Just returned from the Fine Scale Expo in Lancaster, Pa. Overall, I had a good time - it was a fairly small show (although there were 500 registered attendees over the three days) - and it's very focused on craftsman structure kits. I overheard one gentleman complain to his wife that "For a train show, there's no trains!" Actually, the only model trains were the five or six items entered in the popular vote contest. This show isn't about trains - it's all about structures.
I arrived Friday afternoon, wandered around the dealer show and picked up a couple of items that I thought were appropriate for the layout. I also picked up a pre-production set of parts for an upcoming model of a New England mill building. The manufacturer asked me to build it and install it in the layout in time for him to have some photos of the finished model to show at the Springfield show. Since I was going to build the mill anyway, it worked out well for both of us!
I ran into George Dutka and Don Janes there - I always enjoy spending time with fellow CV modelers. As an aside, I was thrilled, and somewhat surprised, at the number of people who mentioned they follow this blog. Thanks! Nice to know someone is reading my scribbles!
Friday night I gave a hands-on clinic for 21 people - showing them how to bend and form wire tree armatures. The comments were very positive, and I enjoyed it although if I ever do that clinic again I'll change the approach slightly. We weren't able to completely finish the trees in the time allotted - and we couldn't spraypaint in the hotel and it was too dark and little too chilly outside, so the trees stopped at the "ready for final painting and leaf texture stage." I'm quite pleased at how good some of the finished trees looked, especially when you consider these were first-time efforts! Oh well, I guess you learn something every time you "premiere" a clinic.
One of the highlights of the show was the "Muskrat Ramble," and On30 layout that was built by a group of Australian modelers. It now has a permanent home in Florida, but was transported to the show and set up and running for the event.
The banquet on Saturday night was a special treat. I thought about heading out of town early, but was glad I stayed. The banquet was held at the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum - which is right across the street from the Strasburg tourist railroad (see photo above). I got there early enough that I was able to get a few photos of the fully-restored CV 40000-series boxcar at the Strasburg, as well as some other pieces of equipment like this Rutland boxcar.
The banquet food was nothing to write home about (it was okay, but typical of such events). The setting - among the restored PRR and Conrail locomotives - couldn't be beat! After presenting the awards for each of the contest categories, the main event featured a pair of speeches by Dave Frary and Bob Mitchell, two well-known model railroaders. Mercifully, they kept their remarks brief and to the point - and were certainly entertaining.
All in all a good weekend.