I have been waiting to visit the Model Railroader Expo for two years now, considering I had to bail out from the one held in Peabody,Mass. in 2011. It seemed unlikely that I would make it this time either but fortune favours the brave and I decided to make a dash for it ……

quick link to gallery

Day 1 Nov. 3rd & 4th 2013– Del–Fra–Bos

I happened to fly out on Diwali night , a big Indian festival and  therefore the airport was deserted ….. check in , immigration and boarding was all super quick…..and an on time arrival at Frankfurt where I caught up with all the action …. three A380s in a row , flanked by two 747s and then an opportune sighting of the old Lufthansa paint scheme on an A320…

MRE 2013 arrival at frankfurt

and an on time departure with an on time arrival in boston…..

Day 2 – Nov 5th 2013 – The Franklin & South Manchester Railroad

This day will remain forever etched in memory for I got to visit the fabulous Franklin & South Manchester Railroad  built by George Sellios of Peabody Ma. That one man can achieve so much is astounding and the layout has to be seen in person to be believed.

MRE 2013 - pic 1 of FSMMRE 2013 - pic 2 of FSM

He has a no photo policy but that obviously did not apply to our small group of Expo attendees and we clicked away to our hearts content. Having secured George’s permission to upload the photographs i took, you can find more in the  photo gallery by clicking on this link…

MRE 2013 - gopro street scene

George was an extremely gracious host and made me feel very comfortable. All in all, I spent about six hours in there and when it was time to go I always wanted that one last shot ….. to be cherished and treasured for the living years ….

MRE 2013 - the king & I

Day 3 – Nov 6th 2013 – The Hoosac Valley Railroad.

After a three hour drive west from Boston , I had arrived at Pittsfield the previous night and checked into the Crown Plaza Hotel.

On the  layout tour setup for Expo attendees was Dick Elwell’s beautiful Hoosac Valley railroad .

MRE 2013 - dick elwell's scenic vistas

After the grittiness of the F&SM the previous day , this was a completely different model railroad with its numerous craftsman kits…..

MRE 2013 - dick elwell's craftsman structures

One got a sense of openness with its beautifully done scenery and wide aisles to view them from…..

MRE 2013 - dick elwell's wide aisles

New England in fall was always going to be spectacular …….

MRE 2013 - dick elwell's hdr retaining wall photo

Dick also made me feel very welcome and his layout must rank right up there with the best in the country . I spent nearly four hours in there and will put up a photo gallery as time permits alongwith some videos ……

 Day 4 – Nov 7h 2013 – The Platinum Clinics

First up was Dave Revelia with his “ Behind the Scenes Clinic”. Dave is certainly a master at super-detail weathering and I also learnt that he runs the Suncoast Center for Finescale modeling down in Florida . We got down and dirty in putting together a section  of a wall and floor of what would have been an O-scale machine shop…..  Dave showed us how to use chalks and stains , Dr Ben’s products , dry brushing techniques  and to top it all black boot polish to pop-out those details…..

MRE 2013 - Dave revelia clinic MRE 2013 - Dave Revelia wood side

Immediately , after that was the Pan-Pastels clinic by Roger Malinowski in which we learnt the use of a new product called Pan-Pastels, which is basically the pigments found in paint but without the binder . I found this a very easy product to work with which gave great results and in the event that one made a mistake , you could go back and easily correct it . I would certainly look to buy a few sets to take back home

MRE 2013 - Pan pastels clinic MRe 2013 - Pan Pastels stone walls

After a welcome lunch break ( each of these clinics last about 2.5 hours ) it was the turn of Dave Frary’s – Where the Land Meets the Sea clinic – over the years we all have come to learn about Dave’s techniques thru his numerous books and videos but it was always great to brush up on them under the watchful eyes of the master himself. At the end of it all , we all managed ( 20 people to a clinic ) to take away Deignan’s wharf , seen below ….

MRE 2013 - Dave Frary clinic MRE 2013 - Deiganan wharf

The last clinic of the day was Brett Gallant’s Techniques for the diorama builder. He strongly believes that the two elements which make or break a craftsman kit is the strip wood and the cast details and their painting and weathering are the key ingredients which are of utmost importance. Brett was really warm and friendly and his easy going but somehow hyperactive demeanor, held me in rapt attention throughout .  We learnt how to add knotholes to strip wood and band sawing effects. We also painted some castings and learnt about paint chipping techniques which was great.

