Mid- Eastern Region NMRA 2018 Convention


† - Clinic handout is available, link in description
Navigation:   ThursdayFriday morningFriday afternoonFriday eveningSaturday morningSaturday afternoonSundayCliniciansClinic Descriptions
Track 1 Wilson Room Track 2 Truman Room Track 3 Monroe Room
Thursday  7:00 pm — 8:00 pm
Clinician Clinic Title Clinician Clinic Title Clinician Clinic Title
Fred Willis
Crystal River Railroad
MER Board Meeting Jim Hellwege Setting the Scene with Regional Industries
Thursday 8:30 pm — 9:30 pm
Bryan Kidd
Bringing the C&O to Life in HO-Scale
MER Board Meeting Marty McGuirk
Modeling the October Scene
Thursday 10:00 pm — 11:00 pm
Marty McGuirk
Lessons Learned and Modeling Tips and Techniques

MER Board Meeting

Friday   8:00 am — 9:00 am
Clinician Clinic Title Clinician Clinic Title Clinician Clinic Title
Kurt Thompson
† Demystifying the AP Dispatcher Paperwork
Brian Sheron † Expanding the Long Island RR
Friday  9:30 am — 10:30 am
Bob Weinheimer Evolution of an Operating Scheme Brian Sheron † Backdrops
Clint Hyde Editors Workshop 
Friday  11:00 am — 12:00 am
Eric Dervinis
Planning a Model Railroad for Prototype Operations — Some Unconventional Thinking
Brian Sheron
† Modeling Urban Scenes
Fred Scheer
Working with a Professional Layout Designer
 Friday  1:00 pm — 2:00 pm
Paul Dolkos Changing Prototypes: a Tale of Two Layouts Dick Bronson
Introduction to Layout Command Control
Jay Beckham † Molding and Casting in Hydrocal and Resin (hands on)
Friday  2:30 pm — 3:30 pm
Lance Mindheim Model Railroading as Art Chuck Davis
Modeling Lehigh Valley’s 1st Steel Auto/Box Cars
Jay Beckham Molding and Casting in Hydrocal and Resin (hands on)
Friday  4:00 pm — 5:00 pm
Andrew Dodge Recreating a Prototype Railroad Fred Miller
† Multi-Function Animation DCC Decoder
Martin Brechbiel Contest Judging in the MER
Friday  7:00 pm — 8:00 pm
Mat Thompson Updated Ships and Boats for the HO Waterfront  Andrew Dodge Scratchbuilding a Brass Locomotive Jay Beckham
† Introduction to C/MRI
Friday  8:30 pm — 9:30 pm
Lou Sassi Improve Your Trucks & Trains Mat Thompson Earning AP Merit Awards for Cars and Structures Pete LaGuardia
† Visual Aids and Wiring Techniques
Friday  10:00 pm — 11:00 pm
Eric Dervinis
Rail Served Industries on the Lackawanna Bloomsburg Branch Rod Vance † Vinegar, Pickles and Railroads ... Oh My! Fred Miller
† Downsizing to a Shelf Layout
Navigation:   ThursdayFriday morningFriday afternoonFriday eveningSaturday morningSaturday afternoonSundayCliniciansClinic Descriptions
Saturday   8:00 am — 9:00 am
John Glaab & Gil Fuchs
Eric Craig
† History of Model Railroad Control Systems
Figures and Olher Neat Things for Our Layouts
Mat Chibbaro Small Layouts and Space Saving Ideas Terry Terrence
† Hands on Introduction to 3D Printing. Extra fee. Participants MUST bring a laptop. Click for instructions.
Saturday  9:30 am — 10:30 am
Lou Sassi Scenery Along the Right of Way Ben Hom Prototypes for the Athearn 40-foot Boxcar - Part 1 Terry Terrence
Introduction to 3D Printing (continued)
Saturday  11:00 am — 12:00 am
Bob Sprague † Prototype Track Planning Ben Hom
Athearn Boxcar Enhancements - Part 2
* - *
John Drye
 Saturday  1:00 pm — 2:00 pm
Andrew Dodge One Modeler's Approach to Building a Layout Terry Terrance † Introduction to Micro-Controllers Fred Miller † Layout Background Sound
Saturday  2:30 pm — 3:30 pm
Bernie Kempinski High-Tech Approach to a 19th Century Railroad Marshall Abrams † Insurance for Model Railroaders Neal Anderson Lighting Your Layout Room
Saturday  4:00 pm — 5:00 pm
Bill Mosteller
HO Knuckle Couplers
Marshall Abrams † Estate Planning Neal Anderson
Speed Ballasting Track
Navigation:   ThursdayFriday morningFriday afternoonFriday eveningSaturday morningSaturday afternoonSundayCliniciansClinic Descriptions
Sunday in Wilson Room   8:30 am — 9:30 am
Building from Photographs
Sunday in Wilson Room   10:00 am — 12:00 pm
MER Business Meeting


Abrams, Marshall— Marshall Abrams' first train was an American Flyer set that he operated until his teen years. His first adult exposure to model railroading came when he was invited to a group that operated the Central Potomac Union (CPU) railroad. Most of the crew worked nearby at IBM Federal Systems Division. When the CPU ceased operations, Marshall decided to build his first Abrams Railroad Empire (ARE) layout to host operations. That layout lasted about 25 years. Operations were guided by car cards from a panel at the edge of the 5' x 13' layout.
