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Part 1: London Festival of Railway Modelling

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  • Jeffrey MacHan
    Dear fellow Valeasians, The VEW, yours truly and the missus are safely back from an exciting week in London, England where we bravely defended North American
    Message 1 of 19 , Apr 8, 2006
      Dear fellow Valeasians,

      The VEW, yours truly and the missus are safely back from an exciting
      week in London, England where we bravely defended North American
      Z-scaling at the London Festival of Railway Modelling, or LFRM for short.

      First of all, we spent a sun-filled week in London, something quite
      unusual for this time of year, or any time of year! The trek to the
      venue very early Saturday morning was also an adventure. I had
      studied the London tube map and consulted the hotel concierge for his
      suggestions on the best route to Alexandra Palace. The Palace was ten
      stops from the hotel (located 5 minutes from the Victoria Station and
      Underground) but I needed to transfer from the Victoria line to the
      Picadilly line at some point and I had three transfer stations to
      choose from. The general consensus was that I should change lines
      straight away at the Green Park station.

      It was a good thing that I had ordered the custom shipping case with
      rollers and a collapsible handle because there was a good deal of
      walking involved in the London tube system. There were also a good
      deal of staircases! My arm was sore for 4 days after the show from
      lugging the case down and up staircases. Fortunately, there was a
      very long escalator at the Wood Green station (my exit for the
      Palace). The entire trip took 55 minutes from the moment I left the
      hotel.

      Of course, I was totally lost when I reached the street at Wood Green.
      As it happened, I had been followed by a middle-aged couple who
      looked like they might be model train fans. When they came up beside
      me I asked if they were going the the train show. YES! From that
      point on we became fast friends (for the day, at least). They had
      already attended last year's show so they knew all about the shuttle
      bus that ran from across the street (but far enough away for me to not
      know where to go to find it).

      My new friends from Bournemouth led me to the shuttle bus where I had
      to convince the driver to open up a luggage bay to transport the VEW.
      The drive up to the Palace was lovely, narrow streets, beautiful
      parkland and a steep hill up to the main entrance of the exhibition
      hall which was aptly named "Palm Court". The weird thing about this
      bus trip was the fact that I had found a seat directly behing the
      driver on the "right" side of the bus and watched, spell-bound, as we
      negociated our way to the Palace drving on the "left" side of the
      road. The streets were very narrow, and in some places, not wide
      enough for two-lane traffic. I hold London bus and cab drivers in the
      greatest esteem for their daring and driving talent!

      The Alexandra Palace is a striking and majestic building, set on the
      top of a hill overlooking greater London. The view from the Palace
      was remarkable. The inside of the Palace was also remarkable. The
      ceilings and walls were painted with frescos and the main exhibition
      hall was adorned with a huge wind organ and a very large stained-glass
      window opposite the organ. It was in this "Great Hall" that I had a
      six-foot space waiting for me. My spot was excellent. There was lots
      of room all around for the public to circulate and to gather to see
      the layout. I was about 20 feet from the "Model Railway Club" of
      London and about 50 feet from several magnificently detailed layouts,
      one of which was a superb Z-scale British-outline creation called
      "Loosely Warren", the work of Ann Silby.

      When the moment came to open up VEW, I was pleasantly surprised to see
      that only a couple of trees needed to be repositioned. My larger
      dinosaurs had come loose which I should have expected since they are
      all pewter casts and quite heavy. Lesson learned! The biggest
      surprise came when I plugged in the layout to the 1800 watt 240v to
      110v voltage transformer. The halogen light worked for about 5
      seconds, then nothing! I had a big problem!

      After some frantic testing with my voltmeter, I discovered that my
      voltage transformer had blown a fuse. Why? There had to have been a
      short circuit somewhere in the layout control circuitry. Where
      exactly, I couldn't determine at the show. The show was opening to
      the public in 5 minutes...just enough time to populate the layout with
      rolling stock and plug in the halogen which still worked after I
      replaced the blown fuse.

      So, there I was with a still life on display instead of a working
      layout. I felt aweful but resigned myself to put on a big smile and
      do my best to compensate. Thank god I had DINOSAURS and brochures.

      It didn't take long before I had a visit from Tony H-Ellary, or at
      least I think it was Tony H-Ellary. He was so excited to see me and
      the layout that he only introduced himself much later when I asked
      with whom I was having the pleasure of speaking. His answer was Tony.
      His last name is my assumption based on certain clues I gleaned
      during the day. Interestingly, Tony wasn't bothered at all by the
      fact that the train wasn't working. This boyed my spirits and I
      became even more determined to make the best of things. After all,
      there I was at an astounding train show in the heart of one of the
      world's greatest cities.

      Time to take a break...there's lots more to tell including how a good
      samaritan saved the day and learning to understand the British
      reserve. Stay tuned for Part 2.

      Respectfully submitted by
      Jeffrey MacHan
      Chief Imagineer - VECRR
      International Ambassador - Exporail

      The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
      Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
    • Mario G. Daigle
      Hey Jeffrey, Great to have you and the whole town back in America. So far, sounds like you had a great time in one of MY favorite country: ENGLAND!, you
      Message 2 of 19 , Apr 8, 2006
        Hey Jeffrey,

        Great to have you "and the whole town" back in America. So far,
        sounds like you had a great time in one of MY favorite country:
        ENGLAND!, you lucky devil ;-) Did I mention Gaetane and I spent a
        week (not enough) in London a few years back?!...Hmmm...I think I
        did. I'm not surprised with London's tube system...it's old, it
        works...but yes there are lot's of staircases which I can
        imagine "that part of the ride" must have been a little hellish may
        I say. You mentionned it was actually sunny?!...wow! that
        definetly WAS your lucky week!!. When we went, it poured for a
        week!...yuck! but it still was exciting to be in England.

        About the driving to the left thingy...that is definetly a
        weird "something feels wrong" type of thing, right?!...good thing
        you did not rent a car ;-)I'm sure it get's much worst.

        As for "D day", oooh! what a bad feeling when you suddenly realize
        you open up your suitcase, plug it in and ...nothing!...and you've
        crossed the ocean to get there, Valesians must have felt pretty
        worried!. But alas a good Samaritan was on it's way...well at least
        that's what I feel is going to happen in "PART 2".

        Mario

        ##################################### Z ALL THE WAY! :-)



