Liberty Bell Special 2019 Update

Submitted by Chip Stevens, Philadelphia Division/NMRA

Vacation? We don’t need no stinking vacation!

Said none of the convention committee for Liberty Bell Special 2019 ever. The committee and the Division are hard at work finalizing what promises to be a great experience for our attendees in October. The host hotel is so excited about our upcoming get-together, they’ve redecorated the entire lobby and common areas. Ask the Region Board members who navigated through the plastic curtains and plaster dust to hold their periodic meeting at the hotel last month if the renovations are actually taking place.

Your author is getting older by the day. I remember my high school sweetheart was pleased that she got an IBM Selectric typewriter as a graduation present. Typewrter? I mention this only to show how far we’ve come since 1961 and to demonstrate the importance of this new-fangled thing called “website”.  And I mention website because our webmaster is laboring diligently to keep the Special site updated with the latest news regarding the convention. In fact, he’s foresworn a vacation this summer to keep the www.libertybellspecial.org site current with the committee’s progress. If you haven’t all ready done so, bookmark the site to stay abreast of all that is going on in preparation for October. Currently, the clinic schedule is on the site and I have it from good authority that the detailed clinic descriptions are about to be posted. Don’t let The Hot Rod Chicken leave you wondering. Check for an explanation.

Also on the site is a list of the Open Houses and OpSig sessions, again updated as we add layouts. There are a great number of super layouts covering all scales and interests. The committee has been in touch with the Weather Gods” to make sure there will be no rain for the outdoor layouts. Trust me! We would still like to have some of you “outliers” speak up for hosting visits at your empires for travelers to and from the convention.

For those who don’t want to leave our spacious new convention digs, there will be two modular layouts which will offer operating times within the hotel. Our thanks go out in advance to the Reading Company Technical & Historical Society Modular Group and the New Jersey FreeMo Group for donating their time and equipment to make this possible.

And what would a convention be without a banquet? Our very talented liaison with the hotel has challenged the hotel Chef to prepare something different for us Saturday night. This won’t be the usual rubber chicken drowned in gravy meal. Our liaison and the chef have agreed to prepare a buffet featuring actual dining car recipes for your enjoyment. We are hoping the banquet hall won’t sway and rock like a dining car, but the fare will equal or exceed what you may recall from the golden age of meals on rails.

So while you’re “down shore”, up in the Poconos, out at OBX, or wherever your vacation plans may take you, make time to register for Liberty Bell Special 2019. There are some deadlines posted on the website. Stay abreast of deadlines, additions, changes, and enhancements throughout the summer.

You’ll be glad you did!

Mini-Con 2019 Wrap-up

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From Pete Clarke

I’d like to thank the following individuals:

Ron Polimeni, John Madden, Bill Wilson, Jerry Skeim, Jeff Adams, Dotti Caldwell, Don Florwick, Bob Morningstar, Dave Thalman, Jane Clarke, Jeff Grove, Mark Schreier, Larry Nyce, Michael Groves , Grant Berry, Bob VanZant, David Sweeney, Frank Benenati, Kurt Thompson, Ken Montero , Bill Reynolds, Jack Fritz, Gary Nastase, Jay Beckham, Harvey Heyser,  Ken Kime, Andrew Dodge, Andy Arnold, Bob Johnson, Bob Law, Brian Greenawalt , Ira Silverman, Rueben Moss, Paul Eberhat, Frank Schaller, Wade Woodcock,  Charlie Wootten, Dave Dietz, Richard Benjamin, Ray Price, Herb Biegel, Brian & Bonnie Wolfe.

And if you worked during the Mini and I missed you in this list, I apologize, and still thank you.

The 2019 event was a success. Attendance was 232; a new record! The Raffle produced a net profit of $220.00 and the White Elephant table produced a net profit of $133.00. I received reimbursement of $28.28 for coffee and donuts.

I’ve spoken with Brian Wolfe, of Mainline Hobby Supply, and he also felt the event was a success.  He’s willing to support it again. I’m willing to do it again. Join me at the September meeting and let me know you’ll be willing to participate again.

