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Monday, January 30, 2012

Amherst Railway Society Train Show

Stock Photo: Steam Engine Detail

Stock Photo: Steam Engine Detail

Stock Photos: Steam Train Isolated

Stock Photos: Steam Train Isolated

Royalty Free Stock Image: Steam Engine Interior Detail

Royalty Free Stock Image: Steam Engine Interior Detail

Editorial Photo: Historic John Molson Train Engine

Editorial Photo: Historic John Molson Train Engine

Royalty Free Stock Photo: Steam Train Drive Wheel Detail

Train photographs and images for purchase.

Royalty Free Stock Photo: Steam Train Drive Wheel Detail

Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show

All I can say about my first trip to the annual Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show in West Springfield, MA is WOW. It was huge! Spread over four large buildings that in the summer house cows and other farm animals for the Big E, this show has to be one of the largest model railroading shows in the country. In fact the slogan of the show is something like, if they are not exhibiting here than they probably no longer exist.

I hope that is not true of Backwoods Miniatures, one vendor that was on the exhibitors list that I really wanted to find but they were not there. Everyone else that I've ever heard of seemed to be there - Woodland Scenics, Bachmann, SoundTraxx, Bar Mills, Scenery Express etc. Plus tons of club layouts, tool vendors, Lionel vendors, American Flyer sellers and various "junk" or old stock sellers.

Visiting the show is a long day especially after a two hour drive and with a middle schooler in tow. There are food vendors but very little places to sit down which is a major problem with such a mature crowd and hard concrete floors with exhibitors spread over four buildings. Beer and wine is available for those inclined to take the edge of the day off with a brew.

Wise parents who obviously have attended the show in the past, outfit their kids with step stools so the kids can see the trains.

And there are tons of trains to see. I couldn't count the layouts on display from huge 100 car long industrial designs to scenic On30 branch lines to a show favorite Lego train layout. The layouts vary in quality with one stand out in being an On30 layout with a Cape Code theme.

If I could complain (it doesn't take much to get me to be critical), I would have like to see the used, antique dealers put into one area and the toy train (Lionel, American Flyer) put in their own area. As I inspire to be a fine scale model railroader, I really did not like wading through the toy train stuff to find things I was interested in. Also as an O scale modeler, its depressing having to wade through all of the HO and N scale stuff to find the small O scale offerings. Oh well I guess that is the life of the On30 modeler and why I subscribe to The Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette and not Model Railroader.

I'll post some photos soon but I don't expect them to be too good. The lighting was not good at the show and the crowds made it difficult to get a shot. I ended up buying a bunch of O scale figures and detail parts from a vendor (Crusader) that we found at the end of the day and bought a bunch of stuff from the Scenic Express booth that had just about everything from their catalog at the show.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter is Model Railroading Season!

Now that Christmas and FLL robotics is out of the way, its time to get back into the model railroading mood. I've laid the foundation of the second major side of my model railroad and put in an order for some Woodland Scenics 4% raiser to start building the Gum Stump like section of the railroad which will feature a town, dock and more buildings than the more mountainous scenic side.

It will also have a lot less curves which I've grown to hate with a passion. I've given up on the idea of a continuous run (at least in the short term), in favor of a more operational layout.

The family is going to kick it into high gear with a two hour ride down 91 to Massachusetts to see the Amherst Railway Society train show. One vendor I'm very interested in is Backwoods Miniatures. Hope to spend some cash!

Every year late in January or early in February, the Amherst Railway Society holds its Railroad Hobby Show at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds (The home of The Big E) in West Springfield Massachusetts. More than 25,000 railfans and public attended the Show each of the past three years.

The event features real life railroads and scale model railroads, historical societies, travel agencies, art shows, flea market dealers, importers, manufacturers and photographers. Modelers' exhibits will display outstanding handiwork on layouts ranging from the tiny Z scale which fits on a coffee table to a monster 80 foot N-Trak system. The Amherst Belt Lines, an HO scale model railroad empire, has become a show highlight. As of the 2011 show layout, It has grown to over 11 scale miles of mainline (650+ feet of mainline track) on 96 modules and has the capacity of multiple train operation. The Southern New England O Scalers will show its huge O gauge railroad with 100 car freight trains and 7 unit diesels. Live steam will also be shown. The Dry Hill Club will once again break records with 250+ car trains!

Commercial vendors and hobbyists will sell model railroad equipment, photos, slides, video tapes, books and other railroad memorabilia. New and antique railroad items will be on display and for sale. Major national manufacturers and publishers will attend this Show which was rated number one of the top three in the nation in a recent Model Railroad Industry Association manufacturer's survey. Watch for new product releases by many of our fantastic manufacturers!

