Meets and Events

The San Diego Division holds monthly events every 2nd Saturday. These include quarterly Meets (February, May, August, November) which may include Show & Tell, Contests, Clinics, auctions, swap meets, Bingo for Trains and food. Typically there is a Swap Meet and BBQ at our Summer Meet. On the off months, a Layout Tour open house style, is offered. (For your information, instead of calling our Meetings, "Meetings", we call them "Meets".) Currently, due to Covid-19 restrictions (the virus name is SARS-CoV-2), the Division is offering virtual events in leu of our regular activities. We will update this web page as each event date approaches. During the pandemic, our Zoom Meets schedule typically has Show & Tell, Layout Tours and Clinics. 

While our Meets and Events are usually for San Diego Division NMRA members, we currently welcome any NMRA member to join our monthly Zoom Meets from any Division, anywhere in the world. For NMRA members, there is no fee to be part of our Zoom Meets. For NMRA members to be added to our Zoom Meet email list, please email publicity and provide your first and last name, Division and Region. (If later, you want to stop receiving these emails, email publicity and ask to be taken off the Zoom Meet email list.)

If you are not a member of the NMRA and would like to join and attend our next Zoom Meet (or attend one or two Zoom Meets for free), please call our Rudy Spano (Membership Services) at (858) 279-3166.

Upcoming 2020 Meetings & Events (Pacific Daylight Time & Pacific Standard Time)

  • October 10, 2020, Saturday (PDT):
    • Show & Tell (30 minutes: 3-5 minutes for each person): We need people to volunteer for Show & Tell. Please contact o be determined. Please email Ryan, our superintendent and provide your Show & Tell idea. The Show & Tell portion will be presented by five members of the San Diego Division (or possibly people from other NMRA Divisions), each sharing a three to five minute presentation showing a model railroading technique or model railroad project. 
    • Layout Tour (30 minutes): The layout tour will be by John Feraca, Master Model Railroader. 
    • Clinic (30 minutes): The clinic has been determined, we will update this web page in a few days.
  • November 14, 2020, Saturday (PST): Fall Meet. Agenda for the Meet is currently being discussed and is in the planning stage.
  • December 12, 2020, Saturday (PST): Agenda for the Meet is currently being discussed and is in the planning stage.

Morristown and Erie Railway, partial layout picture.Past 2020 Meetings & Events (Pacific Daylight Time & Pacific Standard Time)

