Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chicagoland O Scale Modular Club

First semi-official meeting of the newly formed Chicago area O Scale Traction modular club was Saturday, March 13th. We met up at the Clever Models booth/display at 1PM, and adjourned out to a side hallway for some quiet and privacy.

Had a half-dozen folks show up and the interest is very high.
We were also lucky to have Ed Skuchas from Berkshire Car Shops and an active EPTC guy sit in and give his impressions and advice.

Kevin spent part of last week building a prototype table, based on his ideas and modifications to the East Penn standard, which after some discussion we've adopted as our "standard" table.

Basic differences are we've elminated the lip on the ends of the modules which serve as leg pockets for the East Penn group, our tables will be 18 inches wide compared to EPTC' 16 inch width (adding two more inches to the rear) and we'll go with a 3-1/2" track center.

In the unlikely event that a Chicago group/EPTC get-together occur, a couple of transition modules could in theory be cobbled together.

This is the basic design, showing Kevin's concept for raised risers as opposed to a flat tabletop design. This is a really well thought-out design and nicely built. Cabinet grade materials, yet it's still very light weight and easy to handle
(Admittedly without track, overhead or scenery as yet !)

As seen below with the sub-roadbed, the design allows the front of the risers to be cut away to represent landscaping and ground contouring, or with a wider sub-roadbed, could also have the table-top style (if needed for a city/town scene, industries with a lot of switching, etc)

We decided to adopt Kevin's prototype as our new "standard" table design, with dimensions of 4 feet long x 18 inches deep. We decided on getting something up and running as quick as practical, so we'll work on getting a number of straight modules together, and then build a return loop at each end, as opposed to a circular layout.

We'll have a double track mainline, starting with Code 148 track, preferably the Micro-Engineering over the Atlas track (although either will work), as the ME has a better look to it.
The consensus was that a tall layout was more appropriate to our needs and our intent which is to have a highly sceniced layout, something that you'd want closer to eye level to enjoy and catch all the details of. Leg height was determined to be 48 inches and a number of design ideas were discussed, Kevin will test these ideas over the next week and come up with a prototype design.

We're also waiting for samples on roadbed, once we have roadbed samples and a leg design, we can come to a consensus and start building tables. I see no impediments to having several tables built and ready to operate (perhaps no overhead just yet), by tax day. Once we have a few tables to work off of, we can design and build the return loops, and we're ready to go public.

As noted interest is very high amongst the handful of guys who showed up, I'm guesstimating we're looking at a minimum of 5-6 tables to be built to start, up to 8-10, somewhere between 20-40 odd feet of running to begin with.

A pretty auspicious start, certainly more than I had dared to hope for.

Sometime in the near future, the scene below (Kevin's prototype with some of his IT fleet on display), will be set up and operating at a show near you !
Thanks to everyone who showed up and expressed any level of interest.
Special thanks to Kevin for all the hard-work and to Ed Skuchas for his
advice and encouragement.

2010 Chicago O Scale Meet

Attended the Chicago O Scale Meet on Saturday, March 13th.

Two-fold mission, looking for goodies to buy, and our first semi-formal meeting/get-together for our new Chicago area modular traction club (Separate post to follow)

Hadn't been to the meet in a couple of years, having focused most of my modeling of late on the large scale stuff. The meet is in a new location, nicely laid out, very well attended from what I saw, and it is truly kid-in-a-candy-store time. All the stuff that no one hobby shop could ever hope to have in stock, all the odd-ball, obscure stuff that you wonder about when you see a magazine ad or something on-line, all laid out to peruse, fondle, drool over, and hopefully for the dealers,, to be purchased ! And of course, so many rare, dare we say collectible, pieces as well.

Like Christmas in March really

I was able to curb my usual impulses, there wasn't anything that I couldn't truly live without, although a NWSL GE 45 ton center cab caught my eye. The dealer wasn't set to take plastic and it was just too nasty out to make the effort to go find an ATM and come back with cash. All's well that ends well,
Rich Yoder has a couple of his 45 tonners left
(and they're more accurate to AEFRE #5),
so I'll get one of his instead.

