This last Saturday I “attended” my first Railroad Prototype Modelers meet all from the social isolation of my comfy chair. Organized by Ted Culotta of Speedwitch Media, Ryan Mendell of National Scale Car and Hunter Hughson, modeller of Penn Central’s Niagara Branch, this eight hour virtual meet was attended by roughly 170 modelers from all across North America and probably beyond.
I have not managed to attend an RPM in the past since the local one always seems to be a calendar conflict for me and I prefer to use my rare travelling attendance on meets with a wider scope. I decided to attend this one largely because it required no travel, no cost and Ryan and Hunter are two of the attendees for Train Night in Canada. My attendance was amply rewarded as I did come away with a number of useful ideas and learned some interesting prototype information that might be useful some day.
I listened to a number of excellent presentations on an assortment of specific prototype modeling topics. The speakers were all excellent although there was the odd technical hiccup as we have all come to expect in this era. Glitches were eventually overcome and all the presentations got delivered. For general historical interest, I particularly enjoyed Roger Chrysler’s talk on Lidgerwood and Hart cars. This was a system for bulk unloading of aggregate for ballasting and filling trestles. Picture a winch car at one end of a train pulling a plow the length of the train to push the load out the side doors. I had no idea such a system existed.
For specific usefulness, Jered Slusser’s presentation on USRE 40′ was definitely the winner. Most of my current boxcar fleet are variations on the old Intermountain 1937 AAR 40′ boxcar kit now carried by Atlas as ready-to-run. These would have fit the previous effort, based in the late 1940’s well but would be getting implausibly long in the tooth and rare in the mid 1970’s. Unless they were rebuilt! And now they shall be! Eventually….
The organizers are planning additional instances of their virtual RPM format in the future. If this is something you might be interested in, watching Speedwitch Media’s blog would be the best way to find out in a timely manner.
As previously noted, I spent most of the scheduled clinic time at NNGC 2019 sitting in a chair, trying to learn something more about the hobby. One of the highlight clinics for me was Scott Robertson’s clinic Creating and Using Photo Textures for Structures. Scott is a talented and highly productive modeler who uses textured papers for structure modeling in both On30 and G. Being local to Sacramento, Scott’s layout was on the tour the very next day and I made it a point to see the results in person.
Here is what I took away from Scott’s clinic:
Paper textures are a material that can be very effective when used appropriately.
Appropriate is walls and other flat surfaces. Less convincing are folded up attempts to produce in paper what wood, styrene or metal is better for.
A textured wall is far harder to detect when detailed with trim and window castings as per usual.
The glossy finish laser printers produce is less effective than the matte finish you get with an ink jet.
Teasing up edges and such can enhance realism but you don’t want to viewer to be able to see the texture edge on. For something like that, if you use actual corrugated roofing or whatever, the viewer will assume the rest of it is 3D, too.
Scott stated that he regularly catches people touching structures to see if it is a texture or not. While not one to commit such an atrocity, I did start out trying to spot textures on Scott’s layout but even at a distance of a foot or so, I did not have much success. I was initially frustrated but then I realized that that was the key lesson! We don’t use styrene for structures in hopes of the viewer being able to tell what material we used. Photo textured paper should be the same, results not material is the goal. (We won’t get into the whole leaving your expensive brass locos lacquered raw metal thing. 🙂 )
September 4-8 I was lucky enough to be in Sacramento, California for the 39th National Narrow Gauge Convention. Having previously attended the convention when it was in Augusta, Maine, I was looking forward to an inspiring mix of clinics and tours. I was not disappointed and will have a couple of posts highlighting things I found particularly interesting.
The NNGC convention format is one that suits me well:
A national profile that brings out serious modellers, vendors and enthusiasts leading to a high level of clinic quality presented by experts in the field. I happily sat through clinics ranging from the geology of the Gilpin, CA mining area to advanced static grass techniques by scenic supply vendors and innovators Martin Welberg(Martin Welberg Scenic Studios) and Jim Elster(Scenic Express).
The layout tours are all self guided/selected, no buses! You get a tour book with layout descriptions and a schedule of availability and go where you will. GPS and a car are a must but you can go as slow or as fast as you choose. I managed to see 10 layouts in a single afternoon! All were well worth a solo visit so the total was somewhat overwhelming. I will highly some of my favourites in a separate post but the total photo dump is posted in the Model Rail Radio Facebook group if you want to go looking for it.
The “humane” schedule. Layout tours are in the afternoons (12-5pm this year) and everything else shuts down so everybody can go see the layouts: clinics, vendor hall, contest rooms, modular layout displays, all closed.
High quality vendors. Not much of the flea market level operation at this show. A hazardous place if you are susceptible to narrow gauge brass, though. 🙂
Not too long. Four and a half days was about it for me. I rolled on to the business part of the trip on Sunday afternoon feeling well trained out.
An ecumenical outlook. Not all the layouts on the tours were narrow gauge but I saw them well attended nonetheless. I saw standard gauge layouts in HO and O(Proto48!) as well as layouts in Nn3, HOn3, HOn30, Sn3, On30, On3, Fn3, G and whatever letters you give to the 7.5″ gauge live steam in scales up to 1:5.
I spent a couple of enjoyable hours at the Great British Train Show in Brampton, Ontario this past Saturday. There was lots of excellent UK themed modelling on show as well as a wide assortment of vendors, er, traders present. I picked up a few attractively priced books you might be reading about in the future.
I also did better on the photography compared to the Ontario Narrow Gauge Show if only because I was just a punter. In amongst a number of enjoyable chats with friends and strangers unable to dodge fast enough, I did get some shots of things that caught my eye along with the expedient of an accompanying shot of the layout name sign or description if present.
Of special note where two layouts designed to be operated by the public and set at a height to encourage the short public to have a go. There were a number of children queued up to run Thomas and James around as well as operate the Witzend inglenook sidings switching puzzle. If your show doesn’t have this sort of thing, I highly recommend getting some.
I spent Saturday helping out at the Ontario Narrow Gauge show, Ontario’s only train show dedicated to narrow gauge modelling. Held in the historic community hall in Schomberg, ON, the show caters mostly to the narrow minded sorts with a smattering of local punters.
I have discovered that I am terrible at spontaneous train show photography in that I forget to take any photos. Fortunately, I am not in charge of the publicity and social media so I can compensate by posting a link to some excellent photos: 2018 Narrow Gauge Show Photos
My view for much of the day was less inspiring as I manned the ticket booth.
I made up for this by chatting at everybody who stopped by (and the occasional confused art studio tour participant in need of direction). I also almost finished reading David Wright’s book on rural structure building on my phone. Not the best format for appreciating the photos but better than counting bricks on the stores across the street in the slow moments.
Next weekend is the biennial Great British Train Show. I am hoping to get out there to have a thorough look around. Two years ago I was asking to look at everyone’s layout support structures. This year is going to be turnout, er, point control and inter-baseboard electrical connections. 🙂