  • January 11, 2020, 12:00 noon - 3:00 p.m. (PST): HO/HOn3 scale Dead Rail multi-deck Layout Tour.
    • Layout Tour: This Dead Rail layout tour was a heavily attended and it was very interesting to see Dead Rail in action. All the locomotives were powered by batteries. The batteries were typically located in a piece of rolling stock, coal tender or slug (which were connected by wires) located directly behind the locomotive. The host had taken off the tops of the rolling stock so that we could see the batteries located inside.
      • The layout used DCC over radio control using an app for the controller. The layout had multiple levels, several industries, houses, business buildings, a trestle, several tunnels and a helix. The locomotives can run for about three to four hours on battery power, depending upon how the locomotives are being used on the layout.
      • There were also snacks and drinks provided by the host and we appreciated the host's generosity with opening his home to the Division and for the food provided.
  • February 8, 2020, Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (PST): Winter Meet. Included a pot luck with lots of food, an auction, Show and Tell and a Clinic.
    • Pot Luck: The Pot Luck had lots and lots of food, drinks and deserts. There was plenty of Mexican food, Subway sandwiches, chicken and more. 
    • Show & Tell: Several very interesting Show & Tell presentations were made. A home-made wooden vice was displayed to hold a rolling stock base when a third hand is needed while drilling into a frame or making other frame modifications and the vice does not hurt the sides of the rolling stock. A diorama of an industry setting was shown which had lots of detail. A wooden model building was shown and the roof was detachable so we could see wooden beams inside the roof and the details of the interior of the building.
    • Clinic: The clinic was a review of the National Model Railroad Association's website (by yours truly - Michael Hampson, webmaster for the San Diego Division) and how it is packed with very good information for modelers. The clinic also noted the extra information available to members who when logged-on to the NMRA website. Members have access to even more specific and useful information about the model railroad hobby once logged into the NMRA main website. It was noted that we can add our home layouts and projects in the Member's Only secure section of the NMRA website. This way, members from our own Division and people from any other Division in the world can see your work and progress. 
    • Auction: The auction really made the Meet fun and interesting. There were many, many items at the auction, including books, rolling stock kits, rolling stock that was built, railroad memorabilia and more. The purpose of the auction is to help make money for the Division and at the same time, have fun and win the auction items.
  • Detailed modeling by a San Diego Division member.March 14, 2020, Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (PDT): Layout Tour.
    • This layout tour was sponsored by the San Diego S-Gaugers located in Grossmont (San Diego, California, USA). The San Diego S-Gaugers typically use DCC (Digital Command Control) and AC as their main type of power source on their layout. They also can use DC and TMCC (Trainmaster Command Control) power sources on their layout. 
  • April 11, 2020: Meet cancelled due to the California lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. 
  • May 23, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Spring Meet. 
    • Our Division was invited to a Multi-Division Zoom Meet organized by Pete Steinmetz (San Diego, California) and James Knabb (Texas) of the NMRA. The Zoom Meet included the San Diego Division, the Cajon Division and the 2nd Division of the PNR. This was our first participation in a Zoom Meet for the San Diego Division.
    • Layout Tour: The Layout Tour was presented by Don Fowler, Master Model Railroader® with his N scale Southern Pacific layout.
    • Clinics: There were two clinics, one by Duane Richardson, Master Model Railroader® (Texas) and another clinic by Andy Keeney (Michigan).
  • June 13, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Meet.
    • This was our first Zoom Meet organized and hosted by the San Diego Division. The Zoom Meet included Show & Tell, and there were several Clinics (with questions and answers for each clinic). The Zoom Meet went very well, with 39 people attending. 
  • July 11, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Meet.
    • Included Show & Tell, a Layout Tour by "Shotgun Tom" Kelly and a Weathering Clinic by Pete Steinmetz. The Zoom Meet went very well with 67 people attending (42 people in the Zoom Meet and 25 people watching the Zoom Meet, live, on YouTube). We had several people who came to our Meet from other NMRA Divisions. 
    • Show & Tell (30 minutes: 3-5 minutes for each person): The Show & Tell portion had an interesting scenery presentation, a detailed and interesting layout signaling presentation using LED lighting and electronics, a model train workbench presentation (from the start of the project to the finished workbench), a modular trestle talk (again, a very nice presentation from the start of the project, to its finished module) and a short discussion about the San Diego Division's Facebook Page and new Facebook Group.   
    • Layout Tour (30 minutes): The Layout Tour featured Los Angeles and San Diego radio personality, "Shotgun Tom" Kelly and his HO scale model railroad. His beautiful layout can be electrically lowered from the ceiling onto the pool table that it rests on. The presentation and "Question & Answer" period went over quite well. The presentation included a video, an overall discussion and then a live walk-around layout tour. The Layout Tour was quite informative and many questions were asked about the layout, as well as modeling questions.
    • Weathering Clinic (30 minutes): The Weathering Clinic was presented by Pete Steinmetz, Division Director. Pete has given this weathering clinic over the years and it is still popular because this clinic is for both new and advanced modelers. Each presentation is a little different each time because new materials become available and techniques improve. The presentation and "Question & Answer" period, again, went over quite well with many questions from the types of material used and to how to fix mistakes. Several very specific questions on how to model different types of weathering, rust and more, were asked and Pete replied with very good and informative answers. 
  • HO scale January 2020 Dead Rail Layout Tour.August 8, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Summer Meet. 
