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: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/the-gandamp-o-story
You can see a video of the G&O at my club’s website: SLHRS.org
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.