January of 2010 the members of Wilmington Model Railroad Club
began planning to break the Guinness World Record for the worlds
longest model train. The record was previously held by a
railroad club in Germany. Myself and an attorney from
were the official Guiness witnesses, required by Guiness to write,
certify, and submit a detailed report of the attempt. A
local survey company used GPS to "officially" measure the length of
the track we laid, measure the distance our model train
traveled, and report those measurements to Guinness. Students
from the UNC Wilmington Media Department were present to report and
video the attempt, as was WECT news. Overall, we had about 60
volunteers to assist with laying track, crowd control,
maintenance, souvenir sales, and other support functions. The
Mayor of Wilmington was present to cheer us on, and entertainment was
provided by a local bluegrass band.
began preparations for our world record attempt in February
This required many nights of testing and trial-and-error
simulations. Problems arose that we
had to remedy,
such as once our train got about 20 feet long, the cars would derail
around curves due to the weight of the train. We remedied
putting lead weights in each of the cars to make them heavy enough to
the rail. During simulations, our
train would aslo break apart
from the weight of itself once it got to about 200 cars long.
we had to modify the couplers on each of our 1,563 train cars
they wouldn't pull out from the weight of the train itself.
Another problem that arose was that there was not a train power
controller manufactured that put out enough amperage to power 35 HO scale
So we had to have a power supply specially
modified so that
provide enough power for 34 Bowser HO scale locomotives under load.
terms stipulated by Guinness were that our attempt to break the
standing world record had to be done on Saturday, April 23rd only.
Our train had to move a distance of over 700 feet on its own
power unassisted. The train, once started, could not stop and
to remain in one piece (all the cars connected). We were
permitted by Guinness to make as many attempts as we wanted
day up until midnight.
For the world record attempt, our club
rented the Wilmington Convention Center, and we spent three days laying
over 1,500 linear feet of HO scale model railroad track in the form of
two ovals. We nailed the track to OSB to stabilize and level
On Saturday, April 23rd, we began at
8:00 am and the doors opened to the public at 10am. We made
attempts that day. The first attempt some of the train cars
derailed. The second attempt one of the couplers came loose
the train broke apart. On the third attempt, our train moved
required distance and crossed the finish line at 3:10 pm.
Our world record still stands today.