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Highlights this issue A DECADE LONG Forging New Trails in Design & Effects. A UNIQUE TRIUMPH Gypsy Trolley Line shines.


POPULATION 400 & GROWING STRONG! Badgerland S-Gaugers Hi-Rail Layout. KIDS TRAIN PHOTOGRAPHY Bio by James Zorn.

Allen Pollock, Fun & Games II, and Gary Kamin, Wm. K. Walthers, Co-Chairs of the Awards Committee of the Hobby Manufacturers Association (HMA) Model Railroad Industry Division (MRID) Council, presented 2010 recipients of the Hall of Fame, Bobbye Hall and Service awards with their recognition plaques at the division’s membership meeting during the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) 75th Annual Convention in Milwaukee, WI on July 18, 2010.

John H. Tews (L), Gary Kamin (R)

Four of the honorees are long-time Trainfest supporters and the fifth is Trainfest’s own Executive Director, John H. Tews, who received the Bobbye Hall Award. HALL OF FAME Phil Walthers – Wm. K. Walthers Jim Conway Con-Cor BOBBYE HALL John H. Tews

Allen Pollock (L), Jim Conway (R)

Phil Walthers

SERVICE Bud Reece Bachmann Trains MRID Council President, 2008-10 John Engstrom (Athearn) MRID Council 2007-10

Bud Reece (L), Fred Hill (M) & Frank Ritota(R)

John Engstron (L), Fred Hill (R)

The late Bobbye Hall, famed model railroading pioneer (Honorees continued on Page 6)

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Table of Contents Trainfest EXPRESS August 2010, Volume 1, Issue 3


Columns Page 4

Page 5

From the Caboose

What is Trainfest?

Comments from John H. Tews, MMR, Trainfest Executive Director.

A Delight for the Senses!

Page 1&6

Page 4




A Bird’s Eye View from Ruth Johnson, Editor, Trainfest EXPRESS.

Trainfest Exhibitors and Executive Director Honored.

Page 9-12

Page 21-22

Unique Triumph

Kids Train Photography

Gypsy Trolley Line Shines!

Page 13-15 A Decade Long! Forging New Trails in Design & Effects.

Page 16-19 Population 400 Badgerland S-Gaugers Hi-Rail Layout

John Kosma Card Stock Model Free for Readers!

SPONSORING PUBLISHER Wisconsin Southeastern (WISE) Division Inc., NMRA PUBLISHER

John H. Tews, MMR

EDITOR Ruth Johnson 715-340-4525 DESIGN & PRODUCTION Ruth Johnson 715-340-4525 CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Bob Gallegos ADVERTISING Ruth Johnson 715-340-4525 SUBSCRIPTION MANAGEMENT Mercury Communication Partners, LLC. WEB DESIGN Mercury Communication Partners, LLC.

Bio by James Zorn.

Trainfest Committee John H. Tews, MMR, Executive Director, E-mail: Richard Cecil Asst. to the Director

Robert Sherman Treasurer

Linda Sukup WISE Superintendent

Cedor Aronow Security

Ed Padgett Volunteer Coordinator

Gary Kamin HMA-MRD Advisor

Scott Porinsky Computer Services

Kurt Wamser Floor Director

Mercury Communications Advertising Agency

Trainfest is possible due to the dedication and hard work of our volunteers and board members. If you would like to volunteer for America’s largest operating model railroad show, contact us via email: Trainfest is sponsored by the Wisconsin Southeastern (WISE) Division, Inc., NMRA

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Trainfest EXPRESS

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From the Caboose Comments from John H. Tews

MMR, Trainfest® Executive Director

Crossings A Bird’s Eye View By Ruth Johnson, Editor, Trainfest EXPRESS


That is what I feel as the month’s advance and the calendar edges closer to Trainfest! This will be my first year attending Trainfest and as

I get to know several of our exhibitors, whether they are hobbyists, clinicians, manufacturers, retailers, publishers or my favorite, attendees and enthusiasts, I find my excitement hard to contain. When you think about our tagline, America's Largest

TRAINFEST EXPRESS has gone international! Over 188 new readers have signed up for automatic monthly internet delivery and/or notification of our free, online and interactive Trainfest Express. These new subscribers come not only from each of our nation’s 50 states, but also from the United Kingdom, both Old and New South Wales, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Sweden, Israel, New Zealand and all the provinces of Canada. We now reach almost 7,000 hobbyists, families and enthusiasts around the world! WOW! Trainfest 2010 planning is underway with several new and expanded layouts, new hobby dealers and an expanded clinic/demonstration area.

