The American Modular Group currently has a membership of 10
Dunedin area modellers including a husband and wife combination
whose ages range from the mid teen's to early 60's The group is
a member of the New Zealand Association of Model Railway Clubs.
The group was formed in 1995 as the American HO Modular Group,
as all members at that time were modelling HO - a scale of
1:87. Their aim was to form a group of like minded individuals
to build, operate, and publicly display an American HO Modular
Layout based on agreed standards.
After some fundraising, a rectangular layout was designed and
Each member was given a module to develop, and after a time, the
modules were brought back together. The differences in style,
colour, terrain and type of area modelled were glaringly
obvious, as was the tremendous weight of the overbuilt units.
The layout stagnated as there was no area available to work
collectively on the layout, and therefore an inability to have a
quality layout suitable for display.
A member of the group had been involved in The Little Train Show
in Dunedin since its inception in 1990. In 2000, the American HO
Modular Group was offered the Little Train Show to run, as no
one else was considered suitable to run this venture.
Successful shows were run in 2001, 2003 and 2005 with the group
benefiting financially with grants from the show. The group
changed its name to the American Modular Group, as a number of
newer members were modelling other scales.
A large 9 metre x 3.5 metre HO layout was able to be
professionally constructed in 2003 from plywood and ceiling
tile, and the old layout was junked.
The layout was worked upon in the old Telecom Building thanks to
the generosity of Calder Stewart Industries until the building
neared demolition. The group moved to another workshop building
on the same site.
The layout progressed to be able to be displayed at the 2005
show, running, but with the scenery needing much work.
After the 2005 Little Train Show, there was a departure of some
members with the rights to the show, so plans were made to
continue running a model train show in Dunedin when their
efforts to run a show failed.
An invitation to the Christchurch Show in 2006 resulted in much
more scenicing being carried out, and a members wife began
coming to working sessions. The result was that her artistic
flair improved the layout overall, and she has become more
active in the group, with the positive of keeping some of the
male members in line. She is now"THE BOSS"
About that time, the group was forced by a pending demolition to
shift again, this time to premises owned by Calder Stewart
Industries above Gourmet Icecream, where the support of that
resident company was appreciated.
The HO layout was displayed at the 2006 Christchurch Show. There
was positive reaction by the organisers who had seen the layout
in its earlier configuration at the Dunedin Show, and surprised
by the step up in its overall appearance.
A small N (1:160) layout had been developed during this time,
Orsnow, and it was displayed at the Invercargill Show where
children were encouraged to operate it. This proved to be a
positive for the children, and hopefully may have sparked an
interest in modelling railways. This positive reaction promoted
thoughts of building more layouts for children to operate
In March 2007 the HO layout was displayed at the Cromwell Train
Show, this time with one side completely revamped. Again there
were positive comments on how much the layout had been improved.
In May 2007 the American Modular Group ran their Dunedin Model
Train Show displaying their HO layout, plus the Orsnow layout
for the children to operate. The layout was set up for better
operating for smaller persons.
This show is the group's only ability to raise funds for their
Donations from the children operating Orsnow, netted sufficient
funds to be able to import a Thomas the Tank Engine train set
with extras, including Percy. The project by two of the group
members built a bi level, two track, HO Thomas & Percy layout,
giving two layouts for children to operate.
The group was forced to move out of the premises [now at the
mid-way area of the Dunedin Stadium] in May 2007, and is now
based in a rented school room with a long term lease.
Members can now continue to promote the hobby of Model Railways
- called by some as the World’s Greatest Hobby - and by others
as a Three Dimensional Art Form - with the schools and others in
In May 2008, and 2010 more successful Dunedin Model Train Show's
were run, as featured on other pages of this web site.
The Thomas & Percy layout gave another layout for children to
operate, and Thomas & Percy actually survived the weekends
thrashing. However, the controller for the upper track could not
stand the pace, and the resulting smoke issuing from it resulted
in it having to be shut down. Thomas & Percy chased each other
on the lower track, and as one was faster than the other, much
amusement was enjoyed by those watching.
The Thomas & Percy layout has been added to with a circus tent,
some of Thomas' friends racing around on a road, push buttons to
fly Harold the Helicopter, or work Cranky the Crane to try to
knock off Sir Topham Hat's hat. There is an airport, and a
Jurassic Park with lots of dinosaurs, and well as other fun
things to touch and play with. After 2014 show it was sold to
another group. We have build a new Thomas layout for 2015 show
As part of the group's community commitment, now the Thomas &
Percy layout is up and running reliably, it, and Orsnow the N
layout will be made available at no cost for schools at school
fairs and such like. The HO layout would be made available also
for schools that have a sufficiently large enough space for it
to be erected.
There are other layouts owned by members that have been
displayed at the 2010 and 2011 Dunedin Model Train Shows, and
some have been displayed at the Ashburton, Christchurch,
Cromwell and Timaru shows over the past few years.
The HO layout has had various names since it was built, and the
name settled upon is US Route 69, from the north–south United
States highway in the centre of the USA. It is a Minnesota to
Texas cross-country route. The highway's southern terminus is in
Port Arthur, Texas. A new side for the layout featuring this
port is being planned. As this area is in the mid west, it
explains the various railroads names that can be seen operating
on the layout. U.S. Route 69. For the 2012 show the layout will
have a another name change to Route 66 with a new layout side
We have a new Thomas and Friends layout which was first showing
at the 2015 show
The members of the American Modular Group are always interested
in meeting with others interested in American Railroads, and as
possible new members.