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November 26-27, 2016
Houston Fall Model Railroad Tour
Orange, TX

Tony reports:

We had three FOLs: Tony, Ed, and AJ. The show went well.  Only one major train related incident - Ed's Berkshire decided to take an unplanned stroll from the outside track to the inside without the aid of a switch.  This was caused by an ME model R88 that separated from its connector.  I have decided that, at least for me, it is time I used MEK to fuse the ME Rails to their connector plates.  That will come in time.

The show itself was very quiet, probably the smallest number of public attendance ever at this show - which is especially disappointing after last year's highest number.  I have no insight as to why.  But our host club was nevertheless very happy with us and our layout.  We were given an honorarium of $120. 

We arrived a little before 7:30 am Saturday, and were able to unload, setup, and had a train running by about 10:15, fifteen minutes after the show started.  We continued to set up and finished with all details (figs, flowers, etc) by about 10:45 am.  Thanks to Ed, I was able to repair the Allegheny back to running status, and it was great to see the old girl rolling again.  At 5, the show was over for the day and we went to dinner.

Sunday morning AJ and I went and visited the Orange Depot, a train station that several members of our host club (among other community members) are working to refurbish.  It's closed, so we could only see the outside, but we took photos.  We also went on a journey to take some reference photos for Tim of some local locomotives, and luckily we were successful.  Photos of both are here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/albums/72157677164863115

The public attendance of Sunday was even lighter than Saturday, so our hosts suggested we begin tearing down at 3:30.  Two hours later we were packed and on the road.

New MOCs for this show:

Ed's fantastic Winter Village, including a custom Winter Train Station
https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/30483218983/in/album-72157675586002931/

Jurassic City Park (Tony's Diplodocus Skeleton modified from another AFOL's design plus Glen's dinosaur skeletons)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/30483195303/in/album-72157675586002931/

Thomas tied to a flatcar
https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/31291062265/in/album-72157675586002931/

The Thomas was quite popular with the kids, and will probably become a regular sight at shows.

We are, of course, invited back; the next show may be inside the Orange Depot.  In addition, we have been invited to participate in a Grand Opening show inside the Depot sometime this spring, dates to be determined. 

Photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157675586002931


November 12-13, 2016
Houston Maker Faire
Houston, TX

Tim Howell reports:

AFOLs (and one TFOL): 17. Public attendance: 6 to 7,000,

Displays:
    •    assorted MOCs, including Nathaen's USS Constitution, and (life-size?) BB-8 by Steve and Lili.
    •    Jeff's classic space monorail layout, now up to at least 6'x8'
    •    TJ's (almost life-size) crane
    •    TBRR layout, 10'x20' (13 TBRR tables)

Activities included Minecraft play brick and an Xmas ornament fundraiser. Minecraft play brick was popular.  Several of us decided that is a good collection and should be kept separate from the rest of our play brick.  TJ took some good photos that will be sent to Lego to fulfill the Minecraft activity obligation.  Thanks to Erin, Kevin, and Tim 2 for spending much of their time with this activity.

The ornament / charity activity had pretty steady business most of the weekend.  I do not have a final tally for the amount collected.  Many thanks to Steve and Lili for organizing that, designing the ornaments, and spending most of the weekend with it.

The TBRR layout had contributions from Tony, Ed, Mike N., Donna, Nate, Vincent, and Tim 1, and turned out very well.  Unusual for TBRR, over half of it was city, not rural.  Mike had a great-looking start to his elevated railway, and Tim's trolley had its own dedicated loop for the first time.  Ed's Princess Train was a big hit, as always.  There were a few derailments, mostly due to little fingers getting past the plastic stanchions.  No serious damage done, fortunately.  We did not do a seek and find, but it would have been popular.  Vincent had impressive lighting in his buildings - hopefully he will post info about that.  Another big round of thanks to Ed and Tony, as this was their 4th train show in 4 consecutive weekends.