Operating Model Railroad Show, you realize that an event of this magnitude requires a well-organized force to pull it off successfully, not just one year, but thirty-nine years in a row.

Watch for more information in this regular column, From the Caboose, as I release updates in upcoming issues of Trainfest EXPRESS.

What is even more amazing is the army of workers, who accomplish this task, are primarily volunteers, committed to achieve for their love of model railroading.

You can enjoy Trainfest EXPRESS at your leisure since we archive all newsletters for future reference and availability, at this Trainfest website link:

Few industries are so driven by members who feel so passionate about every aspect of their field. The hours that layout artists devote to their creations are incredible and yet they love every moment of their labors.

Trainfest EXPRESS is sent free via email as a PDF or on the Trainfest website in an interactive, online paging-style format. You can also print out the pages or articles as you desire.

There are hundreds of stories I want to write about all of you and your efforts. I may look into cloning myself.

We continue to look for your input on articles you would like to see in the Express. Send them to us at or

Please continue to contact me with your feedback or if you would like to gain recognition by contributing your articles, photos or ideas. Warm wishes,


In the spirit of Model Railroading with clear signals always,


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What is Trainfest?

Photo by Scott Porinsky

A Delight for the Senses! November 13-14, 2010 Saturday & Sunday 9:00 am-5:30 pm

Wisconsin Exposition Center State Fair Park 8200 W Greenfield Ave West Allis, WI 53214 Admission and Further Details:

An enriching

family experience, Trainfest is America's largest operating model railroad show, 39 years strong! Every November, tens of thousands of visitors of all generations and lifestyles from North America and other regions of the world fill the Wisconsin Exposition Center, just to connect with the sights and sounds of everything railroad, scaled down to a miniature size. Over fifty clubs, historic organizations, groups and railroad modelers showcase truly exquisite and fully operational layouts and displays superbly represent the uniqueness of model railroading. New and vintage trains loop continuously around a myriad of settings and fabulous scenes from train depots to entire cities in intricate detail complete with people, animals, vehicles, equipment, buildings, landscaping, retail shops and more! 120 manufacturer and hobby dealer exhibitors display unique products and services, technology and equipment and consult with visitors on the perfect items and newest releases. Model railroad historical societies are featured along with 20-25 clinicians and demonstrators plus several manufacturers share their knowledge in Trainfest clinics. Join us at Trainfest 2010 for a wonderfully interactive opportunity to explore this legendary world. Tour the award-winning layouts, take photos, watch demonstrations, hear the sounds of steam whistles, the clickety-clack of wheels on rails and see the excitement of children of all ages.


LINDA SUKUP Advance Ticket Coordinator WISE Division Superintendent

Advance tickets are now available at the seven hobby shops below, located throughout Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison. Tickets are $10.00, which is a savings of $2.00. Friday Product Showcase tickets are available for $40.00. This ticket allows you private entry into Trainfest on Friday, normally reserved for dealers who visit the manufacturers that attend Trainfest every year. It is a great chance to meet the professionals in your hobby world. Ticket is also good for Saturday and Sunday entry. The following hobby shops are selling these advance and special tickets: Madison Hobby Stop 6622 Mineral Point Road Madison, WI 608-829-3820

Jetco Hiawatha Hobbies 2026 West Silvernail Road Waukesha, WI 53072 262-544-4131

Engine House Services LLC 2737 N. Packerland Drive, 2H Green Bay, WI 54303 920-490-4839

Walthers (Terminal Hobbies) 5619 West Florist Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53218 414-461-1050

South Side Trains 2633 South Kinnickinnic Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207 414-482-1566 Greenfield News and Hobbies 6815 West Layton Ave Greenfield, WI 53220 414-281-1800

Sommerfeld’s Trains 12620 West Hampton Ave Butler, WI 53007 262-783-7797

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Linda Sukup, WISE Division Superintendent with John H. Tews and Bobbye Hall award.

The 2010 Bobbye Hall Award


Officially, John Tews has been the man behind Trainfest for nearly 20 years, helping elevate Trainfest to a leading “must-see” event highlighting the best in model railroading. Detailed craftsmanship in layouts, top-tier vendor products, and variety of products from hobby shops set Trainfest apart from swap meets and model railroad shows across the country.

The Bobbye Hall Award was created in honor of former hobby icon Bobbye Hall who rose to prominence in the hobby industry and National Model Railroad Association during her 55-year career with Hall's Hobby House and Hallmark Models, Inc.

for distinguished service to the model railroad industry was presented to John H. Tews, MMR, Executive Director, Trainfest, America's largest operating model railroad show, 39 years strong.

A volunteer himself, he enthusiastically rallies the volunteer workforce that keeps Trainfest running smoothly. He designs the entire floor plan for layouts and carves out ample space for clinics, demonstrations and manufacturer’s showcase. Under John’s direction over the past 19 years, Trainfest has steadily grown in attendance with over 22,000 model railroad hobbyists, enthusiasts and families and attending each year. John has also served as president of the East Troy Railroad Museum and is the museum’s Emeritus Director. He received the NMRA Certificate of Achievement award as an Association Official and Association Volunteer as well as the Master Model Railroader award in 2002. John is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the WISE Division of NMRA and has served as WISE Division Superintendent for four years in the early 1990’s. John attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Valparaiso University for Civil Engineering. He worked several years as a civil engineer for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway in Butler, WI as well as Construction Project Manager for Wisconsin Electric Power Company from which he retired in 2006. “John has worked extremely hard to make Trainfest a premier show in the model railroad industry and we thank him for his service and cooperation with the HMA MRID,” stated Gary Kamin, co-chair of the Awards Committee.

In 1966, Mrs. Hall was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry association's Hall of Fame along with industry moguls Hal Carstens, A.C. Kalmbach, Bruce Walthers, Irvin R. Athearn and William K. Walthers. She also received the NMRA's Pioneers of Model Railroading award the same year. She was the first woman elected to Hobby Industry Association's board of directors in 1953. She served three years and then continued to serve hobby industry associations in numerous capacities until closing her business at age 92 in 2001.

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Gypsy Trolley Line Shines!

Pictured here: Winning exhibitors, Christine and John Kosma. According to John, “Without Christine’s support, there would be no Gypsy Trolley Line.”

Serendipity. Occasionally, life


serves up those moments when the planets appear to be perfectly aligned and circumstances deliver the perfect outcome.

John Kosma, an avid photographer and bicyclist, starts his creative journey biking through Milwaukee’s winding alleys and ambling side streets in search of weathered and dilapidated structures, commercial sites and older homes.

That is what occurred July 11-18, 2010, when the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) held its 75th Anniversary Annual Convention in Milwaukee, WI, to honor the city where NMRA was founded by legendary model railroad giants like Al Kalmbach and William Walthers. As luck would have it, Milwaukeebased Gypsy Trolley Line HO Scale exhibit and a regular Trainfest favorite exhibitor and award winner, reinforced the Milwaukee connection by winning the NMRA Convention’s Best of Show-Module award. The NMRA award also helps build recognition for card stock modeling, John Kosma’s favorite medium for buildings and backdrops.

He photographs his finds from many different angles so he has the views he needs to construct a 3-D structure. Then the real magic begins. John uses Photoshop, a graphic software program, to masterfully manipulate and weather the images. He separates the photo into individual components and electronically places them on a sheet. He then prints it in full color on card stock, assembling the final piece and finishing it with extra embellishments that help further its 3D effect. (A Unique Triumph continued on Page 10)

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(A Unique Triumph continued from Page 9)

John often shares his card stock models with long-time friends, Thom and David Miecznikowski, brothers who own Clever Models, LLC.,, and who have been designing and marketing card stock kits for six years. John has given Trainfest EXPRESS permission to reproduce one of his scaled model drawings on Page 21 of this issue for our readers to copy for their own personal use. To find additional free and retail card stock models, visit this site: EVER-CHANGING Never one to let grass grow under his feet, John is adding new sections to his layout.