        In VECRR@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey MacHan" <jmac_han@...> wrote:
        >
        > Dear fellow Valeasians,
        >
        > The VEW, yours truly and the missus are safely back from an
        exciting
        > week in London, England where we bravely defended North American
        > Z-scaling at the London Festival of Railway Modelling, or LFRM for
        short.
        >
        > First of all, we spent a sun-filled week in London, something quite
        > unusual for this time of year, or any time of year! The trek to
        the
        > venue very early Saturday morning was also an adventure. I had
        > studied the London tube map and consulted the hotel concierge for
        his
        > suggestions on the best route to Alexandra Palace. The Palace was
        ten
        > stops from the hotel (located 5 minutes from the Victoria Station
        and
        > Underground) but I needed to transfer from the Victoria line to the
        > Picadilly line at some point and I had three transfer stations to
        > choose from. The general consensus was that I should change lines
        > straight away at the Green Park station.
        >
        > It was a good thing that I had ordered the custom shipping case
        with
        > rollers and a collapsible handle because there was a good deal of
        > walking involved in the London tube system. There were also a good
        > deal of staircases! My arm was sore for 4 days after the show from
        > lugging the case down and up staircases. Fortunately, there was a
        > very long escalator at the Wood Green station (my exit for the
        > Palace). The entire trip took 55 minutes from the moment I left
        the
        > hotel.
        >
        > Of course, I was totally lost when I reached the street at Wood
        Green.
        > As it happened, I had been followed by a middle-aged couple who
        > looked like they might be model train fans. When they came up
        beside
        > me I asked if they were going the the train show. YES! From that
        > point on we became fast friends (for the day, at least). They had
        > already attended last year's show so they knew all about the
        shuttle
        > bus that ran from across the street (but far enough away for me to
        not
        > know where to go to find it).
        >
        > My new friends from Bournemouth led me to the shuttle bus where I
        had
        > to convince the driver to open up a luggage bay to transport the
        VEW.
        > The drive up to the Palace was lovely, narrow streets, beautiful
        > parkland and a steep hill up to the main entrance of the exhibition
        > hall which was aptly named "Palm Court". The weird thing about
        this
        > bus trip was the fact that I had found a seat directly behing the
        > driver on the "right" side of the bus and watched, spell-bound, as
        we
        > negociated our way to the Palace drving on the "left" side of the
        > road. The streets were very narrow, and in some places, not wide
        > enough for two-lane traffic. I hold London bus and cab drivers in
        the
        > greatest esteem for their daring and driving talent!
        >
        > The Alexandra Palace is a striking and majestic building, set on
        the
        > top of a hill overlooking greater London. The view from the Palace
        > was remarkable. The inside of the Palace was also remarkable. The
        > ceilings and walls were painted with frescos and the main
        exhibition
        > hall was adorned with a huge wind organ and a very large stained-
        glass
        > window opposite the organ. It was in this "Great Hall" that I had
        a
        > six-foot space waiting for me. My spot was excellent. There was
        lots
        > of room all around for the public to circulate and to gather to see
        > the layout. I was about 20 feet from the "Model Railway Club" of
        > London and about 50 feet from several magnificently detailed
        layouts,
        > one of which was a superb Z-scale British-outline creation called
        > "Loosely Warren", the work of Ann Silby.
        >
        > When the moment came to open up VEW, I was pleasantly surprised to
        see
        > that only a couple of trees needed to be repositioned. My larger
        > dinosaurs had come loose which I should have expected since they
        are
        > all pewter casts and quite heavy. Lesson learned! The biggest
        > surprise came when I plugged in the layout to the 1800 watt 240v to
        > 110v voltage transformer. The halogen light worked for about 5
        > seconds, then nothing! I had a big problem!
        >
        > After some frantic testing with my voltmeter, I discovered that my
        > voltage transformer had blown a fuse. Why? There had to have
        been a
        > short circuit somewhere in the layout control circuitry. Where
        > exactly, I couldn't determine at the show. The show was opening to
        > the public in 5 minutes...just enough time to populate the layout
        with
        > rolling stock and plug in the halogen which still worked after I
        > replaced the blown fuse.
        >
        > So, there I was with a still life on display instead of a working
        > layout. I felt aweful but resigned myself to put on a big smile
        and
        > do my best to compensate. Thank god I had DINOSAURS and brochures.
        >
        > It didn't take long before I had a visit from Tony H-Ellary, or at
        > least I think it was Tony H-Ellary. He was so excited to see me
        and
        > the layout that he only introduced himself much later when I asked
        > with whom I was having the pleasure of speaking. His answer was
        Tony.
        > His last name is my assumption based on certain clues I gleaned
        > during the day. Interestingly, Tony wasn't bothered at all by the
        > fact that the train wasn't working. This boyed my spirits and I
        > became even more determined to make the best of things. After all,
        > there I was at an astounding train show in the heart of one of the
        > world's greatest cities.
        >
        > Time to take a break...there's lots more to tell including how a
        good
        > samaritan saved the day and learning to understand the British
        > reserve. Stay tuned for Part 2.
        >
        > Respectfully submitted by
        > Jeffrey MacHan
        > Chief Imagineer - VECRR
        > International Ambassador - Exporail
        >
        > The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
        > Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
        >
      • David George
        O.K. Jeffrey,,,,It s the weekend now and we need another installment of your London Adventure. Mister Dave ... From: Jeffrey MacHan To:
        Message 3 of 19 , Apr 9, 2006
          O.K. Jeffrey,,,,It's the weekend now and we need another installment of your
          London Adventure.

          Mister Dave

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Jeffrey MacHan" <jmac_han@...>
          To: <VECRR@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2006 1:47 PM
          Subject: [VECRR] Part 1: London Festival of Railway Modelling


          Respectfully submitted by
          Jeffrey MacHan
          Chief Imagineer - VECRR
          International Ambassador - Exporail

          The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
          Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.






          Small SiZe, BIG Enjoyment!
          Yahoo! Groups Links
        • Jeffrey MacHan
          Ok, so where was I? Oh, yeah... As soon as the public address system announced that the early birds , those prepaid guests who get to rush in 15 minutes
          Message 4 of 19 , Apr 10, 2006
            Ok, so where was I? Oh, yeah...

            As soon as the public address system announced that the "early birds",
            those prepaid guests who get to rush in 15 minutes before the official
            10am opening, were on their way to the exhibition halls, I dumped all
            my tools and other paraphanalia into the custom case and closed it up,
            pretending like there was absolutely nothing amiss in the world.
            Alas, as soon as the first group of little tykes gathered around the
            layout there was a little voice that asked "Excuse me. (even the kids
            are polite in London) Why aren't the trains moving?"

            I was done for! I tried to explain that the trains were parked
            because there was a problem with the power supply...(confused look)...
            then I corrected myself to say that I had an accident with the trains
            and that they couldn't move at the moment (equally confused
            look)...then I took a deep breath and admitted that the control box
            was broken and that I hoped to fix the problem after the show
            closed...(disappointed looks all around). Then I asked the kids if
            they had seen the dinosaurs...WHERE? they all asked...and I was saved.

            This went on all day long. Fortunately, about an hour into the event,
            a smiling gentleman approached with two very large coffee cups in his
            hands. Without hesitating an instant he handed me a coffee and said
            that he was sure that I could use it. Boy, did he have that right!

            My coffee benefactor was none other than VECRR member Peter Ibbotson.
            He explained that he had trouble finding me because I wasn't listed
            in the official show guide. I was disappointed to hear that since I
            had paid the money to get listed. I'd have to check this out when I
            got a chance. Peter was "officially" helping out at the MERG display
            (Model Electronics in Railroading Group) in the other hall. He
            explained that since there were 15 other guys at the MERG stand, he
            could slip away pretty much any time he wanted during the day.

            Peter also asked why the trains weren't working. I provided him with
            the long version of my short (circuit) story. His answer was to offer
            to bring a Märklin power pack the next day. I felt like hugging him
            but I felt that that would put too much stress on his British reserve.
            In a moment of lucidity I asked him to bring a power bar as well
            since I needed to plug the halogen light into the power transformer
            which meant that I needed at least two outlets.

            As the day wore on, Peter came by at regular intervals with coffee.
            He even spelled me for a good bit of time so that I could go on potty
            breaks (at least that was my excuse...I was really wandering around -
            after a quick potty break - the halls taking in the sights and sounds
            of a distincly British model railroading show). Of course, I returned
            with coffees in hand for Peter. And so it went all day long.

            The crowds were heavy and very appreciative. I met many modellers and
            train lovers who told me that they had some Z at home but had never
            thought of a track plan. Everyone took photos of the VEW and many
            even asked permission to do so. Amazing!

            The couple who had helped me over the last kilometer to the show came
            by several times. They were especially appreciative of the VEW and
            wished me a very good holiday in London since they were not returning
            on Sunday. Wonderful hospitality!

            A fellow exhibitor, an American who had recently been transfered by
            his employer to London, came by to see if he could help with my "why
            won't the trains work" problem. I explained that I couldn't do any
            toubleshooting since I only had one fuse left in the power
            transformer. Once it blew, that was it, no hope of running trains.
            Well, believe it or not, about 30 minutes later, he returned with a
            little bag of 250v 250 milliampere fuses. AmaZing! I only wish that
            I had written his name down so that I could thank him publicly here
            and in my future Ztrack report. (If you are reading this report by
            chance, send me an email!)

