November Meet Recap


With the successful running of the 2019 MER Liberty Bell Special by your Philly Division, we are once again headed to the Community Center located along Naamans Road, just south of the vast Brandywine Town Center Shopping Mall in Wilmington, DE to celebrate National Model Railroading month. Having just finished up a large but enjoyable convention, this year’s meet was not a joint meet as was last year, so the numbers were down, but the enthusiasm was still up! The morning’s clinics were presented by Joe Walters, MMR and Mat Chibbaro.

First up was Joe who presented his “Building the U.P. Rotary Snow Plow” on that dynamic and exciting piece of M.O.W. used by the Union Pacific Railroad in extreme snow conditions. Joe had constructed or scratch built this project in conjunction with one of his AP certificates recently earned for his rating of Master Model Railroader. Yes, for those of you who missed it, Joe is our newest MMR (#644) having received that honor this past October at the Liberty Bell Special. His clinic was one more example of a model railroad project he dreamed, schemed, built, and documented. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he worked things up into a presentation and shared his project with the rest of us. He runs a tight ship! Joe’s project explored the prototype’s method of pushing a rail car with a spinning disc into a snow bank. That spinning disc has a complex construction itself that grabs the snow and propels it through a shaft while the frame, coupler, and brake hoses down below the rotary are shoved into the icy snow. His step by step building process included the helpful tip: Paint extra pieces of material with the paint you’re using so you don’t have to go back to match the paint if something falls off the model or breaks. Joe used a battery-driven method to drive the rotary at slow speed as well as for lighting the model. Joe had entered the model in the convention contest and brought it this morning for a later demonstration.

Our “in-between-clinics” time was filled with Achievement Program certificate awards and other offerings. Our Division’s AP Manager Dave Messer, MMR first presented Association Volunteer certificates for two very deserving members, Rob Hinkle and Bill Fagan. Rob has been a Board Member since 2013, Assistant Super since 2017, and has also been in charge of ops and social media. His greatest claim to fame, though was serving as Chair of the recent Liberty Bell Special MER convention. The Division had not hosted a con-vention for 13 years. With his experience in attending con-ventions he led the Division to host what was arguably one of the most successful events in recent years.

Bill Fagan has been on the Board since 2016, chairing the layouts and working as part of the AP team. Bill could be considered one of the key catalysts for the advancement of the Division’s Achievement Program. Through his visitations to video and photograph layouts, he has recognized modeling talent and has encouraged layout owners to become involved in the AP and complete paperwork for various certificates, or if not already an NMRA member, to join. It was Bill who lit the spark that set both Joe Walters and Glyn Thomas on their meteoric rise to Master Model Railroader.

And speaking of which, Dave Messer’s next treat was the introduction of our two newest Master Model Railroaders, Glyn Thomas #632 and Joe Walters #644. Congratulations to both! But there was more. Despite earning his MMR, Joe Walters received one more certificate—his eighth—for Association Volunteer. In addition to the many clinics he has presented to our Division, Joe has served on the registration team at the recent and past MER conventions.

Two other recipients of worthy recognition were John Seibert and Howard Kaplan.

John has just stepped down from the Board of Directors after more than a decade’s worth of service as
Superintendent (2008-2011) and Division Superintendent (2011-2013) as well as the coordinator of clinicians for our many meets. In addition, John lined up over 90 clinics for the Liberty Bell Special—a record number for any MER convention in recent memory—and M.C.d the convention banquet! John will be continuing to assist with Division ac-tivities while he builds his N-scale version of the Reading’s W&N branch in his basement. With heartfelt gratitude for his years of dedicated service, John was presented with the Division’s Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation.

Howard is the 2019 recipient of the NMRA’s President’s Award for Service to the Division. This award is solicited by the respective Regions each year to discover a person who has provided exemplary service to his division. When many of us were asked, the person we thought of was Howard. He has been devoted to the Division in so many ways beyond just doing the job of Treasurer. An NMRA member since 1981 and Division member since 1993, Howard has an encyclopedic knowledge of many of the layout owners and things about their layouts. Adding to his officer’s job of Treasurer, he is Division Webmaster, apparel coordinator, and has recently assumed Editor of the Division’s newsletter, The Dispatcher, as well as continuing to update its look and feel. By the way, I believe our Division’s newsletter to be among the best nationally of any model railroad publication available today!

Howard also redesigned the Division logo and introduced the PhillyNMRA brand that has become so recognizable. He produced the outdoor signs at each meet directing you to your destination. He was the designer and webmaster for the Liberty Bell Special. In addition to his extensive involvement in Division activities, Howard is a dentist and runs his own practice. Let me say, good work does not go unnoticed and we all congratulate and support him. The next time you see him, congratulate him and ask, “So how can I help?”

Our next clinician was Mat Chibbaro who visited us from Silver Springs, MD. His topic, “Model Railroading in Small Spaces,” is also the name of the book published back in 2011 by Kalmbach as part of its series of Model Railroader’s How-to Guides. Model railroading is more than the temporary holiday display of trains that disappears after the holiday decorations are put away. Model railroading has an air of being permanent. Beginning with his design for an early holiday train display, Mat shared many examples of layouts built into coffee tables, end tables around the back of a sofa, modules, modular sections, and movable layouts. One could consider these the creative opposite of the “plywood pacifics”—around-the-room layouts that inhabit the other end of the layout design/build spectrum. He showed many examples from his book with enriching stories for his many photos, cutting diagrams, and actual methods of model building. Mat is the real deal model railroadingwise; he builds structures, decorates rolling stock and locomotives, designs and builds track, designs or builds intricate scenery, and powers his railroads. He does not yet do DCC. I was moved to buy his book and (shameless plug here) enjoyed the ideas and methods that I am using in my own modeling efforts. His clinic was a breath of fresh air on how to get a lot into a very small area.

After Mat’s presentation, a short Show & Tell where modelers took a few moments to explain or show their efforts to the whole group. We really appreciate the variety and interesting methods each modeler brings to their work. Keep it coming.

Charles Long—former winner of many prior raffles—was once again (!) the lucky winner of the 50/50 raffle. As in the past, he generously donated his proceeds back to the Division. Congratulations, Charlie, and we all want to know your secret! The meeting ended shortly before noon.

For the first time in over a year and a half, there was no MER 2019 Committee meeting freeing us all up for some additional lunch time and layout visiting. With November being Model Railroad Month, the Open House Layout Tour event provided several layouts to visit (including those of the coordinator, Joe Walters, MMR and fellow Division member John Trout) —a wonderful way to observe, study, and get to know other model railroaders.

Although Earl Hackett could not attend, we thank Earl for once again securing the wonderful Town Center venue. Thanks again to our clinicians Joe and Mat, and all of our model railroading friends who joined us. We hope you en-joyed yourselves, and on behalf of the Division, extend warm wishes for a Happy Holiday season filled with many wonderful people and things including model railroading! Our next meet will be on January 11, 2019 where we will join with the New Jersey Division on their territory at the Grace Episcopal Church in Merchantville, NJ. See you then!

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