A train spotting week end in Pennsylvania.

Last week end was the annual East Coast Large Scale Train Show in York, Pennsylvania. Four of us had decided to make the trek up to York from DC and to also visit the Horse Shoe Curve National Monument near Altoona, Pennsylvania, the following day. 

York is really not that far from Washington, DC. However the drive up to York was brutal. Interstates 95 and 83 were absolutely jammed and it was constant stop and go traffic without any discernable cause. A drive which should barely take two hours, turned into a crawl lasting over three hours. Almost all automobiles had only one person in them: the driver! The whole thing is another example and indictement of the screwed up traffic policies in this country! But that is a subject for another, future blog.

After finally arriving in York, we checked into the Yorktowne Hotel, went for some dinner and then hit the sack. 

The next day found us around 10:30 am at the York Fairgrounds/Expo Center purchasing tickets for the model train show. At first there was some confusion about the opening times of the show: the fairground/exposition center website gives an 11 o'clock opening time, whereas the show's own website professes to open at 9:00 am (which was correct). It probably would be a nice idea to get that straightened out for the next show. 

The exhibition seems to be growing ever larger. It now takes up all of two large halls, plus some smaller areas for "seminars". One of the halls is reserved for vendors and manufacturers to exhibit their wares, while the other one is dedicated to working large scale model train lay outs. Most of the locomotives, rolling stock and assorted acessories are for G-gauge track (45 millimeters between rails), albeit at different scales, generally from 1:20 to 1:32. For example Aristo-Craft tends to be 1:29 scale, LGB/Märklin is 1:22.5 and Mainline America is 1:32.

The majority of G scale railroads run on direct current provided through the two rails, with the voltage determining the speed, generally from 0 (stop) to 25 (full throttle) volts.  Judging by this show, operating ones trains with battery power seems to be on the rise. Live steam was well represented. Digital Command Control also appears to be getting more common in G scale, after having made great inroads in HO.  

Almost all G scale trains are run outdoors. So it was not surprising to see vendors selling miniature live plants to give lay outs an even more realistic look.

A final note: I am very gratified to report that I noticed a large number of younger folks at this show, particularly admiring the working lay outs. Conventional wisdom has it, at least here in the US, that the hobby was dying out. It was always sort of thought to be the realm of old, white men! If the York show is any indication, this canard, fortunately, does not seem be holding true anymore. I wonder if "Thomas" had anything to do with that? 

Herewith some photo and video impressions:

Working lay out at the show entrance (Photo by Richard Clark)

Detail of the entrance lay out (Photo by Richard Clark)

Young train admirers

Stacks of LGB stuff 

Aristo Craft locomotives

Modern USA Trains power Accucraft Trains stand with their live steam engines

Another Accucraft brass live steam engine. A steal at $3800 (Photo by Richard Clark)

USA Trains Pennsylvania GG-1 Electric locomotive (Photo by Richard Clark)


Trestles are also for sale


Signals in G scale

A snip at $55 each!

Or maybe a 1/4 scale crossing signal at $150


PIKO, the new kid on the block with G scale engines...(Photo by Richard Clark)

A British class 66 in Amtrak colors? (Photo by Richard Clark)

The Bachmann Trains stand with Thomas, et al!

Live steam Union Pacific "Challenger" locomotive on one of the lay outs.

A considerably smaller live steam British Southern Railway locomotive

Dual gauge live steam track

Modern diesel power in G scale

There is even something for the trolley aficionado

A video of the train show, as well as the Gallitzin Tunnel, Horse Shoe Curve and Amtrak at Point of Rocks: