Annual Election

Your South Mountain Division (SMD) is preparing for the annual election of officers and requests your participation. The Nominating Committee consisting of Ron Polimeni and Tom Fedor is seeking candidates for the position of Superintendent, Clerk, and Paymaster during the 2021-2022 calendar year. Please notify us of your interest to lead our Division before 15 April 2021. If you are not contacted directly by the committee, note that any three members may nominate someone via written notice to the Nominating Committee, with the permission of the nominee. 

Duties of Officers

    1. The Superintendent will preside over Division and Officers Meetings and will perform the usual duties of the head of a nonprofit organization. He or she will be an ex officio member of all committees except the Nominating and Audit Committees.
    2. The Clerk-Paymaster will serve as the Division secretary (Clerk) and the treasurer (Paymaster). Clerk duties will include: taking minutes at all meetings, maintaining a roster of active members, maintaining the Division’s records, sending notices of meetings. Paymaster duties will include: receiving and disbursing funds, and preparing financial reports. As stated in article VI, these offices may be combined and held by one elected person, or split and held by two separately elected people.

For more details regarding the governance of the SMD please find our bylaws online at

Our Division website is, and our email is


Ron Polimeni & Tom Fedor

Announcing NMRA Dispatch

NMRA Dispatch emails will be short announcements of important and time-sensitive information that cannot wait for publication in the NMRA Magazine or eBulletin.

Spam button misuse

It has come to the attention of the IT department that many NMRA members do not receive NMRA email publications (Turntable, eBulletin, Dispatch) because other members use the Spam button.

If the publication is not of interest, simply delete it. If you no longer want to receive any NMRA email publication, please use the Unsubscribe link (below), which is safe and secure. Never use the Spam or Junk button. If too many people do this, service providers such as Yahoo will block all people from ever seeing the emails. Most NMRA members want to keep in touch. Don’t ruin it for them.

Please note that Unsubscribe will apply to all NMRA email publications, including the Turntable, eBulletin, special eBulletins, and Dispatch


[This announcement was generated from National. Questions regarding NMRA email publications should be directed to -Ed.]

SMD Draft Minutes 14 FEB 2021

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – February 14, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  22 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.

21.2-1 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 forwarded those invoices to the Paymaster during the meeting.  John Madden made the following motion (second by Alex Polimeni):

Motion:  That the Paymaster’s report for the February 2021 meeting be accepted.  The motion passed unanimously.

21.2-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by email).  Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Alex Polimeni):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the January 2021 meeting be approved as submittedThe motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

20.10-7 Virtual Raffle:  The SMD has possession of the gift card donated by Mainline Hobbies and the lifetime pass to the Great Scale Train Show.  The process of conducting a virtual raffle was discussed at length with the following issues brought up:

    1. What state and local laws and regulations will apply?  The MER is chartered in MD.  Where is the SMD chartered?  Different counties have different regulations for raffles.  For instance, Frederick County requires a permit; Washington County does not.
    2. How will the SMD accept payment?  Where to send payment and to whom?  A raffle manager living in the county where the raffle will be held was suggested.
    3. To whom will we advertise the raffle?  Division members?  NMRA members?  Attendees to past Mini-Cons? The hobby public?
    4. Tickets – actual or virtual?  It was decided not to limit the total number of tickets available or the number an individual buyer could purchase. 
    5. Information required from purchasers?  Name, e-mail, phone number, etc.?
    6. How many raffles can the SMD hold in a year?

20.12-4 Holding a Second Virtual Meeting of the month for matters other than business – an informal SMD get-together by Zoom:  Saturday evening was the preference expressed by respondents to the Superintendent’s survey.  He suggested 2-27-21 for the first get-together.   Bob Johnson made the following motion (second by Harvey Heyser):

Motion:  That an informal SMD get-together be scheduled for Saturday, February 27, 2021, at 7 p.m.  The motion passed unanimously.

Members were invited to “bring” things to share (show & tell).  No business will be discussed.  Zoom Master Alex Polimeni will make himself available beforehand to answer questions about screen sharing.  (Basically, anything that can be put on the screen can be shared – electronic files, “slides from PowerPoint, videos, etc.)

