Division Meeting Recap
May 9, 2015We 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!
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.
He also showed us his Texas & Pacific conductor kit - complete with official hat - that was given to him by a friend of the family.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll connect you.
- Steve Neill is building a new O Scale layout ... and it'll be about 3000 square feet. He needs some help getting things going, especially with the benchwork. Steve lives in Dripping Springs (not far past the "Y" in southwest Austin).
- Terry Nathan is trying to build a system to control a DC layout via DCC (to use something like a decoder to adjust the voltage on the DC portion).
- Bob Thiele has been getting into JMRI, but is finding he can't program some Tsunami decoders without the use of a booster, and can't figure out why...
- Rudy Pirovitz is assembling some Westerfield hoppers and is finding the details difficult. If anyone has done this before, he would love some suggestions.
- Russel DaMetz has some "blue box" Athearn locomotives that he would like to equip with decoders. He used to use the "drop in" decoders that clipped right on to the metal tabs but they are no longer available, so he'd like some advice on what decoders to use now and how to attach them.
- Rod Reames helped tear down a layout over the last couple of months. He and his helpers were able to rescue a lot of great stuff, mostly Santa Fe. Please contact him if you're interested in any of it.
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!