Report -- Z at Seattle train show
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.
--- 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.