Feeling the need for more space, Marshall asserted that when the kids grew up and left home, he was taking over the game room. When that eventually happened, Marshall designed the second ARE using Cadrail. The layout was built exactly as designed and is still in operation. Marshall is part of a round-robin group, the Anachronistic Region, that has been operating for about 43 years.
Marshall has served the Potomac Division in one position or another since 2003. He is currently Senior Assistant Superintendent and Editor of the Potomac Flyer. His biggest joys in model railroading are all the nice people he has met, who he never would have met in his other activities. Marshall is Founder of the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, where He still holds the position of Treasurer. Clinics: Estate Planning for Model Railroaders, Insurance for Your Model Railroad

Anderson, Neal Joined the NMRA back in 1988. Built a layout that has its own web page and the work that I'm doing -    I have picked up six AP Awards. Clinic: Lighting Your Layout Room, Speed Ballasting Track Beckham, Jay Jay started as a model railroad with Lionel and American Flyer in the late 40s. In the 60s began working in HO when he lived in the Washington area. Built several small layouts with no particular prototype. In 1977 moved to Berkeley Springs, WV and modeled the PRR Port Deposit branch in HO. Had a fair size basement space of about 16 x 30. In 1980 or so joined the South Mountain Division and served as a board member and Superintendent, worked with several conventions and earned the NMRA AP in Association Volunteer. In the late 90s he sold off his HO and started modeling the EBT in On3 for a brief time and then turned to the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad. Then purchased a large basement with a nice house on top and started filling a 30 x 60 basement. The South Shore is now gone and the PRR is back in Baltimore and a proto free-lanced line called the Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Joppa Railway which occupies about half of the space along with the PRR. The PB&J has trackage rights into Baltimore. The layout is signaled using CMRI and a physical CTC. A number of the structures and the huge Penn Station utilize numerous casting, mostly in resin. Clinic: Molding and Casting in Hydrocal and Resin, Introduction to C/MRI Brechbiel, Martin I’m an O scale modeler with interest in pre-1920 era steam and traction. I’m also been the Contest Chair for the MER now for 10 years, served as a Director for the MER for 2 terms, and I’m also the Editor-in-Chief of O Scale Trains magazine. I enjoy scratchbuilding model trains and structures, etc., just for the fun of it all. Clinic:  Contest Judging in the MER Bronson, Dick Dick's first 'layout' was 3 sections of HO fiber tie track tacked onto a 1" x 4" in 1952. Trains were 'powered' by tilting the board one way or the other. Several moves over the years meant that a complete layout was never achieved. Fast forward to today, and we find more track and bench work filling a full basement, but a full time business designing and providing model railroad related electronics means very little actual progress on the "Little Mountain & Possum Hollow" or his AP certificates. Clinic: Introduction to Layout Command Control (LCC)  Chibbaro, MatMat has been a model railroader and woodworker for several decades. He combined both skills to author both editions of Kalmbach's Model Railroading in Small Spaces. In addition to the layout in this classroom, Mat will present a power point filled with photos of his many small layouts and space-saving ideas. Clinic: Model Railroading in Small Spaces
Davis, Chuck MMR Chuck is a retired Navy intelligence officer and high school math teacher who now runs a home tutoring business in Norfolk, VA. He and his wife Kathy, a coal miner’s daughter, were both raised in Wilkes-Barre in northeast Pennsylvania which was a center for anthracite coal mining. Several members of their families worked in the mines or for the railroads.
A frequent contributor to Railroad Model Craftsman with over 20 articles, he’s a member of the Tidewater Division and completed his requirements for Master Model Railroader in 2006. His Lehigh Valley Wyoming Division layout was photographed by Paul Dolkos and featured in Great Model Railroads 2015. He is an active member of the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society and has authored articles for them on railroads in the Wyoming Valley area.
