Train Shows: How to Emerge Victorious

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes

Today was my first train show…as a modeler.  That might not seem like a whole lot of difference, but all of a sudden, vendors have a new appeal.  What follows is my guide to making the most of a show based on today’s experience at the Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department’s 2nd Annual Train Show.


Take Cash…But Not Too Much

Before departing this morning, I visited my good friend Aston Thelonious Martin (also known as A.T.M.).  Many vendors are cash-only, and using cash allows you to avoid spending more than your budget allows.


Arrive Early

I took the “T” and arrived just after doors had opened and was there as vendors were packing up.  If you’re on the hunt for specific items, give yourself time to search through thousands of boxes.


Dig, Matey!

There’s treasure in them boxes, and you’re digging for it.  Since vendors are limited in the amount of table space they have, you have to check the boxes below the table as well.


My treasure was locating as many of the Atlas Code 83 pieces my design requires to save money from buying them online.  By rummaging through the bins, I found all of the straight and curved sections of track I needed, as well as a Walthers turnout at a discount.

Luck will always be a factor on finding the best deals.  I didn’t find any Atlas Code 83 turnouts (switches), but the best prize of today was a Digitrax DCC system.  This included a commander/booster (DB-150), throttle (DT300), Utility Panel (UR91), and power supply (.5 Amps, enough for one locomotive) with all components being brand new.  MSRP would have been around $480 when this was introduced.  I bought it for $25.


Talk to Club Layout Operators

Today’s show had representatives from the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.  They had brought with them an approx. 4×8 ft HO-scale layout.  Since my own design is modular, I asked plenty of questions regarding wiring, benchwork, and scenery.  Since I’m still new to DCC, I took my recently purchased Digitrax system to member Dave Chess.  He did a fantastic job explaining the basics, mistakes to avoid, and assured me that I had made a good investment.


Most Important

Cliché, but have fun!  As always, I have a blast talking with others in the hobby, taking in the layouts, and making new friends.

I have been working on the benchwork over the past week.  I will post that progress soon.

Foreground is DCC Equipment.  Background is track, joiners, couplers, Steel Rails, and VHS tape.

Foreground is DCC Equipment. Background is track, joiners, couplers, Steel Rails, and VHS tape. Engineer Henry the Moose takes the inventory.