20.12-6 MER Hunt Valley Convention – fall 2021:  At the present time, the convention is still planned to proceed face-to-face; however Region Director Bob Morningstar reported the Region lost a significant amount of deposit money on last year’s canceled convention.  The Region must make an additional deposit in April, at which time a decision will have to be made.  The SMD website has a link to the convention page with information about the hotel.

New Business:  

21.2-3 Tom Fedor has reported that the deadline for the Spring 2021 Wheel Report is imminent.  He is willing to accept submissions until February 21st.

21.2-4 MER President Kurt Thompson has passed along a warning about scams made in his and the NMRA’s names.  Members should be aware.

21.2-5 Covid vaccines:  Members shared their experience and status.  One member got his shot by volunteering at a vaccination clinic.  At the end of the clinic, he and his wife were there when they had left-over doses to give.  [Model railroaders are a creative bunch.]

21.2-6 SMD Elections:  Nominations were solicited for the election to be held in May.

21.2-7 NMRA Elections:  Bob Morningstar encouraged SMD members to participate in the upcoming National elections as the nominees have differing views of the direction for our organization’s future.

21.2-8 3-D Printing Clinic:  Bob Geldmacher requested questions about 3-D printing for him to address in his upcoming clinic.

21.2-9 An operations clinic given by Bill Wilson will be held at the May meeting.

21.2-10 The next Timonium Great Scale Train Show has been canceled.  No one was certain about the rest of this year’s scheduled shows.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely on March 14, 2021 (second Sunday at 2 p.m.).  Members will be notified by email.

Clinic:  Bob Morningstar presented the second part of his clinic on JMRI.  He discussed the use of Decoder Pro for setting the CVs in DCC decoders and “walked” members through the applicable screens and toolbars.  Bob also repeated his offer to help anyone [maybe not Thumbs] having difficulty with JMRI.

SMD “Hobby Hangout” Summary

An Informal SMD Get-Together by Zoom

Summary prepared by Clerk, Harvey Heyser – 2-27-21

Normally, the SMD would not publish “minutes” for a gathering when no business was discussed, but given the fact that the get-together was the first remote informal event the Division has held, the following is a brief summary of some of what was shared during that event (for SMD members information and to encourage future participation).  15 or so attended.

Superintendent Jerry Skeim served as moderator.  [He had his hands full.]  Alex Polimeni acted as Zoom Master.

John Madden described his adventures with an 0-6-0 that he just could not get to run.  It turns out that he had removed the DCC chip for some reason.  (He could not remember why.)  Once he reinstalled the chip, the loco ran beautifully.

Bob Geldmacher told everyone about using 3-D printers at the Westminster Library (available for free) to aid in constructing parts for an On30 mine he’s working on.

Bob also described his efforts to bend tubing in order to make light fixtures (using a jig he made) and his hunt for LEDs with wires small enough to fit into the tiny brass tubing.  Bob Johnson suggested another approach – filling the tubing with sand before bending – and using the tubing itself as one of the wires.

Dave Thalman showed a live video from his phone of his continuing progress turning one of his helixes into a scenicked mountain.  Dave has had much success using “ground goop” in his scenery efforts.  Once mixed, it remains usable for a long time.

Bob Johnson notified everyone that his basement renovations are complete enough for him to [deviously] begin plotting ways to make his operating schedule more challenging.  He also has been reworking some brass articulateds with new NWSL high-low gearboxes to improve running qualities and to quiet them down. 

Rich Randall displayed photos of the Central Locomotive Works SD-40 kit (now almost 50 years old) he has been working on.  One of the things he wants to change is the drive train, which seems (from the photos) incredibly kinked with the trucks turned even slightly.

Ron Polimeni asked what people are doing for paints now that Floquil is no longer available.  