Clinic: Modeling Lehigh Valley’s 1st Steel Auto/Box Cars Dervinis, Eric Eric models the Lackawanna RR in HO Scale and is currently building his version of the Bloomsburg Branch. This branch ran from Scranton southwest to Northumberland connecting with the PRR. He favors prototype operation and first generation diesels. Currently Eric is the Executive Convention Chair for the MER, overseeing the annual fall convention. He has worked on national and regional conventions. Eric was co-chair of the Lehigh Valley Limited, served as MER Secretary 1996 - 2000 and MER Trustee 2001 - 2004. More recently he was Vice President and President of the Rockledge Model Railroad Museum. Clinic: Planning a Model Railroad for Prototype Operations — Some Unconventional Thinking, Rail Served Industries on the Lackawanna Bloomsburg Branch Dodge, Andrew, MMR —Andrew became interested in model railroading in 1949-59 and build his first layout in 1958. He has modeled in N, HO, Hon3, On3, O Proto-48, and Live Steam. Prototype modeling and recreating the Colorado Midland as it operated in 1897 is his current interest, which required building everything from scratch. Clinics: One Modeler's Approach to Building a Layout, Recreating a Prototype Railroad, Scratchbuilding a Brass Locomotive.
Dolkos, PaulPaul is a long time model railroader currently building a layout featuring four different neighborhoods in Baltimore, one of which features tracks in the street and is served by the B&O. Street trackage has always been fascinating to both model railroaders and railfans, probably because there are only about a hundred such installations remaining in the U.S. making them unique. Clinic: Changing Prototypes: a Tale of Two Layouts
Hellwege, James began his interest in model railroading during his youth with a Lionel layout. His interest was reignited in 1990 with the construction of an N-scale layout focusing on the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad in Maine. He is an awardee of a Master Builder - Scenery certificate, and serves as a Model Railroading merit badge counselor.Clinic: Setting the Scene with Regional Industries
Hyde, Clint Clint is an engineer (ok, not THAT kind). He was involved with Potomac Division from 1996 until moving to James River Division in 2017. He is is currently editor and publisher for the MER LOCAL; he was publisher of the MER LOCAL from 2000-2003. He was the editor and publisher for the Potomac Flyer from 1999-2001. Clint was also Potomac Div Clerk from 98-03, MER Vice President 2002-04, and MER President 2004-08. He has 3 AP Certs, but none are for construction. He has given a variety of clinics at various conventions for years. Clinic: Editors Workshop
 Kempinski, Bernard Bernie is a freelance writer who has written dozens of magazine articles and several books on model railroading. He is an active model railroader and has built models on commission for museums and individuals. A former U.S. Army captain, Bernard is retired defense analyst. See his blog for more info on his layouts and projects. He is also the proprietor of Alkem Scale Models, a cottage industry specializing in fine scale kits and detail parts Clinic: High-Tech Approach to a 19th Century Railroad
Kidd, Bryan Bryan is Vice-President of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society. In 2012, after 23 years of modular railroading, starting the BSA train show in Prince William County, and a lot of unintended research, Bryan acquired the basement for his “C&O In-Progress” layout. It’s based on the C&O’s Alleghany Subdivision between Clifton Forge, Virginia and Hinton, West Virginia. Clinic: Bringing the C&O to Life in HO-Scale
LaGuardia, Pete As most of us, Pete got his first model railroad in the 1950s as a kid growing up in the Bronx. He developed a passion for model railroad but between life, raising a family and working he was in and out of the hobby most of his adult life. Once retired he got back in the hobby heavily and is building a model railroad that fills a 1,500 sq foot basement. Clinic: Visual Aids and Wiring Techniques 
McGuirk, Marty Marty models the railroads on New England, especially the Central Vermont. He founded the CV Railway Historical Society. Currently he is a regular contributor to Model Railroad Hobbyist's "Getting Real" column.
Clinics: Modeling the October Scene,
  Lessons Learned and Modeling Tips and Techniques
 Mindheim, Lance Lance models urban industrial switching railroads and presently has three layouts. The main layout is based on CSX's Downtown Spur in Miami. He also has two smaller layouts, one based on the Los Angeles Junction and the other a proto free lance version of the Bush Terminal in Brooklyn. He writes frequently for the hobby press and is the owner of The Shelf Layouts Company, Inc. ( a custom layout building and design firm. Lance lives in Silver Spring, MD and has one grown son, Zachary, who often accompanies him to model railroading events. Clinic: Model Railroading as Art
Miller, Fred MMR Fred has been engaged in model railroading activities for over 70 years. Until his retirement from the corporate world, he focused his daytime energies on directing large IBM computer data centers but now continues to participate in his life-long hobby of model railroading. His current modeling activity includes a HO Scale “shelf layout” based on a circa 1925 period. Over the years he has modeled, photographed and written about model railroads in all of the popular modeling scales, achieving his Master Model Railroader (MMR#336) award in 2004. Fred has presented many clinics and held various positions in the NMRA including a 6 year stint as Business Manager for the MER. Clinics: Multi-Function Animation DCC Decoder,  Layout Background SoundDownsizing to a Shelf Layout
Mosteller, Bill Railroads and model railroading are a lifelong interest. From early years riding the Boston subway, trolley, and trolley bus lines, he sees electric traction as magic. The fascination took an interesting turn when he purchased a resin kit of a PATCO (Philadelphia-South Jersey) car that didn't have decals. Correcting that deficiency lead to a decal business with more than a hundred titles. Coupler gauges are offered in HO-, S-, and O-scale. See Clinic: HO Knuckle Couplers
 Sassi, Lou Lou and Cheryl have been working on his On-30 Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad for about a decade. While Lou has been dealing with the structures, vehicles, locomotives, and rolling stock on the railroad, Cheryl has been creating the various types of trees and other scenic features found in the countryside around the prototype SR&RL. They will discuss their techniques and how they and the materials used are compatible with any scale model railroad. Clinic: Improve Your Trucks & Trains, Scenery Along the Right of Way
 Scheer, Fred Fred’s early years saw plenty of model railroad action: Lionel, American Flyer, then, HO. Then, a long dry spell: decades as an armchair modeler… books, magazines, conventions, searching for the perfect track plan, the usual stuff. A post-retirement move yielded a nice railroad room. By this time, Fred had become acquainted with custom layout designer Lance Mindheim and admired his work. Knowing a pro with similar layout design views made a custom layout plan a “natural” way forward.
