The 2011 NMRA National Convention, named X2011 West, is now history, and I felt it was an excellent and well-run convention. A very busy and professional clinic program (with which I helped, so I’m not objective), a very large list of both prototype and model layout tours, and good space at the Sacramento convention center. We ended up with more than 2000 attendees, a huge number compared to NMRA conventions in the last decade. All in all, I agree with many attendees who rated it one of the best NMRA conventions they had attended.
I was able to sell about 25 surplus freight car kits and some other rolling stock in the auction, which was a nice relief to my kit storage area, and also generated some revenue, though that wasn’t the main objective.
The RPM (Railroad Prototype Modelers) room, hosted by Tim Costello, was the usual nice social environment, along with displays of quite a few outstanding models, but the turnout was not as big as hoped or expected. This was likely affected by the short time the room was open--just two days--and by the residual resentment I know exists on the part of many RPM adherents toward the NMRA, stemming from bad treatment at past conventions. There was certainly no hostility from the Sacramento committee, indeed much the reverse, but it takes time to overcome bad experiences.
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the situation at future NMRA conventions for RPM, as each new committee re-invents the convention structure and accommodations. The NMRA contest folks are trying to do something similar to RPM in having a model display area in the contest room. They have somewhat fatuously renamed the contest the “celebration of models,” but much of the flavor of historic NMRA contests remains. Future directions remain unclear.
The National Train Show continued the trend to fewer and fewer manufacturer booths each year. There were some major players not represented, and a number of smaller ones missing too (booths are admittedly not cheap). But some interesting new products were displayed, including Athearn’s new C-50 caboose for SP (the booth staff were quite vague about delivery schedules) and Tangent’s latest run of SP gondolas, this time Class G-70-8, originally delivered in black paint. Athearn also showed the version of the Mountain locomotive with skyline casing, which looked very nice, and is due any day in stores (or so we are told). Of freight car interest was nearly-final test shots of Rapido’s forthcoming meat reefers, which look awfully nice.
On my own part, I gave clinics on “SP Freight Cars You Can Model,” and on “Improving Waybills: Adapting Prototype Paperwork,” twice each, along with a single presentation of “PFE Operations and Modeling.” All were well attended, and I gave out an awful lot of handouts. I will probably post some of the handouts as Google Docs items, and will identify them in individual posts. There are a few electronic versions of handouts already on the X2011 West convention web page, but not too many.
Like most NMRA Nationals, this was a long and tiring week, but very rewarding in terms of information gained, friends greeted, models and clinics seen, and that feeling of contributing, in my case in the form of clinics presented. I don’t go to anywhere near all NMRA national conventions, but I did enjoy this one.