National Model Railroad Association
Potomac Division Mini-Convention
Saturday, March 4th, 2017
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Click here for prior Minicons

Place: Saint Matthew’s United Methodist Church, 8617 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003

Activities: White elephant sale, modular layouts on display, celebration of models/contest room, clinics (two tracks, eight clinics total).  Click here for the Pre-Minicon Flyer Edition with Details.
Click here for the schedule.

Featured lunchtime speaker: Bob Sprague, Potomac Division member and well-known author. Speaking subject: “Prototype-Based Track Planning”   Click here for Bob Sprague's model railroad and track planning services.

Annual Business meeting: election of Board members and approval of Bylaw amendments
On the table below, click the clinician or title to read the detailed clinic description, click "Presentation" to the actual presentation


Track 1

Track 2

8:00 AM


8:45 AM

Nick Kalis:

Oahu Sugar Company —Hawaian Railroads


Nigel Phillips:

Modifying RTR Turnouts and Making Your Own From Scratch


10:00 AM

Ramon Rhodes:

Santa Fe Railroad In Chicago

Gil Fuchs:

3D Printing With or Without A Printer


11:00 AM

Business Meeting, Lunch,
Robert W. Sprague: Prototype-Based Track Planning


1:00 PM

Matt Thompson:

Ships and Boats for the HO Waterfront


Martin Brechbiel:

Obtaining The Authorship Certificate


2:15 PM

Bernie Kempinski:

Marine Terminals

4:00 PM



Track 1 Clinic Descriptions

Oahu Sugar Company by Nick Kalis

How I am modeling in Fn3 the narrow gauge Oahu Sugar Company as it appeared and operated in 1944 under wartime conditions. This layout will demonstrate how the techniques of European exhibition layouts can be applied to an American semi-permanent layout. Two themes will be evident - sugar cane operations and WWII as it effects the home front. Benjamin F. Dillingham founded the Oahu Sugar Company (OSC) on 20 acres of land leased from James Campbell in the vicinity of Waipahu. In 1897 its first locomotive arrives and in 1899 the first harvest of sugar cane is accomplished. Additional locomotives follow. The plantation grows to over 12,000 acres of leased land. By 1939 the railroad reached sixty miles of three-foot gauge track plus an unspecified amount of portable track on which 939 plantation cars (860 four-ton cane cars, fifty flat cars, and 29 other cars) operated. The presentation includes extensive use of photographs.

Santa Fe Railway in Chicago During the 1960s by Ramon Rhodes

We will take a fast-paced mile by mile look at the Santa Fe mainline from Dearborn Station in Chicago out to suburban Joliet. I will focus on the railroad's operations, facilities, and trains using hundreds of photos, maps, and charts. The 1960s was a time of transition for the Santa Fe as the vestiges of the steam railroading were removed, passenger operations were scaled back, and the railroad launched headlong into a modernization program that would make it arguably the finest railroad in the country.

Ships and Boats for the HO Waterfront by Mat Thompson

The HO scale Oregon Coast Railroad has a major seaport and several smaller dock and pier scenes. This clinic focus on ships, boats and harbor buildings available and the reasons why they may or may not be suitable for a specific location and era.

Down to the Sea in Trains by Bernie Kempenski

An overview of how railroads and ships interact at marine terminals from the early days of railroading to the current era of unit trains, double stacks and massive container ships. This talk complements Bernie's latest book from Kalmbach Publishing due in late March 2017.

Track 2 Clinic Descriptions

Modifying RTR Turnouts and Making Your Own From Scratch by Nigel Phillips

The aims of this clinic are 2-fold: Modifying RTR turnouts to make them DCC friendly and looking more like the prototype; and constructing turnouts from scratch to fit your layout (and not the other way around) when what you want is not available as an RTR item in the code rail that you use. Many RTR turnouts come as power routed designs, and depend for electrical continuity through the frog on a physical contact between the point blade and the stock rail. Simple wiring modifications and frog isolation will make them DCC ready. Some of the examples covered will be converting old power-routed Shinohara turnouts to 100% DCC compatibility, changing those pressed point blades in Peco turnouts to solid rails, and making a left- or right-hand crossover from two regular left- or right-hand turnouts. Constructing your own turnouts is not complicated, and is very cost effective with some simple homemade jigs for the frogs and point blades or with (expensive) CNC-tooled jigs if you have large numbers of turnouts to make. The clinic will describe how to make inexpensive turnouts using your own jigs and simple tools, how to solder the frogs and rails to copper-clad ties, and how to wire the turnout for DCC. Some of the examples covered will be a #6 wye and a double 45°diamond crossing.

3D Printing Without A Printer by Gil Fuchs

3D printing has made a major impact on Model Railroading, as it has solved a long-time problem in the hobby of the viability of small run productions.

3D printing allows the modeler to obtain exactly the model he/she desires at the desired time, team up and share projects with others working on similar designs or road names, and/or print their products at home. Getting a one-off unique item is not an issue, and if one spends the effort to acquire some CAD skills, models can be designed using a computer with free software, the only major cost being one's time.

Several approaches to 3D design and printing, currently available for modelers, will be presented and compared. Areas where 3D printing can be successfully applied will be reviewed with examples with references to relevant resources to help get you started.

Obtaining the Authorship Certificate by Martin Briechiel

This clinic will in part address working towards your Author Certificate in the NMRA Achievement Program without any quaking in fear with memories of those endless term papers or reports at the office that tormented you in another time and place.  This category is really far less intimidating than you think and is readily achievable while being a creative experience that encompasses giving clinics, videotape, web pages, or the traditional article publication format at a variety of levels.  We'll go through all of the requirements & rules, discuss the "nuts & bolts" of "how to do it". Secondly, this clinic will go through my experiences with personal hints and tips for being a successful Model Railroad Author from an NMRA clinician through to being an Associate Editor and columnist.