In the first page of any source book on a hobby you will find instructions on how to succeed in your pursuit. When I attended this show in March of last year I was barely sixty days deep in the world of model railroading and really still did not fully know what I didn’t know. But any opportunity to blend with others who have years if not a lifetime of experience is a fabulous way to get the straight skinny on your needs.
I headed to the 27th Annual Asheville, N.C. train show with a list of nine items, some of which I considered absolute necessities, others more on the wish list side of the equation. What a difference it made. The item I was most wanting was cork to install under my track as I lay out my basic configuration. You see laying out the track in a dry-run configuration is good because you can work out kinks. But when you are ready to begin solidifying things you want cork to cushion the imperfections of your plywood topped tables.
Another advantage I have after more than a year is understanding the going price for items at retail and online prices. That way when you see a deal at the train show you know it. I found a fellow selling some signs that had one that caught my eye. It wasn’t on my list actually, but was one of those if you see it, buy it kind of deals. I didn’t even see the cork the first time through since the seller had more items on top of it my first run through. When I came back and saw it I worked with him to get the price I wanted and picked up enough to support all 70-odd feet of track.
Recently I purchased some mixed lots at a flea market and got a couple of Ready Bilt Oil Tanks for Gulf and Shell. I hoped to pick up some tank cars with the Shell logo but found some other oil companies that will fit the bill. Another pick-up was a left hand remote wired switch I did not have.
This purchase came as a result of reviewing the design limitations according to space and the desire to have a storage building for my engines. I really wanted to get a roundhouse, but due to the way my track has fit into the design I changed that plan to a two stall engine shed. Buying new you will easily spend $40 or more. But at train shows often there is leftovers from a layout overhaul or from a collection of someone not participating in the hobby you can pick up for a fraction of the price.
The last picture is a sign I bought that hit a sweet spot I really didn’t expect. Before any of my friends or family adds 2 + 2 to get 16, this is just a sign, not an announcement. When the time comes that I have grandchildren, years from now, I want them to call me Papa Joe. So I found a sign to mount on the wall where people enter the train room.
While all this is more than enough reason to go to a train show the greatest value will likely come from seeing the layouts of professionals in person to work out the intricacies of landscape, cityscapes, bridges, tunnels, yards and even drive-ins. Yes one of the HO layouts had a working drive-in. I made a video of it and will try to get it on here somehow.