Next Meeting; 14 January

The January SMD meeting will be hosted by Dave Thalman. It had been a number of years since Dave has hosted a division meeting so his layout will be a new experience for many of us.

Dave’s 30’x15’ layout represents the Pennsylvania Railroad somewhere along the Middle Division during the steam/diesel transition era. Several distinguishing features of the PRR include a four-track mainline, stone-arch bridges, PRR towers, and a set of prototype signals. The unusual track plan includes a continuous-loop 4-track mainline running through a lower 10-track staging yard, two helixes within mountains, and a branch line.

The Wakanda Valley branch line runs in the foreground of the PRR mainline and will feature a yard/servicing facility, station connected to the PRR, two villages, several mines and industries, a coal processing plant, and an interchange with the famed Barneytown & Scupperville RR. The layout is about 50% sceniced.


Dave will share his recent mountain scenery experience using Woodland
Scenics new Shaper Sheets.

Directions & Parking

Dave’s home is near Winchester, VA. Please email for a street address if you did not get the recent email from the Superintendent. There will be an RR sign,
as well as the address and name on the mailbox. Follow the gravel lane down past the pond and straight up the hill to his house on the
right. Park anywhere in front or behind the barn. The driveway branch going left around the barn or right through the carport is a “reversing loop.” Enter the house through the side door under the carport.

Mini-Con Update

Grant Berry is making good progress with the planning for the 2024 (10th annual) SMD Mini-Con. As usual it will be held at the Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Company’s hall and is co-sponsored by Mainline Hobby Supply. The date for this year’s event is 6 April. It will follow the same format as last year with informal table clinics in the morning followed by a short lunch break (food available on site) and a modeler’s round table session. We will then return for one more round of table clinics before calling it a day. This worked well last year with less drop-off in attendance than we previously experienced when we had formal clinics after lunch. The emphasis on the round table this year will be layout design and operations. We are planning on having individuals from the layout design, operations, and industries SIG’s participating in the round table. In addition, we will have a representative from the NMRA to address the benefits of NMRA membership to the group. We are making a greater effort this year to use the Mini-Con as a vehicle for promoting the SMD and the NMRA in general. Don Florwick is working to place promotional information in the commercial hobby press and on various NMRA sites. There will be a large banner at the Mini-Con promoting the SMD and the NMRA will have a promotional table. Finally, we have updated the SMD brochure and have had 400 copies printed. This will allow  us to give a copy to every individual that registers for the Mini-Con.

From the Desk of the Superintendent

Robert “Bob” Johnson, Superintendent (2022-24)

After skipping the December meeting due to
the lack of a host we will be returning to our
regular meeting schedule for the rest of the
2023 – 2024 program year.

Believe it or not, it is already time to start thinking about the 2024 – 2025 program year. First up on planning for next year is the election of officers. Normally the slate of new officer candidates would be read at the March meeting and voted on during the April meeting. Since our annual mini-con meeting is always held in April we need to move that process up, read the slate during the February meeting and vote at the March meeting. Therefore, I am issuing a call for volunteers at this time to run for the positions of:

  • Superintendent (president)
  • Clerk (secretary)
  • Paymaster (treasurer)

These are the only elected positions in the division. There are numerous other unofficial positions who voluntarily serve at the pleasure of the Superintendent.
Not listed is the position of Assistant Superintendent. I would like to re-establish this position as both a back-up for the Superintendent and to serve as a membership coordinator.
If you would like to run for an elected position or be considered for one of the volunteer positions, please let me know before the February meeting.
Remember – this is your division, and your help is needed to make it work.

Draft Meeting Minutes – Oct/Nov 2023

Draft Meeting Minutes – October 8th 2023

Division members met in-person at the home of Larry Daily near Shepherdstown WV. Approximately 12 were present.  After admiring Larry’s layout and socializing, the Superintendent welcomed everyone and called the business meeting to order around 3:00 p.m.

  • Paymaster’s Report:  Alex Polimeni reported on Ray Price’s behalf that the SMD bank balance remained unchanged at $3,669.71.
  • Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes): The September meeting minutes were never distributed and thus could not be approved by motion or acclimation.
  • Superintendent Bob Johnson thanked Larry Daily for hosting.

Old Business:

  • Superintendent Bob Johnson congratulated Larry Daily on a superb layout and supporting website, specifically recognizing his faithful replication of a prototype railroad. Larry is new to the Division and opted to host his second ever meeting.
  • Bob Johnson raised the issue that the Division is still paying for a ZOOM subscription with no plans to resume using it; suggest he may call a board meeting to decide what to do with the account.
  • Bob Johnson stated that we still do not have hosts for November, December or January meetings without returning to a host we visited last year. Suggestion was made to reach out to Paul Mahoney to host.
  • Concern was also raised that we have not typically had clinics after meetings, either. Grant Berry commented that it’s great practice for the Mini-Con.