Says Fred, “Track planning is one of my least favorite parts of the hobby. I appreciate elegantly simple, straightforward designs, always have, but a big blank sheets of paper, like hundreds of humdrum spaghetti bowl plans published over the years, do not resonate. A few of today’s professional designers, however, the ones whose talents encompass economy of design, even minimalism, a flair for the true “walk-around” plan, and the art of designing to the bench profile, these guys get my attention.” Clinic:
Working With A Professional Layout Designer
Sheron, Brian, MMR—Brian has been actively involved in  model railroading since about 1980, although he was also active in his youth.  His current and third layout, which he started in 1988, originally modeled the Long Island Railroad, Port Jefferson Branch, circa 1964 in HO scale. In 2005 he expanded his layout to model the City Terminal Zone, including Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, and in 2015 expanded his layout again to model the Atlantic Branch in Brooklyn, which also included the car float facilities in Long Island City. His layout was featured in the September, 1997 issue of Rail Model Journal. Brian earned his Master Model Railroader Certificate #469 in 2011. He is currently the Superintendent of the Potomac Division of the NMRA in the Washington, DC area. He has authored numerous articles for both the Division's publication,  The Potomac Flyer, and the Regional publication, The Local. Clinics: Backdrops, Expanding the Long Island Rail Road , Modeling Urban Scenes
Sprague, Bob — Track planning is one of my favorite parts of the hobby and I have been able to learn a great deal about it by designing close to 100 plans for fellow modelers. I have recently had my 14th (I think) track planning article accepted for publication in Model Railroader Clinics:
Prototype Track Planning
Terrance, Terry – Terry has been a model railroader since receiving his first Lionel train set at age 7. The next couple of decades he spent as a 3-railer attempting to scale model in the days before 3 Rail Scale. Eventually, rather than go the HO route, Terry jumped into 2-rail O Scale where he has been ever since. Currently he is building a model of the B&O “West End” centered around the M&K Junction helper station circa 1950/2 in his basement. The layout features the Cranberry (three-track) and the Cheat River (two-track) grades and is designed for helper operation closely following the prototype. Terry's blog,, features the construction progress as well as tips and techniques articles and videos. Clinics: Introduction to Micro-Controllers, Hands on Introduction to 3D printing
Thompson, Mat, MMR –Mat Thompson's Oregon Coast Railroad was featured in Great Model Railroads 2014. Building structures and scenery are his favorite modeling activities. He is also an avid model railroad operator and regularly attends operating sessions. Clinics: Earning AP Merit Awards for Cars and Structures, Updated Ships and Boats for the HO Waterfront
Thompson, Kurt–Kurt has been a member of the NMRA since going to his first National Convention back in 1987. In the intervening years, he has completed the requirements for six different AP certificates. He currently is serving as the MER Vice President. In the past he did a 5 year stint as the first Superintendent of the Chesapeake Division. To Kurt, sociability and fun are the important parts of the NMRA fellowship. Clinic: AP Dispatcher Paperwork
Weinheimer, BobBob started to build a model railroad with operations in mind in the early 1980s. The layout has followed him through two moves and a continual growth. This clinic describes how he dealt with various changes in order to keep things operating smoothly. A key message is that change should be seen as an opportunity, not a troublesome problem. Clinic: Evolution of an Operating Scheme
Vance, Rod, MMR Rod is interested in all aspects of model railroading and is superintendent of his freelanced HO-scale Willow Creek Subdivision – Union Pacific Railroad. Rod has had numerous articles published in the OPSIG journal The Dispatcher's Office, the NMRA Magazine, the MER Local, and the JRD Crossties. He has also had a photo published in Model Railroader magazine and numerous photos included in Walthers Model Railroad Reference Book, and maintains a YouTube Channel (Vigment13) with videos focused on operations on his Willow Creek Railroad. Rod was awarded his Master Model Railroader certificate in 2016. Clinic: Vinegar, Pickles and Railroads ... Oh My!
