Monday, November 29, 2010

Exhibition Pictures

Courtesy of fellow exhibitor Barry Schreiber, here are a couple of pictures of me working the layout and keeping the punters interested at the Princeton show over the weekend.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two days in Princeton

Another weekend, another train show.
The Rum River Model Railroad Club show in Princeton, MN this time. My home clubs show. It's very brave for a small club to put on a 2 day show but the Princeton club do very well and the show is well supported by the townsfolk.
There was a very varied selection of layouts in all scales. My favourite was a working display of vintage Lionel/Marx tinplate trains from the 1920's and 30's superb stuff that was well cared for and ran beautifully.
I was sited alongside an S scale American Flyer layout. Chock full of working accessories, like coal loaders, sawmills, level crossings, cattle docks. It was really amazing to watch them all and to think that these were all 50 or so years old. It's amazing what they created with electric motors, cams, pulleys and levers back then. I loved it.
Wingetts ran well on both days, though the Kadee couplers didn't work as well as they could, they still need some adjustment. Something to work on.
The atmosphere at this show is quite different to any other I've attended as an exhibitor. Everyone knows everyone and it really is a social gathering for the town. As a consequence operation was less strenuous than at other shows.
Being more relaxed allowed me to people watch while I was operating. I noticed that men just came up and watched the trains only some of them read the blurb accompanying the layout to explain the layouts operation. Whereas the vast majority of women read the blurb first and then watched the layout.
One thing I noticed with small children is that they were more interested in watching the trains when the cars on the layout were brightly coloured i.e Yellow CNW hoppers rather than brown SOO ones. The continual back and forth movement kept them quite occupied.
Once again all viewers were taken with the presentation of the layout, which begs the question.
"Why don't more exhibitors over here do it?"


Last night after the days activities at the Princeton Train show the wife and I headed down to the cinema to see the Railroad themed movie "Unstoppable"
It was OK.
To my mind there have only ever been two good railroad/railway movies made. Buster Keatons "The General" in 1927 and the Ealing classic British Comedy "The Titfield Thunderbolt" from 1953.
Unstoppable is a runaway train movie and once you've seen one runaway train movie you've seen them all. All the same tired old disaster movie cliches are there in great depth. From the relationships of the characters to climactic ending. Even though the tale is based on a true story even the lightest research reveals just how much Hollywood exaggerated things.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I was quite taken in with Tony Scotts direction and the action sequences were well shot. Apparently many of the crashes were actually filmed and not CGI created which in these days of CGI is quite gratifying.
But ultimately I came out of the film feeling quite disappointed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It ain't over yet

It's the annual Rum River Model Railroad Club Thanksgiving Train Show on Friday and Saturday. A much more relaxed affair than the Worlds Greatest Hobby show.
I'm looking forward to it.
The old Depot 1st Street. Princeton, MN. Friday and Saturday $2 admission.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spare my blushes

The first embarrassingly positive write up about Wingetts recycling has appeared on the internet

Thanks Jim

Sunday, November 21, 2010

WGH Show Day 2

Ah, the joys of owning a small layout. Inside 2 hours after the show closes we are home and the layout is unpacked out of the car and I can reflect on another day at the show.
Another interesting day. I awoke with a pounding headache. Not quite a migraine but awfully close. It took well into the afternoon for it to clear. I was thankful for my wifes help to take over some operating duties on the layout while I took it easy at times.
Then there was the issue of actually getting to the hall. No problem you'd think as we had a room in a hotel just across the road. Well just walking there was a problem. Freezing rain in the night had turned the roads and paths into a skating rink, it was a very hairy walk to the hall.
It was difficult to forget about the conditions even after the door opened because attendance was low. People certainly took their time getting in. I cant say i blame them the newspapers say there was some 300 accidents in the metro area.
So to the show, how did the layout perform? Just as well as the previous day. So I can't complain there. Over the two days I'm very very happy with the performance.
The reaction of the public was very much the same as yesterday too. Many were very taken with the presentation. The proscenium arch received countless favourable comments.
The real big surprise came around lunchtime. Two guys stood looking at the layout taking in the scene, passing comments and chuckling to each other. People can chuckle, I don't mind. Just don't make snide comments about the layout to my face. Then one of them spoke.
"You've got a couple of very special guests here today"
"Oh really" said I kind of expecting a joke of some sort.
"We used to be the owners/managers of Phillips recycling"
To say that I was flabbergasted would be a colossal understatement. They had been looking at the photographs I had on display and had been comparing them to the model. They were very positive in their appreciation of the model and I learned quite a bit more about the prototype location. For instance, when applying for planning permission from Saint Cloud city council to build a structure to house a new shredder, they built an N scale model of the premises to show the council so they could see how its construction would affect the surroundings. Needless to say the council appreciated being able to see the plan in 3D and rubber stamped the application in minutes.
I also learned about the marks painted on the ends of the wheel axles, White, Blue and apparently Orange. The colours, as I knew, signified different weights of wheel. White for 50lb wheels. Blue 75lb and Orange for 100 pounders. I remarked that I had never seen any Orange marked wheels before. That is because the 100lb wheels are wanted and can be sold on quickly. Once they get a wagonload of those 100lb wheels they are shipped out straight away. The other weights are not so popular and thus lie around the site for longer lengths of time. This was invaluable information and something that I hope to incorporate onto the layout at a later date.
Meeting these guys was very special and made me very proud of the layout indeed.
Really, you can't top that and the rest of the afternoon passed rather uneventfully by comparison.
However there is more. During one of my afternoon breaks I took a look around some of the traders looking for something to buy. You HAVE to buy something at a model railway exhibition don't you? Well I do...
I was very surprised to see the Atlas Trainman plus Genset switcher for sale. I'd been wanting one for quite some time and had been getting rather fed up with the delays to the delivery to the shops. It looked like a quite beautiful model in the photographs A truly modern up to date prototype, suitable for my modern up to date layouts. I had to have it. It was on sale too. So it was a done deal. I rushed it back to the layout to try it out. I was not disappointed. It looks great and ran as well as it looked. I think that after the layouts reception over the weekend it deserved a treat. Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it...
So all in all I couldn't have had a better weekend for the layout and it doesn't stop there as it is also appearing at the Rum River Model Railroad Club show at the historic Princeton Depot next weekend.
So to close I want to thank Randy Bachmann and his crew at the WGH organisation for putting on a great show and I hope to see them again in another 4 years or so.
But an even bigger thanks goes out to my wife for helping out allowing me to take breaks especially today when I had my pounding headache.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

