From the Super; February Meeting Reminder

Jerome “Jerry” Skeim Superintendent


Upcoming Meeting Date: 14 February 2021

The next SMD meeting will take place on Sunday, 14 Feb. 2021 via ZOOM. Log on time opens at 1:30 with the business meeting scheduled to start at 2 PM. ZOOM logon information for the February meeting is the same as last month’s information.

If any member has any concerns that they feel need to be addressed to the membership, or discussion topics that they feel should be included in the February meeting agenda, please forward them to me through our Gmail address – – as early as possible before the upcoming meeting. You will also find an impeccably prepared copy of our January meeting minutes here:

In other news:

The results from our membership survey asked what day of the week and time of the day you would like to hold an additional virtual meeting over “zoom” to “Get-Together” and just chat about modeling and interact with your fellow members. Here are the results:  

    1. We had 28 folks respond which is about 33% of our membership.
    2. Preferred day of the Week: Saturday (Thursday and then Wednesday following close behind.)
    3. Preferred time of the day: 7:00 PM with 15 votes (No other time slot received more than 3 votes.)

With these results in hand what I am proposing is that we will hold the first Saturday “Get-Together” on Saturday, February 27th at 7:00, I will bring that up for a vote under old business at the upcoming membership meeting on the 14th of February.

Finally, we are always looking for anyone interested in providing a clinic or a layout tour following future Zoom meetings.  If interested please let us know through the SMD Gmail account as soon as possible: We now have lined up clinics/presentations for the next two months with help from a few of our members. For February, Bob Morningstar will give a presentation on “DecoderPro”, and for March, Bob Geldmacher will give a presentation on “3-d printing”. Hopefully, we can get a couple more to round out our meeting year.

I hope that everyone is well and that those that are eligible for the vaccine can get their shots promptly.

Hope to see you all on Sunday the 14th of February 2021 at 2:00 PM.

Jerry Skeim, Superintendent

SMD Draft Minutes 10 JAN 2021

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – January 10, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  16 or so were present.  The Superintendent convened the meeting prior to the published start time for logging in.  After some socializing, Superintendent Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

21.1-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3781.32 in its bank account (the same as last month).  That amount does not include invoices for the holiday card (item #20.12-3).  Alex Polimeni reported total costs of roughly $176.  He will send the Paymaster invoices for the $175 authorized by the motion made at the December meeting (minute #20.12-3).

21.1-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Andy Arnold made the following motion (second by Ray Price):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the December 2020 meeting be approved as submittedThe motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  The SMD has accepted the gift card donated by Mainline Hobbies.  The Superintendent has conferred with Bob Morningstar about conducting a raffle on-line.  Paul Mahoney offered a lifetime pass to the Great Scale Train Show for auction in the raffle.

The present plan is to hold the raffle in March/April, when the Mini-Con would normally take place.  

For future discussion, the Superintendent asked members to think about what to do with the proceeds:  SMD fund-raising, reimbursing Mainline for Mini-Con support, a combination, etc.

20.12-3 Holiday Cards:  Of the 84 members on the roster, only one (1) card has been returned so far.  (See minute #21-1.4 below.)

20.12-4 Second Virtual Meeting of the month for matters other than business (clinics, layout tours, electronic sharing, etc.):  As the SMD’s capabilities increase, remote meetings will offer a way to stay in touch (especially with members who cannot attend the regular meetings).  For the purpose of keeping in touch, it was suggested the Division continue to hold occasional remote meetings after the end of the pandemic.  The Superintendent has distributed a day of the week survey to the membership and will report next month.  

20.12-6 MER Hunt Valley Convention – fall 2021:  The convention is still planned to proceed face-to-face.  The SMD website has a link to the convention page.

New Business:  

21.1-3 Those present welcomed long-time member Steve Green to the meeting.  Steve expressed his thanks for the remote meetings, which make it possible to attend on busy Sunday afternoons.  (His wife is a pastor.)  He asked if a card had been sent to another long-time member Dennis Masters.  Alex Polimeni indicated a lack of contact information.  Several attendees volunteered to check their records.