Jeff's space layout and TJ's crane got their usual amount of admiration.  TJ rigged the crane to hold a TexLUG-Houston banner.

Closing time was 5:00 Sunday.  We started packing up a few minutes before that, and cleared the building about 6:45.  Many thanks to Mike C. and Tim 2 for staying until the end and helping!

My favorite quote of the weekend .. the youngster on Sunday afternoon, looking at the MOC's, and asking his dad, "How much allowance do I have?"

Sunday morning I talked a little bit with David Brunet, one of the main organizers of the Maker Faire.  He is really appreciative of our time and effort, and told us next year we can have as much space as we want.

Overall it seemed to be a good show.  No major disasters, plenty of AFOLs helping out, lots of other things to see.

Photos:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/albums/72157665084759269
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjavery/albums/72157675411254940
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tdhowell/albums/72157665105654629
 


November 5-6, 2016

Tony reports:

AJ and I arrived about 5:30 Friday evening, and once again our hosts came out in force to help us unload.  In less than 10 minutes my truck was completely unloaded, tables and all, in the display room.  Ed wasn't going to make it Friday, so AJ and I leveled and clamped the tables, and set up what we could without getting too cluttered.  We were out just after 8:00.

Saturday morning Ed arrived bright and early, beating me and AJ, and had already started setting up his stuff.  We ended up not using table skirting, but we utilized the two large horizontal banners, and that did quite a bit in the small room.

Just after 10:00, we had a a train running and were very close to finishing.

The layout was a traditional small one for this show - our assigned room limits our size, but that also keeps the details packed in.  Only two loops and a little sidings, but a nice city and farm.  We chose to focus on mostly using fall trees, given the time of year.

Those who were at the Austin NMRA show may remember the Allegheny making all sort of racket while moving.  It seems now that one of the motors has an internally chipped gear.  It will only spin in one direction, and only if given a push. After 6-7 years and all the work we've made it do, I guess it’s time for new motors.

Saturday had two events running in tandem - the model train festival as well as the "Touch A Truck" event outside.  Between the two events and the gorgeous weather, attendance was steady and relatively high.  The actual attendance figures are still outstanding.

Sunday the Touch a Truck was over, so the attendance was significantly less.  Tim Howell showed up to help man the display and help tear down.  Christina, AJ, and Katie showed up midday as well.

Jon, the event coordinator, came by to say at 3:30 we could start packing up, but to leave trains running till the show close at 4.  Again, the host club helped us carry boxes to the cars, and after all was said and done we were on the road by 5:30.

We heard several comments from the public that our layout was their favorite, and more than a few came back to see us a second time after seeing the whole event.

We are invited back next year, same time, same room.

Photos from Ed: https://flic.kr/s/aHskN9P7rN

Photos from Tony: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157676248621415/


PS: One of the kids in attendance has seen us every year we've done the Texas City Show (Facebook says we started in 2013).

He said, quoting: "I've been seeing the LEGO layout as far back as I can remember."

He also could pick out all of the things we repeated from last year and everything new.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now a thing.  :)


October 29-30, 2016

    This was our second biggest display ever – 18.5 tables, second only to the last Brick Fiesta (22 tables). The footprint was 23 x 24 feet, and we were on the main floor.
    We did this with only 5 AFOLs putting up the display, though others brought or sent MOCs. Arguably we bit off almost more than we could chew. The final result was excellent, but tiring, after a very long drive for Ed and Tony.
    We had four operating loops and a lot of sidings (track 6 deep on one side of the layout). There were two motion features with Arduino control, one (Gareth’s Ferris wheel) with lights. We had two TFOLs – Noah Jarrett and his friend Griffin – visiting and running their Mikado engine. It ran just fine, too!
    MOCs on display for the first time: Tony’s crossing signals. Steve’s track fire. Ed’s wire bridge for the amusement park and floating one-track grade crossing.
    There were no track explosions or major wrecks.
    We had a lot of visitors and many appreciative comments.
    Tony’s photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157674601755231/


