2018 Amherst Train Show (n-scale)

Jenna Jan 31, 2018

  1. Jenna

    Jenna TrainBoard Member

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    This show is quite the event. I've written a blog, Vendor Highlights: 2018 Amherst Train Show. Here is the text:

    Here are some highlights of what I learned from a number of the n-scale model train manufacturers at this weekend’s Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show, West Springfield, MA (January 27 & 28, 2018).

    And lots of it is good news for n-scalers: many manufacturers will continue to embrace the “prototypically correct” movement currently underway in the world of n-scale. They will continue to produce models that sport metal wheels, body-mounted couplers, refined detailing (see-through walk ways, separately applied brake wheels, etc.) and manufacture factory-equipped DCC and sound enabled locos.

    Athearn
    Craig Walker, product development supervisor for Athearn, showed me some unpainted samples of their previously-announced ACF 4600 cf centerflow 3-bay covered hopper, which is expected to be released in late 2018. According to Walker, there was some kind of glitch in the HO model, which resulted in a delay in the production of the n-scale model.

    Walker also showed me the recently released TankTrain. These tank cars (seen on the west and east coast) are connected via a flexible hose and the idea is instead of filling/emptying one tank car at a time, you can use this hose system to empty and fill them more efficiently and in less time. The detailing (especially the railings and connecting hoses) on this was quite impressive.

    On the horizon: According to Walker, he will be looking at what’s been produced in H scale and see if there’s a hole in n-scale for that same model and move forward with more n-scale products . . . .all good news for n-scalers.

    Atlas
    At the Atlas booth, I chatted with Jared Haedrich, COO of Atlas. I saw an unpainted sample model of the SD60E Loco, a completely new tooling announced earlier this month.

    Haedrich also showed me unpainted samples of the multi-level commuter cars (a NJ Transit/AMT (AMT is the Montreal equivalent to NJ transit, transporting commuters from the suburbs of Montreal to Montreal proper) along with the N ALP 45DP loco that pulls these cars. This is the first show to showcase these models. These prototypes reflect the so-called green movement (reduce emissions (noise and fumes) into the environment). They run diesel outside of the city and electric when in city limits.

    Bachmann
    Jack Lynch, general manager, special products, Bachmann, showed me several models of to-be-released items. I saw the GP40, complete with DCC sound and a new body shell, which will ship in the spring of 2018. Bachmann, similar to other vendors, is striving to offer products with more refined detailing and DCC functionality (factory-installed) and decided to upgrade its antiquated tooling for this body style that had 1970s detail level and produce this new engine.

    I was also able to see a production sample of a completely new tooling from Bachmann, the SD-9 loco, DCC-sound equipped, with 5 road names and expected to be released the summer of 2018. I also saw models of a re-release of Bachmann’s Dash 8 diesel engine. This will be re-done with DCC-sound. Lynch also showed me some newly released ore cars.

    Bowser
    At the Bowser booth, I saw a handful of 2 body styles with new paint schemes: the cylindrical 3-bay covered hoppers and the GLa 2-bay open hoppers (made by the Pennsy). These will be shipping to stores soon (they are held up in Los Angeles due to busy port traffic). The Maypo (a chocolate-flavored breakfast cereal) cylindrical 3-bay covered hoppers caught my eye . . . maybe because it was close to lunch time!

    Bowser has no plans to do any new n-scale toolings soon.

    Eastern Seaboard Models showcased their recently released X-65 box car, which is now shipping and Bryan Bussey chatted with me about their latest announcement, the U.S. Equipment Corp X72 Boxcar, which is based on the X58 floor and underframe. This item is due out in January 2019.

    Exact Rail assured me that they haven’t dropped their n-scale line of products even though they have not released anything for this scale in some time. They do expect to announce (at the NSE convention in Salt Lake City, Utah) a new tooling for a freight car. No details were given on this item. Similar to other companies, re-toolings going forward will have body-mounted couplers only.

    Fox Valley Models Matt Gaudynski plans on doing more re-runs of their GEVO series with more details and paint schemes. Gaudynski also mentioned two NSE Special Runs he is doing: “Spirit of the Union Pacific” 1943 SD70-ACE Loco (DCC compatible) and the Norfolk Southern Loco/ NS AC44C6M. Pre-orders are still being taken for these items.

    He expects to announce a new tooling at the National NSE convention this summer.

    InterMountain
    Doug Dolloff, senior vice president, InterMountain showed me unpainted production samples of their previously-announced superdome passenger cars, due out summer 2018. One engine the EMD F-Unit, which was announced more than 3 years ago, is expected to be out this summer. It been delayed because InterMountain was waiting on an ESU sound board before it could modify its tooling for this loco.

