Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cocoa Beach meeting comments

This year’s “Prototype Rails” meeting at Cocoa Beach, Florida (January 5-7) was as interesting and enjoyable as nearly all of them have been, with a lot of very interesting and informative clinics and extremely nice displayed models. Weather was also warmer than in some past Januarys in Florida. This is at least the 11th and I think maybe the 13th of these meetings, which Mike Brock has wisely and effectively directed, and at this point it’s one of the modeling meets I just wouldn’t miss.
     I took three models to display, two of which were “Shake ’n’ Take” projects, the Kahn’s reefer and the DT&I gondola (which was shown with a load of pipe). In addition, I showed my stand-in M&StL box car. All three have been described here in prior blog posts, and all are pictured here, including the pipe load. You may note that I added roping staples and a route card board to the gondola.

     Richard Hendrickson and I presented our joint clinic on weathering freight cars again, slightly updated and improved from the version we did at the Lisle, Illinois meeting last October. The handout for that clinic is available on a prior post in this blog, at: . Below is one of the images I added to the clinic to show a range of weathering on PFE refrigerator cars (compare the blog post at: ).

     I also presented an updated version of my clinic on prototypical waybills, incorporating not only more information about the “no car card” bills I’ve been creating for Otis McGee’s layout (previously described in my series of blog posts in the thread entitled “Waybills”), but also a new section. This was about a modification of my own waybill and “car sleeve” system, which had been implemented by Jeff Aley for Tom Weissgerber’s UP layout in Folsom, California. Jeff prepared the slides for that segment, and did the presentation of it also.
     Kind of at the last minute, “Shake ’n’ Take” impresario Greg Martin asked me to do the historical background presentation for this year’s “S ’n’ T” project, an SP Class B-50-12-A box car. These are the cars SP rebuilt in 1949-1950 from its original USRA single-sheathed box cars, to an all-steel box car of quite different appearance. SP company photographers took numerous photos of the rebuilding process, and luckily these images survive in a couple of archives, so I was able to illustrate the process in some detail.
     The usual outstanding clinic program, chaired by Jeff Aley, went off well and had plenty of terrific talks. I wasn’t even able to get to all the ones I wanted to hear. For me, these talks are a major attraction of a good meeting, and both Cocoa Beach and Lisle/Naperville have had excellent programming, year after year. This is in contrast to, say, NMRA National Conventions, which often have a whole bunch of talks along the lines of “How to make a tree.” I have no objection to elementary talks, but I believe they shouldn’t dominate the program.
     I also found a couple of prototype photos at the Bob’s Photo sales room that I could use, and this year a group of us managed to have two dinners at the outstanding Cuban restaurant in downtown Cocoa Beach, Roberto’s, so you could say that there were benefits on a variety of fronts.
     I sometimes wonder, in advance, if it’s really worth flying across the country for a few days’ meeting, and once again, at Cocoa Beach I had absolutely no doubt it turned out to be a worthwhile trip.
Tony Thompson


  1. Well, this meet was the first one for my wife and I and all in all, it was well worth it. Met lots of great folks who helped and inspired me to build better models. Can't say enough about the amount of knowledge and experience we ran across. It was a pleasure to talk with and listen to many of them. Even my wife got into the act by taking notes at many of the clinics we attended. She's quickly becoming an SP knowledge base.

    I had no idea what the Shake-N-Take was about until it was too late and I got handed a box car kit to put together for next year. Thanks to Greg Martin and certainly to all the manufacturers who made this possible. Nothing else like it.

    Our first venture into Florida and away from the cold and snow of home was great too.

    Thanks again, Tony for this blog. I wouldn't have known about Prototype Rails without it.

    George Corral
    La Grange, KY

  2. You're welcome, George, and I'm glad you discovered something that you enjoyed. As I've said, I always find it a very worthwhile meeting.
    Tony Thompson

  3. I'm envious you got a car, George! I'm still trying to arrange for the unique parts so I can "catch up" with commercially obtained model and detail parts.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk to you again, Tony. I was very impressed with your presentation on weathering with Richard Hendrickson, and if your presentation on the B-50-12-A "Shake-N-Take" was impromptu, it certainly didn't show! It was very well researched and dcumented. Outstanding job!

  4. Thanks, Arved. The B-50-12-A talk was really just what is in my Volume 4 in the _Southern Pacific Freight Cars_ series, on box cars. I did add a few photos which hadn't fit in the book. I agreed with Greg Martin that showing the rebuilding would be interesting to those modeling the car, even though the specifics would not show up in a model.
    Tony Thompson