Free-mo Clinic Handout – Presented to NMRA MCR Divsion-7 on April 10, 2011

On April 10th, I introduced NMRA MCR Division 7 to Free-mo by presenting an introduction to Free-mo clinic and hosting a post meeting open house.   The following itext is the handout provided with additional links.  The advantage of the version below, is that all links are active, saving the audience member from having to type them in.  For those who came to hear my presentation and visit my home, thanks!

What is Free-mo?
o Free form modular railroading.
o Free-mo was developed with the idea that a set of standards focusing mainly on module endplates would enable faithful modeling of prototype trackplans and operations in a modular environment.
  o The length and track configuration of a Free-mo module or module set is up to the modeler.
  o Free-mo takes the boredom out of running trains monotonously around a double or even a triple track mainline.
  o With Free-mo, less is more.
Objectives of Free-mo:
o Prototype Modeling
  o Trains going through prototype scenes
  o Often modeling actual locations, track for track building for building
o Prototype operation
  o Not round and round
  o Point to Point (Point to Loop or Loop to Loop)

Origins of Free-mo
o Free-mo was started by several Railroad Prototype Models in Southern California.
o “Chris Palomarez” could be considered the “Father”
o They were looking for a way to run their RPM models in a setting equally modeled.
o They wanted something different than the traditional looping modules.
o They wanted single track main line, with trains running at realistic speed is a prototypical maner
o They found their answer in Fremo.  Free-mo is adopted from Fremo concepts.
o Fremo is a European organization that has a Strong following (presently 14000 members).

Overview of Free-mo standard.  For full standards go to

Free-mo Standards – End Plate
Free-mo defines the standards at the ends
o 50” high – Height for adults, not young kids
o 24” wide
o Track centered on module end
o Code 83
o 42” minimum radius curves
o 12” straight to avoid “S-curves”

Free-mo Standards – Control
o Turnouts operable from all sides
o DCC Track Power
  o 16 gauge bus (min)
  o 22 gauge feeders (min)
o Digitrax Loconet
  o Large setups often use multiple booster
  o Each module must have UTP on each side

Free-mo Standards – Module shape and size
o Shape not specified
o Size not specified
o Angle and length are builders choice
o Allows for multiple sections to a module
o Only the ends that meet with other Free-mo modules must comply.  Internal joints need not comply.

Free-mo Scenery
o Landscaping at module ends must be designed to flow smoothly to adjacent modules
o Usually a common ballast
o Avoid features such as roads, lakes, fences and so forth from running against module ends
o Flatten profile at the ends (Free-mo suggests within 6” within end, but does not seem enforced.
o No backdrops
o 2” fitter rails, no ties.  Ties fixed to module

Free-mo Organization
o Free-mo is not a club
o Free-mo does not have dues
o Have compliant module, can play (for the most part)
o Run Chief
  o Arranges for the setup
  o Decides on criteria
  o Calls for modules
  o Plans setup
  o Gets help from others
  o Some clubs are adopting Free-mo
Free-mo is all over the country

Free-mo is not the only way to go
Some groups such as Sipping Switch can be compatible with Free-mo

Free-mo is not just HO

Free-mo in other scales?
o “Free-mo” is a concept and can be used in multiple scales.
o “HO: Just referred to as “Free-mo”.  This overloading of “Free-mo” can be confusing.  I often explicitly write/state “HO Free-mo”
o Free-moN (N-scale)
  o Free-moN yahoogroup
  o Standards are available
o O-scale Free-mo – No real following
  o Hampered by “not enough modelers”
  o P48 or not?
o Free-moS
  o Canadian Work Shop (Have appeared in RMC)
  o I moderate the Free-moS yahoogroup (limited activity)
  o To my knowledge, no modules outside of Canadian Workshop
  o S-Mod – Single track is equivalent (S-Mod member claim “the original Free-mo”…In some ways they are correct).  S-Mod lacks DCC, there is an S-mod yahoogroup.

Narrow Gauge
o HOn30 – No Free-mo standard.  No “inertia” to change from existing standards.
HOn3 –
  o Included in HO Free-mo, but still has some rough edges.
  o A group in Colorado has tweaked the Sn2 standards for their use.  However, they have “bastardized” it a bit, allowing backdrops and non/flat end plates making modules non-reversible.
  o PA group uses HO standards with tweaking for HOn3
  o Yahoogroup exists, mostly the Colorado guys, to my knowledge no PA guys.
o Sn2 Free-mo
  o Discussion occurs on Sn2_Trains yahoogroup
o Sn3 – To my knowledge, no Free-mo yet
o On2:
  o Standard was created (back in 2007)
  o No module to my knowledge
o On30 Free-mo – Significant following, but to me, some of the adaptations are “fringe, because they
  o Yahoo groups exist
  o Mostly on the East Coast
  o More whimsical
o On3 :
  o To my knowledge, no standard or following
o Theme layouts
  o Some advantages over sectional layouts
  o Think of Eastern Loggers as Freemo
  o CASO is a Canadian group adopting theme
o Signaling
  o Signal-mo
    o ABS system based on SP
    o All California Free-mo groups are adopting.
    o Not aware of other adoptors.

o The HO Free-mo standards were inspired by Fremo.
o Fremo is the European standard
o According to Wolfgang Dudler there are 14,000 members of fremo
o Fremo has standards for HO, HOn3, HOm, O…The have sub groups by location.  HO American which includes groups focused on Eastern US, Western US, and different types of operation.
o Freemo is years ahead of US Free-mo.

Free-mo Clinic Links

Free-mo  (HO Free-mo)



HOn3 Free-mo

Sn2 Free-mo (Dave’s pages, with RSS feeds.  This handout is posted to the site for easy following of links)



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3 Responses to Free-mo Clinic Handout – Presented to NMRA MCR Divsion-7 on April 10, 2011

  1. narrowtracks says: continues to update the HO standards. They have now gone to Anderson power poles like Sn2 Free-mo and Free-moN

  2. sn42 says:

    Would you mind if I shared links to your 2 post on S Free-mo to the free-moS group.

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