October 22, 2016
Austin NMRA Meet
Austin, TX

We had a great opportunity to demonstrate LEGO railroading to the local chapter of the National Model Railroad Association. Six AFOLs came, including Tony and Ed driving in from Houston. We got to talk to a lot of interested and friendly folks from the traditional model RR community. We had seven tables, two loops, a yard with custom switches, and one light/motion feature (Gareth's custom lighted Ferris wheel), as well as some lighted buildings. We had radio controlled engines with inertia, and Gareth's Mallard had a RC controlled sound card, all of which went over very well. It took us 2.5 hours to set up, and only about an hour to break down.

New at this show was Gareth's MOC signal box. Almost new was Tony's big blue Railroad Office.

Photos from Tony:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157675978879885/ - with his favorite being https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/30665247476/


September 17, 2016

TBRR set up an 8-table narrow layout for this one-day event. We went with a more urban theme this time, with a town occupying most of the layout. We used ME R72s for the first time, paired with R88s for 6-baseplate wide U-turns. The R72s fared well, with no significant problems during the show. They do suffer from the same warping issue as most of the other ME rails, but they had better clutch power and held together better than our R88s and R104. Battery drain was probably only slightly more than the R88s, but it's hard to tell. The garage at the museum has a tilted/cracked floor, so our layout had a downhill end and an uphill end. This and the temperature were probably the dominant factors affecting battery life on Saturday. Tony's Eneloop batteries got very hot.

Jeff Schroeder also displayed his NCS monorail layout, representing TexLUG-Houston. Jeff was able to use the PF Lipo+IR receiver to power his monorail train - this seemed to work very well.

In total there were 7 of us participating (including Christina who brought much needed sustenance, hydration, and ICE). It was very hot, and very muggy. That was pretty much the dominant experience for the weekend. Public attendance was officially over 1900.

Tony's photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157674404311231/


August 6, 2016
Carver Branch Library, Austin, TX

It was a fun meeting. We built Gareth's new, inexpensive design for compatible ballasted track. We had 9 AFOLs, a KFOL, and two supportive others. MOCs and WIPs were displayed.
 

 


July 7-10, 2016
Houston, Texas
Ed Chang reports -
 
Thanks to members of PortLUG who joined us - Rick, Steven, Grant, and JJ.
 
Our layout was 22 tables, 3 loops of 3 ME curves + 1 grand curve, reusing the "Big Cut" module from Brickworld, and a point-to-point monorail and static trolley line. This is about 40% more display area than our layout last year.
 
We had a greatly expanded town plus Brian's station/hotel "vacation destination." It seems we are slowly making in a dent in our ratio of set to MOC buildings.
 
It was our first time to integrate Tim's roundhouse into the working layout, and it won the Best Train award. We also displayed David's train shed on the layout for the first time...since GTE 2013 I think? JJ brought two of his UP diesels and Rick brought some Technic-based trains to make this a cross-LUG collaborative.
 
In terms of setup, or even pre-setup, the biggest thanks goes to Tim Howell for running to Austin/Bastrop for the tables at the last minute despite being essentially Brick Fiesta Co-chair #4. Also thanks to Gareth for lending his trailer and tables and helping with the move, and to Tony for taking the tables back to Austin. Also thanks to Joe for building the ramp for the hill climb. Unfortunately we were not able to bring the ramp part home, though we saved the vertical support - so perhaps another ramp can be built if we want to do the events again...more on that later.

Setup was leisurely compared to most weekend events. The only real problem we had was that perhaps the tables (or baseplates) were not set up exactly square, so there were a few places where the tracks/baseplates were slightly separated. No problems with running trains - just the table/tarp/tape showed through in a couple places. A thing for us (well, maybe mostly me?) to improve is to find a way for other people to help with setup.

We did run out of trees. We need more trees. Or random buildings or other features that don't need to be on roads. Doesn't have to be trees. 