Proceeds from the show are used to promote interest in railroads. Donations have been made to various rail museums, historical societies, restoration projects and scholarship funds. Over $575,000 has been awarded since 1991. Organizations that have received donations include: the Fall River and Old Colony Museum, the 470 Club's Boston and Maine diesel locomotive restoration project, the Boston and Maine Railroad Historical Society, the Chester Foundation Station Project and the Wiscasset Waterville and Farmington Building and Car Fund, just to name a few recipients. Trolley museums in the following towns have also received donations: Shelburne Falls MA, Warehouse Point CT, Branford CT and Kennebunk ME. We have also made contributions to the Boston and Maine 3713 restoration fund and the Flying Yankee restoration. If you wish to learn more about our grant program, please visit the Amherst Railway Society web site.

Show History

In the mid 1960's, the few members of the newly formed Amherst Railway Society thought that there should be some type of "get together" for folks (other than the members) to experience the hobby of Model Railroading.

Feb. 20, 1968 - This notation was logged into the minutes - “unusually large collection of locomotives and cars displayed; 68 members."

Feb. 18, 1969 - This evening was called “Modeler Night.” This evening included displays, models and photos. Extra tables and flood lights were provided. The meeting was in Goessman Hall on the UMASS Amherst campus.

Feb. 17, 1970 - This evening was called “Annual Model RR Night” and included displays, models, auction, tape/slide clinic. The event met in Skinner Auditorium on the UMASS Amherst campus. The meeting began at 7:45 p.m. and lasted for 90 minutes.

Feb. 16, 1971 - The evening was called “Model RR Night” and included an auction, displays and more. The evening began at 8:00 p.m. and was held at Engineering East on the campus of UMASS Amherst.

Feb. 15, 1972 - Again, the evening was called “Model RR Night” and included everything from the previous year. This year, however, the meeting was moved to the second floor of Memorial Hall.

Feb. 20. 1973 - For a third consecutive year, the evening was called “Model RR Night” and the meeting was held in the Commonwealth Room of the Student Union.

Feb. 19, 1974 - This would be the final year for “Model RR Night,” which changed its venue slightly with displays and films. New to this year was a tag sale and not an auction. It was once again held in the Commonwealth Room of the Student Union on the UMASS Amherst campus.

Feb.18, 1975 - The first “Model RR Day” consisted of displays, films, a tag sale and more. It began at 2:00 p.m. and lasted to 5pm, again in the Commonwealth Room of the Student Union. This Annual show would continue with the same venue in the same location until 1978.

Feb. 18, 1979 - The first “Big RR Hobby Show” was held with the first preliminary coupon in January which included a meeting notice that highlighted layouts, displays, clinics, films, live steam, flea market, and more; 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., Ballroom and Commonwealth Room, Student Union. The Amherst Railway Society's HO Scale Modular Layout made its first appearance.

Feb. 17, 1980 - In 1980, the “Big RR Hobby Show” had its first N-Trak modular layout along with displays and more. At this point in time, the show was still a 4 hour, one day show.

Feb. 15, 1981 - This would be the final year of the “Big RR Hobby Show” in the Ballroom and Commonwealth Room in the Student Union on the UMASS Amherst Campus. Up to and including this show, the admission was free and the Amherst Railway Society only asked for a small donation at the door.

Feb. 21, 1982 - The “Big RR Hobby Show” outgrows the space at the UMASS Student Union. The Show moves to the New England Center Building, on the Eastern States Exposition Grounds. This first show lasts for a whopping 5 hours (noon - 5:00pm) and because of the increased expenses of the new location, an admission is charged for the first time: $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children. This first show is called the "Train Collectors’ Showcase."

February 26, 1983 - For the next three years, the "Big RR Hobby Show" continues to be held in the New England Center. 1985 would be the last year that the Show was held in the New England Center.

In 1986, the Show moved to the much larger Better Living Center, but still remained a one day event.

In 1991, the Show expanded to two days.

In 1995, the Show increased in size to exhibit in the Better Living Center and Young Building.

In 2000, the Show increased again to now include the Stroh Building. The venue has not changed until 2008.

In 2007, the Show is formally renamed, "Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show."

In 2008, the Show expanded to include the front portion of the Mallary Complex known as Mallary North.

In 2010, the Show expanded to include the "north half" of the huge Mallary Complex directly connected to Mallary North, bringing the total square footage of floor space to over 300,000 square feet or just over 7 acres of exhibit area!

In 2011, the Show took a few more square feet in the Mallary Complex (15,000), bringing the total square footage to just over a third of a million square feet!

In 2012, the Show reconfigured some of the buildings to accommodate the new....

Sunday, January 08, 2012