Pete Clarke

Liberty Bell 2019 News

Submitted by Chip Stevens/Philly Division, NMRA

The baseball season has started, in some parts of the region the grass is greening and yard work is fast approaching. And all over the region, Liberty Bell 2019 is also fast approaching. We’ve been busy on your behalf readying a memorable fall get-together. The clinic schedule is filled, 41 layout owners have agreed to sponsor open houses, and several operating sessions have been scheduled. There is still room for layout owners outside the Philly division who want to open their layouts for travelers to let us know their intentions to rest weary travelers. Those interested should email Bill Fagan at wfagan@comcast.net. There is also ops information available on the convention website at libertybellspecial.org. Note, you can sign up for automatic updates on the convention status on the site.

In our last communication, we described the extensive, behind the scenes Saturday trip available on the former Reading branch now called the Colebrookdale Railroad. This all-day trip will demonstrate everything from locomotive startup through duties of the various crew members and will include opportunities for photo run-bys. Sign ups for this trip are on the convention website at libertybellspecial.org. Please note, there is a capacity limitation for this trip, so register early.

Remember that the host hotel has extended their room rate discount to attendees due to the Columbus Day holiday on the Monday after the close of the convention. With this in mind, there are a couple of NON-NMRA SPONSORED/NON-NMRA ENDORSED attractions will available to attendees after our wrap-up Sunday morning. The historic Norfolk & Western (Norfolk Southern) steam engine #611 will be offering trips under steam Sunday and Monday on the Strasburg Railroad. We have reserved a block of discounted tickets for the Sunday afternoon trip which is available through the convention registration page. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children. Please note, this reservation must be made by July 31, 2019 as the remaining tickets must be returned to the railroad on August 1st. Strasburg is approximately 65 miles west of the convention hotel. Also situated at Strasburg is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, dedicated primarily to the Pennsylvania Railroad, but of major interest to all train enthusiasts. More information on either of these attractions can be found at www.strasburgrailroad.com and rrmuseumpa.org. In a different direction, weekend operations are scheduled on the Reading and Northern Railroad and the Lehigh Valley Gorge Railroads.

As you can see, we have a lot planned at the convention and there are many opportunities to have a total railroad experience while you are in Pennsylvania. As we said before, all roads lead to King of Prussia!

Colebrookdale RR Tour Added to Liberty Bell Convention

Submitted by Chip Stevens/Philly Division, NMRA

We’ve been battling the cold weather as many of you have been recently, but we have made good progress on Liberty Bell 2019 scheduled for October 2019.

Our clinic schedule has begun to gel. We have a great list of speakers and subjects committed to us or penciled into our draft clinic schedule which will be published later this spring. The highlight so far is a seminar about The Hot Rod Chicken. No, it’s not barbecues nor car racing, but the description looks intriguing. We have also had several well-known manufacturers volunteer to do “Make and Take” clinics carrying a small charge for materials.

But the biggest development firmed up is the Saturday, October 12th Day on the Colebrookdale Railroad. The railroad was a branch line of the former Reading Railroad. Our tentative plans are to meet at the Boyertown, PA yard at 9 AM to review the days plan. We will then have a locomotive tour and go through the actual start up process for a day’s locomotive work. Next, we’ll have an abbreviated explanation of the conductors and brakeman’s duties followed by an Initial Terminal Test and Inspection walk of our train and a crew meeting.

After boarding a passenger coach, there will be a raffle for tickets giving the winners an actual cab ride during the day’s trip. Three photo run by’s are scheduled prior to lunch in the dining car. After arrival in Pottstown, PA, a run-around is slated with a Continuity test scheduled prior to the start of the return trip to Boyertown. There is an additional photo op scheduled during the return trip which should reach Boyertown by 3 PM., in time for the Saturday night banquet. One of our division members is working with the railroad to add additional features to this exciting day. Cost information for this trip should be on the Liberty Bell website by the time you read this summary. Work is under way on additional tours, but so far, this is my favorite.

For updates and additional activities and convention and hotel reservations, please visit the Regional websites LibertyBellSpecial.org, MER2019.org, or LibertyBellSpecail2019.org regularly.

Mini-Con UPDATE

Updates include:
1. Informal clinic presentation by Andy Arnold – Build a diode matrix.
2. White Elephant Table added.
3. Coolers – We will need a few for beverages.
4. Please consider supporting this event. Review the “You can still help” section and let me (Pete) know what you will do to assist.

Submitted by Pete Clarke

Plans for this year’s Mini-Con have come together nicely. Brian and Bonnie Wolfe of Mainline Hobby Supply have rented the hall, advertised the event, supplied some of the make and take kits, and so much more. Be sure to stop by the shop and thank them. Oh, and buy something while you are there.

