than those with real craftsman experience.

Times change and so does the appeal of hobbies. Model railroading is a practice that reached its zenith years ago and is steadily dwindling today, other than perhaps in Middle America. Electronic distractions dominate in the eyes of today's youth, not electric trains. As the Baby Boomers fade from the scene the hobby will very likely return to the level it saw in the late pre-war years of the 1930's, just a niche interest supported mainly by a few custom manufacturers offering a limited selection of very expensive equipment. The next 20-30 years should prove very interesting to witness regarding our hobby, at least from an historical standpoint.

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Re: RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

Postby umtrr-author » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:26 pm

An update on this...

First, there was a posting on the NEB&W Facebook Page: "Just to let you know the latest... RPI has activated a collaborative planning committee to protect and relocate the Rensselaer Model Railroad layout to a new home."

However, second, there is this:

https://poly.rpi.edu/2019/01/16/last-tr ... n4Z9Fj6tPE

One infuriating "fair use" quote...
"In a disturbingly common theme for the Institute, student and staff club members are being barred from speaking publicly about the club’s situation."

Which is just WRONG...

I am not confident that RPI will officially do much of anything to save the layout.
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Re: RPI Layout (NEB&W) - Forced Relocation Coming

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:21 am

mcgrath618 wrote:I'm sorry to single this out, and my apologies for straying slightly off topic, but the hobby is not dying by any means.


You are absolutely correct. Right on, brother.

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