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GATS report, VEC at Puyallup, WA

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  • Jeffrey MacHan
    Hi Gang, As promised here is my report from the Great American Train Show (GATS) held November 19-20 in Puyallup, Washington. Puyallup is about 45 minutes
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 2, 1999
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      Hi Gang,

      As promised here is my report from the Great American Train Show (GATS) held
      November 19-20 in Puyallup, Washington. Puyallup is about 45 minutes south
      of Seattle, WA and about 20 minutes east of Tacoma, WA. The show was held
      in the Western Washington Fairgrounds complex.

      My wife and I were both showing layouts at GATS so we decided to leave
      Friday afternoon, sleep over in Tacoma and arrive early Saturday morning at
      the Fairgrounds in order to set up and test the layouts. This was our third
      GATS at Puyallup so we knew the routine. We dropped off the suitcases for
      both layouts along with our tool boxes and material cases for the two
      workshops that we were scheduled to give each day of the show.

      There were a lot of familiar faces...the circus modelers, the live steam
      folks, the Garden railroaders and of course many vendors who are regular
      members of the train show circuit. There were several very nice modular
      groups in N, HO and G. There were club layouts in O scale, O27 (Lionel) and
      Lego!

      We arrived at 8:30 and it took us until 10:30 to finish setting up.
      Normally I have the VEC up and running in less than an hour but I had to
      make a trip to the local Wal-Mart (10 minutes away) to get an extension cord
      and an extra power bar. The local fire marshal always makes an inspection
      of the electrical setup of the layouts before the show opens. He found that
      each of our layouts needed a power bar with overload protection.

      Everything was ready to go when the doors opened for the public at 11 am.
      From that point on, the crowds didn't stop! Our tables were in a direct
      line from the public entrance so everyone who entered the building passed by
      our layouts. I didn't sit down until the show closed at 5 pm. It was a
      great turnout!

      At 3:30 pm I was scheduled to give a workshop on making fir trees for Z and
      N scale. I had my wife as an audience! The crowds had no idea where I was
      and no one had thought to provide maps or timetables of the workshops to the
      public. I made a tree anyway and went back to dmonstrating the Val Ease
      Central to the passers-by. I put the tree on the layout so it wasn't
      wasted, of course.

      Marthe, my wife, gave her workshop to several people at 4 pm. She was
      demonstrating how to weather plastic kits using acrylic paints. Her work is
      so convincing that people couldn't believe the change she could work on a
      piece of plastic.

      BTW her layout is also in a 24" x 30" suitcase. She models in HOe scale
      which is HO scale running on 30" gauge (N scale) track. Her layout allows
      two train operation complete with chuffing and whistle sound effects.
      During a show she runs a Roco 0-6-0T pulling 3 two axle passenger cars or
      goods wagons and a Liliput 0-6-2T pulling 1 or 2 goods wagons. The trains
      run in opposite directions and attract an enormous amount of attention. The
      layout is set in the German Alps in the 1920's. It has just been named:
      Kofferbahn von Sankt Bartholom�

      During the day we had the great pleasure of meeting our friend and fellow
      list member, Terry Sutfin. His mission was to track down any Z scale. He
      reported that there were two small collections of M�rklin being offered for
      outrageous prices. There were no vendors offering Z as far as I could tell.

      We met a tremendous number of people who were fascinated by the two layouts.
      The nice thing about being up close to people at a train show is that they
      share their impressions and ask questions without hesitation. The children
      are great fun to watch. They light up when they see the dinosaurs in the
      forest and the arc welder in the workshop. Often a child would return to
      the layout 3 or 4 times during the day. The kids could touch the suitcases
      and derail trains with their breath if they wanted to. It rarely happens
      though but their noses are inches away from my passenger train as it cruises
      by the Val Ease East tower.

      The disadvantage of being so close to the public is that mishaps can occur.
      I had more than my average on the first day. I had several derailments in a
      tunnel which forced me to shut down the entire layout for the 5 minutes that
      it would take me to open up the tunnel, recuperate the train, put it back
      into service and replace the tunnel. After the third derailment I realized
      that the track going upgrade in the tunnel had slipped out of alignment and
      was allowing the train cars to rub against the side wall. The slighest
      knock on the table would derail a car if it was going through the bad track
      area at the time. Once I had placed the track back on its guide pins,
      everything began to run flawlessly and I had no further problems during the
      show.

