2020 Meets and Events Archive

January 11, 2020, 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. (PST): 

Dead Rail layout tour.The January 11, 2020 Meet was a an event which took place at one of the private residences of a member of the San Diego Division.

  • This Dead Rail layout tour was a heavily attended by our members. One of the reasons why the Dead Rail tour was heavily attended, was this layout was going to be torn down and this would be the last time anyone could visit the layout. 
  • There were no other events such as Show & Tell or a Clinic during this meet.  
  • Layout Tour: HO/HOn3 scale Dead Rail multi-deck Layout Tour. 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.
    • The owner of the layout also has his own electronics business for model railroading and we were invited to tour his small but busy electronics office.
    • 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. to 3:00 p.m. (PST): Winter Meet.

The in person 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.

March 14, 2020, Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (PDT): 

Detailed modeling by a San Diego Division member.Layout Tour: This layout tour was sponsored by the San Diego S-Gaugers located at the Grossmont Center Shopping Mall in Grossmont. The Grossmont Center Shopping Mall is about 15 miles east of downtown San Diego (California, USA).

  • S scale is (1:64). In the early days of model railroading, S scale was called “S gauge,” which is why the club decided to honor that tradition and named their club the S-Gaugers.
  • All members of the S-Gaugers belong to the National Model Railroad Association. The club has very affordable annual dues. 
  • 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. 
  • The layout includes a cattle ranch, an orange grove, citrus packing warehouse, a packing warehouse, an ice house, an icing dock, passenger station, freight station, turntable, engine house, tunnels, trestles, bridges, two mainline tracks, a railroad yard  and more.

April 11, 2020:

The Meet was cancelled due to the California lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

May 23, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 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 p.m. to 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 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Meet.

images/events/events2020/Shotgun-Kelly-HO-scale-layout.jpegOur 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. 

August 8, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Summer Meet.

N Scale Lode Stone and Iron RailroadThe 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).

The last Meet 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 publicize 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.

September 12, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (PDT): Zoom Meet.

Morristown and Erie Railway layout, factory picture. 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 provided 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. 
    • Franks layout is a very detailed layout with multiple buildings, industries, spurs, sidings and railroad yards. 
  • Electrical Basics for Model Railroaders Clinic (30 minutes): Tim Foote presented a very informative electrical clinic that benefitted both beginning and intermediate model railroaders.
    • Tim's clinic included and very nice presentation with lots of illustrations and detailed text explaining electronics for the model railroader.
    • He included simple physics for model railroading projects, power sources, LED (light emitting diodes) lighting and using a breadboard to test your projects.
    • Time also included tips for wiring your layout, tips on soldering, and tips for a DCC and Sound layout.
    • He also provided information on using a multi-meter to troubleshoot your layout and included some electrical animation projects. The clinic should benefit both beginning and intermediate model railroaders. 

October 10, 2020, Saturday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (PDT):

Stone Canyon RailroadThe Meet went very well with grand total of 38 people attending the Zoom portion of the Meet. We also had the Meet on live on YouTube allowing people to attend the meet without having to log into Zoom.

The Meet had lots of good Show & Tell presentations, the Layout Tour was fantastic and the Clinic was very well received with lots of questions asked by NMRA members. 

  • Show & Tell: Show & Tell included a box car build, a Whitcomb Midget diesel built from a kit and some very good LED advice including the importance of using resistors with the LED lights. 
  • Layout Tour (30 minutes): The layout tour was by John Feraca, Master Model Railroader, and his HO scale Stone Canyon Railroad. It was a very interesting layout tour, set in the 1950s, the transition era with steam and diesel locomotives.
    • The layout is set in perpetual fall colors, has Code 83 for the visible track, has a staging track which can handle 200 rail cars and has superelevated curves. He originally was making is layout without belonging to any model railroad clubs and considers himself an artist first, a model railroader second.
    • John also built his layout before he knew what operations meant. However, he joined the NMRA and started to get advice for his layout. Little did he know, that his track design for his layout was so realistic, that it was able to be used, as is, for operations. He has what is called a dark layout, where the signals do not work and there are no time tables. Operations began in 2013, are done manually and has monthly operating sessions. Each operating session lasts about three hours and can handle 5-10 people and 12-16 trains.
    • He has many scenes on his layout including a roundhouse, a small downtown area, multiple industries and small town scenes.
  • Clinic (30 minutes): The Rolling Stock Clinic was presented by Don Fowler, Master Model Railroader, and was very informative including the importance of having the proper rail car weight and how to achieve this. A discussion of using Kadee couplers or using a coupler company of your choosing. Wheelsets, trucks, test track and making sure your lightest cars are always to be in the back of your train, were other subjects which were discussed. The floor was open for questions throughout the clinic and Don fielded many questions from people attending the Zoom Meeting.

November 14, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (PST): Fall Meet.

San Diego Model Railroad MuseumThe Fall Meet was held at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

For NRMA members: For those people in the NRMA and are on our Zoom Meet email list, you'll receive a link to the Zoom Meet, several days before the Meet.

