AMHERST BELT LINES
HO Modular Railroad
Copyright © 1999, Amherst Railway Society
Wow! Is it May already? It seems as though it wasn't all that long ago we were cleaning up in the Better Living Center! With May nearly over and the summer months now fast approaching, it is time to send the long overdue Post Show Edition of the Modular Mumblings.
A hearty "thanks" goes out to all that participated in the annual Big Railroad Hobby Show sponsored by the Amherst Railway Society, Inc. The show was a rousing success, although not quite as well attended as 1998. This year's layout was larger than previous layouts, with a total mainline run of over 13.5 scale miles! In spite of its size, the layout went together fairly smoothly, with only a few noticeable snags in setup. For the most part, modules arrived on site at their appointed times. We all appreciate those of you who made the effort to get your modules to the show as early as possible; it makes it much easier to keep the process of assembling this layout going when all the pieces are in one place. Bruce Erickson, Doug Scott, Mike Cormier and Adam Drozdowski - and others we may have missed - did a great job of getting the layout level and clamped together.
New modules were introduced to the layout this year by Dave Gale and Patrick Kubala. Dave has been a member of the Pepperell Siding Model Railroad Club, but decided to join our group with his module set, the Nissitisit Terminal, this year. Patrick is one of our newest members and has modeled a compact city scene. Phil Johnson and his sons put some effort into a major rebuilding of his Johnsonville modules - to the extent that they may soon be renamed. Bolton Junction has finally received a permanent track arrangement to which Steve Belforti and Sudro Brown put several hours into wiring a flexible power routing system. John Bock put together a "Remote Block Polarity Indicator" or RBPI for use with Bolton Junction or any reversing section of the layout. It works great - once you know what to look for! Our thanks also go out to the Cape Cod Model Railroad Club, the Dry Hill Model Railroad Club, the Nashua Valley Railroad Association, and Justin Maguire for providing modules from other organizations to make this layout a success.
The real highlight of this year's layout was what ran on the layout -- RailCam. If you weren't at the show, you missed the experience of seeing the layout in a way it has never been seen before - from the right hand seat of the cab. The Nashua Valley Railroad Association brought along their RailCam equipped locomotive that was pushed ahead of an ABEL freight. The view of the layout was amazing, and the experience of running this train was incredible. We hope the Bolton group will bring RailCam back to Springfield in 2000; if they do, we will be sure to set up several TVs for our viewing audience.
For those of you who might not have known, we participated in two shows in February this year. (OK, one in January and one in February!) In addition to the Amherst show, we were invited to provide a small layout for the Worcester Model Railroaders' show in Auburn, Massachusetts. The Amherst Belt Lines was the featured layout, while the rest of the Elks Hall was filled with vendors. Thanks to a number of individuals, we were able to put together a 14'x24' layout in record time (7:00am to show opening at 10:00am!) and we were actually running by the time the doors opened. The show space was very tight, but was well attended in spite of the small area. The layout ran well for the day with few, if any, problems. We received some good publicity from the Worcester Telegram, with a great picture of William Rice watching his train cross the Lift Bridge. It was a challenge to put together a one-day show, something we haven't done since the Student Union Ballroom, but the experience was a good one. The general consensus was that it was a good show and that we should consider participating again, assuming the invitation is once again extended.
Our next regularly scheduled show is the Pepperell Siding Model Railroad Club's annual show in Townsend, Massachusetts. This show is traditionally held in October around the middle of the month. The Pepperell show features layouts, vendors and live steam. After Pepperell, the Bedford Boomers hold their layout only show in Bedford, New Hampshire, usually the first weekend of November. The Boomers always assemble a variety of layouts, portable and modular, in a wide range of scales for public display. Also included are live steam and some 12" to the foot displays of speeders. This vendor-free show is a refreshing change from most of the shows we attend, and always seems to draw a reasonable crowd. If you have never been to either of these shows (or even if you have), please consider marking these weekends on your calendar now and plan on bringing your module - or just yourself. We generally have a good time!
Happy MODULAR railroading and have a safe summer -- Sudro, Clark, Tom and Alan