  • He indicated his dislike for the semi-gloss finish of Modelers Decals and Paint’s products.  
  • Bob Johnson said he continues to use his inventory of Floquil.  
  • Others pointed out that they have had success with Scalecoat by using only Scalecoat thinner (the kind specific for each of the 2 kinds of paint Scalecoat makes).
  • Ron reported he has had no luck with Tru-Color, which goes on glossy.  Tru-Color thinner contains a substantial percentage of MEK and, therefore, should be used with plenty of ventilation and other extra precautions for using hazardous materials.
  • Bob Morningstar pointed out the need for constant airbrush tip cleaning (with a q-tip) during spray sessions with water-based paints, which (in his experience) do not adhere as well as Floquil but have otherwise performed well.
  • Tru-Color paints go on glossy.

Ron then displayed some of the diesels he has been painting.  He showed how a chrome marker works for the stainless steel grilles.  (The marker is made by Molotov and is available from Blick Art Supplies.)

Pete and Jane Clarke showed slides from this year’s EBT Winter Spectacular.  [Pete looked quite forlorn in a shot down from the caboose cupola.]

Jane showed the 3-D printed model of the freight house she’s been working on for Robertsdale as well as shots of the component parts, which were quite complex in form (and quite expensive).

Pete showed the trestle he has installed at Pucky’s Coal in Orbisonia immediately adjacent to the (always crowded) operator’s aisle.  Those in attendance immediately started taking bets on how long it would be before an elbow (or gut) would knock the hoppers onto the floor.  [Most guesses were under a minute.]  On a more constructive note, Pete showed his first efforts making a dirt road (to Pucky’s).  

Frank Benenatti talked about the model of Ewing’s Mill he constructed for Mt. Union on Pete and Jane’s layout.  He used a balsa wood mock-up that he cut and reworked at the layout to get the model sized to fit the actual location (an amazing process according to Jane).  The final model was then constructed of more conventional materials and included a very nice embossed paper “stone” foundation as well as custom ink-jet printed decals based on the prototype.

Bob Morningstar displayed several equipment projects:

  1. A Walthers (agricultural) combine model “mounted” on a flatcar with attendant parts not yet installed and with all required blocking, tie-downs, etc. (as the prototype would be shipped):  the load was held in place by micro-magnets.
  2. An old Akane brass USRA light Mikado re-motored and reworked to represent a B&O prototype:  Bob reported that the change that most significantly improved running was adding a torque arm to the drive.

Bob also reported he has found a very fine-tipped marker for adding “chalk” marks to freight cars.  Bob Johnson indicated he has used Prismacolor pencils for the same task.

Frank Benenatti has been trying to sell his layout.  He thought he had a buyer who unfortunately had to back out when the renovation of the proposed location (basement) turned out to be too costly.  Frank is still willing to sell his structures if anyone is interested.  Frank is thinking of building a display of Robertsdale for the FEBT museum – something different.

Frank also reported feeling lonely running trains by himself during the pandemic.  Consequently, he turned up the volume on the sound chips.  That helped a bit.  [It certainly made up for all the bad jokes normally heard during sessions.]

Alex Polimeni asked operations hosts what challenges they foresaw in returning to op sessions after the pandemic.

  • The most obvious answer was cleaning track!
  • Bob Johnson said he will need to work on switches and their machines.  He plans to free-up the switches by wiggling them with his fingers and then throwing them multiple times to make sure they are working properly.
  • Pete and Jane Clarke reported unwanted rodent visitors causing damage to the foliage and leaving debris on the tracks.

Alex has been painting figures (for war-gaming unfortunately) during the pandemic.  He is planning to present to the SMD an up-dated clinic on the water-based Citadel paint system.  [Even at his tender age,] he finds reading glasses quite helpful to relieve eye strain when painting.

Andy Arnold has been developing a computer inventory program.  Given his professional experience with programming, he was surprised that most of the effort so far has involved “making the screen look better.”

Brian Greenawalt has been building some of the craftsman structure kits he has acquired over the years.

Following the discussion (reports, tips, questions, slides, and videos, etc.), the consensus of those who participated was that the Division should do another Zoom get-together.  Superintendent Skeim will schedule a date in the coming month.