Here is my report of my experiences at the recent NASG convention in
Duluth.  The usual caveats apply (not all inclusive).
Alan Evans - The NASG "modular" factory kit is still available.  Banta
Models has discontinued production of this kit.  If you want one, better
act fast (15 or so left).
Car Supply - Bob McCarthy had examples of the new streamline passenger
car kits and was taking orders.  He also had "2-foot" kits of freight
cars,  I received my own personal "clinic" from Bob on kit building
techniques for the streamline passenger cars.
Hoquat Hobbies - Jeff Wilson had a large selection of SHS/SSA cars and
1/64th scale vehicles.
Jeff Madden - Had his usual selection of 1/64th scale vehicles.
MLW Services - Andy Mallette had his Canadian prototype passenger car
kits, as well as his "famous" Pacific steam engine model on display.
NASG Clearinghouse - Roy Meissner had the new hats and shirts, as well
as frig magnets and coupler/track gauges.  He also had his own truck
(vehicle) kits.
2011 NMRA/NASG - "Uncle" Ed Loizeaux was promoting next year's
convention, as well as taking orders for the convention cars (SP
Pine Canyon Models - They are back into production.  The "Main Street"
structure kits and new versions of the Back Alley kits were available.
PPSSW - Steve Doyle and Ken Zieska had some excess inventory they were
River Raisin Models - Dan Navarre had all those gorgeous SP steam engine
models on display (2-10-2, Mike, Mountains).  He was starting to sound
like an Espee modeler.  He was also taking reservations for the new
0-6-0 (multiple road names) steam project.  Let's hope this one does
better then the N&W J project.
Scenery Unlimited - Don had his usual display of books, kits, and other
S stuff.
SHS - Good to see Don, Mike and John again (Robin couldn't make it).
They had a reduced presence at this convention (no layout).  I wish them
good fortune in locating a new builder.
Southwind Models - Jettie Padgett continued to sell off his S brass
There were also two vendors who had a good selection of AF inventory,
but there seemed to be a low level of AF activity at this convention.
In general, there was a reduced presence of S vendors at this S
convention.  Michigan Models, PortLines Hobbies, American Models, BTS,
and DesPlaines Hobbies were all absent.  And the vendors there were less
than happy about the lack of visitors present during rail tours.  I am
sure BOT (and convention planners) has addressed this issue before, but
closing the vendor room during the day to allow vendors to join us on
tours, with the vendor room open before/after tours, would seem an
equitable solution to this problem.
Layout Tours
I was able to view most of the available layouts in Minneapolis/St. Paul
on the Monday thru Wednesday before journeying to Duluth.  There was a
nice selection of scale/hirail layouts available for visiting.  Ken
Zieska continues to make progress on his layout.  And where were those
live 12" to the foot trains in your "backyard" that you have been
promising us for months? :-)  Jim Malone is an O scaler who has done
some nice adaptations of different O-scale structures for his S-scale
layout.  Need any taxidermy done?  He's the guy.  But, if you are in the
area, don't miss Steve Doyle's layout.  It is "fantoostic"!  Nice work,
Steve.  And I would be remiss if I didn't thank both Ken Zieska and
Steve Doyle (as well as ALL those who helped) for the great evening
get-togethers they hosted for us layout tourists.  That evening at the
Doyles' abode was perfect...S trains and brewskies.  You had me pining
for my sailing days, too.
Welcome Reception
This was quite the Doux (translation: event) at the Lake Superior RR
Museum.  Lots of full size railroad displays to enjoy.  Good food with
good fellowship.  We even got to ride on their historic trolley to
listen to Dave Peterson give us a tour of their operational 4-6-2
Pacific steam engine (ex Soo Line).  As an added bonus, Dave had
recently acquired one of the late Henry Sprague's S live steam engine
models (4-6-2) and had it on display.  I have read about these
remarkable models, but have never seen one.  I also enjoyed the
passenger car china display (they wouldn't miss the MoPac setting, would
I caught some of the clinics.  Bob McCarthy did an overview of the
streamline passenger car line that he and Bob Hogan have developed.  Roy
Meissner gave us the "lowdown"  on some of his favorite truck (vehicle)
models.  Jamie Bothwell presided over a composite presentation by
several modelers on their passenger car efforts.  It is amazing what can
be accomplished with some information and basic materials.  Rusty
Westermeier gave us a history lesson on S-scale rolling stock (freight/
passenger) kits.  I eat this stuff up.  Jeff English gave a very
thorough presentation on freight rolling stock of the "Transition
Period" (NYC box cars, Part Deux).  Bob Werre emphasized the importance
of utilizing "raw" files in your digital model photography.  Finally,
Tony Koester (Editor, Model Railroad Planning) gave us a delightful and
very useful presentation on layout planning.
Rail Tours
I missed the mine tour.  The Duluth industrial tour was fun and very
informative.  And to think the 'William A. Irvin" is a SMALL ore boat by
today's standards.  The taconite and coal transfer facilities were both
impressive.  I have read about rotary coal dumpers, but had never seen a
full size one in operation.  Very interestink!  (Apologies to Arte
Johnson).  The train ride to Two Harbors was a relaxing, fun trip.
Lunch in a local diner was enjoyable, as well.
Other 'S'tuff
This year's General Business Meeting included an extended discussion
regarding the tremendous financial loss suffered at the 2009 NASG
convention in St. Louis.  This debacle has resulted in some revisions
being instituted for convention planning by the NASG.  The banquet was
another Delightful Doux.  Andy Mallette and Dave Heine serenaded us
again at this year's banquet "Happy Hour".  Food and company were great.
Ed Loizeaux made an entertaining "pitch" for the 2011 joint NMRA/ NASG
convention in Sacramento, CA.  I think Ed has a future as a "snake oil"
salesman. :-)  Tony Koester is definitely an excellent public speaker
and a great spokesman for the hobby of model railroading.  He gave us
some of his thoughts on S scale's place in the overall hobby and how we
can enhance it.  I am sure the NASG awards and model contest awards will
be covered elsewhere.
I got "skunked" in the silent auction this year.  And, as usual, Jamie
kept us "in stitches" during the live auction (post-banquet).  For those
who missed out last year, Jamie came up with additional "S scale
zombies" for the bidding.  Price of the convention...about 60 bucks.
The look on Andy Mallette's face as Jeff English aggressively bid on and
won an AF caboose...Priceless!  This is the reason I attend NASG
Well, another convention is in the books.  The Pines and Prairies
S-Scale Workshop folks deserve our thanks and congratulations on putting
together this convention in Duluth.  I had a great time!  Isn't that
what it is all about?
Jay Mellon
New Orleans, LA

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