Another Opening of Another Show

My Olin and I ventured out to a train show, again… This time, I was smart: I refused to take any other children but the one directly interested, and I brought a dedicated self-described “sheep dog” to keep track of my small but very excited, very flighty herd. 

Saturday did not begin quite as expected. I was hoping to be out the door by 9 o’clock or so, and was intending to run over to Decorah and make a stop at the bike shop in Decorah before we went to LaCrosse. (Another entry, another time for that story…) That didn’t happen anywhere near as quickly as I had expected, even providing extra time for inevitable kid drama. We did make it to Decorah and back, but on the way back in to the driveway, Lance managed to run over something sharp and metal, and poked a hole in his tire. We recruited Tim to use his Man Skills (TM) and change the tire while Lance chased kids around the yard and I took the opportunity to beat my high score on Bejeweled. (1.09 million in Diamond Mine – mad skillz).

Eventually, the Blazer was fit for travel and we headed out… Only about 3 and a half hours behind schedule. I did manage to get most of my non-train-show errands done, and we got to the show itself around 2:30, which was just about right. It was a tiny fraction of the size of the Madison show, but had enough displays and merchants that I was happily occupied for awhile. In addition, there were a few ‘kid friendly’ setups, such as a rather large wooden track Thomas-themed play area that was full of kids, and a standard scale loop that was set up within touching distance. In addition, a couple of the layouts had interactive elements… Olin’s favorite was an N-scale club layout that had two buttons to push in close proximity to one another. One operated a moving oil well rig. The other… The other operated the lights on Olin’s very favorite thing… A crossing. And so, I discovered very usefully that Olin would most likely get more enjoyment out of a “working” crossing that he can operate himself than one that comes on automatically when the train approaches. That is a relief to me, because making one ‘work’ with a detector unit would be rather prohibitively expensive. I think we’d both be happy with the ‘push plate’ kind, but that kind doesn’t come in curved rail models, and our crossing is on a curve. I did find an LED light-up crossing with an articulated guardrail and the capacity to be rigged for automatic lowering, for a very decent price compared to what is available online. I ‘only’ bought one, but I want to install one and see if I can get it going before I try for any more. As it stands right now, the table has a potential for three crossings, although the third is on a narrow gravel access road and probably wouldn’t rate a crossing gate in the real world.

Anyway, back to the train show.

One of the other things I did differently this time is to bring a shopping list. I have some very specific things that I need (read: want) for the train table, and I seem to forget what I’m really looking for when confronted with the vast assortment of stuff available in these situations. So, I made a list before we left, and while I did get some random extra items, I actually managed to come home with several things on my list.

At the show, I ended up purchasing (in reverse order of potential interest to Olin):

some gravel (…In ‘buff’, which better matches our layout’s ‘natual rock’ color than the medium gray I had previously purchased. I will mix them.) 

A locomotive and rolling stock wheel cleaner (desperately needed – like ew)

A DPM Townhouse model kit (by no means necessary, but one of the most nicely-detailed model kits available that I’ve seen, and at a very nice price)

An HO scale BMW in a lovely shade of royal blue

A crossing (Need I say more?)

We were at the show until about 4:30, with 15 or so minutes devoted to convincing Olin that it was really (really) time to go and to make one more round because we were going. At the one in Madison, he was good for about two hours and then wanted to leave, so he’s improving.

One of the things on my list to look for was “A steamie like Animal Train,” which Olin has been requesting for his birthday for several months. I’ve never actually watched Animal Train, just listened and caught parts… Having finally actually watched the clip, it looks like it’s loosely based off the “Jupiter” 4-4-0 from the Civil War era, which is ironically the first “real model” engine we got for him. They are, unfortunately, rather fragile. I’m sort of hoping to find a similar 0-6-0 as a substitute, just for simplicity. Additionally, the sound function of the DCC engines we have is undoubtedly a major draw for Olin, so I’d love to find one that was DCC sound equipped. Needless to say, such things were not to be found at a very small model train show.

I did find a very, very cute “switching goat” in our railroad’s colors, and it was DCC-ready (in theory), but what there was for circuityry was so tightly crammed that I don’t think I could have fit a DCC board, even had I known how. 

Additionally, I discovered that my dorky interest gets a variety of grandpas excited to tell me entirely too much about everything even vaguely related to model trains. I was telling Tim some of my stories from two hours of wandering around the show floor, asking intelligent questions and making random comments. He said he was a little concerned about how well I’m received (not in those words), I said that I was amused and flattered if anyone bothered to have those thoughts about me at my age and with the number of kids I have. But anyway… 

I had a fun little conversation about the factory-direct detail work on a fantastic model, about the wheel articulation and track radius with one guy who was very interested in showing me his “Big Boy”, a debate on the best way to apply standing static grass versus flocked static grass with a lady (there were at least four other women there who were “sort of interested” or better… Although nobody but me was peering compulsively at rock faces, speculating on their construction), got a lecture on how to keep model buffalo from escaping (short answer: glue), and another big debate – that ended up attracting like seven guys – about how to achieve long rock faces on different sides of a layout.

In addition, I saw a major derailment, bears invading a campground, a Lego-lopolis, a very clever drive-in theater, and all the other same stuff I saw last year…. Except now, I kind of know what I’m looking at.

I didn’t take any photos, because I didn’t see anything I couldn’t already figure out how to do myself, and my loyal “sheep dog” was chasing the black sheep. So much fun!

After the train show, I stopped for some groceries and then made a swing past Hobby Lobby. Ironically, I found more scenery items there than I had at the train show. I found the “long grass” and “Conifers” I had on my list, as well as some moss in the florist section that will work perfectly for the “dead foliage” and some bonus “long grass tufts” that are tipped with color such that they look like flowering plants. The only thing I couldn’t get was Elmer’s glue in a gallon size. Does anyone have any idea where I could find that locally? Amazon has it, but the shipping is… Ouch…

Anyway! It was a great day,  a productive outing, and we found some flyers for “local” train shows through the year that include a swap meet in Elkader in July, so we’ll have to check that out this summer!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.