Friday, January 13, 2023

Prototype Rails 2023


This past weekend, January 5th through 7th, I attended my first Prototype Rails, aka "Cocoa Beach," in three years. We all know it's been a topsy turvy world since where we were at the start of 2020. It was great to see many familiar faces and meet some new people for the first time in person. Unfortunately, since that time, we have lost several of the regulars at the event and their absences were noted and respectfully honored among us. 

I will also note that in the days after the event we learned of the passing of Mike Brock, its founder, just days before this year's event. Mike was a large personality, both literally and figuratively. He loved many things, including highjinx at the expense of guests at his UP layout and the cookies served at the meet. On a more serious note, we owe Mike a great debt whether many realize it or not. His two most obvious contributions to the hobby are the Steam Era Freight Cars (STMFC) list, which he helped create way back in the 90s, through its migration to Yahoo! Groups and then to as well as the founding of Prototype Rails. Both of these are enduring and the amount of information that has been passed through the iterations of the STMFC is staggering. Two other noteworthy "segues" from Prototype Rails that many may be unaware of are the Shake-n-Take concept that has been picked up in various iterations by other meets (Sunshine pioneered the "gift" parts set, but Shake-n-Take introduced the concept of a group build with all the necessary parts being furnished to attendees) and the partnership with the NMRA to help co-sponsor the events and share/defray some of the more expensive, but necessary costs, including insuring such a meet. Being extremely humble, Mike was a giant in his impact on what we in our model railroad community take for granted, but his contributions deserve great recognition. I hope that he is now spending his time making sure every train has at least one NP box car and trying to find that N&W hopper coming over Sherman Hill! A tip of the cap to you, Mike!

As usual, there were many fine models on display and I tried to capture a sample via the medium of photography. Enjoy the fine work!

Steve Hile presented a detailed clinic on Swift's reefer fleet, including tips to model them and showcased many of those efforts in the display room, including this kitbash
I somehow neglected to document who created this finely weathered CSX covered hopper 

This neat Erie bulkhead flat car kitbash is the work of Ben Bartlett

Dick Harley had several models of "modern" PFE refrigerator cars on display in various states of completion

Rich Remiarz brought several GN box cars from Minnesota to highlight some of the subtle differences across their large fleet

Roger Hinman showed his progress on the 2022 Shake-n-Take project, including some of his deviations from the "out of the box" kitbash. Roger has done a lot of freelancing in his model

Tony Sissons showed off not only his fine models, but his great, tiered display for showcasing his work!
Ryan Mendell of National Scale Car had several of his own offerings plus some from his peers, including this Yarmouth Semet Solvay tank car

Bob De Stefano shared this Conrail (ex-NH) PS-1 with an exceptional weathering job

Carl Marchand brought this highly detailed SCL switcher that started as a Bowset VO-1000 before his detailing, painting, and weathering efforts

Fenton Wells showed off the results of his micro virtual group build that he did with Clark Propst (who did not make this year's event although he was missed at the Tiki Lounge...) using an Accurail body and Westerfield roof among other details

Terry Kolenc brought several UP cars including this S-40-21 to represent a car rebuilt at Cheyenne in 1970
Al Brown continues his kitbashing parade (he presented a clinic on the subject, too!) W&LE 27439 is a mashup of Shapeways ends, Tichy underframe and details, Kadee trucks, scratchbuilt sides and roof, and Archer rivets!

Preston Stinger displayed this gon with a very neat load

Pardon the distortion in the photo... I had to wedge my phone between two rows of cars to get the shot! Eric Thur continued his work on interesting loads, including this JWD U-channel load

There was passenger equipment in the display room, too, including this A&WP 10-1-2 Pullman, Lake Belanona. Another one where I failed to capture the modeler's name!

Lastly, Bruce Smith had many fine models in the room, including a number of his beloved Pennsy. He replaced a few boards on this nice model of a GRA composite gondola.

That's all for now!

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