Who Built this Locomotive?

From Jack Fritz

If you’ve been keeping old copies of the Railroad Model Craftsman (RMC), you’ll find a better photo of this locomotive in the May 1978 issue. It’s a super-detailed Model Die Casting Company (MDC)[recently part of Athearn’s Ready To Roll® HO lineup -ed] “Old Time 2-8-0” simulating Ma & Pa’s No. 25. The piece in the RMC was written by Stanley A. Harris and in the article, he mentions living near Ma & Pa (Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad) trackage in Baltimore, so he may still be with us.

I obtained this gem from the sale of Bob Thatcher’s collection after he passed away a couple of years ago. As it turns out I have several models, some partially built, and a couple completed models of this MDC product. It’s truly a great product for those who are interested in early 20th-century small railroad steam.           The model is DC with an open frame motor and runs as expected, not that well. I’m thinking about how to re-motor and re-gear this to include sound and DCC. I hesitate to tinker with it because it’s such a good looker and therefore is sitting in a wall display case along with some early brass. Since my layout remains DC it’s become an intellectual exercise for now.

Master Builder – Scenery

From Jane Clarke

South Mountain Division Achievement Coordinator Jane Clarke reports that John Pursell of Chambersburg, PA received his Master Builder – Scenery certificate this past year. To earn this John demonstrated “the prototypical rendering of scenic effects from the ground up” on his layout. John has been a frequent contributor to the newsletter. His efforts at home and at the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club have graced the covers of Wheel Report editions last winter and spring. Pursell’s HO scale 12 x 28” layout is around-the-walls construction, using L-girder and plywood, set at a height of 53”, and operated with MRC DCC. The backdrop is painted hardboard and the scenery is on foam with a glue shell. Based in the 1950s, the layout depicts the bridge crossings over the Delaware River between Easton, PA, and Phillipsburg, NJ.

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes 14 November

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – November 14, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  15 or so were present.  Superintendent Alex Polimeni opened the zoom session prior to the published start time for logging in and sharing.  

During the lead-up to the meeting, there were compliments made about the excellent job that Wheel Report Editor Tom Fedor has done in giving the SMD a very professional-looking publication. 

The Superintendent called the business meeting to order at about 2:30 pm.

21.11-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that as of September 30, 2021, the SMD bank balance was $3,658.43.  That includes the $12 expenditure for the fall Wheel Report and a deposit of $35 from the MER.  The memorial contribution for Jerry Skeim has not been made yet but will be made shortly.

21.11-2 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 Bob Morningstar):

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

Old Business:  (No items of old business were discussed.)

New Business:

21-11.3 Zoom Subscription:  The Superintendent reported that the Zoom subscription was renewed automatically in August 2021.  He will submit the expense at the December meeting for reimbursement.

The Superintendent also indicated that one reason he renewed was our need for storage capacity for the recorded Hobby Hangouts.

21-11.4 Holiday Cards:  The expenditure last year was $175.  It was noted that last year’s cards resulted in several renewed contacts (and unfortunately one death notice).  The discussion indicated that keeping in contact with these cards was good for the SMD.  Andrew Roberts offered to investigate the card service his business uses, which may be less expensive; it also permits flexibility of graphics.  Members expressed a desire to rotate the prototype depicted (in other words, not all PRR).  Tom Fedor has many layout photos that might be used.

Andrew Roberts made the following motion (second by Ron Polimeni):

Motion:  That the expenditure of up to $150 is pre-approved for 2021 holiday cardsThe motion passed unanimously.

21-11.5 Superintendents’ Meeting:  The meeting, customarily held during the MER Convention, was held remotely this year by zoom.  Superintendent Polimeni did not attend.

21-11.6 Spring 2022 SMD Meetings:  The Superintendent reminded members that he will confer with 

the Officers and Advisory Committee as to whether it is safe to hold in-person meetings yet.  He also noted the need to find willing hosts.

Bob Morningstar reported that the Greencastle High-Line Station is a possible venue that would allow for greater social distancing than a crowded layout.  Attendees could bring something they have been working on.

21-11.7 Other Gatherings:  Don Florwick and Steve King went in-person to the MER Convention.  (No one was sure how Achievement Program judging was done at the Convention.)  Pete and Jane Clarke have held an in-person operating session.  An O scale meet was held on 11-13-21 with 12-20 participants and no masks or distancing.

On the other hand, one Four County member, who attended the recent Timonium Show, did contract covid.

21-11.8 Jerry Skeim’s Layout and Models:  Elizabeth Boisvert (Jerry’s daughter) indicated her family’s desire to clear the space soon and to dispose of the collection to other modelers who will put the items to use.  Since Jerry had not gotten much beyond the benchwork stage, his collection includes tools, some DCC equipment (not set up), a small amount of track, scenery supplies, a few structures, and On30 rolling stock models still in boxes.  The layout is in Thurmont, MD.  Several options were reviewed:

  • The SMD is taking an acting role.  Past experience reported from the MARS group suggests a plan of action:  a) create an inventory, b) organize a take-down “party,” c) salvage what can be salvaged, and d) sell the collection at a train show or on eBay.  It was pointed out that online sites must report the proceeds of sales to the IRS as ordinary, taxable income.
  • Try to sell as much as possible locally.
  • Bring in a model train collection buyer to make a blanket offer.
  • Holding a one-day sale at the house once the situation is assessed.
  • SMD is organizing a group of volunteers to aid the family in assessing the situation.  Bob Johnson suggested himself, Bill Reynolds, and Bob Charles (for pricing assistance).  Andrew Roberts also volunteered to help.