  • YouTube link for Zoom Meet: For NMRA members who don't want to use Zoom and for those who are not NMRA members, you may watch the Zoom Meeting on YouTube. Here is the YouTube link for Saturday, November 14, 2020. 
  • Show & Tell (30 minutes: 3-5 minutes for each person): The Show & Tell portion is presented by approximately five members of the San Diego Division (or people from other NMRA Divisions), each sharing a three to five minute presentation showing a model railroading technique or model railroad project.
    • We need people to volunteer for Show & Tell. Please email Ryan, our superintendent and provide your Show & Tell idea. 
  • Layout Tour: The layout tour will be presented by the San Diego Model Railroad Museum (located in Balboa Park which is just minutes away from downtown San Diego, California, USA) and will be an overview of the museum.
    • The museum is home to four model railroad clubs and is a favorite for local and tourists when visiting San Diego. 
    • At 27,000 square feet, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the largest such indoor exhibit in North America, and one of the largest in the world. Nearly three million people have passed through the center since it opened in 1982.
    • There are two massive HO scale layouts, one operated by the La Mesa Model Railroad Club and the other is operated by the San Diego Model Railroad Association. The N scale layout is operated by the San Diego Society of N Scale. An O scale layout is also operated by the by the San Diego Model Railroad Association. The Lionel type 3-Rail O gauge Toy Train gallery is operated by the San Diego 3-Railer Club. And last but not least is the G scale garden railroad, The Centennial Railway Garden, (located outside, in the back of the museum) was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park in 2015. The G scale garden railroad is modeled after Balboa Park as it existed in 1915.
    • The San Diego Model Railroad Museum opened in 1982 with a mission to preserve the heritage of railroading through a series of miniature representations of California railroads, research and preserve the history of model railroading, and educate the public in the many different aspects of railroading.
    • Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) historic urban cultural park in San Diego, California, United States. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park. Placed in reserve in 1835, the park's site is one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use.
    • As of September 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the museum has limited visitor's hours, which are Friday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The museum is closed Monday through Thursday. The museum is on the lower level of the Casa de Balboa Building on the Prado, in Balboa Park.
    • The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is a 501(c)(3) organization non profit charity.
  • Clinic: The clinic is titled, "How to Make Your Own Resistor Wheels" by Pete Steinmetz, Pacific Southwest Region, San Diego Division Director, National Model Railroad Association. The reason for the clinic is that many clubs and layouts require rail cars to be equipped with resistor wheelsets so that scale block signaling will work correctly on a layout. This clinic will help you learn how to install your own resistors on rail car wheelsets. 
    • It can be noted that powered locomotives, lighted passenger cars, a box car with sound or lights or a caboose with lights and sound, don't need resistor wheelsets since they are already powered by the track. 
    • Buying premade wheelsets with resistors is expensive and making your own wheelsets with resistors saves a lot of money.
    • Pete will show proven techniques on how to make resistor wheelsets for your rolling stock.
    • The clinic demonstration will be in HO Scale but the technique can be used for any model railroad scale. 
    • Pete will not be explaining the technology used with resistor wheelsets, just how to build them.
    • The clinic is approximately 30 minutes. 

December 12, 2020, Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. (PST):

Dan Lewis' N Scale layout.

This was a Virtual Meet and since we can't get together to celebrate the holidays as we have in the past, this year we will host a Holiday Modeling Contest. 

  • Show & Tell (30 minutes: 3-5 minutes for each person).
  • Holiday Modeling Contest. Since we can’t get together to celebrate the holidays as we have in the past, this year we will host a Holiday Modeling Contest. 
  • It doesn’t have to be one of these subjects, but you get the idea. There will be prizes in several categories like best train, best scene, funniest, most creative. The popular vote from attendees will determine the winners who will receive their prize in the mail. Make something fun during the quarantine and win a nice prize. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
    • Create & photograph a winter scene
    • Create & photograph a holiday train
    • Recreate & photograph a scene from your favorite holiday train greeting card
  • Please email Ryan, our superintendent and provide your Show & Tell idea. 
  • Layout Tour: The December virtual layout tour will feature Dan Lewis' N-scale layout which follows the prototype of the North Montana Line of the Milwaukee Road in central Montana in the fall, 1953.
    • The basement layout is 18x25' and not only depicts the actual railroad, but operations are a regular part of a round robin group of modelers in the NCR (north of Detroit).
    • Dan is probably the most prolific N scale author in the hobby, with over 100 articles in the model press.
  • Clinic: "Just Roofs," by Dan Lewis which will feature different roofing styles, materials, modeling, and finishing effects (useful in all scales).
    • Dan's work was most recently published in Model Railroader magazine (June 2020), Railroad Model Craftsman (August 2020), NMRA Magazine (October 2020) and the new NMRA Calendar (2021).
    • A few years back, one of his photographs was deemed among the 10 best photographs in Model Railroader Magazine history.


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

Covid-19 Information: As of May 2020, our Division provided virtual Meets during the Covid pandemic of 2020, with the exception of April. Our April 2020 Meet was cancelled due to Covid-19.