MRE 2013 - Brett Gallant clinic

Day 5 – Nov 8th 2013 – The Vendor and Contest Rooms

The vendor room opened at noon and I managed to stock up on some super details parts from Crow river, rock molds from Sterling Models, leds and lighting assc, a couple of craftsmen kits and some other items which caught my fancy. It was good to finally come face to face with kit manufacturers like Bob Van Gelder of South River Modelworks, Doug Foscale of Fos Scale Models and Brett Gallant of Sierra West model …. whose  kits i have been buying over the years…..

MRE 2013 -vendor room openspic by jamie

After about two hours of feeding frenzy , I strolled over to Doug’s clinic. This was a clinic and was not so hands on and intense as the platinum clinics are, but informative none the less …..

MRE 2013 - doug foscale clinic

With very focused attention I entered the sanctity of the vendor room which was in the charge of Bob Mitchell at that point. He was a complete sweetheart and let me click away to my hearts content at close range with my 24mm lens and also helped prop up some backgrounds. He also had a Z-scale steamer on hand which we shot a photo  of….

MRE 2013 - bob mitchell's z-scale steamer….the penny was his idea ….. i told him that in the photo it would look like as if the loco was going into crash into the penny but he would have none of it ….

I cannot compare the quality of contest modelling to previous expos since I did not visit them, but I was blown away by the sheer talent showcased in these models … excellent !!! .. I will let the photos below do the talking and as time permits will upload a full gallery.

MRE 2013 - contest model 2" x 2" category entry # 3 MRE 2013 - contest model 2" x 2" category entry # 20 MRE 2013 - contest model 8" x 8" category entry # 6 MRE 2013 - contest modelfrom a Sierra west shipyard modelMRE 2013 - contest model 18" x 18" category entry # 10 MRE 2013 - contest model structure category entry # 22 MRE 2013 - contest model structure category entry # 44MRE 2013 - contest model 18" x 18" category entry # 18

Later, I attended a photography clinic by Dave Frary and then went down to the Underground pub in the hotel for the “ meet and greet” party which had all but wrapped up by the time I reached there late in the evening .

Day 6 – Nov 9th 2013 – The Vendor and Contest Rooms

The day started at 8 am, with a clinic on the making and supelevation of roads by Craig Vreeland of Sterling models . This was quite a ground breaking approach to making roads, and I would definitely give it a try, if and when the time for it comes on my layout …..

MRE 2013 - Sterling models road clinic

I spent a lot of time in the vendor room taking a lot of pics. The Red Hook wharf by Doug Foscale took center stage amongst all the exhibits and even though I had sworn I would not buy “yet” another craftsman kit , I ended up buying two – the Red Hook wharf and Pier 27. I took quite a few photos of the Red Hook Wharf diorama display and will upload a gallery on it having duly secured Doug’s permission to do so …….

MRE 2013 - Red Hook WharfMRE 2013 - Doug Foscale and the Red Hook Wharf

I spent some quality time with Bob Van Gelder of South River Modelworks. I have bought all his kits right from his first one – Kit # 110 Delabarre Tap & Die. This time I bought kit # 360, H.Meyers & sons. I think his kits are absolute top notch and his instruction manual could easily form a scenery and structure building book in it’s own right.

MRE 2013 - South River ModelworksMRE 2013 - South River Modelworks Bob Van Gelder

After looking around some more I went up to the contest room again to look at the models on display there. I could not tire of looking at these models , such was the level of craftsmanship.

MRE 2013 - Contest room 1MRE 2013 - Contest room 2

Later on in the evening there was the banquet dinner, which was quite a fun affair,  with Bob Mitchell and Bill Obenauf having us all in splits ……

MRE 2013 - Banquet and contest awards

The “ model of the expo” award was given to Joel Freedman for his backwoods mining diorama ….. a cash award of usd 1000 and of course the joy of achieving something great !!!

MRE 2013 - Best of the Showpic by jaime

Day 7 – Nov 10th 2013 – The Layout tours.

There were many layouts on offer for the expo attendees but most were open only between 10am and 2pm. This meant one had to pick and choose the ones which lay in the general route to one’s final destination , in my case Logan International …..Bearing that in mind I first visited Bill Duffe’s LJKW layout . Housed in a 18’x20’ room the layout is fully scenicked and has many craftsman structures on it ……

MRE 2013 - Bill Duffe's big backdropsMRE 2013 - Bill Duffe's layout overview MRE 2013 - Bill Duffe's pic

Later on I went to Bob Van Gelder’s layout which though not completed, has many of his South River Model works craftsman kits on display …..