21.1-4 Member Status – Response from holiday cards and other sources:

    • George Perrine of Oakland, MD passed away in 2020 at age 96.
    • Roger K. Landon’s card was returned by USPS as undeliverable.  (He had a Frederick address.)
    • Rich Nemchik has been hospitalized with Covid but is on the mend.

21.1-5 Possible Clinics:  Several members volunteered to give future clinics:

    • Bill Wilson – Panel-Pro
    • Bill Wilson suggested asking Bob Geldmacher to speak on laser cutting for car building.  (Bob models in On30.)
    • Steve Green – turntable indexing and building a train elevator

Alex Polimeni can set up practice Zoom sessions for prospective clinicians, and Andy Arnold can post Zoom clinics to the SMD Website/Blog.

Adjournment:  The superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely on February 14, 2021 (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by e-mail.

There was no clinic after the meeting, but Superintendent Skeim is planning one for future meetings.


What’s on Your Workbench?

Rich Randall has been working on an O scale All-Nation Model Trains cast aluminum EMD NW2 switcher model for his Milwaukee Road at Avery, ID, layout. The unit is pictured at the St. Maries plywood mill where it is slated to become the dedicated switcher. It sports a nice all-brass, modernized chassis with a Pittman motor, along with dual-drive sprung trucks. Rich painted it and installed a Tsunami II sound decoder, speaker, TCS KA-2 keep-alive, Shapeways spark arrestors, partial cab interior with a crew, electrical pick-up wipers, and LED headlights. Rich reports that it runs very well but still needs weathering.

What’s on Your Workbench?

From Don Florwick

Popping into my layout room the other day with no real purpose in mind, I spied a note on one of my staging yard switch panels. The note was reminding me to relabel the panel to clear up an inconsistency between adjacent yard panels.

I have three staging yards (left) along one wall of my layout room stacked one above the other and the 4-yard panels for the three staging yards are similar for each yard. Each panel has a rotary switch to choose the proper staging track. This makes picking a staging track pretty straight forward for my operating crews at the Pittsburgh & South Pennsylvania (P&SP) RR.

So why the note? It seems that for some reason unbeknown to me, I labeled this panel for the middle yard, Wheeling Staging, showing yard track #1 on the wall side of the shelf, whereas the other two yards had track #1 as the first track on the aisle side of the shelf. This inconsistency had not caused major problems but it had caused confusion from time to time if an operator failed to look at the yard panel track diagram before picking their track with the rotary switch, hence the note to self to fix it someday.

I try to remove inconsistencies from my railroad’s infrastructure when I see they create confusion. Operators are busy enough minding their schedule and deciding whether they have the authority to make their movement. 

Making the change was rather easy. I used a piece of an old credit card to remove the dry transfer labeling (left) from the track and rotary switch areas and I repainted the rotary switch area.

I waited a day to let the new paint around the rotary switch area dry. The dry transfers were applied and then over-sprayed with dull cote (below) to protect them.

Total time to make the change; about two hours of puttering around. Another inconsistency was cleared from the P&SP.

SMD Draft Minutes 13 Dec 2020

Submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  18 or so were present.  The Superintendent convened the meeting prior to the published start time to allow for any attendees having trouble with the Zoom connection time to try logging in multiple times.  After some socializing, Superintendent Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order shortly after the 2 pm start time.

20.12-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $3781.32 in its bank account.  That amount includes disbursements for the Winter Wheel Report and $16.42 for brochure holders.

In response to questions about NMRA and MER distributions, the Paymaster explained those checks are now sent directly to him (one at the end of August and one in September).