 

 
The public days were . . .  well I only spent maybe 3 hours at the layout in total, so I don't really know. No major disasters. My trains did the usual-  Princess Train ran a lot, 765 ran a while until the valve gear started acting up. Tony's Daylight got lots of fan love from the public, the Dreyfuss looked great running at high speed, and the Allegheny made lots of use of our 3rd track. Brian's monorail was mostly problem-free, except that one time it tried to sabotage the princesses. =)
 
Also, Joe was set up on the end of the hall, so we couldn't really see how he was doing. Seemed like he had a good crowd, when I went by on Sunday. His setup has grown, and picked up a couple of nominations.
 
The train talk was on Saturday morning. I think it went reasonably well, but in retrospect, it should've been done on Friday. I gave a talk on general concepts of MOC trains, and a couple specific engineering points. There were several people there who were interested and had questions, so I'll take that as a good thing. I ended up spending a lot of time Friday and Saturday entertaining guests as well.
 
Sunday was the train events. The hill climb in the morning was attended by...  Tony, AJ, and me. But we had some fun. The maximum ramp level was about 15 degrees (4 ft tall, about ?16 ft long). The 9V trains gave out around maybe 10-12 degrees. My dual-PF diesel was able to get up the maximum slope, but in the pushing configuration only (can anyone explain the physics of that?? and maybe implications for train design outside the hill climb?) We didn't have enough straight 9V track so we put a little back and forth curve section in the middle for extra challenge. We also invented a second game of "controlled downhill descent" on the steep slope - with the challenges of not derailing on the curves and stopping without crashing at the bottom.
 
One interesting thing from this was the demonstration that when you press the stop button on the PF motor, the motor controller "shorts" the motor circuit, causing a the motor to exert a braking force for about 1 second, before going to "float." So you can control your descent just by repeatedly pressing the stop button. Practical application? I don't know. But that's why pressing stop on a heavy train at speed can cause derailments.
 
Train racing with the figure-8 track was...ok. Several kids including public spectators came by and participated. I think they had fun, but it really just turned into just randomly crashing trains. I'm not sure I'd support doing this again. First, there's very high risk to the train motors, because frequently kids will try to reset trains by holding them against the track with the motors stalled. And you know, crashes. Second, the 9V cross tracks aren't reliable to begin with. There are no check rails so the wheels frequently hit the middle sections of track. Third, I think the younger kids don't really understand what they're supposed to do. Simple oval track would be better. 
 
Teardown took about 3 hours, again with help from PortLUG, TexLUG, and some junior TexLUG-SA members. Here also I'd like to figure out ways to be able to involve more people if they are available to help. Packing took some tetris-ing, but besides the ramp, we were able to get everything to fit. We have transportation issues.
 
Photos from Tony Sava:

Eurobricks thread: http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=138039

 

 

 

 

 


June 15-19, 2016
Schaumburg, IL

We cooperated again with PennLUG, and the combined PennTex layout was a marvel to behold, with three Grand Curve loops and the fantastic PennLUG yard and roundhouse.

Tony, AJ, and Steve road-tripped, pulling a U-Haul trailer. Ed Chang and Will Heron arrived by saner means.

Tony won Best Train for his New York Central Dreyfuss. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOl3SESVdbw

The forested Big Cut (new for this event) with the plate-built Sava Railways building rising behind it: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/27308828893/in/set-72157670181388476/

Tony's whole photo collection for the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/collections/72157669670781542/

 

Tony's Eurobricks thread for the Penn-Tex layout:

http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=137845


May 7-8, 2016
Austin Maker Faire
Austin, TX

"Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.  Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned."