MRE 2013 - Bob Van Gelders Whitinsville Spinning ring coMRE 2013 - Bob Van Gelders Spencer Box company MRE 2013 - Bob Van Gelders diesel repair shop

His workshop was also on view and it was a great to get a closer  look at the mind of a master craftsman and his tools. After looking at his massive cabinet of castings, i wondered why he was not offering them as a separate purchase to his customers….. I am guessing that would undermine the exclusiveness of his red boxed kits …..

MRE 2013 - Bob Van Gelders workshop and casting drawers

By now it was 2pm and the layout tour was over, so I made my way towards Boston stopping at the Burlington mall to look at the Microsoft store. They had a Makerbot 2 Replicator , 3-D printing machine on display ….I am considering it’s purchase but somehow those layering lines always manage to put me off ……maybe the technology needs to evolve a little bit more……

This brought to an end my trip to the Finescale Model Railroader Expo 2013 and I really enjoyed making new friends and interact with the manufacturers of all those craftsmen kits I so love to collect.

MRE 2013 - registration desk

A big thank you and hug to Jaime Zepeda who took me under his wing and made me feel as if I belonged to this small community of craftsmen kit enthusiasts ….

MRE 2013 - Jaime Zepeda stalking  the FSM

That I could visit the Franklin & South Manchester and come  face to face with my model railroading hero – George Sellios – meant that I could tick one off my bucket list …..

MRE 2013 - george sellios and vikas

And finally accolades are due to the organizers themselves  – Jimmy Deignan , Doug Foscale, Hal Reyonds and Robert Seckler , who all did a great job in putting this show together. Well done guys !!!  and looking  forward to the next ……

MRE 2013 - organizers together

more pics of the Expo can be viewed here…..

14 Responses

  1. Visas,
    I had a great time talking with you at the M & G on Friday evening.
    It blew me away to hear how far you travelled to attend the FSM Expo.
    I hope you time before my presentation was enough time to get some good shots of my weathered rail cars.
    It was too bad that there was’t more time between clinics.
    I posted the clinic presentation on the Railroad-Line Forum for everyone.
    Great meeting you.

  2. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you. Our first meeting was at the F&SM of George Selios where I asked where you were from and you replied, “India”. I said, “Yes, but where do you live now?” thinking that you lived nearby. And you replied again, “India!”
    I am so glad that you made such a long trek to visit the 2013 Fine Scale Model Expo. I was humbled by my 6 hour drive from Canada.
    Your photographs are superb. Thank you for sharing them.
    Perhaps I can share some photos of my 1930’s era HO layout with you at some future time. We seem to have many of the same tastes in craftsman kits. I’m currently building the FSM ‘Rock Bunker’.
    cheers from Don Pettitt

  3. …and we thought Vikas was the last word in detailing! But I still maintain that Vikas’s stuff can hold its own against any detailing anywhere in the world.
    Wonderfully documented…a treat for modellers who have yet to make it to one of these Expos. Also a source of inspiration and a lesson in patience for those less dedicated like me.

  4. Great coverage of the Expo. It is always amazing to see what a little imagination and initiative can make the a human being achieve.

  5. Vikas,

    It was great to meet you at the EXPO and share your company in a couple of the clinics. I sincerely hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again at the next EXPO in 2015.

    Thanks for posting so many of your high quality photos and I look forward to seeing many more in the days ahead!


  6. Thank you very much for this wonderful blog Vikas, I hope to one day meet you wherever in the world, be it in the Netherlands or elsewhere.

  7. Vikas,

    It was a great pleasure meeting you at Expo 2013. Your photos of the F&SM are just fantastic.

    Perhaps we’ll meet again at another model railroad exposition.


  8. You lucky dog! This is such a beautifully done layout! There’s so much happening in every nook and corner, it’s really come ALIVE! Brilliant! Please convey my compliments and good wishes to George. And you are a damn good photographer too!

  9. hi tim ,
    unfortunately i won’t be going to Milwaukee over the weekend as i will be here in Pittsfield …. are u going to be there with the CNJ Bronx Terminal….

    Hi arved ,
    very soon i will put up a gallery of over a 100 pics i took at the F&SM and some videos as well so stay tuned


  10. Thanks for the update. Looks like you’re having a blast! Hope you share your notes from the Platinum Clinics. I wish you had higher resolution photos of the layouts you visited. Kind of hard to see all the fine detail in the photos you posted, but I appreciate you sharing them non the less!

  11. WOW! This is indeed a treat for any model railroader. These are one of the greatest layouts ever built! Needless to say that I am envious!

    Looking forward to more!

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