Once again the Manassas Center for the Arts (aka The Candy Factory) was the venue for the Winter Wonderland train show. In past years we managed to have the show coincide with the VRE Santa Express trains but this year, due to a scheduling conflict, our show was a week later than normal. We were concerned attendance would be impacted but our fears were unwarranted. At the end of the show the building guard had tallied a total of 2141 people making the effort to stop by and enjoy our trains while supporting the local charity (SERVE) with food and monetary donations.
This year’s layout had several firsts for both the show and Trackers. Our layout design accommodated 30 modules and 8 corners while leaving room for a sizeable 10X22 foot Standard Gauge layout. The final design was U shape with the standard Gauge tabletop layout in the middle. A real surrounded by trains’ effect for spectators. We also used the new graduated leg set to produce a down and under section to the delight of everyone.
On the technical side we successfully tested the new MTH DCS Wi-Fi hardware and were running our trains from both smart phones and IPADS. A few issues were noted. The programing or loading train info needs to be refined, especially for our modular operations. The data load seems to get confused. There was also a question of battery life for cell phones. Is continuous use an issue, no doubt this will be dependent on the phone model or type.
Justin’s 6 track modules performed perfectly. The configuration sports 3 main tracks plus 3 passing sidings, all interchangeable. All switch function is cleverly controlled by a smart phone via a Wi-Fi connection. A very innovative design along with 1st class construction. The only drawback is the total length of the module set, 16 feet (4 modules). Additional 6 track modules are needed to increase the overall length by a minimum of 18-20 feet. A worthwhile project!
The layout performed as expected with no major issues. The Programming track tether, the one broken for some time, was replaced. With the continuing monitoring efforts of Bill Creech and Bear Bailey trains usually filled our three tracks. Typically each track supported at least two trains and occasionally 3 trains. A difficult task to say the least, at times it seemed like herding cats!
The Winter Wonderland theme was over the top this year. Every tracker out did themselves in both quantity and quality of detailed winter scenes. A marching band, red birds on telephone lines and deer on a mountain side for starters. Every module had their own winter theme and it didn’t go unnoticed by all the visitors and trackers alike. A much deserved (Nicely done) for everyone in the show.
Many thanks to Ed Beaver for supporting the Standard Gauge layout this year by providing the track, trains and manpower for setup and takedown of the layout. His efforts are truly appreciated by everyone especially the trackmaster. Clem participated on both efforts along with trains and operational support just about every day. Thanks to Ed’s brother Norman and Harold for manning the layout on Saturday. The trolley and handcar combination was fascinating. Sunday was very special. Clem and Ed were joined by George and Carl along with their new Standard Gauge engines and consists. At one point in time a red double headed train was zipping round one loop while another train paced it on a separate loop. Of course all this took place with seven O gauge trains here and there on three sides of the layout. A surrounded by Trains effect in spades. Heads were on swivels!!
Chicken soup, Chili and cornbread, Sausage and Egg Casserole, Pasta and meat sauce, Sandwiches, Cake, Cookies, Brownies, Apple Crisp, Fruit, sodas and water. We didn’t go hungry. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the feast.
A special thanks to everyone that supported the 2015 Candy Factory show, especially the participants. A great show only happens because of the tremendous effort of our members.