20.12-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by e-mail).  Clerk Harvey Heyser read the following clarification received from Web Master Tom Fedor regarding items in the November draft minutes concerning the web site, the blog, and SMD’s Facebook page:

Website/Blog:  The Division has one official website. It is Our website is the SMD blog. All members should look to for news, features, and information from Division officials. There could also be news from Region and National officials shared on our blog. I recommend that all SMD members visit frequently, and subscribe to to receive notifications of official posts on the Division home page.

Facebook Page:  The Division also has a social media account on While the Facebook page is a private site, membership is not restricted to SMD members. If a person demonstrates a genuine interest in our Division or has connections to people in our Division, access to the Facebook content can be granted by the SMD moderators. The Facebook page is a place for those who join to freely share and communicate directly with each other on any topic related to railroading. 

To expedite the wording of a somewhat complicated motion, Clerk Heyser made the following motion (seconded by Alex Polimeni):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the November 2020 meeting be approved as submitted, with the above clarification included in the December minutes.  The motion passed unanimously.

WebMaster Fedor’s recommendation that all SMD members join the Division’s Facebook group was also noted.

Old Business:

20.10-4 2021 Mini-Con: In response to questions from attendees, the Superintendent and Chair Pete Clarke repeated the reasons for not holding a Mini-Con in April 2021 (the main reason being the likelihood of being stuck in the pandemic through the spring of 2021).  Holding the virtual raffle (see the following minute) will serve to remind area modelers of the future 2022 Mini-Con.

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  Brian Wolfe has offered to donate a $100 gift card.  Bill Martz has forwarded information on what has to be done to conduct a virtual raffle.  Bob Morningstar reported there are web sites that can help with the raffle.  (He volunteered to help.)  The Superintendent will confer with the Advisory Committee and report back in the new year.

20.10-8  Brochures:  Bob Johnson reported on the locations he has placed the brochures (Main Line and HobbyTown (and a few more where he plans to place them – the Train Room – Hagerstown – the hobby shop in Mt. Airy, and the Train/Vehicle Museum – Frederick).  Members who have other suggestions should contact Bob or Jerry Skeim.

New Business:

20.12-3  Holiday Cards:  Alex Polimeni suggested sending actual, USPS-mailed cards to all members as a tangible indication that the SMD is still functioning and that we still value their participation.  He shared a link to a card web site and suggested the card of a PRR Altoona to Cumberland train arriving at a depot on a snowy evening in the 1920s (99 cents per card).  He indicated that he has the addresses and could get them out quickly.  The Superintendent will consider a message insert about SMD activities in the coming year.

Bob Johnson made the following motion (seconded by Ron Polimeni):

Motion:  To authorize an expenditure not to exceed $175 for sending holiday cards to the members.  The motion passed unanimously.

20.12-4 Staying Engaged:  Bob Morningstar suggested bringing projects to the Zoom meetings (making meetings more model-centric) through electronic sharing:  using the screen share function of Zoom, short videos (such as Dave Thalman’s layout visit/clinic at the October meeting), and even PowerPoint slide presentations.  Members mentioned the Op Sig’s Second Section meetings held each month in addition to their regular meetings and the Hindsight 2020 RPM all-day meet (posted on YouTube).  The discussion concluded with a decision to consider additional SMD virtual activities – a second get-together each month (perhaps on a different day of the week).

20.12-5 NMRA Virtual Events:  The NMRAx events seem to be organized largely by volunteer effort.

20.12-6 Regional Events:  Planning for the in-person fall 2021 MER Convention at Hunt Valley is proceeding.  Bob Morningstar cautioned that the event may have to be virtual.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely in January 2021 (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by e-mail.

Following the meeting, Bob Morningstar presented a clinic introduction to JMRI, a free tool to aid hobbyists in the enjoyment of all of the sophisticated electronic features of products produced for model railroading.  Bob serves as a beta-tester for new versions of JMRI (released at approximately 6-month intervals) and offered to assist SMD members in setting the program up.  He also emphasized that JMRI is modular and that you do not have to use all of it.