The Sipping & Switching Society of N.C.
A little about us...
Philidelphia GATS January 2003
Timonium 2003
Greenberg show Charlotte 2004
Editorial Page and Links

Welcome to the Sipping & Switching Society  of NC website. This website is currently undergoing a substantial rebuild that the Illinois Central folks in Paducah would appreciate. The idea is to have a web site that is more like an on-line book with photos and instructions to help those modelers who would like to have as much fun with modules as we do.

Last upated 02/15/2007

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Links to other S&SS pages.



Building modules


Past layouts pages


Module photo pages chapter 1


S&SS yahoo group




Larry Lawler

A nice photo of the long side of our layout at the 2002 Prototype Modelers Meet in Savannah GA. The NS train is still stretched out through the KSM steel mill and Elizabethton yard as it approaches the I-80 overpass.  The overall layout length was 72'.


If you have visited this site in the past, you may have noticed that our name as posted on the site is slightly different than before. This is because we have discovered that we are not the only group of people that use the name "Sipping & Switching Society". Our take on all this is...'great minds think alike', so we decided it was best to add the State in which we reside to our name so as to avoid future confusion.
This is the cutting edge of HO modules. Setup times are short,
< 2 hours for a layout 32x56, but our trains are long, 70+ cars and are reliable. It IS possible to have fun owning and operating HO modules, we will show you how.


   Imagine for a minute you are standing at a lonely rural grade crossing. It's so quiet you can hear the kudzu grow. Suddenly off in the distance you hear the faint echo of a train horn. Minutes drag by, but soon the muted roar of EMD 567's struggling uphill rewards your patience. You climb the hillside to get a better look and suddenly, an A-B-B-A set of Seaboard FT's thunder out of the cut struggling to get their 85 cars to next siding.
   Instantly you are transported back to 1956, but wait...these are models and what you are looking at is but small part of a modular layout unlike any you have seen before. Welcome to the non-conformist, iconoclastic but ever so tasteful world of the Sipping and Switching Society. Composed of 2 to 10 model railroaders (whoever shows up) primarily from Boone, NC and Raleigh, NC, this group (club is too organized, but more on that later) is unlike any other model railroad group or third world junta you may ever hope to encounter. So sit back and enjoy (or point and laugh, whichever is appropriate) what we like to describe as the "lunatic fringe" of model railroading.
   The group consists of dedicated but slightly warped modelers who set up at various shows throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic 3 to 5 times a year. While module arrangements are rarely duplicated the usual size of the layouts are 40 ft by 60 ft (+/- 30 ft) limiting our setups to larger venues.
   Being refugees from various other model railroad/module layout clubs we developed a completely original and unorthodox organizational structure - none. That's right...there aren't any. The group is deliberately non-organized, not un-organized, but non-organized. Rebounding from great political strife, darkness, and gnashing of teeth limited guidelines were developed.
 1. The club owns nothing
 2. No voting and nothing to vote on
 3. Anyone proposing changes to #1 and #2 is kicked out, drawn and quartered
Operational prerogatives are just as simple
 1. Have fun (utility maximization though model railroading)
 2. Run long trains well and often
 3. Keep it simple s....d
   To achieve these ends the society tends to fully utilize unconventional approaches to compensate for the lack of manpower. The approach is very different from the traditional club (modular or otherwise). Traditionally the standard policy to modular layouts has been utilizing an abundance of manpower with limited construction skills. Ergo, a lot of brute strength willing to lift overbuilt modules in exchange for train time. The lack of manpower to carry, assemble and most of all troubleshoot each individual module before and during a show lead to lightweight modules with fixed frontiers. Each module is required to match the standard template (see drawing) exactly in relation to track and alignment pegs. This allows any module to mate with any other module regardless and eliminates many of the problems commonly associated with modules:
 1. Bridge plates are eliminated. The misalignment inherent in this system is the major cause of derailments and their removal also decreases set up time dramatically.
 2. Rail joiners at each end are eliminated. All power is carried by jumpers under the modules eliminating faulty power connections
 3. Alignment pegs not only allow for each and every module to fit exactly every time, but the pegs have also provided protection for the rail ends
  This template has allowed for the perfect "plug and play" module. Each module is plugged together, clamped, electrical jumpers (standard trailer plugs) are connected and it is on to the next module. In this fashion, 6 people have assembled ad 32'x80' layout in under an hour. Due to the template arrangement brand new modules can be mated to 25-year-old modules with no ill effects. In fact the trains never "see" the frontier at a module joint, decreasing the chances of picking a misaligned bridge plate. This concept plus a 60" minimum radius allows for the running of 80+ car trains continuously over a weekend with relatively little maintenance. -   Robert Carr


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