WGH show Day 1

What a day!
I'm knackered as we Brits like to say.
What a lot to remember I need to note it all down.
It all began when I opened my email at 8am and there was an email from fellow Rum River Model Railroader, Brian Snook he was having problems setting his layout up and could I spare some time to help him. I dashed over as soon as I could and helped as much as I could but I still had a few bits to do to set up Wingetts.
Then at 10am the doors opened and within minutes my first blog "follower" showed up Tracy McKibben.. Great to meet you Tracy I'm glad the layout lived up to your expectations. Next a group of ne'er do wells from the outstateminnesota rail fan group off Yahoo! appeared to show their support for me and the layout I expect pictures and comments to appear on some of their blogs soon.
People stopped and talked all the way through the day be they blog followers or just model railroaders. Some very knowledgeable about microlayouts and others who knew nothing were very excited about the concept of "small but perfectly formed" model railroads. Some people recognized the layouts presentation as something popularized by fellow Brit model railroader Iain C. Rice though luckily no-one confused me with him this time.
One person very interested in the layout was an editor of a certain well known model railroad magazine who suggested that I should submit something to his magazine perhaps for publication. Who knows? You'll have to keep watching this blog...
Someone else who turned up and was most impressed with the layout was Minnesota Viking legend and noted model railroad enthusiast Carl Eller. He certainly liked what he saw.
As for the operation of the layout itself. It had its ups and downs. The locomotives ran flawlessly, without any shadow of a doubt. Full marks to Athearn and Bachmann there. At the Start of the show the layout was nice and square and level and the couplers worked and cars
stayed where they were spotted. However clumsy viewers wether they be adults or children managed to knock things about a bit and by mid afternoon a slight grade had developed and cars started to move of their own volition on the middle road. My perfectly adjusted Kadee couplers became unadjusted after some time, so things aren't set up as well as I thought. But I really prefer operating couplers by hand anyway so that's not too much of a hardship. In the middle of the afternoon one of the turnouts developed a mysterious electrical problem that a bit of cleaning managed to clear up. But that's about it the rest of the way was fine.
I just hope everything will be as good tomorrow. But tomorrow as they say is another day...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Calm before the storm

Here we are sat in the hotel right across from the exhibition hall resting up ready for tomorrow.
Set up went really well as always. Such is the great advantage of a small layout. You don't even want to know how quickly we set up, you really don't...
It was very definitely a squeeze getting everything that I needed for the show into our little Scion but we got here safe and undamaged and a quick test test run showed everything was OK.
I'm looking forward to the weekend this little layout has garnered quite a bit of interest on the Internet and I'm looking forward to meeting some of its fans.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Squeaky bum time...

No, that's not a song title. Well, not that I know of anyway.
It's getting close. The show is getting close.
Tonight I pack the layout up ready to set up tomorrow night for the weekends great adventure.
So we had a final test run with the layout. And after 15 minutes head scratching wondering where the mysterious electrical short had come from, (note to self don't leave your Kadee coupler gauge on the track...)
A final adjustment on some of the couplers and a few replacements, and now it all works OK.
Now to get those exhibitor badges finished

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


That's much better. The sounds of Eric Clapton and Cream are tumbling through my head now. But what on earth does that have to do with the layout?
Well last night I worked away doing a bit of weathering on rolling stock and scenery. Which looks pretty good for now. Quite pleased with the results, I must say.
Then it hit me. I hadn't made any operators badges for my wife and I for the show.
Badges are one of those small details that help with the presentation. It ties you to the layout and makes the whole thing look professional. I've done them for many of my layouts. It pains me to think I won't have any for this show.
Perhaps I'll have time tonight or tomorrow to knock something up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last night

So, taking great care to come up with a post title that doesn't lodge an annoying 80's plastic rock tune in my head. Here's a quick update from last night.
I tried ALL the rolling stock that I intend to use on the layout for the show and the couplers all work perfectly. Excellent news as I was expecting to do some adjusting somewhere. But it looks like it won't be needed.
I also added a few vents to the roof of the building. I felt it needed them. Even though the prototype structure didn't have any. The roof was flat and boring before, the vents add a bit of interest to the roof. They might be totally and utterly prototypically incorrect. But the overall affect over-rides that I feel.
Tonight a bit of weathering perhaps.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The final countdown...

Oh crap!
I wish I hadn't written that. I've got the flippin' tune in my head now...
I've got 4 nights left to get on and finish the layout off.
Well three, as I've got to pack the layout in the car on Thursday night.
Three nights. Couplers, scenic doodads, test running.
I'd better do something to it tonight...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A little diversion...