    Kato announced that it will create a new Spirit of Union Pacific 1843 loco (a tribute to military veterans) by modifying an old tooling (SD70 ACE). This model, like its prototype, will reflect modifications that qualify it to have Tier 4 credit ratings (lower pollution emissions). Road numbers and other details were not available although one feature we could expect is a separated cab, according to Alex Kovach of Kato. And we can also expect the traditional Union Pacific paint schemes. This item is expect to be released the 2nd half of 2018.

    MicroTrains
    Eric Smith, president of MicroTrains talked to me about some of the already-announced releases, such as the DODX 68’ FGE Heavy-Duty Flat Car with M-1 Abrams Tank Loads (which he expects to be released by the National N-Scale Enthusiast convention in Salt Lake City, Utah this June). He noted that the tanks (which will be available as stand-alone items) on these military trains are made using injection molded tooling (versus resin and white metal used in the past), which allows for more detail and uniformity in size. He noted that military items are very popular and hopes customers will like this option.

    In 2018 and going forward, MicroTrains will continue to expand on their heavyweight passenger cars and produce more freight cars that will be more prototypically-accurate. These cars will have new underframes (so the bottom of the train car to the top of the rail will be lower and more realistic to real-life prototypes). In order to create more detailed and accurate cars, MicroTrains will use injection-molded tooling (versus etched metal) to create see-through roof walks. Other details to look out for will be a brake wheel step (in etched metal) and of course, the ever-popular body-mounted couplers.

    MicroTrains will begin re-tooling its existing (out-of-date toolings that harken back to the 1970s when the company first started in n-scale) boxcars beginning with 50 foot cars and then moving on to 40 foot cars. “Customer expectations are higher and MicroTrains is responding to that,” said Smith.

    North American Railcar Corp
    At the Winterfest (n-scale / NTrak convention a the Amherst Train Show) first Manufacturer’s N-Scale Mini-Show on Friday night, I got to hear Dan Huberman, president of North American Railcar Corp. Huberman discussed the 36 structurally different versions and 93 paint versions of the Pullman Standard 5077 cu.ft. single door box car, which will be available in 2018. Huberman noted some of the unique features these 36 versions will showcase, including side sills, under frames, roof heights, ends and door styles. Huberman had sample H0 models to show attendees what the n-scale models would look like.

    Huberman also discussed two other products on the horizon: National Steel Car 5093 c.f. combo door box car and the K+S Potash Canada, a new blue covered hopper that models a brand new prototype that K+S Potash Canada has been using since August 2017. Potash is used to help fertilize soil. The n-scale model will feature many road names and be available in about 18 months.

    North American Railcar Corp is part of Pacific Western Rail Systems (PWRS), the largest model train store in Canada. Not many people know about North American Railcar Corp, which makes its own toolings (available only through its own website) and does not sell to stores.

    Rapido
    Among other products, Rapido’s Bill Schneider showcased the n-scale United Aircraft TurboTrain (this was the first sample at a show). This item is expected to come out some time in 2018 and have full DCC sound capabilities and ESU LokSound functionality. Rapido is still taking orders for this New Haven 8600 series coaches.

    ScaleTrains seemed to be the only manufacturer with a completely new product announcement for the show. Shane Wilson, president, ScaleTrains (on Friday night at Winterfest’s first Manufacturer’s N-Scale Mini-Show) announced the Greenbrier (Gunderson) 5188 cubic foot covered hopper (due out this summer) and had production samples of this model.

    Walthers continues with its HO focus but did have on display the EMD SW1200 Switcher, with a February 2018 delivery date. It also had some Dairy Queen buildings on display.
     
  2. SP-Wolf

    SP-Wolf TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thank you, for the report!!

    Regards,
    Wolf
     
  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent synopsis Jenna. Thank you!
     
  4. Jenna

    Jenna TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Folks: T-trak had a huge layout at the Amherst Show this year...some 88 modules! Fay Chin, Northeast T-TRAK, organized this layout and has written a blog article (with lots of pix) about it. He graciously allowed TroveStar to add it to their website. Here is his article.

    Thank you Fay Chin for allowing us to share your article on the TroveStar website.

    Northeast Region T-TRAK at the 2018 Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show

    By Fay Chin Northeast T-TRAK

    The Amherst Railway Society (ARS) 50th anniversary show was held at the Eastern States Exposition "The Big E", West Springfield, Massachusetts on January 27 & 28. The ARS show is one of the nation's largest train show occupying 4 buildings covering 400,000 square feet. The paid attendance was 17,200 not including approximately 400 dealers, exhibitors, and layout participants.

