Al Lentz had been model railroading on a regular basis since 1973 specializing in N scale. He got involved with the National Model Railroad Association and
"N-TRAK". For 1975 NMRA convention in Dayton, Ohio, Al showed up with an N scale module containing a working amusement park. He put a lot of work into that module and entered it in the contests. When the judges came around and looked at his work, all they were concerned with was that he didn't have a parking lot for autos! "Weird!" so he thought. In 1976, he shipped the amusement park module and another to the national convention in Chicago, Illinois. Again, the NMRA passed him by, although he did receive the first
N-TRAK award from Jim Conway of CONCOR.
In the summer of 1977, Al was getting ready to attend the local NMRA division jamboree, which, according to him was, "a fun meeting." When he mentioned to a local dealer he was going, the dealer asked if Al would take an early LGB
starter set with him to sell. The gray boxed engine growled a lot but Al fell in love with
the little LGB train and bought it himself. He started looking into what else LGB had to offer and could see they were going to become popular. Al began wondering how many other people were collecting and enjoying
LGB trains. It was then he decided to form
the LGB Model Railroad Club (LGBMRRC).
He ran an ad in the model railroad magazines to find out if anyone else was interested in
the LGBMRRC. He received ten letters of inquiry and since according to
him, being basically lazy, he decide to answer them with the first issue of Big Train Operator newsletter in January, 1978. He started the membership numbers, using only three digits because surely a club like this wouldn't need any more. Al assigned himself number 001. The first newsletter was three legal-size pages. Al liked our family-oriented club and our conventions are family affairs. He was proud of the many friends he made through the
LGBMRRC/BTOC and proud to have been its founder.