SMD NMRA February 9 Meeting Reminder

Alex Polimeni, superintendent


I want to invite you all to our February meeting at the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club this Sunday, February 9th. Doors open at 2PM, with the business meeting to follow.

CVMRRC’s address is…

440 Nelson St., Chambersburg, PA 17201

CVMMRC has graciously agreed to host the Division this weekend, and with “10 gauges of trains” represented, promises to be a fun break in programming from our typical home layouts. For more information on the Cumberland Valley MRR, visit From club vice president George Harness:

“Best access is from the Intersection of Lincoln Way East (US 30) and 5th Avenue, north on 5th Avenue one block, and then left on Nelson. The club is the White building on the left. Feel free to park either on the left along the fence, and also across the street in front of Art Sign Company and Somerville Plumbing.

We will have complimentary coffee and 50 cent canned drinks are available, and will have our White Elephant sales room open as well.”

In other news, as always you will find our (impeccably formatted) January meeting minutes HERE. I also want to remind everyone of the fast-approaching Wheel Report deadline on Feb 15th, and that Pete Clarke is always looking for more folks interested in volunteering at the Mini-Con in April.

Hope to see you there,

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – January 12, 2020

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Following an open house at the Frederick Society of Model Engineers, Division members met at the HobbyTown USA Frederick, MD store.  23 were present.  After looking around the store and socializing, Superintendent Alex Polimeni called the business meeting to order.

20.1-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price (not present) submitted a report that the Division has $4115.08 in its bank account, the same as in November, 2019. 

20.1-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes):  Clerk Harvey Heyser summarized the draft minutes for the December meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).    Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Jane Clarke):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the December 2019 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Old Business:

19.9-7 2020 Mini-Con will be April 18, 2020:  Chair Pete Clarke reported the following.

a. Informal Clinics:  1 slot remains to be filled.  2 or 3 back-ups (in case of no-shows) would be helpful.  Suggested topics – Kadee uncoupling and hands-on model railroad photography (with attendee’s own phone).

e. Attendance:  Chair Clarke indicated that the 220 or so attendees at recent Mini-Cons is about the limit of what the venue can handle.  Consequently, the current promotion is successful.

f. NMRA/SMD promotion at the Mini-Con:  Discussion indicated that the Division has gotten some new members from Mini-Con attendees but not as many as we would like.  It was observed that many attendees are not yet at the point of their hobby “lives” when they want to become NMRA members.  (They are most interested in information that helps them build a layout.)  The following were suggested:

1) Brief announcements at breaks regarding the Division and the NMRA (stressing Rail Pass and the layouts in the SMD),

2) Invitations to attend SMD meetings (noting the limit of three before required membership),

3) Efforts to determine what attendees are looking for from the Mini-Con (check-the-box type survey forms better than ones requiring written response),

4) Directions to Division “specialists” who can help answer their questions (including the many at the Mini-Con),

5) Display of the banner advertising the MNRA /SMD (Bob Morningstar), and

6) Handing out the SMD promotional pamphlet (tri-fold as discussed earlier) giving specific information about Division activities – layout visits, clinics, etc. (Bob Johnson).

19.10-6 White Elephant Table:  At this late time of the year, it was the consensus that this issue should be discussed during the Planning Meeting for next year (summer 2020).

New Business:

20.1-3 Host Richard Benjamin welcomed everyone to HobbyTown USA.  The SMD expressed thanks for having the meeting area nicely arranged for a discussion between all present. 

20.1-4 Guest Attendance at Division Meetings:  It was noted how important this is to promoting new members for the NMRA and the SMD.  Almost all Division activities happen during the meetings held during visits to members’ homes.  Wheel Report Editor Tom Fedor reminded all present of the NMRA’s policy limiting to three (3) guest visits to Division meetings.  There was discussion of how this policy makes the SMD look unwelcoming and hampers promotion of the NMRA through invitation to Division activities.  Editor Fedor reminded everyone that meetings (and clinics, when known in advance) are listed on the web-site.  With regard to Mini-Con attendees, the consensus was that when they are ready to participate in the SMD, they will join the organization.