    Northeast Region T-TRAK has proudly participated in conjunction with the Northeast NTRAK Winterfest for the ARS show since 2015. The Northeast Region T-TRAK consisted of participants from Northern New Jersey T-TRAK (NNJTTRAK), Upstate Model Railroaders TTRAK (UMRR), Northwest Georgia N-TRAK (NWGNTRAK), Valley Ntrak Club of Connecticut (CTVNTRAK), Genesee & Ontario Model N-Gineers (G&ONTRAK), NH, ME, and Massachusetts Northeast T-TRAK (NTTRAK). The 30'x25' T-TRAK layout consisting of 88 modules with a combined mainline of approximately 5.2 N-scale miles. If the layout was unfolded to a rectangular shape, it would be equivalent to a 30'x70' layout. T-TRAK was among the 60 operating layouts at the show.


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    Northeast Region T-TRAK layout

    Kato is a great supporter for T-TRAK. Some of the NTTRAK modules were setup at the Kato booth to help promote T-TRAK and Kato products. The T-TRAK concept was extremely well received by the public. The layout was well attended by T-TRAK volunteers who had a chance to run Kato's new products and interact with the public. Below is the photo of the layout at Kato booth:

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    T-TRAK layout at Kato booth

    The Northeast Region T-TRAK had a huge number of participants setting up and operating. Below is the group photo at the ARS Train Show.

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    T-TRAK group at ARS Train Show

    To encourage all participants to bring their best modules, the T-TRAK group held a separate module contest along with the Northeast NTRAK Winterfest contests and activities. The donated prize for 1st (Kato ACS-64 Amtrak #600), 2nd (Kato Electric Engine GG1 Penn Central), and 3rd (Kato Pair of Amtrak Amfleet Coaches) were awards by Kato USA. Thanks to Alex Kovach and Paul Knowles from Kato for judging the modules. Below are photos of the winning modules, prizes, and winners.

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    1st Place - Bill Pontin's Tri Mountain Summit module

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    1st Place prize - Kato ACS-64 Amtrak #600

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    Alex Kovach (Kato) awarding 1st Place winner Bill Pontin for Tri Mountain Summit module

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    2nd Place - George Michaels' Tunnel module

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    2nd Place prize - Kato Electric Engine GG1 Penn Central

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    Alex Kovach (Kato) awarding 2nd Place winner George Michaels for Tunnel module

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    3rd Place - Pat O'Conner's Suburban module

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    3rd Place prize - Kato Pair of Amtrak Amfleet Coaches

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    Alex Kovach (Kato) awarding 3rd Place winner Pat O'Conner for Suburban module

    The T-TRAK layout had many outstanding modules. Below are some photos:

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    Busy City Street by Ray Chaffee

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    Drive-in with an actual movie screen by Forest Bevins

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    Miniature Golf and Birthday Party by Julia & Chris Franks

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    Nursery by Phil Brown

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    Overpass by Mike Molaney

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    Trailer Park by Richard Beland

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    Waterfall by Forest Bevins

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    City Scene by Mike Romanowski

    In addition to the contests, all Northeast NTRAK Winterfest participants received commemorative mugs and module participation plaques. Below is the photo of the mug and plaque.

    The T-TRAK group would like to thank all contributors/sponsors for their generous donations which made this event possible.

    I like to thank everyone who participated in the Amherst Railway Society Hobby Train Show. It is your hard working effort that made this event fun and successful.

    Fay Chin Northeast T-TRAK
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
    Kurt Moose, Hardcoaler and SP-Wolf like this.
  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, all of what I see is wonderfully done. The photos invite on-line loitering just to soak up all of the detail. I've never seen T-TRAK in person and am quite impressed. Thanks for the post!
     
  6. Jenna

    Jenna TrainBoard Member

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    Appreciate the kind words...the credit is really owed to Fay Chin...he just allowed me to post his article here...
     
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  7. Jenna

    Jenna TrainBoard Member

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    This is my second year attending this epic n-scale event. Here's my blog about my time at the show.

    2018 Winterfest (n-scale convention) at Amherst Train Show


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    This year's 50th Anniversary Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show (January 27 & 28, 2018) was another whirlwind of activity at the Big E in West Springfield, MA.

    N-Scale and Winterfest
    As head of marketing for the N-Scale Model Trains Database on TroveStar, I focused on Winterfest, the annual n-scale convention held in conjunction with the Amherst Train Show. This year marked the 24th Winterfest. I made my way (along with some 17,000+ attendees) in and out of 4 buildings to see all the n-scale exhibits (in the Better Living Center, in Mallory and T-trak in Young) and to chat with n-scale manufacturers.

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    Northeast N-TRAK hosts Winterfest and coordinates with a regional clubs (with members from all over the northeast and Canada) to provide modules to exhibit at the show. Some of these clubs include: Northeast T-TRAK, MaiNE Track, and Valley N-Trak.

