Visiting a Model Train Show…again!

It has been a while since I have been to a model train show. The closest one to us here in DC is usually the one happening in Timonium, Maryland. That is just north of Baltimore at the Maryland Agricultural Fairgrounds. They have several huge exhibition halls (one is appropriately called “The Cow Palace”), so it is easy to see why things are happening there.  More often than not it will take well over one hour to get there. Constantly battling the ridiculous traffic on our Beltway and then after that, the mayhem on Interstate 95.

Besides the shows had gotten “tired”. The demographics seemed to change and skew very much to an older crowed. I suppose I did fit right in! Younger folks were hard to find! More and more I got the impression that “exhibitors” just cleaned out their basements of train model bits and pieces, likely being commanded to do so by their significant others. Then they were hoping to foist most of their detritus on some unsuspecting model train newbie at highly inflated prices! Even the major model train manufacturers were in on the act. One of them was selling their HO locomotives at list prices during the show, while I could get it for just about half the price on their website. Just one example: the list price for one locomotive from a major manufacturer at the show was $459.00! The Internet price for the identical item was $265.95 on the same day!

And I won’t even go into the audacity of charging $8 for a lukewarm hotdog at the show’s food vendor stall.

So, why am I writing about a train show again? Well may you ask! This one was close to DC. At the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia to be precise. It was one of those really nice spring Sundays. We needed to get out of the house and I got an email with a coupon for a $4 reduction of the entrance fee. “The World’s Greatest Hobby” it was called…

Seems like everybody and their grandmother had the same idea. The place was packed. I noticed with great gratification that there were not just us old geezers, but families with young children. There were also young guys (it’s always guys, isn’t it?) attending to and running the various layouts. So there seems to be hope for our hobby.

Surprisingly almost all model train scales were represented with layouts. I hadn’t seen an S scale (1:64) layout in ages, but there it was. TT scale (1:120) was sadly missing, however not surprisingly so. It is incredibly popular in Europe, but not here in the US. I do not even think that there is any US style rolling stock available for that scale. More’s the pity. It is a great scale to work with. The equipment has the incredible details just like HO, but is smaller. But not as tiny and fiddly like N scale (1:160).

N scale, which I am working with at home, was well represented.

It was a nice outing to the suburbs. And I did not even buy anything…much!

F5DFC580-599E-4781-B860-A7881339C51B_1_105_cMy big purchase of the day. An N scale Canadian National Railways rail car for transporting hexamethylene diisocyanate. All mine for $17.00

Here are some more impressions from “The World’s Greatest Hobby” show last Sunday.

Arriving at the show in style:IMG_5592.jpeg



Explaining O scale…


An S scale layout


C & O in S scale.


…and more S scale.


An O scale Norfolk Southern Railroad locomotive coming around the bend.



More O scale


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HO was there of course.


A young man inquiring about N scale technicalities…


Setting up a train in the N scale yard.


N scale layout yard.


Santa Fe Railroad and Deutsche Bahn side by side. My kind of way to run a railroad!



The Lego layout was a big hit (Top 4 photographs)

Of course Thomas, the tank engine, was there in all scales. In N scale:A4F290B5-46B5-450F-8CC7-20A17D178FF5_1_105_c.jpeg…and in whatever scale this is:168E7785-EC2F-46B0-84D8-B59FA30DD2D9_1_105_c.jpeg

Some up and coming train engineers:8AFB2856-97CD-4BD3-8733-DB4F636562FD_1_105_c.jpeg

A short video. Unfortunately for some reason the sound will not work. Sorry!


All photos/video by Brad Wing and Ralf Meier (i-Phone 11 Plus and i-Phone 10)

As always, replies and comments are welcome. So please feel free to leave a comment in the “Reply Box” below!

1 Comment

  1. Ted A Burkett says:

    We went to the show on Saturday and enjoyed the big variety of operating layouts. which was mainly what we looked at. Good to see some sales people we have known for years.

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