TRACKMASTER REPORT: GREAT SCALE TRAIN SHOW, TIMONIUM, MD.
FEBRUARY 6 AND 7, 2016
The Trackmaster and Assistant TM Keenan arrived at the Maryland State Fairgrounds at 11 AM on Friday, February 5, 2016. They found the 30 x 60 area for the layout site to be well-marked on the corners. Over the next hour, Trackers Frost, Knapp, and Sealing also arrived. Lunch was taken at the adjacent Hightops Grill. After unloading the trailer, it was moved to the north side of the hall and would remain inside for the duration of the show.
Early set-up proved popular as Trackers were able to drive their vehicles right into the North hall and unload at the layout. Assistant TM Beaver, Roberts, and Bonner also arrived and unloaded on Friday. By the time of the last Friday arrival, about 8:15 PM, 17 modules were already in place.
Saturday morning set up began at 7 AM, and the prompt arrival of Trackers Condon, Minor, and Tsakiris enabled trains to be running 15 minutes prior to the show opening at 9 AM.
Visitor traffic was heavy through the day on Saturday. Show organizers reported attendance near 5,000 and said it was one of the largest days ever. Lines reached around the building at times.
Several operational issues were noted. First, the green connectivity light remained dark. It took the arrival of Tracker Krause to identify a faulty connector in a harness. He was able to make repairs and connectivity was confirmed. Trains were running prior to confirmation of connectivity, however.
Signal issues occurred, with DCS and Legacy. The arrival of Tracker Kehn resulted in some improvement of DCS issues. Legacy remained problematic if one strayed too far from the base. TMCC operation of both TMCC and Legacy locomotives by a Cab-1 was flawless. Operations were successful on all three tracks through the day until the 5 PM closing. All had to vacate the building at 5 PM, including club members and vendors.
Wifi operations with both the MTH and Lionel systems were used by a number of Trackers. These systems functioned well.
New applicant Matt Pendergast arrived on Saturday, and was able to operate his CSX conventional locomotive, using member cars. Other members operating on Saturday included Clem Clement, Russell Ehrenworth and Ben Saxe. Visiting Trackers in addition to Krause and the Kehns included Mike Fistere, Garrett and Benjamin Goldstein, Craig Schelle and John Zampino.
The North Hall opened at 8 AM on Sunday, with the show open to the pubic at 10 AM.
Visitation was steady, but not to the overwhelming numbers of Saturday. Total show attendance was estimated at approximately 6,000.
A new problem developed toward the end of the day, with TIU output dropping to the Middle Track. The middle track was unable to be utilized for the last hour of the show. Scenery began to be removed at 3 PM, and trains stopped at 4.
Take-down proceeded steadily and the ability to bring vehicles to the layout site was again a benefit. All was clear by 5:30 PM.
The club received a $200 honorarium for participation. This was brought to the layout on Saturday afternoon by J. Scott Geare, and was given to President Frost. The show operators said the Trackers had exceeded their expectations, and immediately invited the club to participate in future shows. The next show is April 23-24. This invitation will be presented for discussion at the February 18 meeting.
The show had a special discount rate available at a nearby Holiday Inn Express. Positive reviews were made by those using that facility.
Overall, I would say the show was a success. Ample run time was available, and successful operations were held despite signal issues. Visitation exceeded expectations. There was excellent ease of loading and unloading. Food at the hall was catered by Hightops Cafe, and favorable reviews were heard about it as well.
I would encourage future Tracker participation at Great Scale Train shows, and remain willing to help in their operation.
Bill Hakkarinen, Trackmaster