New Business:

  • Bob again asked for volunteers as he’s looking for a membership coordinator to join the advisory committee. Their role would be to reach out to new members and those whose membership is about to expire.
  • Bob also asked for meeting host volunteers as November, December and January’s meetings do not have hosts.
  • Bob addressed the need to begin planning the Mini-Con. Grant Berry raised the concern that with Division member Brian Greenawalt’s passing, the Mini-Con will need a new volunteer to handle the Make and Take clinic.
  • A question was raised about a projector; Bob clarified that we have a projector screen but not a projector, as the Division’s projector disappeared with former Superintendent Jerry Skeim’s passing. Discussion about purchasing a replacement was shelved as Bob volunteered his projector and other members said they can provide a projector if needed.


The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn around 4:00pm. The next meeting will be at Steve King’s home near Waynesboro, PA.

Draft Meeting Minutes – November 12th, 2023

Division members met in-person at the home of Steve King near Waynesboro, PA.  Approximately 11 were present.  After admiring Steve’s layout and socializing, the Superintendent welcomed everyone and called the business meeting to order around 2:50 p.m.

  • Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported the SMD bank balance is now $3,910.71 after a deposit of $241.00 by the Superintendent. (?)
  • Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes): The October meeting minutes were never distributed and thus could not be approved by motion or acclimation.
  • Superintendent Bob Johnson thanked Steve King for hosting.

Old Business:

  • Superintendent Bob Johnson updated the attendees that he’s found and contacted a printer for the SMD brochures and will have a price by the next meeting.
  • Bob updated attendees that we still do not have a December meeting host, but all other meetings have been accounted for. Bob called again for volunteers and stated that if we cannot find a host for the December meeting, it may be cancelled.
  • The idea was presented that SMD has organized a membership Christmas dinner at a restaurant in years past. Discussion followed with Hagerstown presented as a central location for the Division.
  • Alex Polimeni acknowledged failure to distribute the previous Minutes.
  • Bob Johnson again appealed for a volunteer to join the Division advisory committee as membership coordinator.

New Business:

  • Superintendent Bob Johnson informed attendees that he received an email from SMD member Gary Snook that Gary has a decal printer capable of printing white, and is happy to work with Division members who could make use of it.
  • Bob also heard from long time Division member Reginald Bowman who is giving away a 50 year archive of model railroading magazines. Members are asked to follow up with Bob if interested; these will be trashed if not re-homed.
  • Bob informed attendees that currently elected SMD clerk Harvey Heyser has informed the Advisory Committee that he has no plans to attend meetings through the ’23-’24 year. Bob would like to ask for volunteers for Clerk, either to complete the remainder of the ’23-’24 year or to run for office in the ’24-’25 year.


The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn around 4pm, and asked host Steve King to speak about his railroad, who elaborated on how this was the fifth iteration of the Virginia Midland, and the first to be built free-standing. Steve has been adding more scenery to the layout and hosting regular operating sessions, and invited attendees and SMD members at large to participate in.

This was followed by a wonderful presentation about traction railroading of all sizes by new(ish) SMD member Grant.

There is no host for the December meeting at the time of these minutes, but the January meeting will be hosted by Dave Thalman near Winchester, VA.

Potomac Division Clinic Invitation



TOPIC: Using JMRI DecoderPro to program decoders

WHEN: SATURDAY, December 9, 2023

TIME: Start at 9 AM and go until conclusion

WHERE: Jerry’s Hobby Barn – 11552 Hereford Court, Hume, VA 22639. (You may need to use Markam, VA for GPS)

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED BY Emailing Ernie Little the information requested below at:

This is a technical clinic and due to the its nature, only 8 attendees will be accepted to participate. This clinic will provide the attendees with the knowledge of how to program locomotives using DecoderPro and have questions they have about the program answered.

Attendees should bring an individual locomotive they wish to program, or locomotives they wish to speed match to the session. It is requested that the attendee provide the following information about their locomotive(s) when they register:

1. Locomotive Manufacturer – (Atheran, Prototype 2000, etc.)

2. Type of locomotive (steam or diesel) and Name of locomotive (F3, DL-109, AC4400, etc.)

3. Decoder manufacturer and type of decoder installed. (Digitraxx, DH163, etc.)

4. Other information on the locomotive’s properties. (Assigned functions, etc.)

5. What you want to do with the decoder. (Reset address, change CV values, etc.)

6. Any questions you would like to answered or discuss.

9:00 AM -The session will begin with a one-hour briefing, using power point and live demonstration, to present the DecoderPro application’s abilities which include:

1. Creating a roster of locomotive decoder settings.

2. Reading and writing all locomotive properties such as long and short address, lighting setup, and CV values.

3. Change decoder function mapping.

4. Change or reassign decoder addresses.

5. Speed match multiple locomotives.

6. Make changes to decoder settings such as startup voltage, sound, sound level, and other specific changes.

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM – After the conclusion of the briefing attendees will individually use DecoderPro to program a locomotive on a provided HO and N scale programming and test tracks with the assistance of George Meyrick or Ernie Little, MMR.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – LUNCH on site (There will be a $20.00 fee for this clinic to pay for lunch)

1:00 PM – Conclusion (no later than 4 PM) – Continuation of programming efforts.