A little about us and what we do.


The Snake Bend Railroad has been evolving since 2001. It was started as a way of getting different members of our group to take part in building a layout as a group, not necessarily to be exhibited. Each member had different experience in modelling, but none of us had an American layout, so an American railroad it would be.


The group decided to build a modular system that was easy to adhere to but flexible enough to allow it to be attached to other standards, this allowed us to build our own bits at home and then bring it together for the bigger layout. We based our standards on the oNetrak system but slightly tweaked it to make it easier for British modellers to follow.


We also agreed that this layout would be entirely DCC throughout - another new experience for us - and Digitrax was the chosen manufacturer. Where possible each module or pairing of modules represents a different industry or location, mostly fictitious. Each member chose a railroad company to base their rolling stock on, so you will see a mixture of liveries - Union Pacific, Burlington Northern, Chessie System, Pennsylvania and others - serving civilisation, grain silos, coal mines, paper mills and other business's.


The modular system is flexible to allow us to adapt it to fit any space and with the recent purchase of infrared sensors we don't have to worry about tripping over throttle wires any more. One of the aims of this layout was to inject enthusiasm into our modelling, and it did this to such extent that other modelling plans have taken a back seat until this layout is finished, but of course being modular it never really will be.


The layout already numbers 50+ separate modules (most 4ft by 1ft) with more planned, in its minimum form it is 22ft by 7ft, but it can at present extend to 40ft x 56ft. We are only glad to answer questions so please ask, or pay us a visit to take a look at the layout and learn more about the group.


If this is still interesting you, carry on reading below.

The ramblings of a past member who was taken away from us, Keith Johnson, that sums to perfection what we are trying to achieve.


 “Why do you want a standard or a set of guidelines to follow?"


First, for the group to know where they are going they need guidelines and a path to follow and that path leads to the goals and criteria that the group wants to achieve together.

So if you have no defined goals, then you do not know where you are going and subsequently guidelines are a waste of time and this is as far as you need to read or perhaps read on and we might be able to give you some ideas to help you define your goals.


Second, the Snake Bend group is a British group and their philosophy and their living style is different to members of other groups in other countries. So standards such as the European FREEMO and the North American Free-mo might not work and should not be considered without understanding their philosophy and reasons for running trains.

Now at this point if you had no goals and you are not going to define any and believe that other standards might help you but do not understand the history and philosophy behind them and cannot recognize that they might not be achievable then this is as far as you need to read.


The goals that The Snake Bend group has are based upon the reason the group exists and as such it is supported by all members. These goals are:

· An environment that is free of possible political influences

· An environment where a club night every week is not needed to make it work

· Be able to attract members from outside the original members’ area even though there is no weekly club meets

· Exhibition displays where the audience, young and old will be part of the operation, will be entertained, can have hands on experience and importantly feel good about being there

· No exposure to permanent financial overheads and to determine a reasonable yearly fee based upon our exhibition display needs

· Be able to run trains at club meets without having a club layout or location.

The above determined the overall goals of the group.

However, if you are in disagreement with those and wish to have a different structure where the members are to have a less flexible hobby environment then this is as far as you possibly need to read


 The exhibition/operational running goals now start to clearly define themselves and this is further reinforced by the members themselves as:

· A modular system so that members can work at home, building modules to suit their lifestyle and available transport, and therefore easily transport the modules to club meets or exhibitions.

· Modular guidelines that lets members build a display easily and within their limited skills or limited workshop facilities.

· The operational movement of trains must be the same across all modules without the need to understand another member’s electrical setup for running across that module.

· Operationally it must entertain us and the public with lots of running and a good dispatcher to keep things moving and avoid having a static display.

· Running is key versus a timetable operation where we have to wait for something to happen, all consists run as extra’s and you are responsible for operating the consist.

· You do not have to build modules; you can be part of the setup/tear down help team and just run trains. You could look after common modules, staging etc.

The above goals lead to a crystal clear understanding of the standards required to meet the clubs and members interests and requirements.

However, if your group and members needs are opposite, such as, you want a permanent club layout and want to run to a timetable then this as far as you need to read and thank you for your time.


For you others who want to follow in the footsteps of our, and other like-minded groups, then contact us, for this is where the real enjoyment and fun of North American railroading starts to take place so come on board and Happy Railroading.