20.1-5 SMD membership:  The Superintendent indicated the Division is in a good place right now and does not need a major effort to grow.  The following was reported:

Current SMD membership around 80

Meeting attendance between 15 and 30

Number of people involved in the Mini-Con around 42 (most are SMD members)

The event reaches about half of SMD members.

20.1-6 Cross-bucks:  Don Florwick distributed the 4 remaining.  (The SMD paid for these.)

20.1-7 Nominations Committee for the May Election:  Bob Law was suggested for membership on the Committee (to report at the March meeting).  Tom Fedor will facilitate communications.  Job descriptions (including the Superintendent’s) will be in the Wheel Report.

20.1-8 Spring Wheel Report deadline:  February 15, 2020.

20.1-9 Frederick County Society of Model Engineers’ layout status:  Nothing to report.  They still have to relocate at an undetermined future date.

Adjournment:  The Superintendent accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting on February 9, 2020 will be held at 2:00 p.m. at the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club in Chambersburg, PA.

Following the meeting, those in attendance expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to have a wide ranging discussion of the SMD and its activities and again thanked host Richard Benjamin for his efforts facilitating the meeting.

SMD NMRA January 12 Meeting Reminder

Alex Polimeni, superintendent (2017-2020), NMRA South Mountain Division. (Tom Fedor)

Happy New Year, everyone!

With the hope that you’ve all had a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season, I’d like to extend an invitation to our January meeting at Richard Benjamin’s Hobbytown USA location in Frederick, MD. Doors will be open by 2PM, with the business meeting to follow. Hobbytown’s address is …

454 Prospect Blvd., Frederick, MD 21701

In lieu of our typical home layout tour, SMD has been invited to visit the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers club car! Their doors will open at noon. If you have time, leave home a little earlier and come see what they’ve been working on! The FCSME club car is at …

423 East Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701

As always, if you need to catch up on last months meeting- I know I did, since I missed it!- you will find meeting minutes HERE.

In other news, the deadline for the Spring Wheel Report is fast approaching on Feb. 15th! Share with us what you’ve been working on this winter, or even what projects you’re planning for this coming year. 

April’s Mini-Con is also coming up, so if you’re signed up to give an informal clinic- or even a formal clinic, like I’m doing- absolutely don’t do like me and wait until the last minute to prepare it! April may seem months away but is, in fact, functionally tomorrow.

Speaking of the Mini-Con, I’ve only just now realized an error made it into the Winter Wheel Report; the Mini-Con will be held Saturday, April 18th, not April 20th. How did I notice this? By looking up the date so I could refer an interested friend who needs to apply for leave at work in advance, of course! Do make sure to invite your friends, relatives, coworkers, *their* friends, relatives, coworkers…

Here’s to another great year for the South Mountain Division!

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent 

SMD Draft Meeting Minutes – December 8, 2019

Minutes submitted by Clerk Harvey Heyser

Division members met at Bob Morningstar’s home near Greencastle, PA.  10 were present.  After viewing the host’s layout and socializing, Assistant Superintendant Jerry Skeim called the business meeting to order (in the Superintendant’s absence).

19.12-1 Paymaster’s Report:  Paymaster Ray Price reported that the Division has $4115.08 in its bank account, the same as in November.

19.12-2 Clerk’s Report (Meeting Minutes): 

– The Clerk summarized the revised draft minutes for the October meeting.  Item #18.10-5, revised with the assistance of Tom Fedor (webmaster), should read as follows:  “Web Site:  Tom Fedor, Wheel Report editor, reported that SMD member Richard Benjamin (owner of Hobby Town USA, Frederick) supports the Division by covering the cost of domain registration and annual renewals, which are currently paid through FY2020.  Richard’s business and personal web hosting service now hosts SMD’s domain.  While the web site is up, its main content (the blog for Division news and features) has not yet been re-created on Richard’s server.  Tom and Richard are working to re-establish the blog.”  Pete Clarke made the following motion (second by Ray Price):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the October 2019 meeting be approved as revised.  The motion passed unanimously.