Willis, Fred—Fred is life member of the NMRA and a member of the New Jersey Division. New England Railroads, particularly in Maine in 1900 are his primary prototype interest. His primary modeling activities are scratch building structures and cars and researching the history of small railroads and locomotive designs. Clinics: Building from Photographs, The Crystal River Railroad

Clinic Descriptions

† Demystifying the AP Dispatcher Paperwork Kurt Thompson, Chesapeake Division's AP Director and current MER Vice-President, will go over the requirements and paperwork needed for a member to earn this AP certificate. In a setting more of a seminar than a clinic, Kurt will also present the paperwork he submitted 25 years ago when he earned his first AP certificate. If you are interested in seeing through the "fog of the requirements" or just have some questions about your own paperwork, this clinic is for you. Bring along your paperwork as there will be time for questions and answers as well as some input about your paperwork. Remember that this certificate was easy enough that Kurt earned his.
Click here for clinic handout. † Backdrops Brian W. Sheron, MMR– Model train layouts are mainly constrained by two factors, limited available space, and accessibility. Both of these factors will inhibit the viewer's perception of depth when viewing a model railroading scene, unless we can add backdrops to our layouts that will impart the feeling of depth. Brian will describe various techniques that a modeler can use to achieve the perception of depth on their layout. His clinic presentation includes many photos that show these techniques.
Click here for clinic handout.
Bringing the C&O to Life in HO-Scale Bryan Kidd– Through primary-source prototype research, Bryan designed his C&O Railroad using Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society archival material: track plans, engineering drawings, structure diagrams, corporate photography, internal correspondence, train consists, and schedules. Operational practices and prototype scenes are based on this research such as the helper engines to Alleghany, Virginia, and the significant passenger operations at “in-the-middle-of-nowhere” White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Bryan’s clinic will explain his design and construction journey using many photos of both the prototype and his layout. Building from Photographs Fred Willis—Structures abound in photographs, unfortunately kits of most structures do not exist.  How can you build a structure model from a photograph? This clinic provides guidelines and ideas on how to research and build an accurate structure from a photograph.
The Crystal River Railroad Fred Willis —The clinic will describe the history, terrain, towns and equipment of this obscure and forgotten Colorado railroad. It will describe how this coal-marble- stock hauling railroad contains man interesting modeling features.
† Downsizing to a Shelf Layout Fred Miller— Many model railroaders hesitate in building a layout because of limited space. When Fred Miller moved to a high-rise condo he was faced with either “arm-chair” model railroading, or continuing his life-long hobby of building a model railroad. This story is about how he designed and constructed a “shelf layout” to meet that desire for building an operating railroad.
Click here for clinic handout.
Earning AP Merit Awards for Cars and StructuresMat Thompson, MMRThe key to earning Achievement Program Merit Awards for cars and structures is to understand how judging is done. This clinic will review the forms judges use and show examples of models and the points they did (or did not) receive in the process. Editors WorkshopClint Hyde“Prospective editors” are the appropriate audience. This is a software training session for the actual newsletter production, will cover Adobe InDesign specifically, plus other tools I use. We will talk about other folks tools as well.  † Estate Planning for Model Railroaders Marshall Abrams—This clinic is addressed to model railroaders who are uninterested or unable to continue and want to dispose of their model railroad assets. It also applies to the estate executor who doesn’t know much about our hobby and who has many other things on his or her mind at the time. Topics include: priorities, inventory & value, high value items, written instructions, planning for layout disposition, selling, scenarios, fees, scenarios, references, professional services, and using eBay.
Click here for clinic handout.  --  A 31-page report is also available.
Evolution of an Operating SchemeBob Weinheimer—This clinic describes the operations on my layout and how it has grown and changed over 35 years. The layout has moved twice, providing opportunities for growth and the enhancement of its operational characteristics. The availability of rolling stock and the inability to pass up good deals has led to a large car fleet, which in turn has led to its own challenges. All of these changes have led to the layout as it runs today. † Expanding the Long Island Rail Road Brian W. Sheron, MMR— In 2015, Brian expanded his Long Island Railroad. Like most modelers, he was faced with questions such as "What to model" and "How to design the expansion." Brian will explain how he made these decisions, which resulted in modeling Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and the Long Island Rail Road's car float yard in Long Island City. In his clinic, he explains car float operations, benchwork construction, including simple construction of curved backdrops, and installing a Faller Car System. His presentation walks you through the process with many photos and diagrams.
Click here for clinic handout.
