Back from Cincinnati

President’s Corner, June 2013

Written by Charles Bartel

Welcome back to the President’s corner. I have one thing on my mind this month, and that is the activity in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 5th through the 9th. It was the 29th large scale national convention organized by the Cincinnati Garden Railroad Society. Though I have been in model railroading most of my life, and have attended many conventions/trade shows over the years, this was my first (at 70 years) train convention. It was a great event attended by several members of our club. The convention activity can be divided into four activities: 1) backyard tours of local Garden layouts, 2) workshops and seminars, 3) vendor’s floor, and 4) the social activity.

There were 30 open houses, opened between 8 and noon. My wife and I, not being familiar with the area, decided to take advantage of the tour buses and managed to visit 17 of these layouts. These layouts went from the very basic (railroad tracks and landscaping) to the very detailed with multiple track loops, lots of buildings, and water features. Water features ranged from the very simple to multiple water falls totally 10 to 12 feet. Our hosts were gracious and kind, many providing snacks and drinks (water root beer, soft drinks). There were enough snacks on Friday that I did not eat lunch!

We saw layouts integrating local materials, i.e., trains running through a fallen log, supports made from tree branches, and a train made from a tea set. Imagination is a part of this hobby and this layout was filled with it.

Another layout, very detailed, had a water car on the
end. The water car had a water cannon controlled
remotely. The unsuspecting visitor looking closely at
the car would suddenly get a shot of water. Never did find the person controlling the water cannon. (And yes, I was one of those that got shot!)

On the bus, we met railroaders from across the world. In the
seat in front of us was a couple from Australia. They and one
other couple from down under, traveled the furthest. They
showed us pictures of their layout on very flat land with
beautiful mountains as a backdrop. From the states, we had
people on the bus from California, Michigan, Pennsylvanian,
Ohio, Indian, New York, New Jersey, etc. A real mix of people.
Lots of stories on the bus, lots of picture sharing, and
comments like did you see the eagle on the bridge (and no, most people did not see it)?

In all of this, I only got to one of the seminars. There just was so much to do. I went to one on starting a layout (and that is just where I am at – starting). His first words of advice – join your local club. It is filled with great resources to help you avoid the

mistakes that others have already made. The interesting thing was that about 1/3 were 2 years or less into a layout, 1/3 had a layout of 5 years, and 1/3 had layouts for 10 or more years. Of those with layouts, the presentor asked if anyone had a different way of laying track then he had presented. That led to several discussion on track laying and the multiple approaches to constructing the most critical item on the layout, the roadbed. Local area environment was important such as lots of rain (Michigan, Washington), very dry (Arizona, California) or cold and snow (Western New York, Minnesota).

The second thought was that this can be a family hobby. The presenter made a statement that his wife had never put a train on the track, but he had never planted a flower or shrub. And I find that true in our own club with husband and wife involved but taking different roles. But not just husband and wife, but also between parents and children. It is a hobby that can transcend generations, with lots of opportunity for observing real life train activity when taking family


The model contest had some beautiful models on
display. An example is the iceing station shown at
the right. And like a lot of activity at the convention,
there was a bit of jokes being played on people. One
of the models disappeared before the end of the
convention on Saturday. And the chairman had
locked the door the night before. There was security on duty! The chairman was in a small panic with the missing model. Security played along with the owner of the model and said the door was open when he came on duty. Turns out, the owner came in early and picked up his model and asked the guard not to say anything. It became a topic of discussion on Saturday night when awards were given out.

The vendor floor was full of opportunities to add detail to the layout, add rolling stock, or get that new locomotive. Track, plants, people, buildings, signs, etc. were all out there. Vendors with knowledge that they were willing to shared with you when you asked a question. Even items for doll houses (another family hobby).

There was an outdoor layout set up to run live steam as well as a track for a gravity train. Several life steam engines were running, and people were testing cars for the gravity races on Friday night.

Finally, there was the fellowship at the ice cream social on Wednesday, the Enteraiment experience on Thursday and the final banquet on Saturday in the beautiful Cincinnati railroad station which is now a museum. Though I did not attend it there was also a barbecue on Friday night at the convent site, the Great Wolfe Lodge. The Entrainment experience was wonderful. The main feature of the layout is a large G scale layout that winds around and around. It is filled with small scenes such as a dance studio, warehouses, factories, and an operating turntable that moved from track to track while

engines are moved in and out of the round house. There is an overlook that allows you a bird’s eye view of the layout that was fantastic. They even had an amusement park in the overlook area with a model of an old fashion wooden roller coaster. The crowning experience for an electrical engineer was the miles of wire and the multiple computer boards that is controller the trains and setting switches, moving the turn table.

On Saturday night, we gathered at the Cincinnati terminal for a
closing banquet. Following the banquet, the large HO layout of
the greater Cincinnati area was open. Unfortunately, the trains
were not running, but the modeling was superb! And finally
there was the visit to Tower A. Tower A was the control tower for
the terminal tracks when it was an active passenger terminal.
The large track schematic is still on the wall and lite, but the all
of the control levers and phones have been removed. But the
view of the station tracks was a dream for a modeler. Side by
side with what was the passenger terminal tracks are freight yards that serve three different railroads. And the trains were moving.

All and all, it was a very impressive visit. I urge anyone interested in G scale railroading to attend these conventions. This was well done by a dedicated group of volunteers. My thanks to each and every one of these volunteers for making this a great kick off to the summer season.