  • The Clerk summarized the revised draft minutes for the November meeting (previously distributed by e-mail).    Ron Polimeni made the following motion (second by Pete Clarke):

Motion:  That the draft Minutes for the November 2019 meeting be approved as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

Comment:  Per the winter Wheel Report, the January meeting will include a layout tour of the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers’ layout followed by a formal meeting at HobbyTown USA, Frederick store (not the Airport per the minutes).

Old Business:

19.9-7 2020 Mini-Con will be April 18, 2020:  In addition to the description he wrote for the Winter Wheel Report, Chair Pete Clarke reported the following.

a. Informal Clinics:  3 or 4 slots remain to be filled.

d. Formal Clinics:  Three have been lined up.

1) MER – short presentation for the fall regional convention in Charlotte, NC.,

2) Alex Polimeni – Model railroading [operations] as game design, and

3) Lee Rainey – Shortline operating patterns:  What to consider when designing a schedule.

Pete requested that SMD members in attendance please move to the front of the audience for the formal clinics for the presenters’ convenience and to make more of an audience.

19.10-6 White Elephant Table:  (This item, previously covered under the Mini-Con minute, will now be considered under its own entry because of the SMD’s October 2019 decision not to sponsor a Division table at the Mini-Con.)  Frank Benenati, who has been looking into possibilities for the SMD, reported these alternatives:  a good show at Westminster – Lion’s Club ($22 per table), Brunswick Train Days ($20-$25 per table), the Hagerstown Model Railroad Club shows (in November & February), and the Mont Alto show (inexpensive tables but more of a garage sale).  Frank continued his report with some logistics.  The SMD would need a central place to receive items to be sold, a written record must be kept, and stickers will be needed for pricing. It was discussed that it would be best if members with items being sold be present at the show and that there be an agreement what to do with unsold items.

The discussion pointed out the possibility of attracting more members for the NMRA if the SMD is present at these events.  Bob Morningstar will investigate if the NMRA can assist in acquiring a banner to advertise the table.

New Business:

19.12-3 Host Bob Morningstar welcomed everyone to his HO Western Maryland layout.

19.12-5 Achievement Program:  AP Chair Jane Clarke reported that both Bob Morningstar’s Electrical Engineer certificate and Dave Thalman’s Gold Spike Award have been submitted for NMRA action.

19.12-6 Candidates for Superintendant:  Alex Polimeni has indicated he will not be able to run for re-election because of the many other things happening in his life (especially getting married).  Those interested in the office are encouraged to put themselves forward and are reminded of the AP credits possible.

19.12-7 Region Newsletter Editor:  Bob Morningstar reported the position is open and suggested anyone interested contact the MER.


The Assistant Superintendant accepted a motion to adjourn.  The next meeting on January 12, 2020 will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the HobbyTown USA, Frederick store following a layout tour of the Frederick County Society of Model Engineers’ layout (from 12 – 2p.m.).

Following the meeting, host Bob Morningstar presented a clinic on soldering.  He stressed using the right equipment (to achieve the right heat level), the right solder, the right rosin flux (not acid based), good contact between the parts to be soldered, and keeping the iron clean.  (Metal kitchen pot scouring pads are a good choice for the latter.)

SMD NMRA meeting reminder

Alex Polimeni, superintendent

With the holidays upon us, I’d like to invite everyone to take a break from the pressures of Christmas cheer and join the South Mountain Division for our December membership meeting at Bob Morningstar’s home this coming Sunday, Dec. 8th. 

Set in 1983 and featuring completed scenery, Bob models the Western Maryland Railway in HO scale. Doors open at 2PM for the layout tour, with the meeting and a clinic on soldering to promptly follow. Division members will find the street address in your winter Wheel Report. You may also contact me for Bob’s Address at

Bob asks that folks park either in the driveway or along the side of the road; the driveway should accommodate about 10 cars if everyone parks close enough. Minutes from the last meeting can be read here.

In other news, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make this month’s meeting as my fiance and I will be out of town attending a convention in Chicago. In my stead, I’ve asked assistant super Jerry Skeim to preside; go easy on him, huh?

Customarily, this is where I’d say I hope to see you all soon, but considering that I won’t have the chance until next month, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year! May the holidays bring you joy, and Santa, the toy trains you asked for…

Alex Polimeni, Superintendent