            Did I say that the sun was shining in London? Well, we couldn't have
            had a more beautiful day for the show. Sunlight was streaming through
            the huge stained glass window and also through the translucent roofing
            material. I was told that the roof had been replaced due to a fire
            that had ravaged the Palace several years earlier. Soon, the sun was
            getting low on the horizon and the colors of the window had begun to
            take on a decidedly red hue. It was time to put the dust cover over
            VEW and rush out to get the shuttle bus before it was too late.
            However, once again, Peter Ibbotson came to the rescue. He came by to
            ask if I'd like a lift to King's Cross tube station. Are you kidding?
            You bet I would!

            Peter had parked his Lexus in a lot not too far from the Palace. He
            explained to me that the lot for the general public was much further
            away and at the bottom of a rather steep climb. With the apparently
            difficult car access to the venue, I was impressed with the heavy
            turnout. The drive to King's Cross (which was on the way to his
            place, I was assured) took at least 20 minutes in heavy traffic. I
            was in awe of Peter's driving ability as he passed within whiskers of
            wiping out the side-view mirrors of cabs, buses and other motor
            vehicles on the narrow roads. Peter was a wealth of knowledge
            concerning the various buildings and other landmarks we passed along
            the way. For the curious amongst you, Peter is a software consultant
            working on the extension to the Eurostar system in London. And if
            that isn't impressive enough, his Z railroad is DCC!

            As I very carefully got out of his car at the tube station, Peter gave
            me very solemn instructions to keep to the left on my way to the
            Victoria line connection which was quite some distance away. Good
            thing I listened to him because the way to the Victoria line didn't
            even remotely resemble a pedestrian route, but more like a
            construction site and any wrong turn would have been disaster.
            Nothing beats local knowledge!

            The ride home went fast and without incident. Marthe and I had a
            terrific supper at our hotel with our son, his fiancee and her sister.
            I seemed to have successfully gotten over my jet lag and hit the sack
            at a very reasonable 10pm local time, ready to leap to my feet the
            next morning at 6am and undertake another exciting day at the Festival.

            There's still lots more to share so stay tuned for part 3.

            Respectfully submitted by
            Jeffrey MacHan
            Chief Imagineer - VECRR
            International Ambassador - Exporail

            The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
            Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
          • Jay Greer
            Ah Jeffrey, What amaZing adventures you have! Thank you so much for sharing them with us who must be stuck on the LA freeways, dreaming of brief case layouts
            Message 5 of 19 , Apr 10, 2006
              Ah Jeffrey,
              What amaZing adventures you have! Thank you so much for sharing them with
              us who must be stuck on the LA freeways, dreaming of brief case layouts we
              will build.. I know Kings Crossing Station well and truly wish I could be
              there to enjoy the British reaction to your VECRR.
              I look forward to your next report.
              Best Regards,
              Jay Greer
              Trax Inc.

              on 4/10/06 16:29, Jeffrey MacHan at jmac_han@... wrote:

              > Ok, so where was I? Oh, yeah...
              >
              > As soon as the public address system announced that the "early birds",
              > those prepaid guests who get to rush in 15 minutes before the official
              > 10am opening, were on their way to the exhibition halls, I dumped all
              > my tools and other paraphanalia into the custom case and closed it up,
              > pretending like there was absolutely nothing amiss in the world.
              > Alas, as soon as the first group of little tykes gathered around the
              > layout there was a little voice that asked "Excuse me. (even the kids
              > are polite in London) Why aren't the trains moving?"
              >
              >
            • Jeffrey MacHan
              Sorry to have left you hanging on the cliff edge on Sunday but I decided to finish my income taxes and send for my refund...yippee! Not to worry, I have many
              Message 6 of 19 , Apr 10, 2006
                Sorry to have left you hanging on the cliff edge on Sunday but I
                decided to finish my income taxes and send for my refund...yippee!

                Not to worry, I have many anecdotes to share, not to mention my quest
                to find the perfect trainshow souvenir...a train pocket watch with a
                British railway emblem.

                Jeffrey

                --- In VECRR@yahoogroups.com, "David George" <dgeorge24619@...> wrote:
                >
                > O.K. Jeffrey,,,,It's the weekend now and we need another installment
                of your
                > London Adventure.
                >
                > Mister Dave
              • Loren Snyder
                Jeff, A very interesting chapter to the saga of VECRR goes to Europe ! I just hope chapter 3 has a happy ending! Very well written. Loren
                Message 7 of 19 , Apr 11, 2006
                  Jeff,
                  A very interesting chapter to the saga of "VECRR goes to Europe"!   I just hope chapter 3 has a happy ending!
                  Very well written.
                  Loren
                • Peter Ibbotson
                  ... I don t work on the Eurostar extension. I just happen to live very close to it and have bumped into some of the folks working on it in my local pub.
                  Message 8 of 19 , Apr 12, 2006
                    On 4/11/06, Jeffrey MacHan <jmac_han@...> wrote:

                    > the way. For the curious amongst you, Peter is a software consultant
                    > working on the extension to the Eurostar system in London. And if

                    I don't work on the Eurostar extension. I just happen to live very
                    close to it and have bumped into some of the folks working on it in my
                    local pub. (Currently I'm working on a call centre system)
                    The amount of work being done is quite amazing.

                    Peter
                  • Jeffrey MacHan
                    Thanks Peter for correcting me on this. Just goes to show that, although I appear to be listening, I only absorb bits and pieces of information, then
                    Message 9 of 19 , Apr 12, 2006
                      Thanks Peter for correcting me on this. Just goes to show that,
                      although I appear to be listening, I only absorb bits and pieces of
                      information, then reformulate them so that everyone I meet has some
                      relation to railroading! <smile>

                      The "official" Ztrack version of our adventureZ (due in the May-June
                      issue) will include the correct information.

                      Cheers,
                      Jeffrey
                      Roving Z reporter

                      PS. Part 3 is on its way!
                    • Jeffrey MacHan
                      I had set the alarm for 6am on Sunday April 2 but I was up before sunrise due to my excitement about returning to the Alexandra Palace for the second and final
                      Message 10 of 19 , Apr 12, 2006
                        I had set the alarm for 6am on Sunday April 2 but I was up before
                        sunrise due to my excitement about returning to the Alexandra Palace
                        for the second and final day of the Festival of Railway Modelling.

                        Since breakfast wasn't served until 7am at the hotel (Victoria Park
                        Plaza) dining room, I spent a few moments looking over the photos I
                        had taken the previous day. I realized that I hadn't taken a shot of
                        the trains in Victoria Station nor of the impressive Palace building.
                        I made a mental note to take the time that morning to get the missing
                        photos, especially since I wasn't burdened with dragging the VEC case
                        around the tube. My only apprehensions for the day concerned
                        jury-rigging a solution to my "train not moving" situation and getting
                        packed up fast enough to catch the last shuttle bus from the Palace at
                        5:30pm. (I really had to suggest to the organising committee to run
                        the shuttle until 6pm for exhibitors who needed more than 5 minutes to
                        pack up!)

                        At 7:30 am I set off down the street to Victoria Station. The inbound
                        commuter crowds were flowing off the trains in waves. I gingerly
                        picked my way throw the flow until I reached the gates to the Victoria
                        tube line. I deftly ran my day pass through the turnstile ticket
                        validation machine, and moved through the gate as though I had been
                        living in London for years. A few seconds later I was standing on the
                        Victoria North platform waiting with hundreds of other Londoners for
                        the next train. The time-to-next-train was flashing on an overhead
                        monitor. The train arrived right on time and I entered the train and
                        took up a standing position across from the sliding doors. There was
                        no point fighting for a seat since the next stop was my connection for
                        the Picadilly train.