    • The Summer Meet will include Show & Tell, a Layout Tour and a Clinic. The meet had a total of 38 people. (37 on Zoom and one person on YouTube). Last Meet we had an additional 25 people watching on YouTube. We used a new technology of YouTube and we were not sure that it would work, so we did not publisize the YouTube portion of this meeting. For the next Meet, we will provide the link to the Live YouTube option.
    • Show & Tell (30 minutes: 3-5 minutes for each person): The Show & Tell portion was by Ryan with his N scale layout. He discussed his elevator, operated by a winch mechanism, to move rolling stock on his layout. After laying the track on his elevators, he realized he needed to add re-railers. To save him time and the labor hours to remove and relay the track to accomplish this, he made his own custom re-railers out of styrene. This also saved him the purchase of costly re-railers.  
    • Layout Tour (30 minutes): The Layout Tour will be presented by Rodger Gredvig, Master Model Railroader®, from the San Diego Division and will feature the "Lode Stone and Iron RR" (based in the USA). It is an N scale, DC powered, modular self-standing (middle of the garage) 12X12 (feet) layout. There are four modules and the layout can be easily taken apart and moved, if necessary. Some portions were built in the 1970s, others in the 1980s, and some as late as 1996. 
      • The Lode Stone and Iron Railroad depicts a real railroad bridge route which was surveyed and incorporated, but never built, connecting the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RG) with the Santa Fe along the Colorado River from Grand Junction, Colorado to his home in San Diego, California. Rodger has modeled a section from the low desert (California/Arizona border), up to the high desert (in Utah), and over the mountains into western Colorado. 
      • There are many industries modeled, many buildings are scratch built, there is detailed work inside of many buildings, there are multiple animations on the layout, multiple industry spurs, many bridges, tunnels, a bay front, custom built railroad crossing with working lights turned on by a sensor, many very realistic rock formations and more.
      • Rodger's N scale layout is based on the Denver, Colorado Canyon & Pacific Railroad formed in 1889. However, the railroad never became a railroad. An article about the surveying done for this once formed railroad, is in the April 1983 NMRA Bulletin. The proposed "water-level" railroad (which would avoid snow and grades) was to haul coal from Colorado coal mines to various California ports. However, John D. Spreckles (of the sugar fame) had a fleet of ships that were able to get coal from Australia cheaper, which made the Denver, Colorado Canyon & Pacific Railroad obsolete (because it would be unprofitable) before it even got started.
      • There was also a very nice presentation also by Rodger, on an N track modular layout used for trade shows or public street fairs. The modular track is a total of 3X14 feet. Imagine splitting the middle of the benchwork lengthwise, and the front half has all the scenery, bridges, buildings and nice track work. There is a backdrop going down the middle length of the layout. Then the rear of the layout is not finished and the wood work is painted black because it for the return track, the controls for the layout, other electrical controls and animation controls. This way, during an event, people can see the layout from the front and the operators are behind the layout attending to operations. This was a very nice presentation and was worth watching since it provided a very good modular model layout for a mobile public displays. 
    • Eazy, Peezy, Treezy (Version 1.2, Part 1) Clinic (30 minutes): The Eazy, Peezy, Treezy Clinic will be presented by Dick Roberts, Master Model Railroader®, from the San Diego Division. This clinic is all about making evergreen trees using the “bottle-brush” method. You will learn how to make an assembly fixture and use some special tools to create tree forms. In addition, you will also learn painting and flocking techniques to complete a finished tree. A list of materials and tools with acquisition resources will be provided. It will be a fun clinic.  
      • Detailed information was given about converting sizes of trees to HO scale and to other scales. The items mentioned were actually very inexpensive to purchase, yet the trees look very realistic. Detailed instructions were provided on how to make the trees, the tools needed to make pine trees, how to handle the almost finished or finished trees and how to add them to your layout. A homemade jig was shown to help make the branches out of twine. This clinic was well worth it.
  • Morristown and Erie Railway layout, factory picture. September 12, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Meet. 
    • Show & Tell (30 minutes: 3-5 minutes for each person): We need people to volunteer for Show & Tell. Please contact o be determined. Please email Ryan, our superintendent and provide your Show & Tell idea. The Show & Tell portion will be presented by five members of the San Diego Division (or possibly people from other NMRA Divisions), each sharing a three to five minute presentation showing a model railroading technique or model railroad project. 
    • Layout Tour (30 minutes):  Frank Baker of the Arizona Division will be providing the layout tour of his Morristown and Erie Railway. The Morristown and Erie Railway is a short-line railroad based in Morristown, New Jersey, chartered in 1895 as the Whippany River Railroad. Frank has expanded his layout to also include other locations on his layout, from Chicago to New England. His layout is in a 20X30 (feet) purpose built room, a free standing building, built next to his house. 
    • Electrical Basics for Model Railroaders Clinic (30 minutes): Tim Foote will present a very informative electrical clinic including simple physics for model railroading projects, power sources, LED (light emitting diodes) lighting, using a breadboard to test your projects, tips for wiring your layout, tips on soldering, tips for a DCC and Sound layout, using a multi-meter to troubleshoot your layout and some electrical animation projects. The clinic should benefit both beginning and intermediate model railroaders. 


Note: Pacific Daylight Time starts March 8, 2020 and Pacific Standard Time starts November 1, 2020. In the USA, in general, Daylight Time starts the second Sunday of March and Standard Time begins the first Sunday in November. In Europe, summer time begins the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday in October. 

We do not have a physical office, permanent meeting room or layout. Each month, we meet at various locations throughout San Diego County.