National Garden Railroad Convention (NGRC)

I spent this week learning about what I don’t know about garden railroads.

I am in the San Fransisco Bay Area (specifically Santa Clara, CA) attending the NGRC convention.  There are about 1200 attendees this week.  The mornings start off visiting 5-7 layouts at people’s houses and the afternoons typically at clinics to learn how to do modeling.  

The house layouts are all different from small to large, from sophisticated to simple, to themed to just extravagant.  We even visited a layout under construction and only about 50% of the way complete.  You can tell that everyone spent a lot of time getting ready for the convention and they were very accommodating.

At the clinics which end at 8pm you can learn about installing radio controlled batteries into locomotives, landscaping tips, building structures, water features and much more.  The convention has 3 clinics running each time slot from 2pm-8pm.

On Wednesday we took a ride on a full size steam engine through the redwood forest.  It went up to the top of the mountain and then back down.  This was then topped off with a barbecue and country band.

Starting on Thursaday there is a train show where vendors sell train items and other vendors are there to explain their products and you can see how they work.  On Saturday the show will be opened up to the public and they will have several big layouts from the local clubs.

As usual I get many good ideas from seeing other people’s layouts and visiting with the vendors.  I found a vendor that offers an aerial lift and I got the dimensions and specifications so I can plan my mountains for a future aerial lift.  I also saw some examples of different rock constructions  that I am going to try.  Lots of good plant ideas, though the plants here won’t all survive in Atlanta.  But I have a general idea of the types of plants I would like on my layout.  I saw many examples of landscaping  walls and I will need to finalize what I am doing later this fall.  I found a great bridge and trestle supplier.  I saw a drawbridge and started to formulate my plans for the drawbridge.  I saw a lot of trolleys just going point to point and they add a lot to the layout.  

My goal will be to make my layout interesting but not outlandish.  To have a lot of motion but not to make it distracting.  I also want to have some exciting features for children (that of course the grandchildren can use year round).

I met a lot of people from Atlanta several of whom are here to learn more about the convention and how to run it.  The convention will be in Atlanta in 2 years, June 4-9th.  My layout will be one of the layouts on the tour.

I have a lot of work to get it ready and I don’t want to be one of the layouts that is not complete.

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