Free-moN

Welcome aboard!

Silicon Valley Free-moN is an informal group of folks in the San Francisco Bay Area who are building N-Scale Modules following the Free-moN Standard.

We are having a blast building, setting up and running our modules! You should join in the fun too!

Free-moN attempts to bring modular railroading standards up to the new higher quality models now available in N Scale. Modules are constructed closer to eye-level (50"), are typically based upon actual locations, and focus on capturing the look and feel of a real railroad.

Like other Free-mo standards, only the connection between modules is standardized, not the length or shape of each module. This allows modules to break free of the typical rectangular norm. Most modules feature a single-track main line snaking through the terrain. Digital Command Control (DCC) is used to control all locomotives on the railroad.

While we are located in Northern California, we are constructing modules based on prototype locations in New Mexico, Texas, and California.

Video

Model Railroader from our participation in the December Pleasanton GTE show

Articles

M.C. Fujiwara wrote an article all about one of his modules. Read it here.

Steve Williams wrote an article for the LD SIG Layout Design Journal featuring our participation. Read it here.

Images

Silicon Valley Free-moN has participated in several local events.

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GTE San Jose 2013

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Iron Horse Express April 2013

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PCR NMRA Meet at Harry's Hoffbrau

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San Leandro 2012 at BSA Office

Silicon Valley Free-moN participated in our first collaborative setup at the X2011West NMRA National Convention in Sacramento, CA. Folks from the NLandPacific group brought several modules up from Southern California, and we created a layout which filled a 20' by 40' space.

Steve Williams wrote an article for the LD SIG Layout Design Journal featuring our participation. Read it here.

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National Train Show 2011

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Lockhart, Wye (NLandPacific), and Alviso Modules

Dave Falkenburg also presented a FreeMoN Clinic at the convention, and the presentation is free to download here.

We are currently in the process of evaluating our next setup, which may either be in October 2011, or in April of 2012.

Modules

Alviso (San Jose, CA)

As the former SP mainline heads North toward the East Bay, it crosses a slough in the former town of Alviso. On the northern edges of Santa Clara County, the ground level has sunk several feet in the last 40 years and the UP main acts as a levee keeping the area from becoming part of the bay during the spring rains.

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Prototype Photo of UP bridge over Alviso Slough

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Alviso Free-moN Module (in-progress)

Originally meant to flank either side of the Alviso module, two small curved modules were constructed to represent the highway 237 overpass and spur to the San Jose Water Company. These almost 45° modules provide operational interest and a bit of scenic variation.

Agnew (San Jose, CA)

In 1876, the South Pacific Coast narrow gauge railroad built a railroad between Alameda and Santa Cruz. In 1877 they built a small station on land donated to the railroad by Abram Agnew. Agnew's name was also applied to a nearby assylum, one of the first constructed in California to house the mentally ill. In 1906, the rails were converted to standard gauge, but the diminutive station continues to stand in the present day.

This module features a passing siding, a station track, and a spur for service to the assylum. Despite the fact the the SP and UP removed everything but the main line to reduce liability in the 1980s, I have decided to model the track as it appeared in the early 1970s to allow for a passing siding and offer some operational interest.

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Agnew Depot in Summer 2011

CEMOF, Santa Clara, CA

Eric, inspired by a tour he took in 2003, and photographs from Google Earth, has embarked on modeling the CalTrain Centralized Maintenance Facility (CEMOF). When complete, the module will consist of several sections and will require almost 40 linear feet of space.

The prototype is a full service shop for keeping the CalTrain commuter fleet of locomotives and passenger cars operating reliably.

Mesilla Park, NM

Dustin, the youngest member of our module bunch, spent his formative years playing trains with his grandma and building NTrak modules. During college near Las Cruces, he used to pass time watching the BNSF freights rumble through town. While he has dreams of constructing a full size model of Belin Yard someday, his first set of modules represent a passing siding in Mesilla Park and a few small industries.

Like many N-Scale modellers, selective compression isn't always a priority. Using Google Earth as his track planning tool, he printed a tiled set of satellite photos on his module to lay out his roadways and trackwork.

Lockhart, TX

Steve is a transplanted Texan living in the Bay Area. On a recent trip back to the old country, he found an interesting place to model with several industries, and an MKT depot.

We all joked that since he was modelling flat land, there wasn't a need for complicated scenery, but Steve took that as a challenge, and carved a dry creek bed and other features into his module.

For X2011West, Lockhart was nearly fully sceniced and featured some cardstock mockups, built using Sketchup, of the prototype structures he plans to scratchbuild.

Wye Knot

Sometimes, there isn't a prototype for a module, but necessity is the mother of invention. When running in a public show, it is often necessary to turn passenger trains while entertaining elementary-aged enthusiasts.

When considering the problem, Eric came up with a set of modules which can either be assembled into a reversing loop, act as a Wye, or can be repurposed for obstacle avoidance in a setup.

Dubbed Wye Knott by this web master, these modules show that deviating from prototype modeling can sometimes be valuable.

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Wye Knot Free-moN Module, You can see in above photos it looks nothing like this now thanks to MC and Nils!

Free-moN Links

http://www.free-moN.org/
The Free-moN Modular Standard
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Free-moN/
Free-moN Yahoo Group. Regardless of where you live, if you are interested in Free-moN, check this group out and feel free to ask questions.
http://groups.google.com/group/silicon-valley-freemon/
Google Group for Silicon Valley Free-moN. We use this group to coordinate work sessions or modular setups.
http://nlandpacific.com/
One of the first Free-moN groups, based in Southern Californa.
http://www.america-n.de/
A German N Scale FREMO group building modules inspired by North American prototypes. The America-N folks have provided excellent advice and are an inspiration to us on this side of the Atlantic.

Other Model Railroading Links

http://www.free-mo.org/
North American Free-mo, an good reference site for HO Free-mo, which links to resources in the US and Canada.
http://www.fremo.org/
FREMO, the original European modular group responsible for some impressive large layout gatherings and home-built DCC control systems.
http://www.norcalfreemo.org/
An HO Free-mo group in Northern California. We are actively looking at adopting and extending their Modular Signal System to add signaling to our modules.
http://siliconvalleylines.org/
An operations-focused HO Scale Railroad Club that many of our folks are also involved with.
http://pcrnmra.org/
The Pacific Coast Division of the National Model Railroad Association. Most module owners are active in the PCR Coast Division.
http://opsig.org/
Model Railroad Operations Special Interest Group
http://www.model160.com/
A blog focused on following N-Scale developments, with an eye toward on prototype modeling.
http://railnerd.blogspot.com/
A blog about technology and model railroading