                        I negociated the Picadilly labyrinth without much trouble and took a
                        seat on a bench at the platform. It didn't take more than 2 seconds
                        before a dreadlocked-adorned fellow sat next to me and asked me if I
                        was an American. (It must have been my VECRR jacket that gave him that
                        impression). When I replied that, no, I was from Canada, he joyfully
                        declared that he had been to Canada, Toronto to be specific, and that
                        he really loved Canada. Without losing a beat, he then asked me if I
                        could use a cell phone (mobile in the UK)? "No thanks," I said, "I
                        have everything I need." Before he could close the deal I was saved
                        by the arrival of the Northbound train.

                        If my recent encounter with a mobile peddlar wasn't enough to whip up
                        my insecurities, I noticed that at the next station, the person
                        standing opposite from me had three packages tucked behind his legs.
                        At the next stop, he bent down and grabbed two bags leaving the third
                        behind. Holy cow! Now my insecurities were starting to clamour for
                        my attention. My mind was filled with images of the London bombings
                        and the repeated warnings heard over airport Public-address systems to
                        report unattended bags. Not wanting to make a scene, I decided that
                        I'd let some other consciencious citizen bring the orphan package to
                        the attention of the authorities. Me, I made a descreet exit from the
                        car at the next station! Better safe than sorry, I rationalized to
                        myself. What was an extra 10 minutes wait for the next train when
                        faced with potential dismemberment (that was unlikely since my
                        imaginary bomb was only 5 feet from me - survival would not have been
                        an option).

                        There were no explosions during the remainder of my trip to Wood Green
                        station and I didn't read the following day of any police raids on
                        terrorist cells in downtown London. Still, I was convinced that I had
                        had a close call.

                        Once again, about 35 minutes later, I found myself standing at the
                        exit of the Wood Green Station wondering when the shuttle bus would
                        show up. Once again, I was greeted by a fellow traveller heading to
                        the train show. This time I was met by my American friend who had
                        hunted down the fuses the day before. This guy had no intention of
                        waiting for the shuttle bus, he knew which regular bus line to take to
                        the Palace. Thanks to his local knowledge I had the pleasure of
                        riding one of the new double-deckers that London has been introducing
                        over the last few years. The bus took about 10 minutes to negociate
                        the narrow and steep road up to the Palace and dumped its contents at
                        the entrance to the Palm Court. This time I stayed behind to take a
                        couple of photos of the main building, but not too long since I
                        noticed that my American friend wasn't heading up the steps to the
                        main entrance but making his way around the side of the building to
                        the delivery entrance. So off I ran to catch up, arriving at the door
                        just in time to flash my exhibitor badge at a security guard and slip
                        inside.

                        As I entered the building, I made my way to the public entrance to ask
                        one of the ladies selling the show guide if it would be possible to
                        have a complementary copy in my capacity as exhibitor. She didn't
                        know if that was allowed but immediately set off to check with her
                        superiors. I didn't even have time to wander five feet from the main
                        entrance when she came back and handed me a copy on the condition that
                        I not tell any of the other exhibitors (especially those who had
                        already paid for their copies).

                        I was curious to know why people were telling me that I wasn't listed
                        in the guide. I turned to the list of exhibitors and immediated
                        spotted my listing under "Exporail - Canadian Railway Museum". That
                        was fine with me but it also explained why my "Z" buddies couldn't
                        find me...they were looking in the Layouts section for the VECRR.
                        Well, I couldn't have both listings so it only made sense to register
                        under the name of Exporail, the organisation I was there to promote.

                        It was 30 minutes to opening and I had the time to wander around the
                        West Hall also known as the specialist trade hall. Unfortunately, the
                        tarps were still covering most of the displays. I'd have to find a
                        way to visit the show later (thinking of my pal, Peter Ibbotson). The
                        cantine was open and there was no one waiting in line (or queuing, as
                        they say in the UK). At 9:45 I was back at stand #38, coffee in hand,
                        ready for the mad rush. There was still the problem of the
                        "trains-that-don't-run". All I could do was wait for one or both of
                        my helpers to show up with a Märklin power pack.

                        Stay tuned for the next exciting episode...

                        Respectfully submitted by
                        Jeffrey MacHan
                        Chief Imagineer - VECRR
                        International Ambassador - Exporail

                        The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
                        Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
                      • Jay Greer
                        Gadfree Daniel Jeffrey! The bag man scene is enough to give us all the willies just thinking about it! I was at Heathrow during a lock down with automatic
                        Message 11 of 19 , Apr 12, 2006
                          Gadfree Daniel Jeffrey!
                          The bag man scene is enough to give us all the willies just thinking about
                          it! I was at Heathrow during a lock down with automatic weapons in the hands
                          of the good guys. So I can understand your concern. And the good news is?
                          I look forward to your next installment of your Zeezingly Adventures at the
                          London Festival of Railway Modeling.
                          Cheers,
                          Jay Greer
                          Trax Inc.


                          on 4/12/06 18:03, Jeffrey MacHan at jmac_han@... wrote:

