BIG Show Report: part 2 "Where'Z MTL?"
- Hi Gang,
Saturday was great fun. Several friends from Z_Scale managed to
discover our hiding place. One of the first people to drop in was
John Jabour, a charter member of Z_Scale and the Z-DCC fraternity. I
recall talking to Elliot who seemed happy as a clam to be right in the
thick of the crowds shuffling along the aisles. Then Mike came by (I
really should have jotted down the family names!). Of course I saw
many of my NMRA pals who were intent on giving me a ribbing about the
upcoming board elections.
The highlight of the day came when Michael Hilliard declared how
disappointed he was that I hadn't brought the entire VECRR to the
show. Well, I did bring "Val Ease Summit Division" and the Model
Railroader article to show visitors, didn't I? In fact, most of the
model railroaders who came by mentioned seeing the VECRR article in
MR. And, YES, they DID realize it was Z. Anyway, back to Michael.
He had brought along a bag full of goodies to show me but the best was
the assembled working crossing gates and cross bucks. They looked
great! The arms are so well balanced that only the slightest pressure
was needed to raise and lower them. Great work, Michael and thanks
for bringing them along to share with visitors during Saturday
afternoon. He also let me touch his award-winning cast brass Hudson
locomotive and tender. Michael was soon joined by Conrail Ray who
managed to take a surreptitious photo of the crossing gates with a
quarter to show the scale.
Of course the talk of the show was Micro-Trains Line. Ray had been
over to their stand and had been the first to spy the GP35 chassis and
the new track set. He didn't say much so I had to find my way to the
MTL stand Sunday morning before the doors opened for the public.
*** Sunday morning at the MTL booth ****
It wasn't easy finding MTL. Even with a map I managed to wander past
their area without spotting them. Well they only had a four foot
corner space and no signs to speak of...talk about low profile, but
they made up for everything when I spied who was standing behind the
counter...none other than Eric Smith, himself. It is always great
connecting with Eric. We've had a very productive and enjoyable
collaboration since 1997 when he became our sponsor when the VECRR was
part of a year-long exhibit at the Quebec Museum of Civilisation.
After about five minutes of chatting with Eric, I finally asked him
where he was hiding the new track and GP35. I have to say that Z
really IS small when surrounded by other distractions. There on the
counter was an oval of track with this sleek metal creature gliding
slowly around its circumference.
The Geep is a work of art and will no doubt add another amaZing
chapter to Z history. It crept along the track as a grinning Eric
turned down the throttle to demonstrate its performance.
Unfortunately the pre-production shots of shell were delivered to MTL
in Talent, OR shortly after Eric had left for West Springfield. The
unit is powered by a Maxon 8mm .5 watt DC motor as you can see from
the photo that I have added to the MTL Previews folder. (Note: the
hi-rez images that you cannot see really show off the detail of the
chassis and the track).
The track is a real winner in my opinion, for what it's worth. The
roadbed looks great and the nickel-silver rail, although code 55, will
look much smaller once it is weathered. Now to answer the joiner
question...the track is held together securely using plastic clips
that are removable. The clips help guide the rails into the very
sturdy MTL joiners and hold the track firmly together. The MTL track,
sans clips, will mate with other Z track once the first two sleepers
have been removed from the Marklin track section. (I'll try to upload
the hi-rez image of the track to the VECRR web site so that you can
get a good look at the underside of the track.) Yes, MTL plans to
introduce turnouts, and No, I didn't ask why they weren't at the show.
SCOOP - Micro-Trains is also looking into the possibility of
introducing a new line of US-prototype highly-detailed resin
structures. No date has been set but if the track and GP35s fly off
the shelves I'm sure that we'll see these new buildings sooner rather
Now, I know that many members would like to take Eric Smith into a
dark room with only a floodlight to shine in his face to get him to
spill the beans about future car styles etc. And you may be wondering
why I don't have any more info to share with you. Well, the reason is
very simple. I don't pump Eric for information out of respect for the
solid relationship we've developed over the past 8 years. I will
leave the arm twisting to others. Eric has listened to the Z
community and he is anxious to hear about product suggestions. Let
him know what you'd like to see produced and let him know how much you
appreciate the work MTL has done. I'm sure he'd love to hear from
Near the end of the day on Sunday I had some time to chat with Russ
Kaufman of N-Scale Architect. He is enthusiastic about Z and the
response from distributors who are now warming up to carrying Z
product lines. He has several superb laser-cut structure products in
the works. (I saw the N versions and they are fantastic).
Well, it's time to wrap this report up and start supper for the
family. It's nice to have a day off to decompress from an exciting
train show. We'll be back next year, same building - same spot 79-T,
when the BIG Train Show will be held on the weekend of January 28-29,
2006. Mark your calendars!
Oh, attendance at the BIG show was just under 20k, about 1500 fewer
than 2004...still the biggest 2-day event in North America until
Cincinnati perhaps? ;-)
Chief Imagineer - Val Ease Central Railroad