Lasso reports:

Austin Maker Faire was May 7th and 8th in Austin, at the Palmer Events Center from 10am to 6pm.  This year we had an impressive display and a good crowd.  Maker Faire estimated 15k-22k people, though I suspect we were on the low end of those numbers, so I will say 18k.  We ran a 20' x 50' booth with a number of activities and displays:
 
   - TBRR City Display
   - TBRR Mosaic signs
   - TBRR Lego Free Play Area
   - TBRR Pull-back Race Car Track
   - TBRR Interactive Minecraft Display
   - Creative Brick Builders Technic Area
   - Creative Brick Builders Duplo Area
   - TexLUG monochrome Free Play (with only green 2x4 bricks)
 
 
Load-in on Friday:
 
Setup was 4pm - 8pm.  As they say, many hands make light work, so 7 people showing up for load-in was a real help, and we were mostly setup in 3 hours, but I think we left at 7:45pm or so after setting up some free play brick, and planting Steve trees around the layout, and doing other touch-up items.  Gareth's 3x3 river and train bridge MOC took a nose dive off of a table, so we made a last minute swapout, but beyond the one tragedy, everyone and everything that we expected to arrived and was setup.  Our city looked really good, but it would not have been possible without Steve donating his track and landscapes and without Gareth donating tables and his trailer to transport items.
 
 
Saturday:
 
Ben Rollman showed up with the last two missing MOCs before opening, and we setup the Minecraft Lego layout as well.  We lost two "Steve" Minecraft minifigures before the official opening of Maker Faire (We had 6-8 kids gather as soon as the Minecraft landscape was unveiled), so this did not bode well for the weekend.
 
We had lots of hands during the day, and things went vey well.  Our layout was well received, Ed managed to keep swapping train and Ferris wheel batteries as needed, and things went as expected.  There were some large crowds, and we were in a very good central location.  Many parents were struggling to remove their kids from our display.  At the end of the day on Saturday we had to break down the children's MOCs made from the monochrome brick, and the free play brick.  It is interesting how you get very tall creations from the box of 2x4 bricks.  I left a little before closing on Saturday, but the display was in good hands.  
 
 
Sunday:
 
Ed and others were there early, I arrived around lunch time on Sunday.  The Minecraft landscape was still mostly intact, so things were going well.  A TFOL named Noah arrived with a MOC train, but he could not get it to function well, so he left after a little bit.  I wish I could have convinced him to stay and leave it as a display piece.  The crowds were at least as big on Sunday afternoon as on Saturday afternoon, surprisingly, and did not really start to die down until after 5pm.
 
 
Tear-down on Sunday:
 
Maker Faire ended at 6pm, and I was in my car checking my watch at 7:15pm... Record time.  We had 9 people helping with teardown, and things went very fast.  So fast that most of my personal time was spent putting away the Minecraft activity box, putting away the monochrome brick, putting away the race track, and putting away the free play brick.  We broke down the Minecraft display completely into its component parts.  Ethan's son was most helpful in procuring us some dolly carts to whisk away our boxes.  So far as we could tell, everything got where it needed to go.
 
 
Mosaic signage:
 
I made some 48 x 96 stud mosaic Lego signs that mounted to speaker stands.  I think the effect was really nice, and I look forward to using them again in the future.
 
 
Pull-back Race Car Track:
 
Lego sent us 80-100 pull-back race car bodies, so I collected enough tires to create 30 functional race car blanks.  We created a racetrack near the free play brick, and allowed kids to try their hand at building race cars.  People liked it, and it was not very much effort to set up.  So I think this is a winner that we will do again.
 
 
Monochrome Brick Free Play:
 
Everyone loved making huge towers, I was surprised that we often ran low on brick so older MOCs had to be "recycled" about 1-2 times per day.  We even had one builder who made a tower, and then filled the tower with loose brick just to use all the brick he could find.  
 
 
Lego Minecraft Activity Box:
 
Minecraft Number of visitors:  18k to the event, at least 1,000 directly watched or played with the Minecraft activity.
Minecraft Number of RLUG members participating:  12  (We had more helping to build it who did not show at the display.)
Minecraft General comments/perception from the audience/visitors:
 
Far and away, I think people loved this the best, but we had to put a lot of work into making this happen.  At the TexLUG meeting before Maker Faire, we built a 96 x 144 stud Minecraft landscape using a Duplo foundation, the minecraft brick, and the copious quantity of green brick.  I even created a number of Minecraft trees.  The landscape did its job, and provided an imagination foundation for the kids to play with.
 
