April 5, 2014

South Mountain Division MiniConvention

I drove up to the  NMRA South Mountain Division Mini-convention today on a clear, but slightly cool day. Perfect weather for a drive in the country. (More on that later)

Clever way to stop the stain bottles from tipping over
The convention looked like a very successful meet. There were about 160 folks present.  Many were involved in hands-on clinics including track laying using Fastrax jigs, home made static grass machines, weathering, and many others. I saw a lot of kids working on the hands-on clinics- very encouraging.

Cold war train on the WM Modular layout
The Western Maryland Historical Society's Modular Group had a layout set up. There were some neat trains running on it including Mike Kieser's cold war era military trains. He told me he built it to showcase the types of tanks his father operated in the Korean War.

Two fellows brought interesting pieces of rolling stock for show and tell.

The first (I didn't record his name, so please let me know who you were) had a Camden and Amboy 1870s era box car that he scratch built from plans in John White's book He said the car was an ex-USMRR car featured in one of John White's book, but I could not find it. It was nicely done with arch bar trucks and knuckle couplers.

Steve Groft with his baby

Scratch built 4-4-0
Steve Groft show a work-in-progress scratch built HO scale 4-4-0. He made nearly all the parts by hand with files and Dremel Motor tool. That was a nice piece of work. I am looking forward to seeing it finished.

Steve Sherril was there with a neat On30 modular set-up he built to showcase the "Dead Rail Society." He was running some of his tiny engines on battery power. He was even showing how he plans to use solar collectors to power his locos. It was very cool. His layout consisted on small sections about a foot deep and 4 feet long. He uses no backdrop and no legs. He sets up on convention tables. It's all very compact and portable. Perhaps this is the paradigm for my next portable layout.

My talk went very well. I was in uniform for the talk and it was a good thing I brought it, as it was still very cold up in the mountains. But no snow fortunately. Several of the guys in attendance were Gettysburg Battlefield Tour Guides. It was fun to meet them.

I also showed a 5 minute video afterwards with scenes from my railroad.
"Waiting for Da Tow"

On the way home, I had a slight problem with one of my tires. OK, a big problem. Luckily I was able to pull over, then get the car towed to a safer location and then change the tire. Everyone is home safe and sound (except for that tire).


  1. Really enjoyed your talk yesterday. It was very polished and I learned a great deal. Your perspective was not only informative, but was also entertaining. Liked the uniform and I think it added a nice touch to the presentation. Thank you so much for attending our Mini-con. Sorry you had a difficult trip home. We are very glad your problem was contained and that you are safe.

  2. Don,
    Thanks. I had fun, especially the "show and tell" afterwards. It was great to see the other people's work.