Joe Barker

I am Joe Barker and I live in Alameda, CA just across the Bay from the San Francisco.

I have been a model railroader since my father setup a Lionel set under the Christmas tree when I was three or four.   As with most people in the hobby, I stopped active model railroading from about ages 18 to 50 as I built my Navy and business careers.   I returned to model railroading in my early 50s.  In 2000, I joined an HO club near my home:  The San Leandro Historical Railway Society (SLHRS).  I also joined the NMRA about the same time.  

I was in a Los Angeles area hobby shop in 2002 during a business trip where I saw a demonstration of Lionel’s new scale engines and the firm’s Train Master Command Control (TMCC) system.  This was far better, in my opinion, than anything running in HO at that time.  I decided to change gauges / scales from HO to O gauge 3-rail.  I became intrigued with people who were involved with operating 3-rail O gauge trains in a scale environment. This hybrid modeling is called 3 Rail Scale (3RS).  3RS has been my primary model railroading interest ever since.  My interest in 3-rail O gauge prompted me to join the Train Collectors Association (TCA).

After retiring, I attended the 2006 National Garden Railroad Convention in San Jose.  I became interested in garden railroading and I joined the Bay Area Garden Railway Society (BAGRS).  I have been involved with garden railroading since.  I was running O gauge trains in the rain last weekend for a BAGRS open house tour.  (Rain doesn’t hurt trains if you dry them off before storing them.)

I was soon introduced to O Scale 2 Rail (OS2R) modeling by attending O Scale West.   This prompted me to acquire a small collection of OS2R engines and cars.  My best OS2R acquisition has been a 13 car circus train beautifully built from old Walthers kits.  I traded a HO engine for the circus train.    Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to operate OS2R trains in the SF Bay Area.  Most California homes do have basements where a large layout can be built.  I plan to work with the 2 remaining Bay Area clubs that have an OS2R display to increase interest in the scale.

Two years ago, I decided to join O Scale Central / OSC.  I attended the March Meet in Lombard this year where I met David Vaughn and other OSC members.  I also attended the 2022 NMRA national convention in St. Louis where I helped to staff the OSC table and modular layout.  I recently became the OSC membership manager.  

My primary modeling effort during the past 14 years has been building and operating the G&O garden railroad for the San Leandro Historical Railway Society.  The layout is called the G&O because it has both G and O gauge (3-rail) displays.  It is the only public garden railroad in northern California.  You can learn more about the G&O by following this link:

You can see a video of the G&O at my club’s website:

I am a member of the following model railroad organizations: O Scale Central, NMRA, TCA, San Leandro Historical Railway Society, New Haven Historical Railway Society, California State Railroad Museum, and Bay Area Garden Railway Society.