Josh and myself played "Micro Managers" about every 3-4 hours to the Minecraft display.  We removed cruft and distributed the minifigures and ore across the landscape.  Most kids were being constructive, but it was interesting in that the first things people did was collect all of the ore, and start building a house. They would also grab "Steve" or "Alex" and keep them nearby.  They did not play with the minifigures, they just kept them near as some sort of talisman as they did the job of "Steve" in playing and building.  While the event was successful, we lost a number of minifigures over the course of the weekend.  Lego provided us with 1 Steve, 1 Alex, 3 skeletons, 4 creepers, and 3 zombies.  I personally added another 20 creepers, 1 Alex, and 5 more Steves.  Over the course of the weekend we lost 8 creepers, 5 Steves, 1 Skeleton, 1 Zombie, and 1 Alex. While allowing kids to play with the display was great fun, and we think it is most in line with what Lego would like to see happen with their activity box . . . they need to provide a lot more minifigures to make a public display workable, as the Minecraft figures have a high tendency to walk away.
 
Lego should really take the loss of minifigures into account and send something on the order of 40 Steve minifigs, which would allow us to safely run 4-5 large events in the year with the box of brick.  Sending 1 Steve for a box of brick that large could make for a display, but not with interactive activities.
 
 
Photos:

Volunteer hour listings:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KEIE9ww7mpFxgIrEYojmQiDNfvm65qnPtZJzmcAk-FA/edit?usp=sharing

 
Layout design and Maker Faire Information:

 

 

 

 


April 9-10, 2016

This Spring we were back on the stage at New Braunfels, with Santrak and Kids Run the Train.

Tony and Ed report:

This was one of the largest independent TBRR layouts yet, consisting of 20.5 club tables, two outer ME Models rail loops, and two inner standard curve loops.  Also featured were Gareth's custom big switches and triple switch.

Setup on Friday initially went quickly, with great help from Will, Gleen, and Ed Fr., but Tony's delayed arrival prevented progress until about an hour before the close of setup.  The show allowed us to set up an additional 45 minutes beyond the scheduled shutdown time, which by that time all the track had been laid out.

Saturday morning found us working early to finish our remaining features, including a return of the Cathedral, a large LEGO City, Gareth's animated and lighted Ferris wheel, two Will Heron MOC buildings that haven't been previously displayed (at least not with us), and Ed Frazee's cargo trains, which got lots of running time. Hopefully we were able to give him some ideas for mods. This was also a first outing for Tony's new lightweight tank cars and boxcar, which were successful enough to extend the life of Ed's Berkshire's batteries much longer than expected.

The show went well, though we had more accidents than usual.  Ed's Berkshire and Princess Train, Tony's Daylight and T1, and Gareth's commuter train all experienced heavy, but repairable, damage from some spectacular wrecks. The Princess Train's passenger carriage hit the floor prior to show opening on Sunday, but with no lasting damage. The Berkshire managed to bend a valve gear rod...will need some experimental repairs or replacement.

Saturday night those on hand gathered for a great German meal at Freisenhaus.  Afterward, Tony and Ed, on a whim, traveled to Landa Park to ride the mini train there.  We were even treated to evening fireflies.

Sunday brought more public and more wrecks, but was still successful. Throughout the weekend we were complimented on our layout and the obvious care we put into it. 

Just prior to teardown, the Allegheny was pulled out of its box.  Tony had decided to give it another strength test. On a ME models R88 loop, using extra weights and neodymium magnets, the Allegheny pulled a club record 41 railcars.  More could have possibly been pulled had we more magnets.


