NJ Free-Mo at Liberty Bell Convention

By Mike Prokop

The Liberty Bell Convention will offer operations on the New Jersey Free-Mo HO scale modules throughout most of the convention weekend. While participating in operations or just viewing the modules, you’ll be able to admire the fine craftsmanship and modeling of the two module sets presented by the New Jersey Free-Mo group. Also, you’ll learn of the historic and prototypical significance of each module set.

Bill Grosse’s “Yardville” module features a look at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s presence in this small New Jersey town circa 1955. Part of the original Camden & Amboy line that successfully ran one of the first steam engines in the country in the 1830’s, Bill has represented the area very well with his modeling of local industries and customers along the line with superb details and interesting features of Yardville. If you like switching and spotting cars, Bill’s module offers plenty of operational opportunities that will challenge your skills and provide lots of fun and excitement.

Mike Prokop’s “Linden Street Freight Station” module is a late 1950’s replica of  the Reading Railroad’s facility on the Camden, NJ waterfront. Built to almost the exact prototype of the Reading property, this module operates just like the real thing. It features car float operations loading and unloading coal and freight cars. Coal is switched onto two raised trestles for truck transfer with freight spotted at the station and public delivery siding for processing. Transfer runs in and out of the facility offer additional challenges to operations. Mike’s Free-Mo module set was featured in the 2019 issue of Model Railroad Planning. If you have a copy, check it out and come operate on it in person.

One last note…when Mike and Bill connect up their modules, they generate plenty of traffic and car loadings between Camden and Yardville that keeps operations moving at a brisk pace. So, whether you’re an experienced operator or a beginner interested in learning and jumping into this fascinating part of the hobby, come operate on the New Jersey Free-Mo module setup. More details and information about operating times and format will be available in future newsletters and at the Liberty Bell Convention.

Liberty Bell Special Convention Update

By Charles Stevens, Philly Division NMRA

Just a friendly reminder to those of you who procrastinate like I do, the “Early Bird” registration date for Liberty Bell Special 2019, Mid-Eastern Region 2019 convention is August 31, 2019. You can register for an exciting weekend of clinics, displays and vendor visits at www.libertybellspecial2019.org

Most of us probably don’t need a back to school calendar or reminder anymore. And for those who do need a nudge, the merchants on TV do an excellent job of reminding us that summer is almost over. But while you’re thinking of hanging up those white shorts and trousers you shouldn’t wear after Labor Day, give some serious thought to joining your fellow Region members at the Mid-Eastern Region convention at King-of-Prussia, PA, October 10th through October 13th.

The clinic schedule is full up starting Thursday night running through Sunday morning. In addition to the usual fare of presentations, there are several hands on or make and take sessions available for participants. Whether you want to learn T Trak modular, the finer points of resin car assembly, work on your AP Electrical award or build a Hunterline structure, we have something available for you. Many of the hands on sessions require prior sign up available on the convention registration form at www.libertybellspecial2019.org. You will also find a tentative clinic schedule on the site. As we approach the convention, please remember to check the convention website frequently for updates, additions and changes. There is even a place on the home page to sign up for emails whenever changes or additions are made to the site.

One thing not listed on the convention website is our vendor roster. Artist Peter Lero will be joined by such familiar names as, in no particular order, Micro Mark, Funaro & Camerlengo, CMR, Downtown Deco, Hunterline, and Nick and Nora Designs

And speaking of Nick and Nora Designs, our Saturday night railroad menu themed banquet will feature a presentation by Mike Baker of Nick & Nora Designs. Mike is been a professional artist and designer and founded TMB Custom Models in 1992. In addition to creating craftsman kits, Mike builds models and details rolling stock for clients. He will regale us with stories of his achievements and frustrations pursuing this career most of us only dream about.

In one of our previous articles we discussed the modular display from the Reading Modular Society that will be on display at Liberty Bell Special 2019. Your author would be remiss if he did not give equal time to the New Jersey Free-Mo display that will share the Reading Modular room. NJ Free-Mo will offer operating time or spectating time on their two modules. Bill Grosse’s Yardville module displays the Pennsylvania Railroad in the name sake town circa 1955. Mike Prokop’s Linden Street Freight Station recreates the Reading Railroad’s facilities on the Camden waterfront also packs a lot of operating opportunities in a small space. Mike’s module was featured in the 2019 issue of Model Railroad Planning.

As you can see, the Liberty Bell Special committee has strived (striven?) to fill all your Region convention expectations over Columbus Day weekend. Register on the convention website, pack the car and family and plan to be on one of the many roads that lead to King of Prussia, PA.

See you all there!

MER Director Candidates, 2019

Nominees for NMRA MER Director were announced in The Local newsletter for July and August. You should receive paper ballots or electronic voting instructions in August. The deadline to vote is 3 September. The three candidates are Randy Foulke, Jerry Lauchle, and SMD’s Robert Morningstar, from Greencastle, PA. Check out the latest Local for all the candidate profiles.

