Division Meeting Recap

May 9, 2015

We started with a great clinic by Dick Sowash on building plaster structures. He showed us kits from Downtown Deco and others. Among his great tips, he suggested not priming the plaster (you can always add more paint, and he likes the weathered, faded look) and highly recommended Roberts Brick and Mortar Formula for "painting" the mortar. Great looking results!
Dick Sowash Plaster Clinic
Dick Sowash Plaster Clinic - Crowd
Dick Sowash Plaster Building
Dick Sowash Plaster Building     Dick Sowash Plaster Building
Dick Sowash Plaster Kit Wall     Dick Sowash Plaster Kit walls Painted
Dick Sowash Plaster Building      Dick Sowash Plaster Kit Assembled

Next we turned to the Show and Tell corner:

Sam Nicastro had a couple items today. First, he showed us the N Scale park he uses on his modules, complete with a railroad viewing area and a war hero statue (painted with real rust) and parking lot stanchions made from Q-Tips.
Sam Nicastro Park Module
Sam Nicastro Park Module      Sam Nicastro Park Module

He also showed us his Texas & Pacific conductor kit - complete with official hat - that was given to him by a friend of the family.
Sam Nicastro Conductor Kit

Jerry Wilson shared some books on CD he's been listening to that might be of interest to railroaders, written by Clive Cussler.

John Giraud showed us pictures of the layout he recently had to tear down. The good news is that he's getting a new space ready and hopes to start building a new layout using many pieces rescued from the old.

Mike Barrett has found the 90 degree adapter for his Dremel Tool and says it has made doing several tasks, such as cutting rail, a lot easier.
Dremel Tool Adapter

Mike also showed us a GP7 that he has retrofitted to use S-CAB radio control including on-board battery power and a Soundtraxx DCC decoder. This is the same control system Jerry Wilson showed us back in September 2014. With this system, Mike can run trains without powering (or cleaning) the track at all. If the track is powered, though, he can use it (DC or DCC) to recharge the battery - he doesn't have to add an external connector or take the battery out of the locomotive between runs. In addition, the single small "sugar cube" speaker (similar to this) sounded great, even though it was sitting in the (enclosed) cab. Mike Barrett Wireless GP7

Steve Jackobs showed us a kitbash project in progress. He's trying to build a Davenport 112-ton center-cab switcher. He found some old AHM GE Center Cabs that have very similar hoods, so he's using 4 of those shells to build his locomotive. Can't wait to see it when it's done!
Steve Jackobs Davenport in Progress

Jack Merkel recently added a working car scale to his layout (to weigh limestone cars) but found there wasn't a good place to put the paperwork while recording the weights. He solved that by building a simple flip-up writing platform he's attaching to his fascia, built from a Home Depot hinge.
Jack Merkel Writing Platform

Chuck Marling found a great use for seed sowers -- as ballast spreaders (for between the rails)! It has an adjustable flow rate and is available at a number of places including HEB Plus, Tractor Supply and Town and Country. He uses setting "4" for fine HO ballast.
Chuck Marling Sower Ballast Spreader

We also introduced a new segment at this meeting called Questions in Search of Answers. (Okay, I'm not that creative with the segment names.) The idea is for folks to ask questions and then connect with others during the break or after the meeting to get some help. (In the long term, I'm hoping the discussion forum on our new web site will also serve this purpose.) We had some good questions; if you can help, please contact the person directly or send an email to director@centexnrma.org and I'll connect you.
After the break, Jerry Wilson shared his experiences working through the Achievement Program towards earning Master Model Railroader. (He has one certificate left...scenery!) We have a few MMRs in our region, including Jack Merkel, Steve Jackson, and Carl Lester. The NMRA has a great web site explaining the program (it's not that hard, and if you have a layout chances are you've already done a lot of what's needed). If you have any questions or would like to have your work reviewed, please contact Jack Merkel, Steve Jackson or Peter Kazmir. We can come to your layout or you can bring items to the Division meetings for review.

We closed the meeting by walking through my take on the survey results. I will be contacting the folks who were interested in building, operating, and/or showing a Division layout soon.

The committee has been working on the Division Meet - which is planned for November 14 (instead of the Division meeting). We are planning to make it a "super meeting" - all day (with lunch), multiple clinics, contest/exhibition, maybe some running layouts, a layout tour, operating sessions, and a new and greatly improved NMRA "booth." We plan to invite all LSR members to attend.

The Austin Model Railroad Jamboree will be moving to the spring; we are planning on holding it March 5, 2016. This coming year, we are planning on it being similar to previous years, though we are planning on staying open until 4 or 5, hosting running layouts (being inclusive of more than HO and N scale), having more clinics (perhaps with some special guest clinicians), hosting a contest/exhibition, and continuing to build on the new NMRA "booth". We're also looking at hosting the layout tour and operating sessions over two weekends instead of one, so folks hosting tours or op sessions will have the opportunity to visit other layouts and the show as well.

We are working on identifying the venues and contacting vendors to let them know about the schedule move. More details coming soon!

Finally, we had a great time after the meeting touring David and Sam Nicastro's layouts (yes, plural), including a simplified operating session. Click on the link below to see some photos.

Our next Division Meeting will be August 29. Riley Triggs plans to give us a presentation on using 3D printing, and we will tour Charles Etheredge's layout afterwards. Look forward to seeing you there!

Click here for photos from David and Sam Nicastro's layouts, including the D&RGW Moffat Route