Video from Tony: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/25759188424/

Photos from Tony: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/albums/72157667525627803

Photos from Ed Chang: https://flic.kr/s/aHsky4pzw4


March 5-6, 2016

Gareth Ellis, Steve Jackson, Tim Hutchings, and Joe and Lisa Herbert made the day-long trek to KC, at the invitation of the KC Brick Lab, to display at the World’s Greatest Hobby show. Also represented by sending MOCs were Will Heron, Ed Chang, Brian Lasseter, and Tim Howell.

From the show's website: "The World's Greatest Hobby on Tour showcases the hobby of model railroading. Sponsored by the Hobby Manufacturer's Association - Model Railroad Division and by the World's Greatest Hobby Program, the show is intended to introduce the general public to model railroading in an entertaining, lively and family-friendly atmosphere. The hobby of model railroading has a unique ability to bring the family together in activities that teach many skills. Model railroad skills span from carpentry to artistry, from electrical engineering to historical research. Model railroading is truly the World's Greatest Hobby."

It was a very busy two-day show. Joe and Lisa set up their multilevel display, the other TBRR people set up a large conventional display (5 tracks!), and the KC Brick Lab set up a large display with many big MOC buildings and a monorail. All told, we had up to a dozen trains running at a time, plus various motion features.

This was the first full outing for our new crowd barriers. They looked good and went up (and down) very well.

The KC folks were very hospitable and we all had a great time. We also worked in a couple of visits to the Overland Park Lego Store.

Post-show reports indicated that we had more than 30,000 viewers.

Gareth's blow-by-blow report with "lessons learned" and many photos: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topicsearchin/tbrr/greatest/tbrr/hU-eaNZ15ZA

Joe's timelapse movie of setup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6adsHaUvW38

 


February 27, 2016
League City, TX
TBRR was invited to display at the Robot Jubilee at Clear Falls High School. The event featured variety of robotics and STEM activities for people of all ages, with all levels of robot competitions from elementary to university level.
 
Tim Howell reports:
  • Ed, Tony, AJ, and I set up Friday night, took 3-3.5 hours, finishing around 9:30pm.  We were in a relatively new school gym - floor surface was great, barely had to do any leveling.
  • Layout was the 9-table arrangement Ed posted here recently, with a few minor modifications on the fly.  One short end was near a wall (we left about a 1-foot space for maintenance purposes)
  • Doors opened Saturday morning at 7am, so we were back bright and early.
  • This gym was the location for robotics competition for elementary and middle school kids.  They were very very excited about the Lego train setup.
  • We did not have stanchions and really, really needed them.  Kids ran right up to the tables, hands on the edge, leaning over.  None that I saw wanted tried to take anything, but they definitely wanted to touch
  • Event organizers ran low on venue tables and took the one I tried to save for flyers.  Tony was able to have a small folding table dropped off from home, which helped.
  • We tried to block the 1-foot maintenance space with a chair and small folding table;  it was not completely effective.
  • Food and drink was allowed throughout the space, we had to keep any eye on soda cans and potato ships being dangled over the track.
  • One minor incident with trains on same channel, but no disaster.
  • A few minor derailments, but nothing went over the edge.  Princess Train lost its headlight for awhile, but it was eventually found.
  • Galveston Trolley made an incident-free public debut.
  • New plaza at Bluebonnet Station looks fantastic.
  • Handed out quite a few BF flyers, people sounded really interested when we mentioned it.
  • "How long did it take to build this?" easily the most popular question
  • Fairly steady crowd around us from soon after 7:00 until about 1:30pm.  Then the competition finals started and we were ignored.  Competition in our gym ended around 2:30.
  • We waited till most people had cleared out, started tear down about 3:15, were leaving soon after 5:00pm
  • Ed and I briefly discussed collaborative build for BrickFiesta LUG-theme build.  Maybe set aside a portion of the BF train layout for that?  Needs to be discussed separately.
Suggestions for next time:
  • Stanchions!!!!
  • Consider a dedicated "touching area" - have a designated locomotive and car and short stretch of track that kids can touch and push back and forth (could be a stock train, not a custom - they won't care as long as they get to touch).
  • We discussed the possibility of a long one-sided layout
  • We discussed a layout where track is not at the edge of the tables;  have a 1/2-baseplate (or more) of town or landscape between the table edge and outside track.  I think that has both aesthetic and practical benefits
  • We discussed a trolley line.  Maybe consider just a straight track along the town and figure out how to make it go back and forth on its own.
  • Need to eliminate controller channel issues.  Maybe make a chart for each event?  Or "permanently" assign channels?  i.e. Ed gets Red 1 and 2, Tony gets Blue 1 and 2, Tim gets Red 3 ...  and it's up to each person to avoid duplicating their own?
  • Set up Ghostbusters hunting Vitruvius.
  • Figure out how to make both sides of Bluebonnet visible.
  • Spare table for flyers.
  • Did I mention stanchions?

