From the Desk of the Superintendant

From Superintendent Bob Johnson…

Mini-Con 2024

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the annual SMD Mini-Con at Blue Ridge Summit in April. In my opinion the event ran very smoothly. A special shoutout to Grant Berry for again taking the lead on this ever-popular event. 

Mini-Con 2024.
Bob Johnson looks at a locomotive at his brass loco tuneup table.
John Pursell, D.M.A. talking about improving structures.
Dave Thalman talks about basic scenery forms.
Frank Benenati talks about making wire tree armatures for dioramas and detail scenes.
Maryland T-Trak.
Ken Mazer talks about fast tracks turnouts.

This year’s attendance was just about the same as last year. We still have not returned to the kind of numbers that we were seeing before the great COVID lock-down but those that attended seemed to be having a good time. Assuming we hold the event again next year I have some ideas for increasing the pre-event publicity that may help attendance.

Election of Officers

We will be “electing” the division officers at the May meeting.

The candidates are as follows:

  • Superintendent (president) – Bob Johnson
  • Clerk (secretary) – Alex Polimeni
  • Paymaster (treasurer) – Ray Price

These are the only elected positions in the Division. There are numerous other unofficial positions (see listing at end of the Wheel Report).

Please note that I have already announced that I will not serve again for the 2025 / 2026 program year, and Alex has stepped up to serve as Clerk, simply because no one else has volunteered. If we cannot get some new candidates for officers for the 2025 / 2026 we will be forced to declare the division inactive.

Summer Activity Planning

At a previous meeting we discussed the possibility of setting up a group trip on the Western Maryland Scenic out of Cumberland. The big draw there is of course C&O engine 1309. Unfortunately, I have been informed that the 1309 is currently out of service due to a cylinder issue. We will discuss this more at the upcoming meeting.

FYI, EBT number 16 is also out of service due to a cracked driver hub. It is not a good time for steam in our area.

Mid-Eastern Region Convention Planning

We have been officially asked to host the 2027 MER convention. Assuming we are still an active division I can see no reason not to do so. Under the current convention protocols the MER handles a significant portion of the work involved. I would like to form a small (3 to 4 people) exploratory committee to investigate available facilities, possible prototype tour activities, etc. If you would like to participate in this endeavor please contact me as soon as possible.

For details about the 2024 convention visit, <>.

Wheel Report Feature Articles

As previously noted, Alex Polimeni is now working with Division members (and others) to develop feature articles, layout photo tours, written clinics, etc. to supplement the basic Wheel Report content. Please consider reaching out to him and providing content.

Remember, this is your Division and we are depending on you to support us and provide us with content for the Wheel Report. We will not be issuing a regular edition of the Wheel Report until August, so you have plenty of time to work something up.

All submissions will be published on

Email submissions to – Ed.

SMD Mini Con; 06 April 2024

South Mountain Division (SMD) Mini Con, Clinics Day is 06 April 2024. Doors open at 9:00 AM at the Blue Ridge Summit Fire Hall. The event is FREE! Plenty of parking along side the fire hall. Food truck on-site. On going presentations throughout the morning are informal. Sit and chat with clinicians. Learn something new. Meet new friends. Bring the family. Make a day of it. More details to come.

Please support our sponsor, Mainline Hobby Supply. Their store will open at 9:00 AM also on this day.

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.

Potomac & James River Divisions’ Joint Meet

From Jerry Stanley, NMRA Potomac Division Board of Directors

The James River and Potomac Division would like to invite the SMD to our annual Minicon joint meet on 4 November 2023. This year there will be seven clinics and four open house layout tours, plus model judging and white elephant tables. Registration starts at 9 AM. Clinics begin at 9:30 and run until 12 PM. Layouts will be open from 1 to 4 PM.

The event is free. We will take a free will offering for the Battlefield Baptist Church (meet location) The church will be sending all funds raised to a hospital that is being constructed in Haiti.

The event program with clinic and layout descriptions can be found on the PD web page.

Mini Convention; Saturday, 8 April @ Blue Ridge Summit, PA

The 2023 Mini Con is a joint effort of the NMRA South Mountain Division 10 and Mainline Hobby Supply. This annual “clinics day” will be held in the Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Co., 13063 Monterey Ln., Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214, across the road from Mainline Hobby Supply between 9 AM and 3 PM.

Copy work of maps created by Richard Lind for use by the South Mountain Division NMRA.
      • prototype and model presentations
      • formal and informal clinics
      • modular displays
      • interaction with fellow hobbyists
      • 10% discount at Mainline Hobby Supply

There is no admission charge. The venue is wheelchair accessible.

This educational event is open to the public for promotion of the hobby of model railroading.