April Meet Recap


To the left is a photo of the Southampton Station originally located on the long-abandoned Newtown Branch of the Reading Company.  This structure, built in 1982 and slated for restoration, is located at the corner of Street Road and Second Street Pike, a few blocks from our meeting place.





On Saturday, April 7, 2018, the Philadelphia Division returned to last year’s meeting room at the Southampton Community Center in Southampton PA, where Superintendent Charles Butsch greeted approximately 40 members and guests.
After a few announcements, Joe Walters presented the first clinic on “Scratch Building a 50’ Boxcar in Styrene.” The 50′ boxcar was a staple of the railroads for decades and shows up on many model railroad layouts. Joe presented several examples using his model building techniques with photos and actual examples that included using two-part castings for the ends, as well as methods of assembling roofs, doors, the undercarriage, and bolsters, plus painting and decaling. Joe has been receiving achievement certificates as a result of his model railroading activity that included the cars he showed in his clinic. In addition, Joe is the coordinator of the November Model Railroad Open House Program. Following his presentation, Joe fielded a lively question and answer session that resulted in some good information sharing.

Earl Paine, standing in for David Messer, MMR, presented Achievement certificates to Charles Butsch (Volunteer), Mark Wallace (Volunteer), and five certificates to Joe Walters!

Mike Dettinger presented clinic #2 titled “Cure for the Blue Rails,” featuring the use of the BlueRail microcircuit device that can be utilized in a number of model railroading applications. Mike’s been called a “fringe” modeler. If it’s odd or obscure, he’ll model it and put a decoder in it and/or animate it. Additionally you may have encountered Mike on the YouTube model railroading site (http://www.youtubemodelbuilders.com) of goodies, podcasts, free e-magazines, and other interesting model railroad info.

Since the hobby is grounded in various methods of controlling trains that usually involve electricity, we in the NMRA are always interested in seeing, exploring, and critiquing the various systems to help us determine what is the right solution for our particular type of model railroad. While we see these new systems advertised and discussed on social media, the beauty of the NMRA Division Meet is the ability to have them presented to us firsthand, for review, evaluation, and discussion.

The BlueRail method of powering trains is based on a DCC decoder-like device, currently 1×2 inches in size, that when placed in a locomotive or made part of the layout provides the output characteristics of a standard 4-function motor-only decoder. He showed products from two manufacturers. First was the BlueRail Trains who produces the Blue Horse board (http://bluerailtrains.com) and second, Bachmann’s E-Z App locomotives that have the Blue Horse boards pre-installed (http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/ez-app.php).

A BlueRail powered locomotive can share the rails with DCC trains, however the DCC system cannot control a BlueRail powered engine. There is a downloadable app that can be controlled from a smart device like a mobile phone or tablet. A BlueRail-powered locomotive is entirely independent of any power system–DCC, DC, or even AC.

Mike demonstrated how these devices can perform a variety of tasks from powering a single engine on a small layout to being used in conjunction with a battery for a non-rail-powered layout commonly called “Dead Rail.” Also, there is a speaker cube version to supply sound in a non-sound DCC decodered engine. Incidentally, sounds can be ordered or programed to play back through the device and played through headphones for a different way to experience model railroad sounds. This is a low-cost method of obtaining train sounds that some may find appealing. In addition, Mike certainly fielded answers to many good questions.

After a short break, part 3 of the morning’s activities featured a Show & Tell, where two members shared their work. Joe Walters had more of his highly detailed models including a Jordan Spreader with moving parts. A regular guest from the neighboring Susquehanna Division, Dennis Blank shared his coaling trestle model that he is presently constructing with wood posts and eventual wood members to carry the rails.

Charlie Long was the lucky winner of the 50/50 and we thank him for generously donating his money back to the Di-vision. Rounding out the scene was our menu of refreshments: coffee, donuts, and Philly soft pretzels, as well as the white elephant table, door prizes, and model display table.
The afternoon roster of layouts to visit consisted of Al Zollers’s Central Pennsylvania & Northern RR, Kevin Feeney’s new layout in nearby Abington, and our good friend in model railroading, Bob Rule’s Reading-themed layout.

A special thanks to the Southampton Community Center for the use of their meeting space they provided as well as to our clinicians and all of you who attended.

On next Meet is on June 9th at a new venue, the Philadelphia Church of the Brethren in Wyndmoor, PA. We will con-vene at 9:00am with the Annual Business Meeting that includes updates, election of Directors to the Board, and big plans for celebrating the Division’s 50th year in 2019–including our hosting the MER Convention. By now, you should have received your ballot and notice of the meeting via USPS mail, although you’ll also find all that in this issue.

Moreover, of course, there will be the usual interesting clinics, vendors, swap tables, a white elephant table, a 50/50 raffle, and displays. There will be more about this event elsewhere in The
 Dispatcher and on our website. See you then

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