Some nice stuff in the contest room, this engine house has some
really nice stonework and detailing

Likewise, this scene was well built and detailed, photos don't do it the justice it deserves

I'm a crappy reporter, didn't take names or details, but I know this will all be well represented in an upcoming issue of O Scale News

Amongst the highlights of the day was getting to meet Dave Miecznikowksi of Clever Models.

Dave markets a line of model kits and supplies designed to be printed on cardstock. Again, pictures don't do this stuff justice, you have to get up close and see it to beleive it. And as Dave notes, the cost is so much less than if this were urethane models or something more "traditional"

A couple shots of the Clever Models display below.

The traction category was well represented in the model contest,
with about a half dozen entries

In the passenger car category was this Walthers combine, done in South Shore colors, really a nicely done car, takes a lot to get the old Walthers cars to look this nice.

All in all a good show, well spent day.
Got to meet a lot of people face to face who previously had either been just well-known "names", or online contacts. In particular Ed Skuchas, from Berskshire Car Shops, really one of the nicest guys you can ever meet, and very willing to share his extensive knowledge and experiences.

We also had our first semi-formal get together for the newly formed Chicagoland O Scale Modular Club. Dave was gracious enough to offer his display as a meeting point, and from there
we adjourned to the hallway for a bit more quiet and privacy.
Check the next blog post for details.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

High Wheeler Wrap and Updates

High Wheeler 2010 is officially over. A really good show this year, don't know the final numbers but heard mention that it was the largest ever attendance. Had the road show crew from Radio Disney in on Sunday (photo below is just before they started their show). Don't know if that was much of a draw, but certainly the extra effort in advertising and getting the word out paid off.

Congratulations to all involved, and many thanks for all the hard volunteer work from everyone.

The guy with the wacky wagon for what I assume are his grandkids is always interesting, although it occurs to me,,, seems like a lot of work that these kids will outgrow pretty quick.

Also, honored the lovely wife, as she has now become the official desert provider for the Fox Valley Division board meetings. Was pressed into duty to build a structure for the division's demonstration layout (HO scale), so I made it "Debbie's Bakery and Coffee Shop"

Had a some-what scaled down display from the recent TrainFest effort, but that was in large part due to the fact I had to spend time with Division duties helping with the show. Made some significant changes and additions, from last year's HW show, keeping up the idea of never having the same display twice.

In related news, both Midwest Rails, and the Chicagoland Garden Railway Society, both G scale model railroad groups, were both excited for a chance to see the Eggtroliner. Hadn't quite completed it, but spent a few hours late Saturday night getting the trucks right and the drawbars installed, and it had it's inagurual runs Sunday morning on the Midwest Rails layout. I somehow managed not to take any pictures, but I'm sure someone will forward some to me. They must have liked it, they played with it all day long. Mentioned it to a couple of folks so I guess we can say it publicly now, the next one will be the Pioneer Zeggphyr, a Zephyr of Eggliners. Someday I hope to channel all this evil energy into something good and pure, but till then,,, well, you know.

Also related to the Midwest Rails and CAGRS folks, I was very happy to finally get a chance to see Paul Allodi and give him the boxcab electric locomotive I built for him. Enjoy Paul.

A real high point of the show was having a number of people stop by and express interest in the O Scale modular group. Probably have about 2 dozen people who've expressed an interest, based on past experience, about 1/2 wont' do anything, so that leaves about 10-12, which is far more than the minimum 3-4 I thought might be needed to get this up and running.

Kevin Marks has been working on ideas for the tables, and has made a sample table, actually a scale model of the table, along with a scale model of an East Penn table. Kevin's is the one with the tall risers, which allows for better scenic effect (amongst other things). Kevin's building a prototype table to bring to the O Scale Meet on Saturday, and we'll have our first "official" get together then, meeting at the Clever Models booth at 1PM. Plan is to meet and greet, and hash out some details, then hopefully Kevin and I (maybe someone else ??) can spend the next week or two and build 4-6 tables. Then, I think I'll host an open house/meeting at my place, show everyone the set-up and I think it will all take off from there. That's the plan anyways !

Pretty exciting times, and it don't hurt that it looks like winter is done

(Keep your fingers crossed anyways !)