  Hands on Introduction to 3D printing Terry Terrence— will present a hands on clinic demonstrating 3D printing. The intent of this clinic is to demystify the 3D printing process. Participants will design a B&O concrete whistle post (O Scale); then Terry will show them how to prepare it for printing; and finally print the project on his desktop 3D printer. Limited to about 15 participants. Event code 602. Fee $5.
Participants MUST bring a laptop loaded with specified software. Click for instructions
HO Scale Knuckle CouplersBill Mosteller—Explains how to choose the right coupler for a piece of equipment, and how to install it properly.  While the workshop focuses on the Kadee line, it also covers other manufacturers' offerings. High Tech Approach to a 19th Century Railroad Bernie Kempinski—How do you model an ancient steam railroad when little commercial product is available? This talk will describe how  I used some of the latest technology and techniques to build my 19th Century Civil War O scale railroad. I’ll cover laser cutting, photo etching, 3D printing, spin casting, battery powered locos and a microprocessor controller.    Improve Your Trucks & Trains Lou Sassi— Lou discusses the materials and techniques he employs to convert and detail vehicles intended for the children’s toy market into realistic representations of their prototype counterparts. He also explains the techniques he uses to improve not only the looks but also the performance of various types of freight equipment on his SR&RL Railroad. † Insurance for Your Model RailroadMarshall Abrams—Most model railroaders never think about insurance. This clinic will help you to determine whether your homeowners’ insurance sufficiently covers your model railroad. A decision will require some data gathering and decisions on your part: These questions will be addressed: ■ What coverage does your homeowners' policy provide? ■ What are all the components (e.g., motive power, rolling stock, structures, scenery, benchwork, scenery, structures, wiring, track, power and control electronics), of the railroad worth? ■  What is your subjective assessment of the risk?  ■  Are you going to include repair labor in the insurance? Custom builders are expensive and unlikely to be willing to do repair work on site.
Click here for clinic handout.  --  An 11-page  report is also available.  † Introduction to C/MRIJay Beckham— This clinic is an introduction to Computer/Model Railroad Interface. Some of the content is provided by Dr. Bruce Chubb. It will cover some fundamental electronic and electrical information as it relates to C/MRI. Also, it will cover the basic parts that are used to provide signaling and the operation of a CTC system. I will also cover some alternative circuits that relate to C/MRI. It will not cover JMRI or LCC.
Click here for clinic handout.    Introduction to Layout Command Control (LCC)Dick Bronson— This clinic is an introduction and overview of the new NMRA Layout Command Control standard. Both similarities with, and distinctions from, other popular methods of layout control will be discussed. Layout signals and interlocking will be shown as an example application.  † Introduction to Micro-ControllersTerry Terrance— Ever wonder what a microcontroller is? Ever wonder what it can do for your model railroading endeavors? This clinic will describe what a microcontroller is, how it works and what it can do for you. After a survey of some available microcontrollers, we'll transition to focus on the Arduino, the grandad of experimenter's microcontrollers. The Arduino's hardware and software will be described. Time permitting, a live demo of programming an Arduino to be an alternate crossing flasher will be done.
Click here for clinic handout.    Contest Judging in the MER Martin Brechbiel— This clinic will provide the basic background training required for becoming a certified MER Judge. Attendance is a prerequisite to being an Apprentice Judge at the MER Convention Contest Room. Anyone and everyone that has any interest in being a Judge needs to attend. The intention is to achieve uniformity, consistency, and to provide a level playing field for all modelers and entrants participating in the AP program and thus also generate trained and certified Judges for the entire MER Region. It’s clear that we have a limited number of experienced Judges that are also well knowledgeable of the judging guidelines, and just what the really in those same guidelines. We’ll review every category of judging, what is and is not in the guidelines, what the Judges look for and what they are supposed to ignore(!), and hopefully dispel more than a few myths. Your attendance will qualify you for apprenticeship in judging at the MER 2018 convention where you’ll be teamed up with an established Judge for the day. † Layout Background SoundFred Miller— Adding background sounds is a way to enhance the "multi-dimensional" effect on your layout. Industry, city, or country sounds broaden the viewing and operating experience. There are a number of commercial "sound boards" offering pre-recorded or recordable capabilities with prices ranging from $10 to $100 and varying quality of the recorded sound and playing time. This clinic explores available options including easy construction alternatives.