                          > I had set the alarm for 6am on Sunday April 2 but I was up before
                          > sunrise due to my excitement about returning to the Alexandra Palace
                          > for the second and final day of the Festival of Railway Modelling.
                          >
                          > Since breakfast wasn't served until 7am at the hotel (Victoria Park
                          > Plaza) dining room, I spent a few moments looking over the photos I
                          > had taken the previous day. I realized that I hadn't taken a shot of
                          > the trains in Victoria Station nor of the impressive Palace building.
                          > I made a mental note to take the time that morning to get the missing
                          > photos, especially since I wasn't burdened with dragging the VEC case
                          > around the tube. My only apprehensions for the day concerned
                          > jury-rigging a solution to my "train not moving" situation and getting
                          > packed up fast enough to catch the last shuttle bus from the Palace at
                          > 5:30pm. (I really had to suggest to the organising committee to run
                          > the shuttle until 6pm for exhibitors who needed more than 5 minutes to
                          > pack up!)
                          >
                          > At 7:30 am I set off down the street to Victoria Station. The inbound
                          > commuter crowds were flowing off the trains in waves. I gingerly
                          > picked my way throw the flow until I reached the gates to the Victoria
                          > tube line. I deftly ran my day pass through the turnstile ticket
                          > validation machine, and moved through the gate as though I had been
                          > living in London for years. A few seconds later I was standing on the
                          > Victoria North platform waiting with hundreds of other Londoners for
                          > the next train. The time-to-next-train was flashing on an overhead
                          > monitor. The train arrived right on time and I entered the train and
                          > took up a standing position across from the sliding doors. There was
                          > no point fighting for a seat since the next stop was my connection for
                          > the Picadilly train.
                          >
                          > I negociated the Picadilly labyrinth without much trouble and took a
                          > seat on a bench at the platform. It didn't take more than 2 seconds
                          > before a dreadlocked-adorned fellow sat next to me and asked me if I
                          > was an American. (It must have been my VECRR jacket that gave him that
                          > impression). When I replied that, no, I was from Canada, he joyfully
                          > declared that he had been to Canada, Toronto to be specific, and that
                          > he really loved Canada. Without losing a beat, he then asked me if I
                          > could use a cell phone (mobile in the UK)? "No thanks," I said, "I
                          > have everything I need." Before he could close the deal I was saved
                          > by the arrival of the Northbound train.
                          >
                          > If my recent encounter with a mobile peddlar wasn't enough to whip up
                          > my insecurities, I noticed that at the next station, the person
                          > standing opposite from me had three packages tucked behind his legs.
                          > At the next stop, he bent down and grabbed two bags leaving the third
                          > behind. Holy cow! Now my insecurities were starting to clamour for
                          > my attention. My mind was filled with images of the London bombings
                          > and the repeated warnings heard over airport Public-address systems to
                          > report unattended bags. Not wanting to make a scene, I decided that
                          > I'd let some other consciencious citizen bring the orphan package to
                          > the attention of the authorities. Me, I made a descreet exit from the
                          > car at the next station! Better safe than sorry, I rationalized to
                          > myself. What was an extra 10 minutes wait for the next train when
                          > faced with potential dismemberment (that was unlikely since my
                          > imaginary bomb was only 5 feet from me - survival would not have been
                          > an option).
                          >
                          > There were no explosions during the remainder of my trip to Wood Green
                          > station and I didn't read the following day of any police raids on
                          > terrorist cells in downtown London. Still, I was convinced that I had
                          > had a close call.
                          >
                          > Once again, about 35 minutes later, I found myself standing at the
                          > exit of the Wood Green Station wondering when the shuttle bus would
                          > show up. Once again, I was greeted by a fellow traveller heading to
                          > the train show. This time I was met by my American friend who had
                          > hunted down the fuses the day before. This guy had no intention of
                          > waiting for the shuttle bus, he knew which regular bus line to take to
                          > the Palace. Thanks to his local knowledge I had the pleasure of
                          > riding one of the new double-deckers that London has been introducing
                          > over the last few years. The bus took about 10 minutes to negociate
                          > the narrow and steep road up to the Palace and dumped its contents at
                          > the entrance to the Palm Court. This time I stayed behind to take a
                          > couple of photos of the main building, but not too long since I
                          > noticed that my American friend wasn't heading up the steps to the
                          > main entrance but making his way around the side of the building to
                          > the delivery entrance. So off I ran to catch up, arriving at the door
                          > just in time to flash my exhibitor badge at a security guard and slip
                          > inside.
                          >
                          > As I entered the building, I made my way to the public entrance to ask
                          > one of the ladies selling the show guide if it would be possible to
                          > have a complementary copy in my capacity as exhibitor. She didn't
                          > know if that was allowed but immediately set off to check with her
                          > superiors. I didn't even have time to wander five feet from the main
                          > entrance when she came back and handed me a copy on the condition that
                          > I not tell any of the other exhibitors (especially those who had
                          > already paid for their copies).
                          >
                          > I was curious to know why people were telling me that I wasn't listed
                          > in the guide. I turned to the list of exhibitors and immediated
                          > spotted my listing under "Exporail - Canadian Railway Museum". That
                          > was fine with me but it also explained why my "Z" buddies couldn't
                          > find me...they were looking in the Layouts section for the VECRR.
                          > Well, I couldn't have both listings so it only made sense to register
                          > under the name of Exporail, the organisation I was there to promote.
                          >
                          > It was 30 minutes to opening and I had the time to wander around the
                          > West Hall also known as the specialist trade hall. Unfortunately, the
                          > tarps were still covering most of the displays. I'd have to find a
                          > way to visit the show later (thinking of my pal, Peter Ibbotson). The
                          > cantine was open and there was no one waiting in line (or queuing, as
                          > they say in the UK). At 9:45 I was back at stand #38, coffee in hand,
                          > ready for the mad rush. There was still the problem of the
                          > "trains-that-don't-run". All I could do was wait for one or both of
                          > my helpers to show up with a Märklin power pack.
                          >
                          > Stay tuned for the next exciting episode...
                          >
                          > Respectfully submitted by
                          > Jeffrey MacHan
                          > Chief Imagineer - VECRR
                          > International Ambassador - Exporail
                          >
                          > The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
                          > Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > Small SiZe, BIG Enjoyment!
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
                          >
                          > * Visit your group "VECRR <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VECRR> " on the web.
                          > *
                          > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                          > * VECRR-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                          > <mailto:VECRR-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>
                          > *
                          > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service
                          > <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/> .
                          >
                          >
                        • Loren Snyder
                          Ok Jeffrey, Enough teasing, let s get to the good part where you get your trains up and running again and you wow the crowd? That would make a perfect ending
                          Message 12 of 19 , Apr 13, 2006
                            Ok Jeffrey,
                            Enough teasing, let's get to the good part where you get your trains up and running again and you wow the crowd?
                            That would make a perfect ending to your story.   What a trying time for you, but also a fun adventure I'm sure.  Who better  to represent Z abroad than Mr. Ambassador himself?.  Hope you'll share pictures too.
                            All the best,
                            Loren
                          • Jeffrey MacHan
                            Loren, you re right I ve been drawing out the suspense, but...as the wise master once said, Patience, grasshopper, patience! Soon, all will be revealed.
                            Message 13 of 19 , Apr 13, 2006
                              Loren, you're right I've been drawing out the suspense, but...as the
                              wise master once said,

                              "Patience, grasshopper, patience! Soon, all will be revealed."

                              And, yes, I've got pictures which I will format and add to the VEC
                              European AdventureZ page. Naturally, you'll hear about it here, first.

                              Jeffrey
                            • Loren Snyder
                              Jeff, I have a front row seat, my pop corn and soda pop and candy bar.......let the curtain rise! Loren
                              Message 14 of 19 , Apr 13, 2006
                                Jeff,
                                I have a front row seat, my pop corn and soda pop and candy bar.......let the curtain rise!
                                Loren
                              • Jeffrey MacHan
                                Let me start this episode off with a hint of things to come. Overnight, the back of my throat had begun to tingle, a sure sign of having forced my vocal cords
                                Message 15 of 19 , Apr 14, 2006
                                  Let me start this episode off with a hint of things to come.
                                  Overnight, the back of my throat had begun to tingle, a sure sign of
                                  having forced my vocal cords as a result of chatting with hundreds of
                                  folks during the first day of the convention. This was a familiar
                                  scenario and I was hoping that I would be able to avoid losing my
                                  voice during Sunday's show. All I could do was to try to speak
                                  calmly, drink plenty of fluids and keep my fingers crossed. Now back
                                  to our regular program already in progress...

                                  Wonder of wonders, there he was, Peter Ibbotson, arriving with a
                                  Märklin transformer, two lengths of hook-up wire and a UK power bar,
                                  just the items needed to hopefully get the trains running and
                                  eliminating those embarassing questions from the rug rats. True to
                                  form, Peter also had come along with a great big smile, plus coffee
                                  and all the fixins. I was beginning to really like this guy.

                                  I plugged the power bar into the single electrical outlet provided by
                                  the show management, plugged the M throttle into the power bar,
                                  plugged the 85 watt (not 1850 watt) power transfo into the power bar
                                  and plugged the halogen light into the power transfo. The light
                                  worked, now it was time to test my theory as to how to get the trains
                                  operational.

                                  Just as I was about to pop open my tool box to get some cutters in
                                  order to strip the ends of the hook-up wire, Ann Silby, creator of the
                                  other Z layout at the show, the "Loosely Warren", which will soon
                                  grace the pages of Ztrack Magazine, came by with her Märklin throttle.
                                  Talk about generosity and hospitality to a fellow Zedster in
                                  distress. I thanked Ann profusely and mentioned that it was a good
                                  thing to have a backup throttle just in case Peter's unit gave us
                                  problems. Both Peter and Ann stuck around, coffees in hand to see
                                  what the result of my patch job would be.

                                  Using a pair of alligator clip-equiped jumper wires from my tool box,
                                  I attached the M throttle wires to the rails of the upper level track
                                  that would normally connect to Centre Val Ease, you know the track I'm
                                  talking about. Since there were trees blocking the view of the clips
                                  from shorter visitors to the layout, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't
                                  get pestered with "what are those wires for?" questions all day.

