NAPM Logo  North American Prototype Modelers, Ltd.
A Milwaukee WI based HO gauge model railroad club

Who We Are

Our Purpose

North American Prototype Modelers (NAPM) is a Milwaukee, WI - based HO scale model railroad club whose members share a simple primary goal: the creation, maintenance, and enjoyment of one of the nation's finest model railroads. NAPM's members are serious modelers dedicated to high standards of construction, modeling, and operation. The club was founded in 1977 on the premise that a well-organized club could yield benefits and enjoyment unattainable by single modelers or even small groups. Today, a quarter-century after the first monthly meetings in the homes of founding members, NAPM has created a heritage of careful planning and hard work. The efforts are culminating in a remarkable railroad located in a secure and permanent location. The club affords members of widely varying interests the means to concentrate on their own modeling interests while they benefit from close association with members in other aspects of the hobby. The club's expectation of high standards of modeling and conduct is enhanced by a culture of respect, teaching and sharing.
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A Permanent Home

In 1985, NAPM found what has proven to be the ideal permanent home situated beneath an easy-to-reach landmark building in the city of Milwaukee. The club's quarters are in excess of five thousand (5,000) square feet and are divided between layout, meeting room, work, and storage spaces, all accessible to members "24/365". Convenient parking and rest room facilities are provided, and even restaurants of several varieties are within a short walking distance. The club's reception area is a faithful replica of a turn-of-the-century small-town depot. The control tower, designed to look like a mainline switch tower, enjoys a vista above the main classification yard of the layout. From this perch the dispatcher commands operating sessions.
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Our Layout

The layout itself includes over 26 scale miles of Class A track, with two thirds of that comprised of an impressive double-track mainline. A single-track main weaves its way along and around, above and beneath, the double-track section on its way around the layout. A noticeable feeling of progression through the landscape is created by use of floor-to-ceiling space dividers, which separate the many "peninsula aisles" of the road into visually distinct regions. The entire area of the layout is lit using suspended lighting valences. Special features along the right-of-way include:

  • An art-deco passenger depot designed as a freelance version of Omaha's Union Station. This imposing building (constructed primarily of plastic "Lego" blocks) is the first thing seen by visitors when entering the layout room. The super-detailed internally lit station is served by 12 stub-end platform tracks and its platforms are protected by an intricate arched train shed a scale eighth-mile in length.
  • The "River Line", the first part of the layout to receive scenery, is a lengthy stretch of line bordered by woods and wilderness and bluffs towering over realistic bridges and trestles. Trains cross a major river several times. (Remember the cover of the Walthers HO Catalog for the year 2000? That's our "River Line")
  • A detailed farm town scene and interchange point, where local industries are switched off two separate busy railroad divisions (A veritable "Hot Spot" for train-watching.)
  • An amazingly detailed urban industrial area called "East LaSalle" containing more than a dozen closely-spaced shippers on a busy main line was featured in the March, 2003 issue of Model Railroader in its cover story.
  • Fleming Yard, so named in memory of a departed member of the club, is a large double-ended freight classification yard of noteworthy proportions for any railroad. A crew of two or three members is needed just to keep up with sorting and classifying incoming freight shipments during operating sessions.
  • Two multiple-track off-layout staging yards, each over 40 feet long, access the main layout via a retractable bridge during operating sessions. These yards act as terminals for point-to-point operations, enabling maximum use of the layout for realistic train movements.
  • There are many other enclaves of completed scenery, structures, or landforms highlighting the modeling talents of NAPM members along the way. Each week, new works arrive on the layout to surprise members and visitors alike.

To see the track plan click here.
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NAPM has endeavored from its beginnings to employ the latest technologies consistent with reliability and economy. With prototype operation being its goal, NAPM's electronic experts implemented early forms of remote walk-around devices, including experimental hybrids. As newer forms of electronic controls emerged, and as standards were embraced by the hobby, NAPM made careful selections, and is now equipped with cutting-edge systems that control both trains and track. The club's layout operates Digital Command Control (DCC) technology. In order to run on the NAPM layout, locomotives must be equipped with special digital decoders. The layout employs a combination of automatic electronic switch machines and manually - operated hand throws. Lighting of many buildings and some important grounds, such as freight yards and engine-servicing facilities are being installed. Night-simulation lighting for the entire layout is expected in the near future.
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Our Members

NAPM members come from many backgrounds, ages, and income levels. Though we share a dedication to the objectives of the club, the diversity among our membership is the lynch pin of the NAPM's stability. During the eight years between our first meeting and the first occupancy of the present permanent layout location, the members busied themselves with formation of a corporation, the forging of enduring rules and standards, and creation of common expectations for club government. These efforts became the foundation for a club that operates relatively free of disharmony and disagreements. We've agreed to act by group consensus rather than by individual incentive. We've attracted mature, intelligent, serious modelers, who make proposals and seek accord before making permanent changes to the layout or premises. Most importantly, NAPM members are expected to respect not only the property, but the opinions of every other member. Each member is expected to contribute to the betterment of the club in some way, not to simply take from it.
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Meetings, Obligations, and Admittance

Normal activities at NAPM include weekly work sessions (Thursdays, all evening), monthly business meetings (third Thursday of each month), Tuesday-morning work sessions (well-attended by retired members), and member-only operating sessions (unpublished schedule). An occasional Saturday morning work session, called a "blitz", may be planned to accomplish larger jobs or tasks needing immediate attention. None of the club's dates are mandatory sessions. This is a hobby, so no one can command attendance. Even so, the club's average monthly participation is very high - roughly 75% of the currently active members attend more than one session or event per month. NAPM's income is derived almost exclusively from monthly dues, with a much smaller amounts from other sources, such as donations and initiation fees. NAPM is a not-for-profit Wisconsin corporation, and though occasional donations are gratefully accepted, the members expect to fund their own club. Annual budgets are formulated and approved by the membership. The club pays for projects from pre-approved budgets, so individual members working on the club's behalf are compensated for expenses as they're incurred. Applications for membership from among serious modelers are always welcome. Persons applying for membership must complete a probationary period, during which their personality, skills, aptitudes, participation, and potential contributions to the club are gauged. At the end of that period, once eligible for induction, applicants must again formally request admittance, and win approval by the full NAPM membership
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How To Find Us

Please click here to email an officer for directions.
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