model train set on track

The Central Operating Lines, Ltd. Model Railroad Club

e*Train Issue: Jan 2004   |   Posted in:

By Michael Heindl, President

(photos by Bob Mintz)

The Central Operating Lines, Ltd. Model Railroad Club is a group of about 60 hi-rail train collectors, operators and modelers. We are located in Ronkonkoma, New York. The club owns a 55-foot by 35-foot operating layout complete with four mainlines, a large passenger-yard, an engine yard with operating turntable and features a replica of the Bald Hill Vietnam War Memorial. Members get together for fun, camaraderie, to do work on the layout, and to support the activities of the club. We work on the layout Friday evenings from 7pm to 10pm. We also run six swap meets (in a Bingo Hall in Bohemia, New York), and several open houses each year where our layout is open to the public. Please see our website: ( ) for dates/times, photos and additional information.

The Central Operating Lines, Ltd. Model Railroad Club was formed in 1976 by a small group of dedicated train collectors who wanted a bigger and better place to run their trains. In 1977, the club set up shop in the basement of a shoe store in Amityville, New York. This was the club’s first layout, and featured four operating mainlines and a gigantic mountain. In 1985, the owner of the shoe store decided to retire and sell the building, so the club was forced to move out. We constructed our second layout in the basement of an architectural building in Babylon, New York. It featured four cab-controlled mainlines with a dispatcher’s panel, a passenger yard, and a hidden setup yard inside the mountain. But in 1988, the architectural firm decided it needed the basement for records storage. We were on the move again, this time to a small industrial park in Holbrook, New York. Our third layout was smaller than the Babylon layout, but still had some interesting features, including an engine yard with an operating turntable. Then in 1996, the club lost its lease in Holbrook and moved to what is now our current home in Ronkonkoma, New York. Our most recent layout includes four block-controlled mainlines, a bi-level passenger terminal, the engine terminal from Holbrook, and a medium-sized mountain. We have just signed a seven-year lease with our landlord, guaranteeing us a secure location for our layout until October of 2010. Work is still in-progress on many areas of the layout and many new projects are currently underway, including a hidden staging yard, a large riverfront area and a prototypical signaling system with block signals, crossing gates and the Trainmaster Command-Control System.

Joining the Central Operating Lines, Ltd. model railroad club is easy. Simply fill out a membership application, include your first month’s dues, and you’re a member. The best way to get a membership application is to come down to the club. You are invited to come down to the club to see our layout and meet the membership any Friday evening from 7pm to 11pm, or during our Open Houses. Bring a train set of your own to run, too! New members are always welcome at Central Operating Lines, Ltd; m embership dues are $25.00 a month and for that, you get a key to the club, a membership card, and our monthly newsletter. Once you have your key (after successfully passing a three-month probationary period and being voted into full membership), you may come and run your trains anytime you like. Hope to see you there soon!