and History


Scale Rails of Southwest Florida
1262 Piney Road
North Fort Myers, FL 33903

Phone Number (President - Jim Morse):

History of Our Club

Scale Rails of Southwest Florida was formed in January of 1983 after a group of model railroaders held a train show together at the Ft. Myers Public Library. Incorporation as a Florida Corporation followed in June of 1983 and determination by the Internal Revenue Service that this organization was a 501 C-3 followed in September of that year. This status under the tax code makes the Club a tax free publicly supported not for profit organization and all donations are tax deductible to the donor.

In 1985 Scale Rails bid on and purchased an 85 ft Amtrak passenger coach. This was made possible by the contributions of two members. The coach was parked on a Seminole Gulf siding along with two boxcars that had been donated by CSX. The boxcars are still being used for layouts and storage but the Club later sold the coach, resulting in a $25,000.00 gain.

For several years the Club moved from one location to another in the Ft. Myers area. The latest location was the Imaginarium on MLK Blvd. When that lease was not renewed by the city, the Club went looking for a permanent home.

A building was purchased in June of 2003, which is now the permanent home of the Club. It is affectionately called the "Depot."

Extensive renovations of the Depot were completed by late 2003. Club members then started two years of construction on the HO layout. Check out the LAYOUTS menu for background and picture tours of each layout.

In 2014 Scale Rails was able to pay off the mortgage. We are always looking to add more space.  In 2020 the depot building was officially named the "Jim Edmier Depot" after one of the club founders, Jim Edmier.

Membership has grown into the 40s from the low point in 1997 when there were only 14 members.

Routine Club Activities

Monthly meetings are held at our Clubhouse, the Depot. These meetings are held on the Second Saturday of each month at 11:00 am. Sometimes other events cause us to change the day or time of a meeting. Please check the Calendar page for the latest information. Spouses are always welcome and are invited to attend.

For many years we hosted an annual train show with average attendance of 750-1,100 people, operating layouts, and over 85 vendor/dealer tables selling model railroad equipment. Unfortunately, a suitable venue is no longer available. We have replaced it with a Thanksgiving to Christmas display in the Bell Tower Mall which has been very successful and we hope to continue in the future.

The club conducts Operating Sessions during the winter months. This involves running 20+ trains and requires 20-25 members. See the schedule on the Activities page.

Each winter, starting in January, the Club conducts Clinics on the many varied aspects of model railroading. These Clinics are open to the public and will be held at our clubhouse, the Depot. Please check the Activities page for specific topics and dates.

We occasionally host a NMRA Regional Convention. The last one we hosted was the May 2009 SSR Convention.

We also take trips together to both Regional and National Conventions, go on shopping trips to the east coast, Orlando, and the Tampa area, and visit other layouts, hobby shops and museums.

Many members are working on the various NMRA Achievement Program certificates of Merit, earning their way toward the Master Model Railroader Award.

Layout Technologies

On the surface the HO layout looks like any other large train set with tracks, turnouts and control panels. The controls for the layout are Digitrax DCC with a DCS240 command station and seven DB150 boosters (45 Amps of DCC power, we like power). We use a Digitrax Duplex throttle system with UR93 and UR92 Duplex receivers for hand held control and a Raspberry Pi JMRI Wi-Fi throttle server to enable Smartphones to control trains. Most members now use the Wi-Fi smartphone throttle. We can run 30+ trains with enough engineers. The circuit breaker and reversing loop system is DCC Specialty PSX (70). The signal system is now an Arduino Mega based system, home grown. Staging is operated by a home grown diode matrix 38 route 32 turnouts routing controller with an Arduino Mega controller to help with status in C Yard. We just completed designing and building an Arduino Mega based Routing Control system for all turnouts and operations in San Bernardino. By the time we finish the controls for the two Helix’s in the fall we will have 13 Arduino Mega products in operation (all this the same design methods, standards and documentation). Two years ago, we converted the entire main room to LED lighting. The HO and Hon3 layouts are illuminated by 156 channels of DMX PCM dimmable lighting using about 75K LED's. For the most part we build all of our own turnouts (Fast Tracks -

The N Scale layout is Digitrax based with a Simplex throttle system. We also use a separate Digitrax Wi-Fi throttle server for Smartphones. The N Scale layout has a great deal of buildings, street lighting and animations. The HO layout is jealous.

We program all decoders with a SPROG ii via DecoderPro (JMRI).

Financial Matters

The club's sources of revenue to support our activities are:
Club Member dues~60%
Donated equipment sales and Commercial projects~30%

Club Visit Video