Click here for clinic handout. Lessons Learned and Modeling Tips and Techniques Marty McGuirk— This clinic will highlight what Marty has learned from building and operating his most recent home layout. A heartfelt look at what went right, and perhaps more importantly what didn't go so well. Scattered throughout the narrative are tips on a variety of subjects ranging from research, layout design, and structure building to painting and weathering and scenery (and other topics) that you can apply to your own modeling.    Lighting Your Layout RoomNeal Anderson— After the layout was built I needed more light that wouldn't hurt my eyes. I used 3w LED lights, and installed them without making a mess on the layout. Eliminated the use of flashlights to see the couplers when operating on the layout. Model Railroading As ArtLance Mindheim—In addition to the enjoyment we get from building and operating our layouts, they can also provide tremendous satisfaction from the simple act of viewing them, much as you would a painting in your den. This clinic shares some ideas to enhance that experience. Topics covered include: scene composition, color treatment, layout to backdrop transitions, 'meaningful' details, and photography. Model Railroading in Small Spaces Mat Chibbaro, author of both editions of Kalmbach's “Model Railroading in Small Spaces”, will present a power point filled with photos of his many small layouts. Space-saving ideas to be presented include sectional, modular, shelf, fold-up, roll-away, dual use, interchangeable inserts, and layouts in furniture.  If you have told yourself you have inadequate space for a layout, this clinic will convince you otherwise. Mat will have one of his layouts in operation at the clinic and will be available for book signing. Modeling Lehigh Valley’s 1st Steel Auto/Box Cars Chuck Davis— In 1925 the Lehigh Valley ordered 1,000 of their first steel automobile cars from American Car & Foundry’s (AC&F) Berwick, PA facility to meet the needs of the expanding auto industry. The initial 700 door-and-a-half cars numbered 5000-5699 were delivered with 10 ft. staggered doors between 1926 and 1927. The final three hundred cars numbered 5700-5899 and 5900-5999 were delivered in 1929 with 12 ft. doors and the last 100 featured an end door. Over the next 40 some years these cars would undergo several modifications and rebuildings primarily to meet the needs of the auto industry. The clinic will cover the history of the prototype cars including painting and lettering, and how to model these cars and the primary modifications using plastic HO car kits, commercial parts, and fabricating resin castings. Modeling the October Scene Marty McGuirk— For the modeler who's tried to capture fall colors on a layout but found the results less than convincing. Clinic will cover the importance of a believable overall color tone, modeling fields and pasture land by effectively blending static and other grasses to avoid a "golf course" look, and the different approaches needed for background  and foreground trees. Clinic will expand upon the article of the same name that appeared in the October 2015 issue of MR.  Changing Prototypes: a Tale of Two Layouts Paul Dolkos— Paul explains why one takes down a perfectly good New England based model railroad to model the grime and dirt of Baltimore's industrial districts and port facilities. He will go through the trials, tribulations, techniques and triumphs of the effort.
† Modeling Urban ScenesBrian W. Sheron, MMR— Brian’s HO scale Long Island Rail Road primarily models many urban and suburban scenes found on Long Island, including Brooklyn, Queens, and Penn Station in Manhattan, and the town of Huntington further out in Suffolk County. His clinic focuses on how to plan an urban scene for your layout, identifying the key elements that make up urban scenes, and then explaining what the key modeling components are for each element, and how they all can be combined to produce realistic scale model urban scenes. Brian will discuss how to create realistic backdrops for urban scenes. He will also discuss using techniques such as “cutaways” to model underground stations, and also modeling overhead subways, or “Els”. His clinic presentation contains many photos that will illustrate the techniques he will be describing.
Click here for clinic handout.
 † Molding and Casting in Hydrocal and Resin Jay Beckham— Molding and Casting in Hydrocal and Resin. This clinic will cover the basics of producing one-part rubber (RTV) molds from scratch built or other masters. It will also cover making castings from the molds using two-part resin and plaster. Participants will be furnished a master and rubber to make a mold. Due to the time it takes a mold to cure, they will take their mold with them and can remove the master the next day. The master will be a HO Scale item useful to most model railroaders. They will also be supplied with a cured mold of a different HO Scale item and will make one or two castings using two-part resin supplied. They can try using plaster at home as it would be too messy at the clinic. I will, however, demo making a plaster casting. Time permitting a demo of two-part mold making will be presented. Please advise Jay by email if you need an O, S, or N scale master and mold. This clinic is limited to 20 people and requires a $20 fee for supplies.
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Multi-Function Animation DCC DecoderFred Miller— This clinic is about a custom designed inexpensive decoder developed to operate lights, sounds, and motion for animating buildings on a layout. This decoder operates from DCC track power and accepts DCC commands to initiate the animations. The construction and details of the decoder will be presented along with several animated demonstration buildings operated from both a LocoNet time-of-day Scheduler and a standard throttle.
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One Modeler's Approach to Building a LayoutAndrew Dodge—Layout building requires a wide range of skills and approaches to problems. The clinic will explore concepts, designs, prototype or freelance, the layout as art, planning, materials, environmental issues, and operations. Sharing information is critical to the hobby, and we will be looking at lessons learned during the past 65 years.
Planning a Model Railroad for Prototype OperationsSome Unconventional ThinkingEric Dervinis—Much of 2016 I spent thinking about and designing a model railroad, with serious operations in mind. My mid-1950’s Lackawanna Bloomsburg Branch has been under construction since February 2017, and much has been accomplished including all of the benchwork. The goal is some test op sessions in later part of this year. Be warned, that I have decided against some of the ‘established’ norms for design.
