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Report -- Z at Seattle train show

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  • Andy Hunting
    Hello, everyone -- I m happy to report that the first show for the Northwest Pacific Z Scalers went even better than expected. All things considered, I think
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 2, 2002
      Hello, everyone --

      I'm happy to report that the first show for the Northwest Pacific Z
      Scalers went even better than expected. All things considered, I
      think we made a good showing at the 29th Annual Model Railroad Show
      in Seattle, Washington.

      I say "better than expected"; actually, we really didn't know what to
      expect, but we knew it would be an adventure. We'd been rushing to
      get some modules up and running over the last few weeks, and were
      confident that even though we hadn't had a chance to test everything,
      somehow we'd be able to run trains. As for having all our wiring in
      place, let alone luxuries like scenery -- well, that was another
      question! :-)

      During the Wednesday night setup session, Tom Gilchrist and I set up
      three modules: the club's 3 x 4-foot and 2.5 x 3.5-foot end modules,
      and Tom's 4 x 6-foot module with a five-track passenger station area
      and a freight siding. Expecting Bob Grant's 2x4 module to show up on
      Friday morning, we attached our Märklin expansion tracks but didn't
      connect all the modules together. Tom brought along a tall,
      illuminated display stand to show off our club logo and post a few
      fun facts about Z scale.

      Bob arrived on Friday morning, but sadly his module will have to wait
      until our next show. So we connected together what we had on hand
      (about 14 feet end-to-end), improvised some temporary wiring where
      needed, cleaned the track, and got ready for the doors to open.

      We were in a good location, right inside the doors to one of the
      several Science Center buildings. So people couldn't help but notice
      us as they passed by. And practically everybody had to stop and take
      a closer look at "those tiny trains".

      Our first chore was to smooth out some trouble spots in the trackwork
      and clean a few turnout contacts. Within the first hour or so, we had
      greatly reduced the number of stalls and derailments. Naturally, we
      didn't banish them all, but overall the layout ran quite smoothly the
      entire weekend.

      Jim Glass arrived with some Z people and animals, each one
      beautifully hand-painted by his daughter-in-law. Before long, tiny
      travellers were walking into the station at the front of the layout,
      and a small herd of Holsteins were grazing near the big bend in the
      track, undisturbed by what I think was a Z-scale surveying party on a
      field expedition.

      I personally worked (or should I say played?) a four-hour shift each
      day, plus some setup and take-down time. Jim and Bob were there for
      similar amounts of time, and Tom held down the fort for virtually the
      entire show.

      A wide variety of American-prototype equipment spent "quality time"
      on the rails. Due to the personality quirks of the particular
      operators present, the consists were often dominated by such
      roadnames as the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Frisco, and Baltimore &
      Ohio, seasoned with a dash of Union Pacific and Pennsylvania. There
      were about equal amounts of Märklin and Micro-trains equipment, plus
      some Pennzee hoppers and an Aztec track-cleaner. Tom is a fan of
      Märklin's US-prototype tankers, and put together a colorful string of

      Motive power was provided by at least four different Märklin and
      Micro-Trains F7 A-A and A-B-A sets and at least one representative of
      each of the AZL releases, as well as an FR boxcab and several Märklin
      steamers. Bob even brought a rare Nelson Gray F7 shell on a Micro-
      Trains chassis for a test run. With a 30-foot loop of mainline at our
      disposal, the layout made an ideal test track for breaking in a few
      locos that hadn't had much of a chance to get out on the road.

      Meanwhile, it was fun to see how fascinated people were with Z scale.
      It was truly a novelty to many of them. The tunnel seemed especially
      popular with smaller children (like peek-a-boo with trains?), while
      grownup children could be seen trying to examine the lettering and
      detail on each freight car as it rolled past. The occasional
      passenger-station stop was a favorite, and the cows got their share
      of attention. Long trains passing each other on the mainline were
      crowd-pleasers too.

      Naturally, the most common question was about size, and how did we
      manage to see what we were doing? The one phrase I heard most from
      passersby was "Oh, so THAT's Z Scale!" Actually, a good many of them
      said something like "That's Z-Track!", so I suspect that our copy of
      the magazine in the middle of the center module must have been an eye-
      catcher. Either way, Z made a definite impression.

      As with Terry Sutfin's GATS show last weekend, a few Z scalers
      appeared and introduced themselves, some with layouts of their own
      under construction. Hopefully we'll hear from a few at upcoming club
      meetings, or here on the z_scale list.

      As an added attraction (or distraction), Tom occasionally turned the
      show into an impromptu scenery clinic. At the start of the weekend,
      the modules' landscape came in exactly two colors: hydrocal white and
      foam pink. By Sunday night, the two-foot-high mountain above the
      tunnel on one end module was in full color, and sprouting grass,
      shrubs, and trees. The opposite end is now boasts earth tones and a
      paved road, and is ready for future developments. One of the show
      organizers came by on Saturday night and thanked Tom for the
      demonstration. Meanwhile, I spent a little time drilling and
      soldering a few feeder wires into place to power the station and
      siding tracks, keeping at least one train running at almost all
      times. When the mainline had to be closed for less loco-friendly
      scenery work on the mountainside, makeshift switching operations at
      the station kept the action going.

      Sunday night breakdown provided a few logistical challenges. We're
      still working out who has vehicle space, storage room, etc. But Bob
      and Tom have some ideas which, with a little carpentry, should give
      us a good system for transporting and setting up shows. All in all, I
      think we're off to a good start!

      We've got preliminary plans to attend the Seattle GATS in March. I
      see that Terry Sutfin has plans to attend too, so it should be fun.
      We'll keep you all posted as things develop. Thanks to all of you who
      stopped by. Hope to see you soon!

      -- Andy Hunting
      Northwest Pacific Z Scalers
    • ted_lamar@peoplesoft.com
      Thanks for the great report!! T
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 2, 2002
        Thanks for the great report!!

      • jmac_han
        Hi Andy, What an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable report. It sounded like you guys had a terrific time, met some new friends and made progress on scenery,
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 3, 2002
          Hi Andy,

          What an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable report. It sounded like
          you guys had a terrific time, met some new friends and made
          progress on scenery, track, people, cows ...

          On the subject of scenery and GATS, you guys can make some
          extra pocket money by giving some workshops at GATS. Your
          scenery work would make a good subject.

          Anyway, I'm going to print out your report and read it to my wife
          before we head out of the house and off to work.

          You and your fellow Northwest Pacific crewmates have been
          inducted into the Z_Scale "Z Ambassadors" database and your
          GATS appearance in March has been added as an upcoming
          event. (no pressure!)

          You guys did a wonderful job at the Pacific Science Center Show.

          Jeffrey MacHan

          --- In z_scale@y..., "Andy Hunting" <zscale@r...> wrote:
          > Hello, everyone --
          > I'm happy to report that the first show for the Northwest Pacific
          > Scalers went even better than expected.
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