The scout troop will offer lunch. 

Ray Price, Herb Biegel, Don Florwick, and Grant Berry will greet attendees at the welcome desk.

Informal clinics:  9:00 to 10:00, and again from 11:00 to 12:00

  • Jane Clarke – Making backdrops
  • Dave Thalman – Rolling stock tuning/weathering
  • Don Florwick – Casting stone portals/walls
  • Dotti Caldwell – Modeling buildings
  • Jerry Skeim – Structures
  • Ron Polimeni – Budget model railroading
  • John Madden – DCC++
  • Bill Wilson – JMRI DecoderPro (9:00); then JMRI OperationsPro (11:00)
  • Jeff Adams – Diesel loco tune-up/lighting
  • Bob Morningstar – Soldering Techniques

Informal clinics:  10:00 to 11:00, and again from 12:00 to 1:00

  • Bill Reynolds – Using Hunterline stains
  • Jack Fritz – Building old Central Valley kits
  • Gary Nastase – Rebuilding turnouts for DCC
  • Jay Beckham – On site 3D printing
  • Harvey Heyser – Layout design
  • Dave Moltrup – Steel mill product transportation
  • Bob Law – Using dry transfers
  • Andrew Dodge – Building a car float
  • Bob Johnson – Track laying 101
  • Andy Arnold – Build a diode matrix

Make and take clinics:  Begin at 10:00.

Like last year, each of these will have two sign up sheets. One will be for those 18 and younger.  The other for 19 and older. Clinics will be filled first by those from the ‘younger’ list, then filled out by those on the ‘older’ list.  Within those categories it will be first come first served.

Modular layouts:

  • George Sarra will bring another version of his On30 Dead Rail Layout.
  • More to come…

Clubs and Societies:

For sale:

  • Carolina Craftsman Kits – Jeff Grove.
  • Foggy Mountain Models – Mark Schreier
  • Nyce Collectables – Railroadiania – Larry Nyce
  • Dwarvin Enterprises – Lighting without Wiring  – Michael Groves
  • SMD members Grant Berry, Bob VanZant, and David Sweeney will have things for sale.
  • White Elephant Table
    1. Bring RR-related items you’d like to sell.
    2. Include a list of the items with the price you’ll sell it for.
    3. A SMD member will man the table and  make the sale for you.
    4. Unsold items not claimed by the end of the event will be thrown away.
    5. No charges or fees, but consider a donation to the SMD if you use this service.

Raffle:

SMD has purchased a $150 gift certificate from Mainline Hobby Supply to be raffled off for $10 per chance. Odds of winning depend on how many are sold. Please note that this certificate can be used to pay for anything offered by the Mainline. Purchase tickets through the morning and the drawing will be at 1:00.

Door prizes (awarded at 1:00):

  • $50 gift certificate – HobbyTown USA – Frederick, from Richard Benjamin.
  • HOn3 loco, from Andrew Dodge.
  • Classic Miniatures kit, from Bob Johnson.

Formal clinics:

  • At 1:05 the Mid-Eastern Region will give a short talk about the coming Fall Convention – The Liberty Bell Special 2019.
  • At about 1:15 Jeff Grove of Carolina Craftsman Kits will speak on “Laser Technology in Modeling.”
  • At 2:00 Ira Silverman will give a talk on his book “The Canadian, the Last of the Great Streamliners.”
  • At 3:00 Alex Polimeni will give a talk on “Model railroading as game design.”

You can still help…

  • Extension cords – We will need several; and surge protectors (that add extra plugs).
  • Coolers – We will need a few for beverages.
  • Volunteer – Help manage the white elephant table.
  • For the make and take clinic’s we’ll need all the following. Put your name on it and you’ll get it back at the end.  We really do need these, you can’t make a kit without tools.
    • Exacto knife
    • Flat file
    • Sprue nippers
    • Straight edge/ruler for cutting/measuring
    • Sandpaper
    • Squares
    • Super glue
    • Cutting pads
    • Toothpicks
    • Elmer’s glue (for wood kit)
    • Plastic cement (for styrene kit)
    • Clamps for gluing corners
    • Paint (craft acrylics)
    • Paint brushes
    • Thinner (not if only acrylics)

Did you notice that the formal clinics are by a model manufacturer, an author, a young guy?

Did you notice that you’ll have the chance to watch something be printed on a 3-D printer?