His next module will be based in the 1939-40 Milwaukee era with a theatre, White Tower Restaurant, drugstore, an alleyway behind homes and the businesses anchoring main streets out front. The theatre ticket office will even display replica theatre posters. John is careful to photograph places or buildings when he sees them, “There was this little abandoned garage, which I wanted to shoot but I didn’t have time to do so. When I came back, it was demolished.” “History is fleeting and times keeps on moving so you have to capture it when you can,” John states. “Here today, gone tomorrow.” (A Unique Triumph continued on Page 11)

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(A Unique Triumph continued from Page 10)

STATS Currently, Gypsy Trolley Line consists of five modules: (1) 3-foot, (2) 8-foot and (2) 6-foot sections for a total of 31 feet. John can only display 19 feet of the full display in his own home, some of which is positioned above his wonderfully organized and meticulously clean work area and some in his basement den (pictured below). DISTINCTIVE PRESENCE 2010 will be the seventh year that John has exhibited his display at Trainfest. It is one of only four trolley-line exhibits at the show, which makes it unique in itself.

The manner in which John translates his masterfully executed photography into beautifully rendered card-stock structures and buildings helps raise his exhibit unto a league of its own. Both Christine and John like interacting with the crowds at the various shows they attend throughout the year. The only thing they wish they could do differently would be to find more time to view other exhibitors’ layouts. John sighs and says, “With just the two of us, it is hard to leave the booth to see any other exhibits.” In closing, John talks about why he loves model railroading world, “It provides me with an opportunity to exercise my imagination, preserve a part of Milwaukee’s heritage and keep my artistic side fulfilled. Plus, what a great excuse to ride my bike and stay in shape!” (A Unique Triumph continued on Page 12)

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(A Unique Triumph continued from Page 11)

It’s hard to imagine that the realistic buildings and structures on Gypsy Trolley Line are card stock. The detail is quite phenomenal and you must see it yourself to fully appreciate the uniqueness. Visit the Gypsy Trolley Line at Trainfest.

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Pictured above:

Right: Bob Grubba, President Left: Ken Silvestri, Sales Director

ON THE HORIZON A Message from Bob Grubba “Broadway Limited has always been a leader in new technology. This will not change. We have a new patent on a product we call Rolling Thunder, which will debut in our 2011 catalog. Rolling Thunder is the answer to the challenge to reproduce the ground shaking sounds of a real locomotive through a 1-inch speaker. Previous attempts to engineer large speaker systems under the layout have produced less than perfect effects. Model railroaders not only want the correct sound for the model; they also expect it to be synchronized with the movement of the train. Rolling Thunder accomplishes this by transmitting the bass portion of the locomotive sounds to a sub-woofer under the layout. Correct sounds then originate from the train while perfectly synchronizing with the side rods, smoke and with sounds coming from the model’s speaker. Since low frequencies are less directional, the overall effect is an illusion of a small model’s sounds nearly matching those of a real train. Once again, Broadway Limited Imports jumps to the forefront of manufacturing innovation with a whole new level of realism just as we did in 2002 with our first model, the NYC J1e Hudson with sound.”


Forging New Trails in Design, Sound & Special Effects.

Broadway Limited Imports was founded in the year 2000, by Anton Wenzel, former owner of Oriental Limited Brass; Robert Zimet, former president of QSI and Bob Grubba, who previously served as Director of Engineering for Lionel Trains. The trio formed the company with the sole intention of becoming the first manufacturer to offer factory installed sound and DCC decoders in HO Scale models. In 2002, Broadway Limited Imports released its first model, the NYC J1e Hudson with sound, which won Model Railroader magazine's 2002 Product of the Year.