      Of course Marthe called me to say that her Roco 0-6-0 had stopped. I
      quickly learned how to disassemble, clean and lubricate the little wonder.
      It now works like a charm. I decided to give her 2 other Roco locos the
      same treatment and her entire stable of locos are great runners now.

      As I mentioned in a previous post, many larger scale modelists were
      interested in the track plans of the VEC and the number of people with video
      and still cameras was impressive. I was especially touched by an elderly
      gentleman who asked my permission to take a picture. He was followed by two
      young boys 8-9 years of age who each had a disposable camera for the show.
      They too asked my permission to take pictures. It's amazing how polite the
      people were. Almost everyone who wanted to photograph the layout asked my
      permission. Hey, of course you can, that's why I'm at the train show,
      Right?

      The second day was just as crowded and Terry brought his two grandsons to
      the show. They seemed to love the spectacle and spent most of the day
      there. We had more people at our workshops on the Sunday since the
      organiser decided to tell the public where to find us!

      We didn't win the grand prize or the second or third prizes for layouts this
      time. Marthe tells me that I had the best layout in the show and I tell her
      that she had the best layout in the show as well. It's too bad that the
      public doesn't vote for the layouts...but we had a great time and we'll be
      back next year.

      The show attendance was 12,000 which brings the total number of visitors for
      the VEC to 537,000. Our next outing will be at the GATS in Portland,
      Oregon, February 20-21, 2000. I plan to introduce "Centre Val Ease" at that
      time which will complete the full 3 suitcase Val Ease Central.

      I'll tell you all about it, complete with photos.

      Thanks for reading and go out to a train show.

      Jeffrey MacHan
      www.Val-Ease-Central.com
    • Lowenberg
      Hi Jeffrey, ... it is we (I) who should thank you for the wonderful story of the show. ... Please do, I really like to see more on your layout and your
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 4, 1999
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        Hi Jeffrey,

        > Thanks for reading and go out to a train show.

        it is we (I) who should thank you for the wonderful story of the show.

        > I'll tell you all about it, complete with photos.

        Please do, I really like to see more on your layout and your solutions on
        the various problems involved running trains in suitcases. It would also be
        very interesting to see pictures etc. of your wife's H0e layout. I'm also
        into building a narrow gauge H0e. At the moment I'm characterizing figures.

        Best regards

        Jan Lowenberg
        Stockholm, Sweden (where it during the night snowed quite a bit but it's
        sadly melting away at the moment :-).
      • Jeffrey MacHan
        Hello Jan, I appreciate the feedback on my report. Sorry to have taken so long to get back to you. We were on a shopping trip to the US even though our dollar
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 6, 1999
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          Hello Jan,

          I appreciate the feedback on my report.

          Sorry to have taken so long to get back to you. We were on a shopping trip
          to the US even though our dollar is more of a dollarette than real money!

          I will scan a couple of photos of the KB (Koffer Bahn) and post them along
          with a photo of the PNR-7th Division meet including the Val Ease Central (in
          keeping with the subject matter of this list).

          I plan to share my secrets of the trade with the Z scale community. Stay
          tuned for developments.

          Cheers,
          Jeffrey MacHan
          Val Ease Central RR (copyright 1993-1999)


          >From: "Lowenberg" <jl@...>
          >Reply-To: z_scale@onelist.com
          >To: z_scale@onelist.com
          >Subject: Re: [z_scale] GATS report, VEC at Puyallup, WA
          >Date: Sat, 04 Dec 1999 11:31:49 +0100
          >
          >Hi Jeffrey,
          >
          > > Thanks for reading and go out to a train show.
          >
          >it is we (I) who should thank you for the wonderful story of the show.
          >
          > > I'll tell you all about it, complete with photos.
          >
          >Please do, I really like to see more on your layout and your solutions on
          >the various problems involved running trains in suitcases. It would also be
          >very interesting to see pictures etc. of your wife's H0e layout. I'm also
          >into building a narrow gauge H0e. At the moment I'm characterizing figures.
          >
          > Best regards
          >
          > Jan Lowenberg
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