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Show report: GATS at Portland, OR

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  • Jeffrey MacHan
    Hi Gang, I promised a report on the GATS in Portland, Oregon as soon as I had some pictures to share. As you know, I introduced the newest addition to the Val
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 6, 2000
      Hi Gang,

      I promised a report on the GATS in Portland, Oregon as soon as I had some
      pictures to share.

      As you know, I introduced the newest addition to the Val Ease Central RR at
      this show last February 19-20. Another first at Portland was having Terry
      Sutfin as a neighbor. He displayed his coffee table style layout under
      plexiglass. We were joined in our small scale area by my wife, Marthe, who
      ran her award winning HOn30 layout, also suitcase based.

      First of all, hats off to Terry who had the terrific idea of organizing a
      food drive during the Great American Train Show. He had contacted the
      organizers and arranged for them to provide a $1 discount to anyone bringing
      canned goods or non-perishable items to the show. Cash donations also
      merited a $1 coupon. Terry was joined by his dynamo of a spouse, Helen, at
      the donation table. I have to point out that Terry had his hands full
      during the show weekend since he was showing his Z layout, running back and
      forth to the food drive table and giving encouragement to the HO modular
      group (also at the show) of which he is also a member.

      The weather was great on the first day so attendance was way down from last
      year. Since I had to test run all three suitcases individually before
      joining them, it took me 2.5 hours to set up the layout.. Of course there
      were a couple of loose wires to reconnect and track to clean. Finally with
      5 minutes to go before the show opened to the public at 11am, I had trains
      running over the whole layout.

      Terry had his layout set up the night before, he's so organized, so his
      beautiful set of Rogue GP38-2s were ready to go. They performed flawlessly
      of course. He also had a steam train running in the opposite direction. He
      only had 1 derailment all weekend, just ONE!

      In fact, we were very pleased by the performance of our trains. The new
      addition to Val Ease, Center Val Ease, didn't cause me many problems. The
      only irritants came on the second day when I decided to run the passenger
      consist through the Centre Val Ease tunnel which required traversing a
      crossing in both directions, a double slip switch and an intermediate
      turnout. To my chagrin, the front truck of the F7A would derail every 6-7
      cycles through the switches. I thought that the double slip was to blame
      but no, it was a tight gauge on the turnout. When I spread the rail
      slightly with my finger everything worked great.

      I still had one tricky area where derailments would occur every so often
      only on the second day?...the bridge from Centre Val Ease to Val Ease West.
      I think that the table began to sag quite a bit which eventually produced a
      slight high spot in the joint from one suitcase to the other. The only
      solution to this problem is to indent the lip of the suitcase so that the
      bridge track section can sit slightly lower. I must also take care when
      connecting the suitcases to shim them so that the transitions are level.
      This is always a challenge since the 9 foot tables at train shows tend to
      sag in the middle thus putting greater stress on the transition sections.

      The organizers said that there were 3000 paid visitors to the show, which
      means that we saw about 5000 counting the kids...and there were lots of
      kids. Our layouts were surrounded by kids all weekend.

      I am also happy to mention that my wife and I tied for 4th place in the
      popular vote contest.

      We had a great time at the show. Believe it or not it only took me 35
      minutes to pack up. Adding a 3rd suitcase gave me more room to play with
      when it came time to pack.

      It was great fun having Terry next door. He came to be able to rerail my
      trains which would jump the track as soon as I had my back turned, of

      Marthe and I are looking forward to our next event with Terry and Helen
      which will be the National Train Show in San Jose, CA next August 3-6. Hope
      to see all of you there.

      Jeffrey MacHan
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