Here is Bob’s bio…

Bob Morningstar

I have been an HO scale modeler since 1978 and member of the NMRA since 2006. I have served as past treasurer and president of the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum.

My desire to serve as a director is driven by my desire to give back to the hobby and the organizations that promote it. My peers consider me a consensus builder and problem solver. I have attended the past two MER conventions and open my layout annually during the local Mainline Hobby Supply hobby shop open house layout tours. My health is excellent and I am willing to travel for conventions and meetings. Evidence of my passion for the hobby includes publishing to the Model Railroad Hobbyist (MRH) website blog (search “bobmorning”), and at my website, wmrwy.com. I have presented clinics at the South Mountain Division (SMD) Mini Conventions. In 2018 I demonstrated scratch building 3-aspect signals, and this year I did a soldering clinic.

The process of obtaining my MMR has begun. The documentation gathering phase is currently underway. I did obtain my Golden Spike award in 2018. I entered a structure for the first time into the MER’s model contest at the convention in Rockville, MD, and was awarded 3rd place.

This is a fascinating hobby which has provided me with 40 years of relaxation, friendship, and personal satisfaction. Contrary to popular thinking I believe the hobby is not headed for a massive decline. We do need to engage those who express an interest, raise our awareness amongst the general public, and avoid the exclusivity mindset that I have seen from time to time. Leveraging social media, promoting the hobby outside of normal channels, and not being afraid to try new methods will be critical to the continued success of the hobby.

MER Archivist Needed

Mid-Eastern Region

The position of MER archivist will become available effective April 1, 2019.

Responsibilities and benefits include:

  • Repository for legal records, meeting minutes, financial statements, newsletters, etc.
  • Annually scan documents and deliver cd to the MER Business Manager
  • No travel required
  • Region level Achievement Program credits toward Service to the Hobby – Volunteer certificate

For more details see the MER handbook.

Contact MER Director Jack Dziadul <jdziadul@mer-nmra.com> with any questions.

MER Seeks Directors

Mid-Eastern Region

THE MER NEEDS YOU!

Yes, you! If you are a member in good standing and want to support your region with good ideas and real involvement, we need you to volunteer to serve as one of the three Directors for the region. The MER Board of Directors meets 3 times per year, with one at the convention. The deadline for nomination is May 30, 2019 and term of office is two years, with a limit of two terms.

This year there are three Director slots up for election. Any MER member in good standing can nominate him/herself by contacting and supplying to any member of the nominating committee the required photo and a 200 word (max) statement outlining his/her interest and qualifications for the position by May 30. Additionally, candidates may supply a 500 word statement suitable for placement on the MER Web site. Nominees who meet criteria and the submission deadline with all of their required materials shall be placed on the ballot.

You can make a difference by giving something back to the hobby you thoroughly enjoy. This is your chance. Successful completion of three years in office fulfills most of the requirement for the Achievement Program “Association Official” certificate. Please respond in one e-mail to all three committee members to insure reception of your nomination!

NOMINATING COMMITTEE:

Deadlines and Schedules for 2019

Nominations and Balloting

Our by-laws require the publication of deadlines and schedules for nominations and balloting for every year to be published in the first issue of The Local of that same year. The dates schedule for nominations, ballot and election results are in Executive Handbook, Section 5, Policies, Article VI. The dates for 2019 are:

  • May 30, 2019 — Deadline for receipt of self-nominations sent to the Nominations Committee. Date for Nominations Committee to notify Board of Directors of slate of nominees validated by the Business Manager.
  • July 7, 2019 — You must be a member in good standing (paid up NMRA dues) based on the membership report supplied to the MER Business Manager from NMRA
  • National as of 07/07 (the 7th of July) of every election year to be eligible to vote. If an individual is not a member or if membership has expired as indicated by that record supplied to the MER, and the MER officials have not been informed by NMRA National of a valid renewal of membership by 07/07 (the 7th of July), such individual will not receive a ballot nor be permitted to vote in that year’s election.
  • August 1, 2019 — Deadline for mailing paper ballots to members and for commencing electronic voting; could be mailed earlier depending on other deadline requirements.
  • September 3, 2019 — Deadline for electronic voting, also last day as shown by postmark for mailing paper ballots.
  • September 7, 2019 — Deadline for receipt by Balloting Committee of paper ballots sent by mail.
  • September 14, 2019 — Deadline for Ballot Committee to transmit results to President, the Director overseeing this committee, and the Business Manager.
  • September 21, 2019 — Deadline for The President to communicate the election results to candidates. The Business Manager also notifies the MER Web Master and the NMRA of the election results.
  • October 10, 2019 — Deadline for publishing election results on MER-NMRA website

[Content duplicated from MER, January/February, The Local -Ed.]

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.