Did you notice that you have a chance to win a $150 gift certificate for Mainline Hobby Supply and a free $50 gift certificate from HobbyTown USA?

Don’t let the tried and true format fool you, this event gets better each year. It’s going to be a great day. The only way it could be better is if you are there!

Mainline Hobby Supply presents: The SMD Spring Mini Convention.

Submitted by Pete Clarke

Map to Mainline Hobby Supply. (Richard Lind)

Plans for this year’s Mini-Con have come together nicely. Brian and Bonnie Wolfe of Mainline Hobby Supply have rented the hall, advertised the event, supplied some of the make and take kits, and so much more. Be sure to stop by the shop and thank them. Oh, and buy something while you are there.

The scout troop will offer lunch. 

Ray Price, Herb Biegel, Don Florwick, and Grant Berry will greet attendees at the welcome desk.

Informal clinics:  9:00 to 10:00, and again from 11:00 to 12:00

  • Jane Clarke – Making backdrops
  • Dave Thalman – Rolling stock tuning/weathering
  • Don Florwick – Casting stone portals/walls
  • Dotti Caldwell – Modeling buildings
  • Jerry Skeim – Structures
  • Ron Polimeni – Budget model railroading
  • John Madden – DCC++
  • Bill Wilson – JMRI DecoderPro (9:00); then JMRI OperationsPro (11:00)
  • Jeff Adams – Diesel loco tune-up/lighting
  • Bob Morningstar – Soldering Techniques

Informal clinics:  10:00 to 11:00, and again from 12:00 to 1:00

  • Bill Reynolds – Using Hunterline stains
  • Jack Fritz – Building old Central Valley kits
  • Gary Nastase – Rebuilding turnouts for DCC
  • Jay Beckham – On site 3D printing
  • Harvey Heyser – Layout design
  • Dave Moltrup – Steel mill product transportation
  • Bob Law – Using dry transfers
  • Andrew Dodge – Building a car float
  • Bob Johnson – Track laying 101

Make and take clinics:  Begin at 10:00.

Like last year, each of these will have two sign up sheets. One will be for those 18 and younger.  The other for 19 and older. Clinics will be filled first by those from the ‘younger’ list, then filled out by those on the ‘older’ list.  Within those categories it will be first come first served.

Modular layouts:

  • George Sarra will bring another version of his On30 Dead Rail Layout.
  • More to come…

Clubs and Societies:

For sale:

Raffle:

SMD has purchased a $150 gift certificate from Mainline Hobby Supply to be raffled off for $10 per chance. Odds of winning depend on how many are sold. Please note that this certificate can be used to pay for anything offered by the Mainline. Purchase tickets through the morning and the drawing will be at 1:00.

Door prizes (awarded at 1:00):

  • $50 gift certificate – HobbyTown USA – Frederick, from Richard Benjamin.
  • HOn3 loco, from Andrew Dodge.
  • Classic Miniatures kit, from Bob Johnson.

Formal clinics:

  • At 1:05 the Mid-Eastern Region will give a short talk about the coming Fall Convention – The Liberty Bell Special 2019.
  • At about 1:15 Jeff Grove of Carolina Craftsman Kits will speak on “Laser Technology in Modeling.”
  • At 2:00 Ira Silverman will give a talk on his book “The Canadian, the Last of the Great Streamliners.”
  • At 3:00 Alex Polimeni will give a talk on “Model railroading as game design.”

You can still help…

  • Extension cords – We will need several; and surge protectors (that add extra plugs).
  • For the make and take clinic’s we’ll need all the following, put your name on it and you’ll get it back at the end.  We really do need this, you can’t make a kit without tools.
    • Exacto knife
    • Flat file
    • Sprue nippers
    • Straight edge/ruler for cutting/measuring
    • Sandpaper
    • Squares
    • Super glue
    • Cutting pads
    • Toothpicks
    • Elmer’s glue (for wood kit)
    • Plastic cement (for styrene kit)
    • Clamps for gluing corners
    • Paint (craft acrylics)
    • Paint brushes
    • Thinner (not if only acrylics)

Did you notice that the formal clinics are by a model manufacturer, an author, a young guy?

Did you notice that you’ll have the chance to watch something be printed on a 3-D printer?

Did you notice that you have a chance to win a $150 gift certificate for Mainline Hobby Supply and a free $50 gift certificate from HobbyTown USA?

