The Skagit Valley and Whidbey Clinic kicked off the season on 13 September at the Summerhill venue in Oak Harbor led by Clinic Chair, Rich Blake. Seventeen folks were in attendance breaking their long dry spell of summer activities and looking forward to a productive model railroading season. The guest speaker for this clinic was 4th Division Superintendent Russ Segner who graciously made the trip up from the East Side.
Russ’ visit was twofold, not only to provide a presentation for us on the recent National Narrow Gauge Convention but also to officially award our own Jack Tingstad with his NMRA Master Model Railroader Certificate. Jack achieved all the requirements for MMR this year and has been certified as MMR #591.
Jack is the owner/trainmaster/superintendent of the HO scale “Cloud City and Western” layout located at his home in Coupeville, WA. A nice article on his highly detailed finescale layout is located in the May 2011 issue of the Model Railroad Hobbyist E-Magazine.
After the awards presentation, Jack took the time to recognize several local clinic members that provided inspiration and assistance in his MMR achievement. This was a nice gesture to exemplify the fact that we all work together to enjoy and accomplish our aspirations in the hobby. Jack is an outstanding representative of the hobby and truly deserves this prestigious achievement. Well done!
We then gave the floor to Russ to present his slides and trip report from the 37th National Narrow Gauge Convention held on Aug 30th to Sep 2nd in Denver Colorado. He started by showing some videos and talking about his visit and train ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Narrow Gauge running out of Chama New Mexico.
The scenery and well maintained locomotives were spectacular, his videos showed why this line should certainly be on everyone’s bucket list to visit. There is nothing on earth like a steam locomotive rumbling and hissing along the track, especially when it is a big outside frame K-36 Mikado. Russ was not the only PNW guy there and was able to charter a coach for the train ride with about 20 other NNGC participants from the PNW region. The group was also treated to a shop tour with Stathi Pappas who many may know as the former Chief Mechanical Officer of both the Mount Rainier Scenic Railway and the Northwest Railway Museum Snoqualmie. Stathi now heads the equipment restoration efforts at the Cumbres and Toltec.
We then saw some photos of the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greely Colorado and also Harry Brunk’s restored Hon3 Colorado and Southern layout at the Union Pacific Depot Museum in Cheyenne Wyoming. Harry Brunk was a frequent contributor to the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette for many years detailing his layout building adventures. He is naturally compared to John Allen in that he devoted every inch of real estate and every minute of time to model railroading producing very realistic and detailed scenes.
Russ then showed and described many of the layouts that were visited as part of the convention. Unlike the NMRA National Conventions, the NNGC shuts down the exhibit and vendor areas during the “tour” times. This ensures everyone has a chance (including the vendors and exhibitors) to go see layouts without the pressure of possibly missing something else going on at the convention venue. The layouts shown included everything from Fn3 (1:20.3) all the way down to a miniscule Nn3 scale logging layout. He also showed some of the contest models and modules which were all highly detailed.
One of the things that these conventions are famous for are the very interesting clinics presented by some of the best modelers and railroad historians in the world. Russ talked about some of the clinics and showed some pictures of a particularly interesting one on structure building using traditional materials like strip wood and paper to make contest winning type models (what? People still do that?). In the world of laser cut this and 3d printed that it is sometimes refreshing to see modelers who can still execute traditional craftsman skills to a high contest winning standard with just basic materials and tools.
Although narrow gaugers are still somewhat of a minority in the hobby, their modeling skill and layouts are certainly a major inspiration for any type of modeler. Russ’ presentation was a fine tribute to the fine modeling going on in the narrow gauge world and was enjoyed by everyone. The National Narrow Gauge Convention happens every year in different parts of the country. It should be on any model railroaders list of things to do at least once, twice or several times in their lifetime. The next one is in Minneapolis 2018 and after that in Sacramento 2019. A mostly full list with links to future and previous National Narrow Gauge Conventions is located here.