2019 New Bern Show Report

A hearty group of 8 arrived before 11 AM on Friday, March 1st at the shed to load up for the show. Linwood Wells came by to offer some room in his trailer and this turned out to be advantageous by allowing us to put FitzGerald Yard and some odds and ends in there. This allowed us to load the club trailer quickly and we were on the road in short fashion. Several folks arrived at the New Bern High School before 4 PM and the anticipated rain fortunately was no where to be found. The layout was located in the Gymnasium and all club members joined in and started work on making the 24’ X 42’ layout, one of the largest we have done here.


Even starting so late, we were able to close the layout by 7PM and completed the spine shortly thereafter. John Wallis took advantage of the large working area and completed DCC repairs on Appalachian Coal. Chris Thompson also took overhead pictures of several modules for a project that David Derway is working on to help Show Superintendents in the future. A few joiner tracks were installed and Dave Thompson was kept busy installing the DCC equipment.


Saturday morning we launched back in installing joiner tracks while Dave T. finished up the DCC. The Superintendent provided coffee and donuts as a “Thank you” to all the club members that were there that morning. While making inter-module connections, it was discovered the Mountain Division of Long Bridge was installed backwards, so it was swapped around to the correct position. A missing loconet cable caused DCC issues until it was discovered and fixed which allowed us to get trains running about 1/2 hour after the show opened. The usual couple of dead spots and short circuits were quickly identified and fixed, which was a good thing as I have never seen so many people at a show so early. Several of the short circuits were attributed to the PM42’s not being fully seated in their connectors. By 11AM, trains were running on all lines.


We had visits from Dave Koss and his wife as well as Steve Corlew from RanTrak. Pete Slugg also came by with his wife and ran trains on Saturday. Linwood Wells set up and allowed us to use his personal speed matching circle and wheel cleaning track Thank you Linwood! We had multiple trains on Red for most of the day, and a good amount of traffic on the others all day long. The show closed at 5PM and we all headed out to supper.


Sunday morning arrived to more coffee and donuts from the Superintendent and track cleaning cars were sent running around the layout. Soon enough track was cleaned to give the go ahead for all lines to get going and we had trains running on all lines prior to the show opening at 10AM. Ian Whaley dropped by to run trains with us. The layout did run well all day. Dave T. did move over to a Raspberry Pi for Wi-Fi later Sunday, although I don’t know the reason for this.


A couple came by the layout and gave us 3 boxes of N scale and some HO scale equipment as a donation. $42 was received from sales of this equipment. We also received a check for $350 from the New Bern Club.


The show closed at 4PM on Sunday, and everybody did an excellent job of pitching in and breaking the layout down. The modules were packed up and we all were headed out of town before 6PM, just as the sprinkles started. The drive back was a terrible mix of heavy rain, mist, and dangerous drivers.


Overall it was a great show with 16 club members in attendance at one time or another with at least 9 being there all three days. There were a couple of personal issues that arose that need to be mentioned. On Saturday, Don Wenzel made a quick bathroom break and parked his train on the Mountain Line (Long Bridge) for a short time. When he returned, his caboose was on it’s side, off the track and the rear of it was heavily damaged. No one seemed to know what had happened. Also, on FitzGerald Yard, the Budweiser sign on the front warehouse building had been knocked off (again). While accidents do happen, most of the time we fess up and take responsibility for it. This weekend, we apparently had two incidents where someone damaged equipment and did not have the decency to admit to it. Since no one witnessed the damage, the perpetrator(s) will remain unknown.


Since the sign on the warehouse has been knocked off several times, I think we have learned our lesson about elevated details on a module where trains are assembled and taken back down…its a bad idea. I propose that we should remove the sign permanently, and put a patch on the roof as would normally be done. Linwood had a great idea about putting some workers in that area to make it appear they are doing the patching. This should be seriously considered…. if they didn’t get knocked off, that is. One of the track bonding jumpers on FitzGerald Yard came loose and had to be resoldered. A second jumper was identified on Sunday, but time ran out before it was fixed.


Two more issues arose, both during set up. I couldn’t help but notice some “salty language” being used as modules were being assembled. We REALLY need to be aware of our surroundings as there were younger people there and they did not need to be subjected to this type of language. Also, remember that there are many ways to achieve the same goal (getting modules put up correctly). While some folks feel there is only one “right” way to do a job, as long as the job is completed to the Superintendent’s approval, then it has been done correctly. Please be aware there is more than one way to “skin a cat”, and insisting work be done only as you think it should be done can be counterproductive. Keeping one’s eyes open and seeing how others complete tasks is one way I learn new ways of doing things. Try it, it works.


I can’t thank the club members that attended, help load up, set up, and tear down enough. You all did a FANTASTIC job of pitching in and getting the work done in a timely and proficient manner. Dave Thompson deserves a special thanks for undertaking the DCC Master position and doing a great job of it. I would also like to thank Mark Blaustein for providing Assistant Superintendent duties. He really helped me delegate several duties to others. There were a few “issues” that arose, and I apologize for the length of time it took me to resolve some of them. As a Superintendent, I find my attention being drawn in many different directions, sometimes simultaneously. As the timing of this show has been moved back to conflict with my wedding anniversary, unless it is moved again, I will be unable to volunteer to be Superintendent in the future. It has been fun, trying at times, but well worth the effort. Thank You All!!!


Notes from the DCC Master (David Thompson):


DCC operations were pretty darn good Saturday morning except for a recurring problem on the spine where all tracks appeared to be shorted. This problem had us baffled until it was discovered that the Blue line power cable was plugged in across the insulated joiners in the spine. Once this was disconnected the spine was without power. Further investigation revealed that there was a missing LocoNet bus jumper. Once the jumper was installed and the booster phase was corrected we had no more spine problems. So who knew that one could feed track power in to a PM42 / Booster and have all four tracks powered?


There was an issue where long passenger trains shorted both ends of the Blue spine reversing section coming east toward Red Rock Junction. The insulated joiners were placed between Wye a Duck and Main Street. Normally they would be placed between Main Street and Gold Hill corner but it is harder to put insulated joiners on tracks near that corner so I opted to move the joiners, thereby shortening the reversing section. This should have been OK given the Superintendent's admonition to limit passenger trains to 10 cars but at least one of the trains that encountered problems in this area had 4 locomotives. In future set ups I will try to be uncompromising with regard to Reversing section minimum length.


Sunday afternoon we began to have WiFi issues. Communication between computer and Command station was failing. I noticed that the front left USB port on the club computer allowed the USB cable to wiggle. This could be the cause for intermittent communication failure. We will be watching where we put the cable. I set up my Raspberry Pi 2B with Steve Todd's image, modified to suit our needs, and it worked flawlessly for the remaining two hours. Perhaps I should have set it up from the beginning.




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