Don’t let the tried and true format fool you, this event gets better each year. It’s going to be a great day. The only way it could be better is if you are there!

MER convention registrar needed

MER VP Kurt Thompson, asking for volunteers to take over as Convention Registrar, effective immediately. Please read the job description per the MER Executive Handbook below.

 

 

Appointed by: President
Approved by: Board of Directors
Reports to: Executive Convention Chairman
Position Summary The MER Convention Registrar shall perform the normal registration duties associated with mounting an MER convention. The MER Convention Registrar is an integral member of the MER Convention Action Team (CAT) and works closely with the Local Convention Committee.
Principal responsibilities:Registration records: 1.Sets up and maintains suitable registration records for each convention, working closely with the Local Convention Committee and the MER Convention Treasurer and the Executive Convention Chairman; Registration form: 1. Designs and maintains a convention registration form, both print copy and web form, e.g. one version in Word and another as a pdf file, with input from the Local Convention Committee and approved by the Executive Convention Chairman;2. Provides the registration form(s) to the Webmaster in a suitable electronic format; 3. Provide to Editor of The Local a registration form for inclusion with the ballot and as needed for printing in The Local; 4. Updates the registration form regularly working closely with the Local Convention Committee, and provide updated forms to the Webmaster and editor of The Local.
Individual registrations: 1. Directs all registrations to his office and manages all registrations, both prior to the convention and at the door, 2. Deposits all funds received in the registration process in the bank account for that convention and account to the Convention Treasurer for these funds, Registration Packages: 1. Creates and is responsible for the basic registration packages for all convention attendees, 2. Coordinates with the Local Convention Committee and the ECC for registration inserts, 24 Accounting: 1. Makes all deposits from registrations or other sources in a timely manner, 2. After the conclusion of a convention, transfers all financial records to the Convention Treasurer, 3. Acts as a back-up for the MER Convention Treasurer (or may also be the MER Convention Treasurer), (deleted 10/4/2018) Statistics: 1. Tracks the registration statistics of the convention, working with the MER Convention Treasurer. Provides the Executive Convention Chairman, the MER Treasurer and the MER Vice-President a final registration statistical report.

Liberty Bell Special

by Charles “Chip” Stevens

Come celebrate trains in the cradle of liberty!

The Philadelphia Division, NMRA welcomes you and yours to Liberty Bell Special 2019! The next Convention will be October 10 through October 13, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia, PA. After much deliberation, our committee chose the name Liberty Bell over such other favorites as Cheese Steak Special and some lesser titles. For those of you not familiar with King of Prussia, it is located 20 miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia adjacent to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and many nearby highways. In southeast Pennsylvania, all highways lead to Valley Forge.

Since Monday, October 14 is a Federal Holiday, the hotel has agreed to extend the room rates for the convention for an additional 3 days before and into the week following the convention. The hotel is in walking distance to the second largest shopping mall in the United States with shops and dining to meet any tastes. Also, in driving distance are the Valley Forge National Park whose accommodations during the winters of the American Revolution were not as luxurious as our hotel, Longwood Gardens, the gardens of the Dupont family and many more places of interest. More about the area can be found on the hotel’s website, www.cpvalleyforge.com. For those of you who collect hotel stay points, Crowne Plaza is a part of the IHG hotel group. Registration forms for the Convention and hotel reservation information will be published soon

At this time, we have one prototype tour on the Colebrookdale Railroad. The Colebrookdale is part of the former Reading Barto branch in nearby Boyertown, PA that is a short 50-minute drive from the hotel. In addition to the autumn foliage that occurs in early October,there will be the train ride, lunch, and a tour of the railroad’s shops. The committee is working hard on additional tours and will announce them through the Region and Division newsletters as well as on the websites www.libertybellspecial.org or www.mer2019.org.

Currently we have the first four layout tours scheduled, three HO layouts and a traction layout. Efforts are under way to add to the list both with individual and club layouts. We are attempting to keep all tours and open houses to drives of 30 minutes or less. We would also like to hear from owners and superintendents who are willing to open their layouts to those making the trip to Valley Forge, keeping in mind again that Monday, October 14th is a holiday. Those willing should notify Bill Fagan <bfagan777@hotmail.com> of ability to host. Remember, those Open Houses count toward AP Volunteer points.