According to Bob, “The Hudson also won the 2002 HO Scale model of the year. However, my favorite award was the Product of the Year award for our first product.” “I invested a large portion of my family's savings in the company and it was nice to see our product validated by the award.” Their second model, the Norfolk & Western Class A, won the HO Scale 2003 Locomotive of the Year. In 2005, Anton Wenzel and Robert Zimet retired and Bob purchased their shares of Broadway Limited Imports. (A Decade Long continued on Page 14)

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(A Decade Long continued from Page 13)


A BENCHMARK ERA 2010 marks Broadway Limited Imports’ 10th anniversary as a premier manufacturer of world class model railroading locomotives and rolling stock. The company takes great pride and enjoyment in providing fine, collector grade equipment for discerning modelers and operators who have an eye for true beauty. OVERCOMING CHALLENGES Operating in a small industry like model railroading does present some

obstacles, which Bob explains, “General consumer products are made by the millions. Model trains are made by the thousands. As a result, molds and tooling, which range between $100-$300,000/model, are a very significant portion of the product costs.” “We are constantly trying to find new ways to manufacture products that do not require as much new tooling,” Bob continues. “Our Hybrid line is current state of the art. We can offer models with detail on levels similar to $1,500 brass models, yet sell them for prices closer to those of plastic or die-cast models.” PRODUCT UNIQUENESS Since Broad Limited Imports’ products are so revolutionary, the company strongly encourages customers to read the product manuals before and after purchase, just to get a taste of the kinds of things it can do. According to Bob, it is amazing how often they demonstrate products and hear customers say "Wow! I didn't know my model would do that!" Bob relates, “This is especially true of the Paragon 2 models. A customer can have a model for years and still find new features like the quillable whistle, adjustable rod knock, open steam cock, engineer radio effects and on and on.” “These features are not readily apparent unless the user knows about them and activates them.”

(A Decade Long continued on Page 15)

Broadway Limited Imports’ customers visit their website daily for updates, news and other information, They also have an email newsletter that informs customers of new products, new arrivals and more. A printed catalog is available by calling Broadway Limited, (386) 673-8900, which many larger hobby stores carry as well. If there is not a local hobby store in your area, there are a number of good stores listed on the back of the Broadway Limited Imports’ catalog, which accept online, email or phone orders.

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(A Decade Long continued from Page 14)

MODEL RAILROAD WORLD BENEFITS “More so than many industries, model railroading is sort of like a family,” claims Bob. “There are customers I have known for years. I see them at train shows like Trainfest. I've met their children. They are extremely passionate about their hobby. It is nice to have customers who care so deeply about the products we make.” Originally a mechanical engineer, Bob compares that occupation to model railroading, “My involvement in model railroading has been a blast. I could be working in a plant making concrete pipe of something. This is way more fun.” THE FUTURE OF THE HOBBY A trend setter for 15 years, Bob speaks about his industry, “For at least 25 years, people have been saying there are no new people entering the hobby and it will die out.” “In all that time, the median age of the hobby has remained constant in every poll I have seen. This tells me there is a steady stream of new hobbyists, but they enter in their 30's and 40's when they have the income to buy our products and the time and space to use them. Most children don't get $300 models.” Bob continues, “Over time there has been a steady progression toward more detail, more realism, more accuracy and more electronic features. I expect this to continue, but perhaps the controls have become too complex. As a result, our company will continue to strive to make our products more user-friendly.”

NEW DIGS In May 2009, Broadway Limited Imports moved into brand new headquarters, which includes a visitor center with full-sized operating layout and gift shop. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and see us!

9 East Tower Circle Ormond Beach, FL 32174 (386) 673-8900 CUSTOMERS DESERVE THE BEST! Broadway Limited Imports maintains a staff of some of the best engineers in the hobby. We spend an inordinate amount of time researching and revising drawings to make sure that every pipe, step and rivet are as close as possible to the real train, and we can tell when we get it right because the product always sells out. We are constantly trying new approaches and incorporating new technology. Features like our Autopilot, which is included in all Paragon 2-equipped models, are critical to the future of our company. It is what sets us apart from the crowd and defines our uniqueness.

