Modeller or railfan?

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Rico

BN Modeller
So I was talking to a buddy earlier (from six ft away of course) who is a railfan but not a model railroader which got me wondering if all model railroaders are railfans.
Might seem odd to some that I’m a modeller but really not all that interested in the real thing.
Oh sure, my heart beats just a little faster seeing a big sexy lash up crossing a bridge or maybe leaning into a curve with a big ass mixed freight, but otherwise I don’t usually go out of my way to chase one down.
Maybe it’s because I’ve worked on the railway or maybe it’s gotten to be the same old stuff around here.
Or maybe, just maybe, I need help? Perhaps a road trip is in order for a change of scenery?
So what do you consider yourself to be, I’ll bet most are both?
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
So I was talking to a buddy earlier (from six ft away of course) who is a railfan but not a model railroader which got me wondering if all model railroaders are railfans.
So what do you consider yourself to be, I’ll bet most are both?
My research shows there's a good bit of overlap, but maybe not as much as you'd expect.

First off... There are at least 3 kinds of model railroaders:
1) Train collectors - It's all about collecting model trains. Some also operate them, some don't.
2) Model railroad builders - Layouts, rolling stock, structures, scenery. They love to build and the layout is never done.
3) Model railroad operators - They love to run trains. Maybe a home layout, maybe at the club. Some like tinplate, such as Lionel since it is reliable and has lots of accessories.

Of course there's plenty of overlap, and you can enjoy all three.

Of the three, the second and third are generally more interested in the real thing. Members of the first group can often be far more worried about whether the Lionel 2981 B was ever offered in Reading Green. (Don't bother googling it, I made that up)

On the railroad side, there's less interest in the model side. Of course there are the model railroaders, but they make up maybe a quarter of the group. About half enjoy chasing and photographing trains. A small percentage work for the railroad. Some like model railroads, but there's often a strong dislike for "Toy trains" among railroaders. (Whether or not they have a secret layout is unknown)
 

Rico

BN Modeller
Guess I’m a little bit of a collector, more of a builder, and a little more of an operator but not a stickler on ops.
I do know a number of railroaders that have some models, and some that have layouts too.
Then again I know some that don’t get the whole “foamer” thing either.
Now that being said, back when I was driving long haul I’d come across some big time truck fans.
It wasn’t a big deal for me, it was just a job but to some of these guys trucks were absolutely “it”.
Now I did drive a pretty nice rig tho, a black and chrome beauty that even had running water and some guys would come right off their hinges when you let them have a look inside. Ok, I get that part.
I would park outside a hobby shop and they’d be on that thing like ants on sugar.
I’m guessing to most railroaders a loco is just a big stinky metal workplace, no big deal kind of like driving a truck.
The world would be a lot less interesting if we all did the same thing, eh?
 

Patrick

GNRR Mechanic always fixing stuff
I think I'm a little of both. While I enjoyed making the models while my trains were running in the past, I like to think that I like to run the trains as well. I also go out of my way sometimes to see the trains run through town.
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
I guess that I sort of fit into all the categories. In my past, I would go way out of my way just to see, look at, or ride a train. I have worked on models in my hotel room all over the world (more so during the winter months), rode trains where ever I could find "out and back" connections, and visited aircraft and rail museums where ever I could find them.
I have had several layouts and belonged to several clubs ... my main problem is that I have moved too many times in my life and up to now I have not seemed to put down roots in a certain place. HA, Now I am getting up in age to where it seems that I do not have the time, or ability, to do much about any of it?
 

twforeman

Certified Great Northern Nut
I'm more a modeler than a railfan I guess. I don't go out of my way to chase trains, but I'm happy when I see one going by.

I did take a day-trip down to Iowa last summer to see the BigBoy go by, that was pretty exciting. And last June the wife and I took the train across Canada (highly recommended.) I do like to go to the local museums and look at the static displays of locomotives occasionally.

As for Bob's list of types of model railroaders, I'm a strong #2, but lean towards #1 and #3 a bit.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
So I was talking to a buddy earlier (from six ft away of course) who is a railfan but not a model railroader which got me wondering if all model railroaders are railfans. Might seem odd to some that I’m a modeller but really not all that interested in the real thing.
I agree with the seeming odd. How can one model something that isn't an interest? How would one even know if it was a model or just a fantasy toy train?

Being a foamer is a whole lot easier. No gluing or soldering or cutting skills needed.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I guess that I sort of fit into all the categories. In my past, I would go way out of my way just to see, look at, or ride a train. I have worked on models in my hotel room all over the world (more so during the winter months), rode trains where ever I could find "out and back" connections, and visited aircraft and rail museums where ever I could find them.
I have had several layouts and belonged to several clubs ... my main problem is that I have moved too many times in my life and up to now I have not seemed to put down roots in a certain place. HA, Now I am getting up in age to where it seems that I do not have the time, or ability, to do much about any of it?
dang Sherrel, you have one of the largest model railroads in the world just 45 minutes or so from your front door. Heck, if I lived where you are, I would be down at Balboa several times a week.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
Count me among those who enjoys model trains, but who isn't what one would normally think of as a 'rail fan'. I do love steam trains, and of course I cast my eyes over to diesel-led trains snaking through the Thompson River Valley when I encounter them. But it's strictly steam, with a couple of token diesels, on my layout. I don't go out of my way to go rail fanning. I don't plan trips around trains. I do take my camera if I know I'll be near trains because I live where they don't run.
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
I am mostly a model railroader. I used to railfan a lot more than I do now, but many modern trains have gotten a bit boring, endless strings of containers, tankers or autoracks. I still occasionally railfan the Santa Fe, now BNSF mainline between Ft Worth's Alliance yard and Gainesville TX, on it's way north to OKC. There's an interchange wye near me with the KCS, but they only interchange intermodal destined for the Alliance Intermodal Yard. Only about 25% of the traffic 30-40 trains/day, is mixed freights. When I still worked, our plant was alongside the former Frisco (SLSF), now also BNSF, mainline between Sherman TX and Dallas. It still is about 75% mixed freights with unit gravel trains making up much of the rest of the traffic.
 

Rico

BN Modeller
I agree with the seeming odd. How can one model something that isn't an interest? How would one even know if it was a model or just a fantasy toy train?

Being a foamer is a whole lot easier. No gluing or soldering or cutting skills needed.
Yeah good point IH, I guess I didn’t word that right...
I am interested in the real thing, just not interested in standing trackside for hours just to watch a average train roll by.
Ill admit to getting a little excited when some foreign power is involved tho, hey maybe there’s hope for me yet!
 

CambriaArea51

Well-Known Member
I'm both however, I railfan to do research for my model railroad. I'm not spot on exact but close enough that you couldn't tell as it's moving past you. As for the railfan part I rarely go sit somewhere to watch trains but youtube railfan anytime of the year I want or if I'm doing something specific like the grain train I've been working on I'll type in "CSX grain train" in the search and watch and learn.
 




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