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NTS2000 Road Trip - Day 5 Report (delayed)

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  • Jeffrey MacHan
    Day 5 of the Excellent Adventure is finally upon us...it s Train Show Day 1. Sorry about the delay, but sleep deprivation was becoming a real risk! Part One:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2000
      Day 5 of the Excellent Adventure is finally upon us...it's Train Show Day 1.

      Sorry about the delay, but sleep deprivation was becoming a real risk!

      Part One: the Layout Competition

      As our intrepid group was careening toward the convention centre to be 1st
      in line for the 8 am opening, Helen, impossibly philosophical so early in
      the morning, tried to reassure yours truly with another wisp of wisdom
      entirely appropriate for the NMRA layout competition:

      "It is better to have run and lost than to never to have run at all"

      However, I was not entirely convinced that I would even be allowed to run
      (as had happened at last year's National Train Show in St. Paul, MN.)

      Nevertheless, at the 8 am opening I was running up the ramp to find Dean
      Dickerhoof to present my entry for the module competition. I quickly
      spotted his red baseball cap and moved in for the presentation. Dean
      informed me with an air of detachment that he was not responsible for the
      competition (despite the fact that his name is on every piece of paper that
      I had received instructing prospective competitors to remit the entry forms
      to him), that entries were now to be remitted to the chief judge, John

      "Wonderful! Where is he?" I asked.
      "Won't get here 'till 9:30," Dean replied.
      "You'll send him to me, won't you, Dean?" I said trying to keep the edge of
      panic out of my voice.
      "Sure thing." Dean shot back over his shoulder as he disappeared into the

      Marthe, my lovely wife, looked over and said, "Forget that! You'll never see

      I taped my entry form to the top edge of the suitcase and went about my
      business getting trains onto the layout. Terry was having fun scouring the
      aisles for Z scale and chatting up a storm with manufacturers and fellow
      train show participants.

      Finally, Marthe called me over in an excited voice. I looked over to see
      her standing next to a tall gentleman in a red conductor's hat. She had
      cornered the Chief Judge and he was going nowhere until I got to talk to

      John Selkirk was from Sault Saint Marie, Ontario, I could see from his
      convention badge. I quickly explained my desire to participate in the
      competition. He replied with a very curt "No."

      I kept my calm. I had been preparing for this moment of confrontation for
      12 months. I would not be denied.

      "My paperwork is ready, I was here yesterday to hand it in, and I have come
      4000 miles to do this thing," I blurted out.

      "I have come 3000 miles," he shot back.

      "Well I'm from Toronto, how could you deny a fellow Canadian?" I deftly
      reposted, (I was desperate and would stoop to any low)...

      "Well...okay, you're number 14. Give me your entry form. The judges will
      be by in 45 minutes".

      I staggered back to my colleagues who wanted to hear every detail of the
      skirmish. After the fifth rendition of the story, I had it burned into my

      Now I could relax and have some serious model railroading fun. In
      celebration, I stalked Dean Dickerson for 10 minutes and pounced on him with
      my AP Volunteer Form in hand. 5 minutes later I had the completed forms for
      my 4th NMRA Achievement Program certificate, Association Volunteer!

      This was turning out to be a pretty good day!

      Part Two: Jeff and Terry's Train Show Adventures

      Trains were running smoothly on Terry's layout while I was struggling to
      keep my passenger train on the rails. I had derailment after derailment, on
      curves, through turnouts, in every tunnel on the layout!!!

      The explanation was simple. I had added 3 new coaches to the train. Like a
      bridge too far, I had added one car too many. The drag going around my 5
      and 6 inch radius curves was simply pulling the forward cars off the track.
      When I removed two cars, the train ran flawlessly. When I added a second
      car, the train reliability was erratic and unacceptable. The 3rd car made
      operation hopeless.

      Once the passenger car experiments were completed, I turned to my new set of
      Pennzee hoppers. They were a disappointment from the second I put them on
      my admittedly very demanding track work. They were too light, I thought,
      until I realized that the trucks were not able to pitch and roll over rough
      joints and dips. After pulling out the bolster pin ever so slightly, they
      began to track better. They were still too light!

      I finally gave up on my next project to add some extra weight to them
      because I could not remove the coal load. So if anyone can enlighten me on
      their technique for getting the little sucker out of the hopper without
      damaging the sides, please let me know!

      Part Three: Its a great day for visits and BSing with the manufacturers.

      Two of our fellow list members came by to say hello, Garth Hamilton (an Nn3
      enthusiast who follows Z scale as well) and Phil Grant of Z-World. It was
      great to meet them and to swap lies about our modeling.

      Since the first part of the day was reserved for the trade, we were
      fortunate to have had visits by several friends of Z scale. I have pictures
      of all of these encounters which will be posted later to the list. For the
      time being, I'll share their names and fill in the details of our
      conversations later in a second posting (there is just sooooo much to

      Mr. Wangrow, of Wangrow Electronics
      Chris Miller, of Miller Engineering and Micro-Structures
      Eric Smith of MTL
      George Menzie of MTL
      and Geoff of MTL R&D
      Reilly O'Conner of Marklin USA
      Owen and Judith Shirwo of Trucks & Trains

      Part Four: Dinner at Original Joe's

      After days of mediocre food, we finally found Shangri-La at Original Joe's.
      Sergeant Raoul of San Jose's finest had recommended without hesitation to
      experience the food and the cooking show at the counter of OJ's. Since this
      restaurant was 1 block from the convention centre and we had not had a
      decent dinner since we had set out on our journey, we quickly reached a
      unanimous decision to go to Joe's.

      We were not the least bit disappointed. Not only was the food served
      rapidly and in copious amounts, it was delicious. To top off our dining
      experience, we were seated across from the saut´┐Ż chef and the pasta chef.
      They put on a Broadway theatre worthy choreography of order taking, food
      preparation and plating and smiling conversation with us curious out of
      towners. We were in heaven.

      Unfortunately the human stomach only holds so much and there were several
      agitated people at the door waiting to leap onto our seats at the counter
      before we had slipped our last butt cheek off of the vinyl.

      Back at the motel, I was too sleepy and anxious about the next day's
      encounter with the judges too write a coherent chronicle of the day's

      Hope you enjoy this slightly overdue installment of our continuing excellent
      adventures at the train show.

      Talk to you again tomorrow,
      Jeffrey MacHan

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