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The Broken and Mangled Operators had their beginning on Al Lalime’s HO scale Broken and Mangled Railroad in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Al began the B&M in his basement (cellar to New Englanders) in the mid 1950s. The layout consisted of a two track main line, more or less circular, with several yards radiating off at different points. Al liked switching and freight operations and was among the earliest to attempt to duplicate how the real railroads operate. Al added distance by having the road freights lap the main line several times while operating between the yards. Operation was intense and Al demanded discipline from each operator, not to be nasty, but to keep everyone focused.

Al was a Swampscott firefighter and he opened his layout on Friday evenings, excepting when he had to work, to his select picked operating group. The session started at precisely 8:02 PM and if you were late you could not operate. At 10:01 PM Rita’s rest call was sounded and “everyone” had refreshment, mostly provided by Rita. At 10:31 PM operations resumed and continued until 11:30 PM.

To describe Al as an enthusiastic railfan would be an understatement. He volunteered at Edaville, a recreation of the famous Maine two footers in southeastern Massachusetts, and could be photographed riding the roofs of many narrow gauge freight trains. He also painted and maintained all the wayside signage and could be found just about any place on the property making something right. Al started many young people on the way to becoming railfans and model railroaders. Some of these people still belong to the B&M Operators.

Al’s untimely death in November of 1972 left a huge vacuum in the model railroad community on Boston’s North Shore. In December of 1972 several members of Al’s operating group, including Chet Small, Harold Reynolds, Art Reynolds, Ray Palleschi, Jack Palleschi, Harvey Robinson, Bill Stevens, and Ken Bornstein, met at the suggestion of Al’s wife Rita to plan for continued operation of Al’s beloved B&M. A few sessions were held but it became very difficult for Rita and the sessions were cancelled. The group met once more and decided to continue model railroad operations by meeting at host layouts, the method that is still used today! Early layouts were Harold Reynold’s Scenic Valley, Carl Senftleben’s Colrain Valley, Bill Borrelli’s Eagle Mountain, Paul Huntington’s Bangor and Machias, Harvey Robinson’s Essex and Lakeside, Peter Laier’s B&M, and Bill Steven’s Salem Central.

The B&M Operators have continued Al’s dream through all these years and while some have departed others have joined. Old friends have passed on and new friends have been made. We are family. In 1985 the B&M Operators decided, mostly at Bill Borrelli’s urging, to run a model railroad show. Trainfair was born. The shows were held in the greater Lawrence Massachusetts area for three very successful years. Besides having venders we had audio visual displays, live steam, and prototype railroad displays. The crowds were huge and included non railfans and families with children. These shows introduced a whole new cross section of people to model railroading. After these three years, having fine tuned the show we turned it over to the North Shore Model Railroad Club in Wakefield Massachusetts. The show has run every October ever since.

After the success of Trainfair the B&M Operators started RailRun, an invitational, with nearly one hundred participants, who operate up to five model railroads in a three day period. The twelve host owners do not have to be members of the B&M Operators but must have a model railroad designed to be operated as a real railroad. RailRun is on its twenty third year!

The future of model railroading has never been brighter and we, the members of the Broken and Mangled Operators, like to feel that we have had some small part in its growth.