                                  Time to test my repair job. I turned the control dial and...nothing!
                                  Wait a minute, I hadn't plugged in the VEW control box. I crossed my
                                  fingers hoping that the short didn't involve the block control
                                  circuitry. A quick turn of the dial and off sped the "Rocket". A
                                  roar errupted from the gathered observers. Success! I throttled back
                                  until the "Rocket" was purring around the layout just like in the good
                                  ol' dayZ.

                                  I did some housekeeping, tucking the throttle into a spot where I
                                  hoped nobody would take notice and let the train run happy circles
                                  around the layout. Just a note about the "Rocket". This tourist
                                  train is pulled by a M railbus wearing Union Pacific colors. The
                                  first car (called a truck for some reason in the UK) is almost always
                                  an Aztec track cleaning car to keep dust buildup under control. Then
                                  comes my scratch-bashed UP tourist gondola complete with seated
                                  passengers, and pulling up the rear is a M "Golden Spike" caboose in
                                  UP colors. The "Rocket" is a colorful and useful train for exhibition
                                  purposes. The kids love the tiny passengers and I get to explain why
                                  there are dinosaurs on the layout.

                                  Speaking of dinosaurs, there are a total of 8 dinosaus in the woods
                                  just above "Bablin Brook" trestle bridge. It is amazing how many kids
                                  can actually name all 8 of the beasts. Let me see: T-Rex is the most
                                  recognizable, then stegasaurus, pleodon, Mr. and Mrs. brontosaurus and
                                  my favorites, momma triceratops and her two babies. T-Rex is looking
                                  for a nice light snack and the two triceratops tykes fit the bill
                                  nicely. Unfortunately for Mr. T, Momma Triceratops has other ideas
                                  and is blocking the way to the food bar.

                                  Note: the pewter dinosaurs are all to scale. I custom painted them
                                  in, what I consider to be, authentic colors. Hey, who can contradict
                                  me on that score? I'd say that about 80% of the kids spot the
                                  Jurassic park residents without prompting although the younger ones
                                  sometimes need encouragement. The dinos are always a hit with
                                  visitors. Why are they there? Well, as the story goes, there was a
                                  downturn in the local economy (lumber mill closed and the mine was
                                  having problems). The Chamber of Commerce of Val Ease West came up
                                  with a scheme to attract tourists to the area which, after all, had a
                                  lot to offer: hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, a lodge with spa but
                                  no suitable attraction to get the attention of foreign visitors. Hey,
                                  how about inviting sculpters to design and build a series of life-size
                                  dinosaurs and offer a prize to the winning proposal? Sounded good to
                                  the members of the C of C, too.

                                  So the dinosaurs came to inhabit the woods along the upper right edge
                                  of the layout and the "Rocket" was put into service to ferry the
                                  ever-growing number of tourists up the grade to CVE lodge and spa,
                                  stopping along the way for a relaxing half-hour at the dino park for a
                                  moment to stretch legs, have a smoke (heaven forbid) and to have a
                                  Kodak moment with the Jusassic friends. All of the above justifies a
                                  twice-daily return run of the "Rocket" on the VECRR timetable.

                                  Now trains were moving, no more excuses, time to greet the eager
                                  visitors who were starting to stream into the Palace.

                                  At noon, or thereabouts, Peter came by to give me a potty break and to
                                  let me visit the show. He had pretty much picked up my spiel and was
                                  happily entertaining the kids and parents with his version of my
                                  dinosaur tale and handing out Exporail brochures. He looked so much
                                  at home as my newest VEC crewmember that I decided to wander around a bit.

                                  Stay tuned for the next exciting episode where I tell you of all the
                                  wonderous things on display at the London Festival of Railway
                                  Modelling. And yes, I did pay for coffees for Peter and me all day
                                  Sunday. <smile>


                                  Respectfully submitted by
                                  Jeffrey MacHan
                                  Chief Imagineer - VECRR
                                  International Ambassador - Exporail

                                  The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
                                  Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
                                • Jeffrey MacHan
                                  Time for some background info on the LFRM. This year is the Festival s 7th edition. The number of visitors was growing and about 15000 people were expected
                                  Message 16 of 19 , Apr 15, 2006
                                    Time for some background info on the LFRM.

                                    This year is the Festival's 7th edition. The number of visitors was
                                    growing and about 15000 people were expected over the weekend
                                    (counting the small fry who didn't have to pay to get in).

                                    The train show was divided into four categories: Exhibitors
                                    (commercial displays), Layouts, Clubs/Societies, Demonstrations. The
                                    show venue was divided into two major display areas. The Great Hall,
                                    where I was located, had the organ, the stained glass window and a
                                    high, vaulting translucent roof which allowed natural light to bathe
                                    the displays as well as the food court <smile>. The West Hall, where
                                    most of the specialty traders and demonstrations were situated, had a
                                    low ceiling and no natural lighting. I feel sorry for the folks who
                                    got stuck there!

                                    The Festival is, by any measure, a major train show. With 205 stands
                                    of varying size and 42 operating layouts, the Festival was as big as
                                    they come in the UK. For good measure, the Festival took place in one
                                    of the most beautiful exhibition venues I have ever had the privilege
                                    of visiting.

                                    Two other things struck me about the Festival. First of all, Warners
                                    Group, the show sponsor, published a 36-page full-color show guide
                                    with a floor plan and full descriptions of all the exhibitors. It was
                                    on sale for 1 pound. Second, I was very impressed with the British
                                    attention to the quality of their displays. Almost all of the layouts
                                    had valences with hidden lighting. The layout fascias also invariably
                                    had a space reserved for all of the exhibition badges where that
                                    particular layout had been on display. The badges usually said
                                    something like this - As seen at NEC Warley Exhibition, Date. I
                                    noticed that several layouts had already pasted their Festival badge.
                                    My exhibitor badge was not quite as handsome but I had a souvenir
                                    nevertheless.

                                    In my experience, the only North American show that comes close to the
                                    sophistication of the Festival (i.e. show guide, exhibitor badge,
                                    professional organisation, etc.) is the NMRA National Train Show.

                                    Okay, now for some observations on the sights and sounds of the Festival.

                                    Beginning my tour to my right and circling around counter-clockwise, I
                                    first came across the Hornby stand which was featuring their new line
                                    of OO live steam locos. Yes, live steam! OO is British HO so you can
                                    imagine the miniscule dimensions of these live steamers. I saw them
                                    in action at Sun Youth in Montréal just 7 days earlier and I can
                                    attest to the locos smooth operation and prototypical smell <smile>.
                                    The speed is controlled from a main throttle which operates on a
                                    DCC-like priniciple. The throttle commands the heating element
                                    (boiler) which in turn generates the steam to power the pistons.
                                    Amazing to behold. As a side note, I saw the throttle for sale at
                                    Harrod's for 300 pounds! Yikes! and Yikes again!

                                    There were several OO, HO and N layouts in this area mainly of steam
                                    era British outline. For the most part, the layouts were shelf-style
                                    shunting designs. Some names were "Canada Road", "Abbey Road",
                                    "Littlewood", "Hammeston Warf" and "Dobson Bridge", the later being a
                                    large Gauge 1 modular layout. The workmanship on these layouts was
                                    variable although the operators were all very friendly and outgoing,
                                    none of this hiding from the public as we encounter far too often in
                                    North American shows.

                                    I then entered a vendor area featuring G-scale (LGB and USA Trains).
                                    There were several book vendors, tool vendors, flea-market-type
                                    vendors in several scales but no "British railroad pocketwatch" vendors!

