Selma Rail Days 2018

As we have for the past 15+ years, the NRMRC participated in the Selma Rail Days, from October 4 - 6, 2018. Our T-TRAK layout consisted of 6 tables and was located as usual in Selma Station. We received $150 from the Town of Selma for our participation.

Nine members of the NRMRC and one guest participated in this show; six for all three days. One member rode the train to and from home to attend the show.
Overall the layout ran very well, with only the usual start-up issues. A highlight was the operating crossing gates on the ADM Grain module constructed by Bob & Becky Milback. Starlite Nights also received a lot of attention. Trains were running by 10:00 am on Thursday and tear down began at 5:00 pm on Saturday. The final layout plan is attached in the Selma Show 2018 page,
A Pi-SPROG was used as our DCC system for this layout in place of our normal Digitrax Zephryr. This system is essentially a normal SPROG controlled by a Raspberry Pi 3+ computer, and capable of 2.5A output. It has a capacity of 9 smart phone/tablet throttles; we had 7 throttles max running at one time. While the system ran well, there are two issues that could preclude its normal use on a club layout:

  • Whereas our Digitrax Boosters automatically attempt to restore track power after a short, the Pi-SPROG requires a manual reset, which can get annoying. I have sent an Email to the SPROG group asking if the device can be set for automatic restore.
  • The Pi-SPROG can only be operated with a smart phone or tablet. Digitrax throttles do not work with the system.

The manual reset did prove to be educational for both operators and the Superintendent. We learned just how often operators do not pay attention to the isolated end of turnouts and ran their locos or metal wheel cars into the section, and how sloppy we can be when placing a locomotive on the rails for the first time.
Although one purpose of our setting up on Thursday and Friday was so school children could attend, this did not happen. We learned that Friday was a teacher workday, but one teacher brought 4 pre-school children to view the layout. However, Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver did attend on Friday and spoke with us for a while. With nothing else to do we had to run trains.
Two minor module issues were noted and brought to the attention of their owners.
The importance of not screwing the leveling screws all the way into the module on tear down has been mentioned many times, yet at least one member continues to screw them all the way in. This can cause significant difficulty in trying to get the screws out when setting up the next time. Leveling screws all the way in was found on two modules.
Prototype action was better than last year, with 13 freight trains over the three days. Amtrak had a perfect record -- all 15 passengers trains were late through Selma.
John Wallis



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