The Division expressed its desire to help.  The sense of the discussion was that the last of the above alternatives would be the course of action for now.  Elizabeth indicated that Jerry had an inventory, which she will search for.  She also will take photos of the collection and benchwork. 

21-11.9 Future MER Convention in the SMD Area:  When asked, the Superintendent indicated he has not been approached to host a convention.

21-11.10 Gifts to the NMRA Library:  Andy Arnold asked how to make donations and was directed to Mary Miller, who donated some of Bill Miller’s books.

21-11.12 Hobby Hangout:  A remote get-together by zoom is scheduled for Friday, November 26, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.  Members had been notified of the date and time by the notice for this meeting.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely by zoom on Sunday, December 12, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.  Members will be reminded by email.

SMD Draft Minutes 10 OCT 2021

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Draft Meeting Minutes – October 10, 2021

Division members met remotely on the internet using the Zoom platform.  10 or so were present.  Superintendent Alex Polimeni opened the zoom session prior to the published start time for logging in and sharing.  Of note was the fact that he chaired the meeting from a BNB near Hinton, WV.

During the lead-up to the meeting, there was sharing:

  • Steve Green spoke about several of his ongoing projects, especially about the train elevator he plans to connect his logging camp to his sawmill for loads-in/empties-out operation.  The vertical separation is roughly 10 inches (in N scale).  He recounted his efforts to use aluminum extrusions and 3-D printer parts for the elevator and briefly discussed the safety features/circuits needed to prevent trains from falling into the “big hole.”
  • The Superintendent discussed some of the problems he has encountered using 3-D printed parts and scenery for his gaming; he prefers to purchase the parts from a commercial printer, rather than trying to print them himself.  He also recounted his adventures setting up a temporary workbench.
  • The Superintendent discussed paintbrush size:  he sometimes prefers regular size brushes to tiny brushes because the former hold more paint and are comparable for detail work if they have a good point.  He gets his tiny brushes at big box craft stores.

The Superintendent called the business meeting to order shortly after 2:30 pm.

21.10-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price was not present to make his report.  (He had contacted the Superintendent and left a voicemail, which was not received prior to the meeting because the Superintendent was not at home.)

[Subsequently, the Paymaster contacted the Clerk and made the following report:  The Division has $3623.43 in its bank account.  The decrease of $12 from the last report was for Wheel Report expenses.]

21.10-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  The attendees dispensed with the reading/summary of the minutes (previously distributed by email).  Clerk Harvey Heyser pointed out that the minutes should be revised to correct several errors in referring to the Superintendent and that there should be an added explanation of the decrease in the bank balance:  roughly $36 spent on mailing for the May election.

Steve Green made the following motion (second by Ron Polimeni):

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

Old Business:

21.4-3 Memorial for Superintendent Jerry Skeim:  An email asking for the family’s wishes has been sent.

21.9-5 Fall 2021 Meetings:  The Superintendent reiterated that meetings through the end of 2021 will be remote by zoom.  He will, however, begin asking for hosts for the 2022 meetings.  

There is still a need for clinics for the rest of 2021 while meetings are remote.  

New Business:  (Some of the following were related points made after adjournment.)

21-10.3 The Superintendent stated his intention not to consider any major matters because of the low attendance at this October meeting.

21-10.4 Hobby Hangout:  A remote get-together by zoom has been scheduled for Friday, October 22, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.

Suggestions were made on possible things to share, including just sitting at the workbench working on a current project:

  • Angle a laptop down at the work surface,
  • Use an Ipad with a forward-facing camera,
  • Use a camcorder if you have one, and
  • Record a video (or slide show) to share by screen-share.

There was also a suggestion of holding a roundtable discussion on a prearranged topic for a future hangout.

21-10.5 Operating Sessions:  Don Florwick announced his current intention to hold off scheduling any for his railroad until December at the earliest.  When his sessions start back up, they will be limited in attendance (maybe a crew of 5 or so instead of the regular 12 to 15).  He acknowledged this is a contentious issue.  Operation call-boards for the MER 2021 Convention have been canceled.  There were reports of some layout owners holding sessions, but that is not widespread.

21-10.6 Mainline Fall Layout Tour (discussed after adjournment):  Rich Randall was open and had 37 visitors over 2 days.  Both Steve King and Mike Shockey were open.

21-10.7 MER Fall 2021 Convention:  The Convention will be held with distancing and masking required per local and hotel requirements.

21-10.8 The Timonium Train Show was held recently with fewer attendees than in the past.  It was more like a swap meet than a full-blown train show.  Rich Randall reported that the East Penn Trolley Meet in Allentown had decent attendance.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting will be held remotely by zoom on Sunday, November 14, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.  Members will be reminded by e-mail.

Although there was no clinic scheduled for this meeting, meeting attendees talked informally about several topics including reminiscing about past members and friends of the Division Dick McEvoy, Paul Burger, Dennis Masters, Bill Miller, Marv Kershner, and Art Selby (who recently passed away).

New warehouses in the I-81 Corridor without rail service:  There was a lively discussion about this topic including noting all the resulting truck traffic, the inability of customers to unload containers from well-cars, and the railroads’ desire to get out of “loose car railroading.”  The end result has been centralized intermodal yards with the necessary facilities (such as heavy lifting cranes) as found in nearby Pennsylvania and short-haul trucks “going the last mile.”  Although most present have fond memories of past periods of rail history, there was general agreement that efficient rail transport would be an essential part of meeting the Country’s freight (and hopefully passenger) needs in the future.