                                    Next thing I knew I was standing in front of Ann and Brian Solby's
                                    creations. They had two layouts on display, the N-scale German
                                    Rhine-themed "Zweiburg" (scenery by Ann) and the Z-scale "Loosely
                                    Warren" (scenery and rolling stock by Ann). Here was where I
                                    encountered extraordinary craftsmanship and conceptual design. Ann
                                    was apologetic for her "poor" scenery! On the contrary, she had done
                                    a magnificent job with rock faces, vineyards, beaches and water
                                    surfaces. She should be giving workshops for gosh sake!

                                    Both layouts were simple double mainline oval designs with only one
                                    side of the oval visible to the public. Valence lighting really
                                    brought out the highlights of both layouts. Ann's Z-layout featured
                                    British-outline locos and rolling stock, some of which she had painted
                                    herself. She had a small classification yard on the operator's side
                                    of the layout so that she could run a variety of trains. Most of her
                                    structures were bought used which kept her costs down.

                                    Hopefully, you'll be able to read more about the "Loosely Warren"
                                    along with several photos in the May-June issue of Ztrack Magazine.

                                    Moving along, I came across a well-known show layout built by the
                                    "Model Railway Club" of London called "Coppenhagen Fields". I had
                                    been told to not miss this layout but frankly, I wasn't all that
                                    impressed. It was grey and dusty and half finished, something that I
                                    personally don't enjoy seeing at a public show. I quickly moved on to
                                    the large Bachmann Branchline display. Bachmann is really big in the
                                    UK (HO and OO). For N, people tend to stick to Graham Farrish, who
                                    also had a booth.

                                    Next up in my Festival tour was the "Model Railway Club" stand. Just
                                    by the name, you can tell that these guys know the meaning of
                                    "snobbism". I kept looking at name tags to see if I could nab Nick
                                    Freezer, the official layout coordinator from whom I never received
                                    the slightest sign of life in over three years of effort to contact
                                    him. I really wanted to share some of my thoughts on his
                                    communication skills but then again, maybe it was just as well that I
                                    got sidetracked listening to his father, Cyril Freezer, share some of
                                    his model railroading wisdom with several admirers. Cyril, you see,
                                    is the UK's model railroad guru. He is the author of a dozen or more
                                    books and is the member-emeritus of the "Model Railway Club". He
                                    looked to be in his late seventies or even older but his ageless
                                    enthusiasm for the hobby was abundantly evident from his animated
                                    conversation with his guests.

                                    Next up was the British Railway Modelling stand (Warners Group
                                    Publishing). I wanted to thank Sally Beresford for her help in
                                    arranging my presence at the show but she was off running the show
                                    (floor manager in addition to several other tasks). I did get a
                                    chance to say hello as she rushed by, but that was all.

                                    The rest of the display area in the Great Hall was occupied by vendors
                                    of all sorts. They seemed to be doing excellent business. I decided
                                    that I should take a quick tour of the West Hall while I had Peter
                                    doing my job at the VEW / Exporail stand.

                                    The West Hall was about half the size of the Great Hall and much
                                    gloomier (no natural light). This was the place to find most of the
                                    demonstrations on car construction, scenery techniques and model
                                    railroad electronics with the MERG folks, the group that Peter had
                                    abandoned to give me a helping hand.

                                    Most of the layouts in the West Hall were club layouts in a variety of
                                    scales. The most impressive, to my eye, was an On30 shunting layout
                                    called "Murphy's Quay". It was highly detailed and very well
                                    presented, just the way I like it. I later found out that there was a
                                    layout competition at the show but "Murphy's Quay" didn't take top
                                    honours although it would certainly have gotten my vote.

                                    Also to be found in the West Hall was the stand for the "National
                                    Railway Museum" in York. The middle-aged couple who were on duty had
                                    spent several very enjoyable minutes with me at the VEW stand,
                                    chatting about the state of things at the National Museum and how
                                    difficult it was to find volunteers who would represent the Museum at
                                    train shows. Part of my mission for Exporail was to make contact with
                                    other major museums in order to establish information sharing and
                                    other linkages. I was invited to take part in the York Train Show
                                    which is held every Easter weekend. Unfortunately, after being
                                    rebuffed three times in 2001, 2002 and 2003 (after initially receiving
                                    a positive response from the organisers), I had finally gotten the
                                    message and taken York off my potential train show list. As Marthe
                                    says, "Why waste your time with groups that don't want you there?"
                                    Good question! Must be ego, I guess. I can't take No for an answer
                                    but Yes-No - Yes-No - Yes-No finally connects.

                                    I had come full circle and had returned to the VEW / Exporail stand
                                    with coffees for Peter and myself. Peter had done such a fine job as
                                    crewmember and for saving the day with his loan of a throttle that I
                                    decided to add his name to the very exclusive list of VECRR life
                                    members (see the database if you don't believe me!).

                                    There is more to tell, so don't go too far. Stay tuned for the next
                                    exciting episode of the London Festival AdventureZ.


                                    Respectfully submitted by
                                    Jeffrey MacHan
                                    Chief Imagineer - VECRR
                                    International Ambassador - Exporail

                                    The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
                                    Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
                                  • Jeffrey MacHan
                                    Well, dear fellow Valeasians, we are sadly coming closer to the end of this wonderful tale of adventure at the Festival. Let s wrap up the day s events.
                                    Message 17 of 19 , Apr 15, 2006
                                      Well, dear fellow Valeasians, we are sadly coming closer to the end of
                                      this wonderful tale of adventure at the Festival. Let's wrap up the
                                      day's events.

                                      During the fading hours of the Festival, several interesting visitors
                                      came by. One gentleman remarked having seen the VEC in Model
                                      Railroader Magazine. He wondered why I hadn't brought the entire
                                      layout. That gave me the opportunity to explain my role as Exporail
                                      Ambassador and the need to keep the VECRR under glass at the Museum.
                                      I showed him the custom case for VEW which allowed me to fly to London
                                      with the layout "safely" stowed away in the baggage comparment. I
                                      pointed out that the cost of shipping the VECRR to Sinsheim was $2200,
                                      to Utrecht about $4000 and that the bill for extra luggage for VEW (26
                                      kg) was $40! Any other questions?

                                      Quite a few visitors were interested in Micro-Trains and asked where
                                      they could buy MTL products. The answer, at least as far as London
                                      was concerned, was M. G. Sharp. They were not at the show. Maybe
                                      Eric Smith should encourage them to participate at next year's event,
                                      especially now that MTL has a new range of track and leading edge
                                      locos and rolling stock. Too bad that the GP35 and oval of track they
                                      promised me didn't show up. I'm sure that MTL would have been a hit
                                      at the show.

                                      About 3pm on Sunday afternoon a lovely young lady armed with a Canon
                                      EOS 20D digital camera stopped in front of Val Ease West. She held
                                      back about 10 feet and just stared at the layout. After a time, she
                                      approached and asked if she could take some pictures. Certainly, by
                                      all means! Well, she must have spent half an hour at the layout
                                      taking pictures from all angles, close-ups of the trains, buildings,
                                      and the dinosaurs. She asked all about the layout and how it was
                                      made. We were having a lovely time when another gentleman arrived,
                                      also decked out with a large digital camera. They knew each other.
                                      It appears that they were both reporters for local newspapers. The
                                      gentleman wasn't interested in the layout but the young lady was
                                      fascinated. I never did get the name of her paper (a local weekly)
                                      but I was happy that there was some journalistic interest in my work.

                                      I was asked a myriad of questions over the weekend. Most involved the
                                      time it took to make a layout like VEW. Several people wanted to
                                      build a coffee table or shelf layout for their flats. Others wanted
                                      to know about Exporail and quite a few mentioned that they would try
                                      to include a visit to the Museum on their next trip to the Colonies.
                                      The kids wanted to know if the train could go any faster, naturally.