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Badgerland S-Gaugers Hi-Rail Layout By Ronald G. Schlicht

However, his favorite honor was the Chairman’s Award at the 34th Annual Trainfest in 2005.

Model railroad layouts are

Ronald also received a module award previously at Trainfest.

for kids --whether they are only a few years old or senior citizens. That is why the Badgerland S-Gaugers Hi-Rail modules focus on a “toy train” look rather than exact S Scale. The layout’s purpose is to educate the public about S Gauge and other facets and techniques of model railroading, while providing entertainment value. COMPONENTS The layout consists of ten modules and is 8’ wide by 16’ long. The 34” height is perfect viewing even for small children. Primary elements include American Flyer track, AF rubber roadbed and switches, 43rd scale vehicles, MTH and Plasticville® buildings.

Populated by 400 little people, the focus revolves around color, comedy and action accessories along with American Flyer Hi-Rail trains. Nine American Flyer accessories populate the layout of which many are operational. SCENERY ROCKS!

The key word is vignettes and they are plentiful. Let’s start with the unloading box car followed by an Oil Drum Loader and Log Loader. After loading the logs, a kit-bashed engine pulls a gondola and log unloading car down a siding to where the logs are dumped. A sawmill then loads planks into a gondola. Next is an operating Gabe the Lamplighter, AF Sam the semaphore man and whistling station. (Population 400 continued on Page 17)

Ronald’s Badgers S-Gaugers Hi-Rail Layout has been featured on television and in four magazines and has earned several certificates.

Many conventions and tours have requested Ronald to allow his home layout to be open for tours or personal viewing. Otherwise, his traveling layout goes to six shows a year. Ronald loves interacting with the public which is why he shows his work so often. He describes himself as a “people person” and spends several hours daily tweaking his layout so it always stays fresh. Like many other hobbyists, Ronald still has his original train set. “It brings back many great childhood memories,” says Ronald. According to Ronald, the biggest draw of his layout is the 400+ “little people.”

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DETAILS COUNT Hi-Rail also features an AF Oil Supply Depot, refurbished Bradford Diner and modified AF tower. A.C. Gilbert accessories are alive and well represented. On the opposite side of the layout, there is an operating playground, AF Highway Flasher and Bell Danger, with lights that flash alternately continuously. Since the layout’s vignettes span many eras including the ever popular 50’s with period cars, Rock & Roll music figures and Plasticville® Frosty bar, it attracts what can be termed “cross-generational” crowds. CHANGE IS CONSTANT Many of the figures have been incorporated into custom animated scenes. This is a continuing process and more animations are added each year. A camera train is in operation during all events with a monitor mounted at a viewing level for small children. According to Ronald, “I’m not sure who enjoys this feature; more the children or the grandparents.” Ronald worked as a Product Designer at the Allen-Bradley Co. for 35 years, which along with his love of art, helped prepare him for the model railroad world. “On my home layout,” explains Ronald, “I am always creating new small dioramas or scenarios. There are 3,334 figures on that layout!” (Population 400 continued on Page 18)

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Celebrity Lineup (4) SUPER HEROES Batman & Robin Superman Spiderman Professor Xavier (X-Men) FAMOUS ROCK/POP STARS Elvis Presley Michael Jackson

FEMALE MOVIE STAR Ann Margret (She dated Elvis) DISCOVERY CHANNEL Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) NATURALIST & WILDLIFE Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter) OTHER FAMOUS FIGURES Fonzie (Happy Days) Ronald McDonald

(Population 400 continued from Page 17)

RONALD’S FAVORITE HIGHLIGHTS Plasticville® Frosty Bar with roller-skating waitresses and 50’s music. 2. All Classic automobiles. All cars have drivers. 3. Custom crafted figures particularly celebrities. 4. Fire scene hose. 5. Fishing hole/swimming pond. Water made from shower door material. 6. Junk yard with welder and handmade junked appliances. 7. Animated figures, especially the construction crew. 8. Lady with flat tire being fixed by a tow truck driver, complete with road flares. 9. Hobo village with campfire and detailed shanties. 10. All operating accessories. 11. Bus stop with newspaper dispensers. 12. Small farm. Animations in planning stages. 1.

