Regional O Scale meetings are very popular and do allow the opportunity to buy and sell model supplies, see operating layouts and new products from suppliers. The meets draw people from a wide geographical area and interests. O Scale West has been going on for a very long time under the leadership of Rod Miller. This show is one of the very few I can easily visit. It has been held in Santa Clara, CA in the shadow of Levi Stadium ( SF Forty-Niners football). The meet had been in late January or early February but the new football stadium and explosive growth in Silicon Valley have created a challenge to maintain low hotel rates and use of the Santa Clara Convention Center that adjoins the Hyatt hotel. For now, the meet is been held on the Memorial Day weekend. For those who haven’t been in this part of Cali, the airport is very close to the hotel and light rail runs by the Convention Center.
On the Way
Prior to the meet, a group of friends got together and did a few railroad related trips. Several friends took advantage of their location and rode the Napa Valley Wine Train. It is an interesting trip that rambles through the beautiful Napa Valley. Miles and miles of vineyards and wineries to delight your eye and pallet. The ride is a gourmet experience with wonderful entrees, wine and deserts.
The next stop on the pre-meet tour was a ride north to Ukiah for some local BBQ and a tour of P-B-L facilities west of town. The facilities are compact and somewhat remote in the hills with a view of the Pacific Ocean from the lofty heights of 2600 feet above sea level.
From left to right is Frank Peacock (railway historian), Jim Zwernemann ( expert modeler), Bruce Blalock ( Katy historian, modeler and artist), Bill Peter (P-B-L) Norm Buckhart ( Protocraft), Jimmy Booth ( Glacier Park Models and P-B-L), Mike O’Connell (Chooch Enterprise Owner) and Dick Harley ( UP modeler and historian). The visit was enjoyable and informative. P-B-L is Sn3. It was a pioneer and created a loyal following in the hobby that has grown to a legion of strong following. The facilities supports a wide range of production capabilities. Model production is largely done with resin and injection modeling plastics.
The injection molding machine shown above produces much of the P-B-L and Glacier Park Models. Dies are made using CNC mills from brass plates. The designs are created using 3D software. It is a process that has become standard for much of the hobby. The image shown below is of the brass dies used to make the parts for kits.
P-B-L has a room that hold their convention displays featured Sn3 models. They are exquisite displays. The displays remind one that Bill Peter and Jimmy Booth are superb modelers.
Returning to Protocraft’s home base in Sonoma was a smooth trip for most except for Frank and Bruce stuck in the last row of Norm’s SUV.
At the Show
The show opened on at 9am on Friday. A couple of newcomers in P48 attended the meet. Ross Dando and Shawn Branstetter came down from Idaho to meet other modelers. They are both accomplished modelers and now working in our scale. Ross
brought down a modified Protocraft AAR steel boxcar to show and participate in the favorite model contest. He is a Rock Island fan and did his car with Protocraft Rock Island decals.
The favorite contest had some nice models. Joel Kirk brought his Sacramento Northern GE 44-ton diesel, Bill Yancey entered a CP Rail wood chip gondola and Jim Zwernemann brought his Milwaukee Road stock car. I believe that Joel and Jim took first prizes in their categories.
Well, I hope you found this posting interesting. Why not try going to a regional O scale meet in the future. I have found that the real benefit is the opportunity of meeting and socializing with fellow modelers.