                                      But the most intriguing question I was asked came from a local model
                                      club member. After chatting for a few minutes he asked, "What is in
                                      it for you?" That really took me off guard. I had to think a bit
                                      before I answered. I'm in it for the pleasure of experiencing contact
                                      with people of all ages from all around the world. Sure, I like to
                                      share the passion of a hobby but, deep down, I just like meeting
                                      people. My model railroading adventures have certainly gotten me out
                                      of the house, no doubt about it.

                                      Well, the day had come to a close. Just like our North American
                                      shows, several vendors and layout groups had started to pack up with
                                      15 minutes to go. I didn't bother since I didn't have much to pack up
                                      and there were still visitors in the area. But once the PA announced
                                      that the show was closed, I went to work packing up the trains,
                                      collecting my posters, coiling the cables and carefully packing
                                      everything inside VEW and then transfering VEW into the custom case.

                                      Just as I was closing the last combination lock on the case,
                                      crewmember Peter Ibbotson came along to collect his throttle and power
                                      bar. I asked him if he'd mind dropping me off at King's Cross Station
                                      once again. No trouble, he replied. Just at that moment, who came
                                      along but Marthe, my son, his fiancée and her sister. Very
                                      thoughtfully, they had decided to come and pick me up.

                                      Thanks Peter for your generous offer of a lift but the family is here
                                      and it's time to go. Hopefully, we'll meet again...Paris in 2007, maybe?

                                      ************ Some last thoughts *****************

                                      My Festival experience was one of the best so far, right up there with
                                      my NMRA championship in 2001, San Jose with the Sutfins in 2000, and
                                      Sinsheim and Utrecht with Terry Sutfin.

                                      Believe it or not, the registration package for next year's show
                                      arrived in the mail on Thursday! It's something to think about. I
                                      know that Marthe wants to return to London. She had a terrific trip
                                      and we had a wonderful week.

                                      I never did find a British Railway pocket watch. In fact, I couldn't
                                      even find any on eBay. Very strange!

                                      The rest of our trip in London included several highlights:

                                      - visit to the British Museum (free entry), seeing the Rosetta Stone,
                                      - high tea,
                                      - watching the crowds watching the changing of the guard ceremony at
                                      Buckingham Palace,
                                      - taking the bus tour of London to see the sights: Big Ben,
                                      Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the parlement buildings, etc.,
                                      - a 30 minute ride (flight)on the London Eye,
                                      - a tour boat ride along the Thames to see London Bridge, Tower
                                      Bridge, Millenium Bridge, the Tower of London, the Globe Theatre, and
                                      many other historically important sites,
                                      - visit to the London aquarium (next to the Eye),
                                      - several cab rides,
                                      - wonderful dining at Uno's (Japanese) and the Landmark Hotel (Indian
                                      buffet) and a French restaurant that served chocolate pudding that was
                                      to die for,
                                      - visit to T. Rex at the Museum of Natural History (free entry),
                                      - visit to London's premier rubber stamp store (across from the
                                      British Museum on Burly Street),
                                      - browsing at York (London) Cameras (Canon specialists) and finding a
                                      lens hood for my 10-22mm ultra-wide angle zoom lens,
                                      - several stops at downtown cafes for lattés,
                                      - browsing at Alexanders on Saville Row,
                                      - shopping at Harrod's,
                                      - watching the commuter trains arrive and depart at Victoria Station,
                                      - discovering Boots Pharmacy where I bought throat spray, cough syrup
                                      and lozenges (my scratchy throat flared up into full-fledged strep
                                      throat, with enough coughing to keep me up three nights running -
                                      finally antibiotics brought the darn thing under control),
                                      - taking a trip in a London ambulace and spending 3 hours in Queen
                                      Elizabeth Hospital emergency ward as Marthe got a rather nasty cut on
                                      her shin taken care of. She had slipped getting into a cab. The step
                                      was rather high and the soles on her new shoes were rather slick. No
                                      matter what they say about British health care, the ambulance service
                                      and the emergency care was top notch. (Note: Marthe is doing very
                                      well, thanks to the attention she received at the hospital in London),
                                      - and of course, attending our son's wedding in a charming Victorian
                                      registry office on a beautiful sunny day and meeting our new
                                      daughter-in-law's parents. (Note: Marthe hurt herself AFTER the
                                      wedding and we all managed to be on time for the celebratory supper at
                                      6:30 pm).

                                      The flights back home went relatively well. KLM is recognized for
                                      their customer service. I did notice that one passenger in particular
                                      was concerned about my coughing, but then again, I noticed that lots
                                      of people were coughing. The final leg or our return trip was on a
                                      charter bus from Montréal airport to Ottawa train station where we
                                      took a cab to our home. It was about an hour after arriving at home
                                      that I noticed that our passports were missing. I must have dropped
                                      them in the bus. Try as I might, there was no way to reach the bus
                                      driver since KLM's service desk was closed. When I reached them the
                                      next day, they gave me a completely useless phone number. Then, just
                                      as I was about to report our missing passports to the Canadian
                                      governement, we received a phone call from the bus driver. He had
                                      found our passports and could drop them off in a few minutes since he
                                      actually lived nearby.

                                      How about that for a happy ending!

                                      ***********************************

                                      Thank you for letting me share this adventure with you. I hope that
                                      you have enjoyed reading these episodes as much as I have had reliving
                                      the wonderful experiences of the Festival and London in the Spring.
                                      Thanks to Peter Ibbotson and to my generous corporate sponsors without
                                      whose support I'd be doing my taxes instead of flying around the world
                                      having so much fun. This is a great hobby! <grin>

                                      Respectfully submitted by
                                      Jeffrey MacHan
                                      Chief Imagineer - VECRR
                                      International Ambassador - Exporail

                                      The VECRR Adventures are supported by Micro-Trains Line, Ztrack
                                      Magazine, Märklin Inc. and Exporail - the Canadian Railway Museum.
                                    • Manfred G
                                      Hi Jeffrey, Just got a chance to finish reading about your and Martha s trip to London. What a great adventure and of course your telling of it all made it
                                      Message 18 of 19 , Apr 18, 2006
                                        Hi Jeffrey,

                                        Just got a chance to finish reading about your and Martha's trip to
                                        London. What a great adventure and of course your telling of it all made
                                        it seem as if I was there. Thanks for helping us all experience these
                                        trips and broaden our horizons a bit more then might otherwise be possible.

                                        Manfred G.
                                      • Jeffrey MacHan
                                        Hi Manfred, I m glad you enjoyed my little Festival blog. I plan to format the 6 episodes to include the photos I took and place them on the Val-Ease-
                                        Message 19 of 19 , Apr 18, 2006
                                          Hi Manfred,

                                          I'm glad you enjoyed my little Festival blog. I plan to format the 6
                                          episodes to include the photos I took and place them on the Val-Ease-
                                          Central.com site. I'll provide the link ASAP.

                                          The London trip has really got my juices flowing about upcoming events.
                                          I've negociated a spot at NTS 2006 in the BYOZ area and the hotel room
                                          in Philadelpha is booked from July 6th to 10th. I really like doing
                                          train shows with only one section of the VEC. I now realize just how
                                          stressful it was having to set up and babysit the entire layout, even
                                          with the help of crewmembers.

                                          I've started to rewire VEW to make it easy to touble shoot and to add a
                                          plug for an external power pack, just in case <wink>. Note: I still
                                          don't know what caused the problem at the Festival, but I'm working on
                                          it.

                                          All the best,
                                          Jeffrey


                                          --- In VECRR@yahoogroups.com, Manfred G <afn47583@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > Hi Jeffrey,
                                          >
                                          > Just got a chance to finish reading about your and Martha's trip to
                                          > London. What a great adventure and of course your telling of it all
                                          made
                                          > it seem as if I was there.
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