Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NMRA National Convention Recap - Atlanta 2013

Been home just a couple of days from the NMRA national convention in Atlanta; the Peachtree Express.

Had a wonderful, if busy, time and am looking forward to working the convention in Cleveland next year into my schedule.

I was able to see a couple of friends from the last National Convention and make new ones this convention.

As the official JRD tweeter, I sent a few tweets from the convention, but the lack of wireless internet at the convention site was a downer.

I will add a couple of other thoughts as I remember them, but here is a good snapshot for now.

I was able to attend a pretty good sprinkling of clinics. Of particular interest to me where the clinics that Jim Langston gave on various topics around Amtrak. Something I didn't realize is that Amtrak still does some switching of various consists at points that are not big terminals such as Union in DC or Penn in NY. Hopefully Jim will get an opportunity to post his presentations shortly and I will link to them so others can find the information. He did list some good resources to check when it comes to books and the like, so I did some checking and purchased a few books.

One of the nice things about the conventions is that you get a chance to operate on layouts that aren't either easy to get to, or are outside the norm, or are totally different schemes or scales.
I attended 5 operating sessions, 3 HO, 1 N and one 7.5" gauge with 1.5" inch and 2.5" scale trains, this is what is called "live steam".
It all started with a visit to Don Barnes' B&O Old Main Line on Sunday the 14th. This was a offering for "en-route" sessions and I am glad that we took the time to do this. Don has a very ambitious plan that he is working on meeting the challenges of such a prototype focused layout, and it should be absolutely a joy to see as he gets closer to completion. I was able to run two trains; a through train to Cumberland yard (took about 30ish minutes) and then the eastbound local (taking 2 hours and change to the end of the session). He estimates he is 40% of the way with just benchwork, so that hopefully gives you an idea of the scope of his project.
Monday, I went to the layout of John Wilson, who models the St Louis Gateway in N scale. It was a pretty neat take on the TRRA in St Louis. He uses an operating scheme based on picking up a train card from a deck and running it. When you complete that, you just pick up the next card. Works pretty well for N scale, as it saves you from having to read the reporting marks off the cars.
Tuesday, the layout up was Tom Gordon's SAL. Tom models a route of the Seaboard in the 50's. One neat part of the layout is that he has a fair amount of signals going. The layout was smallish, but still ran nicely and gave lots of opportunity to railfan.
Wednesday was probably the nicest layout that I saw during the week. Tom Lloyd's N&W. A truly outstanding layout with multiple decks, a fair amount of scenery and operations to die for- 20+ trains with a mix of steam and diesels across a railroad with lots of single track main with passing sidings, with a good amount of runs between towns.  N&W steam - J's, As and Y's; with sound climbing the grades were absolutely awesome.
The final layout was live steam at the Canton, StPaul and Pacific. The use a 7.5" gauge track, so everything is big and dwarfs the normal stuff that you normally see. They have an actual mile of track which ends up being 12 or so scale miles of track. The layout is a loop/wye to a loop/wye up a pretty good size hill.