† Prototype Track PlanningBob Sprague— Track plans are models too! Bob, author of numerous track planning articles in Model Railroader and elsewhere, presents techniques any modeler can use to create a track plan that closely replicates the prototype in both appearance and operational possibilities. The clinic includes information sources, best practices, and the "evolution" of one of his published track plans.
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Rail Served Industries on the Lackawanna Bloomsburg Branch Eric Dervinis— While the Bloomsburg Branch (the “Bloom”) is noted for large coal breakers, it had a diverse industrial base. The Lackawanna was very aggressive in pursuing all sources of freight. The modeler and railroad historian will enjoy taking a photo journey along the tracks of the Bloom. Stations, team tracks, freight houses and factories will be shown from contemporary (1910 - 1960) photographs and postcards. Plenty of maps will keep you oriented. Focus is on the 1952 railroad shipper’s guide that lists all types of model railroad friendly industries.
Recreating a Prototype Railroad Andrew Dodge—This clinic will be a wide ranging look at the selection process of what can and will hold the modeler's interest. Additional issues will include the concept and theme of the prospective railroad and design issues associated with time, space, and abilities. Also, we will look at the related topic of operational questions related to how the prototype performed its work and how that might be translated into a model setting.  Scenery Along the Right of WayLou Sassi —Lou and Cheryl explain the materials and techniques they utilize to replicate various kinds and colors of rocks, specific tree types, woods, grass, and Right of Way fencing representative of that found on the prototype of his model railroad. There will be a step by step video showing how Lou mixes “Ground Goop”. Scratchbuilding a Brass LocomotiveAndrew Dodge—The clinic will review the mental "can do" attitude required before starting on such an adventure. One of the major focuses will be on the tools needed and types of materials best suited to fabrication of a brass engine. Design and building steps will be examined in full detail with lots of photos showing the design and building steps for such a fun project.   Setting the Scene with Regional IndustriesJim Hellwege—This clinic will cover the process of selecting and modeling signature industries for the region of the country you're modeling. Using photos of the prototype and other references, Clinic will address: (1) Selecting a locale to model, (2) Researching that locale, (3) how to research which industries were inherent to the locale and the railroad, (4) how to model those industries, including the appropriate rolling stock, and (5) how to provide a relationship between the industries on the layout.   Speed Ballasting TrackNeal Anderson— With a large layout I didn't have the time or the money to do ballasting. I found a way to not only save time but save money. I will show how to ballast track in a very short time and this is a make and take clinic. This will be the 5th time giving this clinic this year.
Updated Ships and Boats for the HO WaterfrontMat Thompson, MMR— The HO scale Oregon Coast Railroad has a major seaport and several smaller dock and pier scenes. This clinic focuses on ships, boats and harbor buildings available on the hobby market and the reasons why they may or may not be suitable for a specific location and era. Since Mat presented this clinic at the Durham MER Convention, he has updated it The clinic has been updated to include three new ships and a new harbor on the Oregon Coast Railroad.  † Vinegar, Pickles and Railroads ... Oh My! Rod Vance, MMR— This clinic talks about modeling the pickle and vinegar industries during the time period from the late 1800s to the early 1970s. We'll talk about how pickles and vinegar were made and processed, including looking at the typical structures and facilities used in their production. We'll also talk about the special railroad cars used to transport pickles and vinegar. We'll finish by surveying some of the structures and freight car models commercially available in our hobby that can be used to represent the pickle and vinegar industries.
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† Visual Aids and Wiring TechniquesPete LaGuardia—Pete will demonstrate wiring techniques used to control turnouts, double-slip turnouts with LED, and controlling tortoises from multiple locations. Along with visual aids used to assist operators both doing visits or operating sessions.  These techniques and wiring aids have been featured in model railroad over the years.
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† Working With A Professional Layout Designer Fred Scheer—Fred walks you through a bit of history, then choosing to use, and picking, a layout design pro. He explains how things go, from pre-planning to a completed design. Fred addresses time, cost, and the “re-design” issue, and mentions a couple of surprises along the way. You’ll get a quick look at Fred’s railroad and hear about the inevitable “What-I’d-Do-Differently” list. And, there’s a short list of some resources now available to the design-challenged that weren’t around 10 years ago.
Click here for clinic handout.  † History of Model Railroad Control Systems —John Glaab & Gil Fuchs—The clinic is a review of technologies, systems and methods developed as part of the evolution of model railroading, to support the fundamental need to run multiple trains sharing the same layout and track – from the late 1800s to recent years. The first part of the clinic covers early attempts to provide multiple train control, analog systems and the shift from central panels to walkaround train control. The second part covers digital systems and standards, ending with a call to action for members - to promote standardization for the benefit of the hobby.
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