The Sipping & Switching Society of N.C.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently asked questions as originally posted by Robert Carr

Now I know that by now you should have some questions. If we anticipated well or got lucky many of them have been answered, but if not we will fill you in on some of the more insightful, interesting and sometimes absurd questions we have fielded in real life. Remember, these are real questions, Truth is stranger than fiction.

Question 1 - Who is your President? - In reality we don't need a president, we are non-organized (as opposed to disorganized). Our only 'officer" is the person known as "cruise director" who coordinates our show appearances. This is a thankless voluntary position that rotates every show.

 

Question 2 - How do you join? - You don't, you either are or you aren't; it is voluntary and self regulating. While we do not put any limits on who can join the collected assembly, it becomes readily apparent who is and who isn't member material. Our philosophy is "If you do what we are doing you are probably already a member, if you have any doubts, you probably aren't".

 

Question 3 - How may members do you have? - Well it depends on who shows up. We have successfully put on a show with a 48' x 40' layout with only 2 people. The total number that could show up is 12 since that is all we have now. Current demographics have us with 3 women and 9 men, but that could change as time goes on.

 

Question 4 - Does the club own the modules? - NO!!!! The club owns nothing. Each module is individually owned and is fashioned to the liking of its owner. There are limited requirements concerning the frontiers of each module so that they will mate with their neighbors and mutually agreed upon minimum radius' (80"), but there is no overall "big brother" committee telling everyone how to build their module. Each module owner makes a choice to attend a show and if they decide to go undertakes the financial burden to get there with their equipment.

 

Question 5 - What do you Sip? - Huh? oh, whatever, we do try to limit our liquid refreshment to non-intoxicating beverages. Mostly Cheerwine, Sundrop, Hot Chocolate, etc.

 

Question 6 - What is your name? Didn't your old website have a different name? - The name of the group was and still is the Sipping and Switching Society of North Carolina. We did have our information on another site at one time. That site space was graciously provided by an individual who has since moved on to pursue other avenues in model railroading.

 

Question 7 - How may cars are on that train? - It varies but one of our claims to fame is consistently running long trains. We have regularly run trains in the 100-110 car range for hours.  We can do this by the precise engineering at the frontiers using the template. Since the individual wheels never see a gap larger than that at a switch frog, the length of train is limited by the motive power, drawbar strength, and curves; just like the real thing. 125 cars seems to be an upper limit with unmatched unmodified cars due to coupler stresses and dynamics in the curves. Once we upgrade more cars to metal wheelset and reduce rolling friction we should move past this temporary plateau.

 

Question 8 - Are all those engines powered? - Actually all the boxcars are powered and the locomotives are dummies. Really, they are all powered, running dummy locomotives does nothing and given the length of trains we run we need all the power we can get (usually 3-5 powered units)

 

Question 9 - How long did it take to set this up? - We usually set up any of our layouts within 1-1/2 hours. Our best record was a 48' x 48' L-shaped layout set up in under 45 minutes at Richmond VA about 3 years ago. Our Plug and Play technique allows us to join and align modules in one step within seconds. We can go from unloading the truck to running trains in under an hour and 1/2 on a regular basis.

 

Question 10 - Is that N-scale? - No, we have a large number of modules that have HOn3 or dual gauge track on the 21" secondary switching district. About half of the group is in some way interested in narrow gauge (Usually ET&WNC operations). It always is interesting watching the HOn3 equipment running next to the HO modern equipment.

 

$64,000 Question - Why do you do this? - Isn't it obvious; this is the way we have fun and that's what model railroading is all about, Charlie Brown. We are all refugees and outcasts from various clubs where there were more political operators than railroad operators. By eliminating the organizational structure and concentrating on the trains we don't have the mechanics for the politics that can culminate with in-fighting, hard feelings, and power plays.

Since most clubs we have been associated with have the productive 10% of the group doing 90% of the work, we eliminated the unproductive 90%. And because the club owns nothing, arguments are limited to how many shows we plan to do and where. The focus on operational reliability means we don't spend all our free time rerailing equipment and minding the store. We find this concept works well for us and may be useful to others.

 

 Contrary to what our detractors think, we don't have the answers to all the questions, but we have asked questions of all the answers.

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