Liberty Bell Special will begin on Thursday night with clinics which will continue through Sunday morning. We have one tentative, hands-on clinic planned with a noted presenter, as well as many more sessions tentatively planned. Again, check the website for additional or new clinics. If you want to present a clinic, please email John Seibert <johnhseibert@comcast.net> with your topic.

As usual, Saturday will include the Contest Room. Plan now to bring your latest modeling efforts for sharing with other MER members. More AP credits may be available for your efforts.

Sprinkled among all these activities will be opportunities to operate on some truly spectacular individual and club layouts. We’re keeping those AP Dispatcher ours in mind.

All roads lead to King of Prussia, PA. We hope you and yours will take advantage of this opportunity to visit the convention for a truly memorable experience.

2018 MER Convention Report

by Bob Morningstar

The NMRA Mid Eastern Region held their convention at the Rockville Hilton This past October. The following is a recap of my observations as an attendee.  More information on the convention can still be found at http://potomac-nmra.org/MER2018/Main/index.html.

My overall impression was that the convention was well planned and executed. A convention official indicated approximately 200 were in attendance.

I stayed at the convention hotel Thursday and Friday because clinics were scheduled up until 10:00 PM each evening. This was a very nice, typical Hilton property, and the convention chairmen are to be commended for negotiating very favorable pricing. Room rates were almost ½ of what was available on expedia.com for the same location. There was ample free parking on site. The convention center was also accessible via the Twinbrook metro.

The only negative aspect of convention was that layouts on the tour were too far away or conflicted with evening clinics that I wanted to attend.   Some of these layouts were 1-2 hours away (one way travel). I found it hard to believe there were no closer layouts to view.

Many of the clinics were informative and well presented, yet some, while acceptable, were not convention caliber.

SMD member Jay Beckham gave a fine clinic on C/MRI. I learned a lot and now wish I had looked closer at it before I went with a Loconet solution on my layout’s signaling system.

I did spend an extra $5 and attended a 2 ½ hour 3D printing clinic. We were required to bring our laptops for hands on labs.   Using the  SketchUP program we designed and printed a B&O mile post. This clinic was well worth the time and I learned a lot of techniques on how to better use SketchUP.   I intend on taking the 3D design from the convention and printing it on my 3D printer at home.

The contest room had many models, including two that I submitted. I earned 3rd place in “On Line Structures.” I pried my scratch built WM yard light tower off the layout and placed on a piece of pink foam board with some ground cover to give it a finished look. This was my first NMRA competition and I learned quite a bit from the judges score sheets. The comments were helpful to understand their scores. I had no qualms with their ratings.

Bob Morningstar’s Western Maryland (WM) yard light tower is a scratch built rendition of the wooden WM light towers that were located near the yardmasters office at the east end of the Hagerstown (MD) yard.
It is constructed of Northeastern and Mt Albert scale lumber and Grandt Lines nut-bolt-washer castings. The searchlights at the top are non-functional and are made of Plastruct tubing with Canopy Glue lenses. The electrical cabinet at the base is a resin casting made from a latex mold. The master for the mold was constructed out of a block of wood and detailed with hinges and door handle. The timbers were individually stained with a diluted mixture of india ink and iso-propyl alcohol.
Build time was approximately 17 hours.
The scratch build model took third place in the Mid-Eastern Region, NMRA, 2018 convention model contest. (Tom Fedor)

My take away is that they look for contest quality models.  Mine were detailed for a level that I find acceptable for use on the layout but did not meet the grade to take 1st place. If a entry doesn’t have the same level of detail as a Tangent Scale Model, you will not be competitive. My light tower lost marks because I didn’t have the nut-bolt-washer details installed on one side of the tower.  This was a build decision I made, not wanting to super detail a side of the structure a viewer would never see when on the layout. My other entry was a Athearn “blue box” gondola that I had repainted and decaled for the Penn Central.   I got high marks for the paint and decals, but got dinged hard for lack of underbody detail and leaving molded-on ladders in place.

The Prince William Model Railroad Club had their module layout up and running with some really long trains.   They also had the John Allen Timesaver switching layout setup. At first my son, Nicholas and I were able to complete the switching puzzle in 42 moves (the host said the best you can do is 29 moves).  It took us 3 attempts to get it down to 32 moves but was an enjoyable hour spent with Nicholas.

Overall, it was a positive experience which both my son and I enjoyed together. We met many interesting people and the convention was worth the time and investment.