(Population 400 continued on Page 19)

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(Population 400 continued from Page 18)

WRAPPING UP Ronald uses uncomplicated techniques and simple scenery materials so as not to intimidate the viewing public, “I want them to leave my layout saying, I can do that!” “It’s all about having fun, taking pride in what you have created and having others share and enjoy your efforts.”

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John Kosma Card Stock Model Free for Trainfest EXPRESS Readers!

Owner and creator of the award-winning Gypsy Trolley Line model railroad layout that features his own handcrafted card stock buildings and structures, is providing our readers with a free model (below) to try on their own. Simply size the model to the scale you desire, print on card stock, cut out, ensemble and embellish. Voila! You are one step closer to creating your own card stock layout. More of John’s work can be seen in the photo at left and on pages 9-12 of this issue.

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Bio by James Zorn Editor’s Note: 2010 marks the first time that James Zorn will be exhibiting Kids Train Photography at Trainfest. Normally, James does not publish the photos he takes at shows since they involve individual clients’ children. However, the photos shown here illustrate the full range of his photography skills.

James Zorn’s world… I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1972 with a B.A. in Design and a major in photography. I spent the first part of my career working for big catalog production studios in the hay days of retailers like Sears, Wards, J.C. Penny and many other mail order retailers. I bought into an existing studio in the suburbs, which I ran for 20 years until digital came along. In 1972, there were maybe 1000 photo studios in Chicago. By 2000, digital photography and computers had reduced that number to less than 100, putting many of the talented support businesses that service the photo industry out of work. Luckily, I transitioned by selling my business to a major printing firm that wanted to add digital photography to the services they offered. They hired me as a studio manager and taught me everything I would need to know about digital photography, retouching, printing and the growing web businesses. Eventually I was hired as a staff photographer by the largest printing firm in the world. My son was the real influence for my interest in trains and later trains shows. We live not too far from Union Illinois’ Train Museum and my son and I would spend Sunday morning watching the steam engine heating up and riding all the running trains. We also enjoy the Elgin Electric Train Museum, our city of residence. At one time Chicago had 13 electric train lines. One of those lines, the Aurora/Elgin Electric ran right through town to Chicago and back. Only one line still exists, the South Shore Electric line servicing the southeast part of Chicago. I had trains as a kid as did my brother. We were into HO scale, due to the lack of space and readily available stock. I always wanted to have Lionel trains, but they were too expensive and too big for our little house. (Kids Train continued on Page 22)

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(Kids Train continued from Page 21)

What I enjoyed the most about trains was the miniature buildings and the detail required in the layouts. This is very similar to some aspects of my photography work. I got into the train show business by accident. My son was working for a train show company here in Chicago. The company thought taking unique photos of small children who come to the train show with relatives, would be a great way to mark the event. We found a kid-sized Thomas the Tank Engine for a perfect prop and I painted an appropriate 9’ x 15’ backdrop, packed my studio lights, laptop and digital camera and traveled to my first show in Indianapolis, not knowing what to expect. I was a big hit with people standing in line even after the show closed each day. I added a website where customers can download the photo of their child to print at home or send to other family members. There is no charge for this download. No one else does that for any price. I give each child I photograph, a real railroad hat along with a red, railroad style bandanna, wooden train whistle and a sucker. I have built many repeat customers over the years. People even bring last year’s photo to show me. The kids at this age are just great, happy, excited about Thomas the Tank Engine and trains in general. My motto is, “If it isn’t fun, don’t do it.” My work is very specialized and I have developed a natural style with lighting as a key, enhancing component. I learned lighting using big “hot” lights but gradually, flash (strobe) lighting has taken over how most work is done today. I have a sign at my booth that says, “Crabby children are expected but we ask that you bring them back later.” Parents are often embarrassed when their child refuses to cooperate. I tell them there just too many things going on, too many people. Walk them around, get them something to eat and come back, which does work. I enjoy children. My own children are now grown and I am not yet a grandparent but a great uncle several times. I love my work and am happy I discovered train shows.


Model Railroad Newsletter