The sixteenth annual Prototype Rails meeting at Cocoa Beach, Florida, was held this year during January 7 to 9. I attended, as I have done for all but the first of these meetings, and as usual it was an excellent gathering, with a strong clinic schedule, an outstanding model display, a big vendor room, and lots of corridor encounters and conversations. The Cocoa Beach Hilton continues to do a fine job of hosting, and 268 people registered this year.
Mike Brock continues to ably organize and direct these meetings, with the assistance of several local modelers, notably Marty Megregian, who manages the ballroom displays; these include portable layouts, models, manufacturers’ tables, and vendors. Here’s a view of that ballroom, with Mike at far left and Marty next to him. And directly to the right of them are Steve Funaro (kneeling down) and Sharon Camerlengo, long-time regular vendors at this meeting, offering a very large selection of their fine kits. (You can click on the image to enlarge it.)
Jeff Aley, clinic chair, continues to do a fine job of putting together a clinic schedule with excellent breadth and strength. Among the familiar notables speaking to large crowds was Tony Koester, whom you see here just about to begin his talk. His title slide is on the screen.
A highlight for me is always the model displays. Some attendees are able to bring substantial numbers of models (usually those who live fairly close). One of them every year is Bruce Smith, who this year displayed his models as complete Pennsylvania Railroad trains (the reefer train is in two parts).
I liked several of the passenger cars displayed this year, especially the 12-2-3 Pullman Elm Trail (Plan 4158) by Jim Murrie. I have left the car description in the photo so you can see what he did.
Also very nicely done was this pile driver by Mark Hooper. It’s scratchbuilt except for the SS Limited two-drum hoist and hammer, and a number of commercial small parts. (The caboose behind it was part of another display,)
Among the minority of modern models was a group by Bob DeStefano, and he helpfully included prototype photos to demonstrate his goal with both the car body and paint job for each model. I often needle those modern modelers who don’t include graffiti on their freight cars, but obviously Bob is not in that group. These were all very well done.
Last, I very much liked this model by James “Chip” Syme, whose displayed models were all Conrail cars. Gondolas take a beating in service, and often show missing floor boards and other damage, and this Penn Central model really shows that.
I always enjoy the entire Cocoa Beach meeeting, and this year was no exception. The many fine modelers who attend, and the very nice venue, really complete an excellent experience. If you have never been to this meeting, held around the second weekend in January, you might think about attending next year. I know you would find it worthwhile.