    Friday: Registration & 1st Manufacturer’s N-Scale Mini-Show
    Club members spent the better part of the day unloading their modules, rolling stock, engines, tools, electronics, etc. from their cars, vans, pick-up trucks and trailers and setting up their layouts.

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    After dinner, folks picked up their registration packets (which included cars and containers from MicroTrains, Scale Trains and TroveStar).

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    Many attended Winterfest’s very first Manufacturer’s N-Scale Mini-Show where 100+ attendees had the chance to chat with representatives from MicroTrains, ScaleTrains, Fox Valley Models and North American Railcar Corporation (each had mini-displays). They also had a chance to talk with Lowell Smith, known for his Signature Series/Special Editions.

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    Shane Wilson, President of ScaleTrains with an attendee

    Prototypically Correct!
    Dan Huberman, president of North American Railcar Corp presented “The Boxcar Nobody Would Make.” Huberman focused building toolings that truly represent prototypes. He discussed the 36 structurally different versions and 93 paint versions of the Pullman Standard 5077 cu.ft. single door box car , which will be available in 2018.

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    Dan Huberman President of North American Railcar Corp (in blue shirt)

    I got a chance to chat with Shane Wilson from Scale Trains and Fox Valley Models’ Matt Gaudynski. ScaleTrains announced the Greenbrier (Gunderson) 5188 cubic foot covered hopper (due out this summer) at the show and had pre-production samples of this model.

    On the horizon?
    When asked what consumers could expect to see in 2018 and going forward in the industry and from their companies, both men echoed familiar themes: engines with factory-equipped DCC and sound capabilities and more highly-detailed cars with refined detailing such as see-through walkways, roof extension vents and railings.

    Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, I chatted with a number of n-scale vendors and have written N-Scale Manufacturer Highlights: 2018 Amherst Train Show.

    Feedback from attendees was quite positive. Many did say they would appreciate more presentations from manufacturers. Kudos to Bob Fallier, president of NE-Ntrak club, which runs Winterfest, for putting together this first Manufacturer’s N-Scale Mini-Show!

    Saturday
    Similar to last year, it was kind of neat and apropos to see some prototypes (several 30,000 gallon tank cars) standing idle on the tracks adjacent to the show entrance. (You can read my 2017 inauguration to this mighty train show event “What to Expect at the Amherst Train Show”)

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    Getting into the show meant a long wait as there was a long line to get into the parking area at Gate 9. George Michaels, NE N-Trak Vice President (in charge of DCC for the n-trak layout in the Better Living Center) did not have any delays getting into the parking area as he got to the show by 7:00 a.m. because there were unresolved DCC issues from the previous night.

    I got to chat a bit with Lowell Smith, who works primarily in n-scale and works with vendors (mostly MicroTrains) to create special run products. He supplies the art work/graphics for trains that he "wants to see produced in his lifetime" and the manufacturers supply the toolings. He did mention that he has bought the Walthers’ toolings for n-scale passenger cars and plans on producing more special run products.

    I stopped by the T-trak layout and chatted with Fay Chin, a true T-trak talent. He happily reported that this year’s T-trak layout was the largest ever for Winterfest and included some 88 modules from club members who hail for Canada, Georgia, NY, NJ, Maine, CT and MA. In addition to all the modules, Fay had a special table that included mini-scenes that he created as a way to show folks how to add animation (add interest to the module) to their layouts. There were samples of lighting (bulletin boards and signs created using 3D printing) and action (a backhoe at work).

    [​IMG]Northeast Region T-TRAK layout

    You can read Fay Chin’s show re-cap “Northeast Region T-TRAK at 2018 Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show.”

    Pix on Facebook
    In addition to the t-trak layout, I took lots of pictures and videos of both n-trak layouts (Mallory building and Better Living Center). They are posted on the TroveStar facebook page.

    Saturday: Banquet Dinner
    The Winterfest dinner banquet was chock full of good ‘ole comradery, contest and special recognition awards, freebie giveaway items, raffle prizes and a short presentation on the N-Scale Model Trains Database on TroveStar. You can visit the Northeast N-TRAK website to see contest winners. According to Bob Fallier, the organizer for Winterfest, folks were awarded or given merchandise worth more than $6,000 retail. Thank you to the many manufacturers and retail stores who donated products.

    Guest speaker Lowell Smith shared some of his story as a “lifer model railroader who always loved trains.” He first got into n-scale in 1968 (when boxcars cost $1.99). Model railroading really took off for him with the advent of DCC, which allowed him and his fellow model railroaders to run trains realistically / prototypically.

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    Lowell Smith

    At the end of this talk, he encouraged the audience to pass along the love of this hobby. (As a little kid in the grocery store, he wanted a magazine on model railroading, but his mom said he couldn’t have it. However, an older gentleman bought it for him.) And now he’s producing Lowell Smith Special Runs!

     

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