 


February 20, 2016
Trains On A Train
Austin, TX

November 28-29, 2015
National Model Railroad Open House
Orange, TX

Tony reports:

AJ and I arrived at the church to set up a little after 7 am Saturday morning.  The venue’s size meant unloading took little time, and AJ and I began setting up.  About 7:30, just as the last clamps were put in place on the tables, Ed arrived.  We quickly got him unloaded and got the skirting on the tables.  The track and buildings set up just as quick, and at 10:30, 3 hours after we really began setting up (and 30 minutes after the show opened) we were completely done, minifigs and all.  I’m not sure that’s a record, but it was close.  Texas City, which was almost the exact same layout, took over twice as long. We worked out the bugs, I guess.

Changes from the Texas City layout were mainly focused on the inclusion of a Winter area, using LEGO’s winter sets.  Ed did a great job setting that up, and it was extremely well liked by all.  Other minor changes included relocating the Rock Cut, change in the forested area, redesign of the yard, and the inclusion of the updated Mini Train Layout. 

Unlike previous years, the layouts were limited to the one room, and only three were present – ours and two HO layouts.  We were given more space than we really needed, which made public viewing very easy.

The show attendance was light, heavy for the Orange Show from several years ago, but lighter than last year.  The organizers used to have a month long event, which spread out the overall attendance, but last year condensed it into the one weekend.  Several members of the public said they came specifically to see the LEGO display, which was a great feeling.

Pre-show press:

http://www.orangeleader.com/2015/11/26/the-model-trains-stop-in-orange/

Post-show press:

http://www.orangeleader.com/2015/12/02/model-trains-exhibits-plan-expansion/

The layout was well received by all, and was one of our better efforts for a layout so small.  It was certainly the best layout we’ve presented at Orange.  It was, however, cursed.  We experienced more issues, crashes, and accidents at this one show than probably our last three combined. 

Out of the gate AJ dropped a box of my trains while unloading, which partially shattered my Texas State Railroad coaches and two diesels.  I left him to rebuild them, which he did quite well, I’m proud to say.

Ed’s ME model track curves seem to have a manufacturing defect that mine do not share – they rails aren’t flat, they’re slightly curved (upward, not in the direction intended).  This causes them to buckle and separate from the ballast and ties.  This caused two separate crashes with my T1, one catastrophic (those poor Ninja Turtles), and prevented the T1 from running the rest of the weekend.  Ed’s Berkshire also suffered at least one derailment from the same issue.

Our placement of an Inside facing switch right after the curve also caused issues, as the angle of the curve and the missing track of the switch caused Ed’s Berkshire to “coast” off the rails, continuing the arc it was traveling in the curve.  Future note – do not place a switch right after a curve.

We had a few trees fall onto the tracks thanks to the public, one of which took out all the poor children ready to ride the mini-trains.

A new, never before accident occurred that we should make note of as well – a young child obliterated a section of ME model track by grabbing it and lifting.  Obviously standard LEGO track can’t separate from its ties, so grabbing the rails and lifting, especially when the track is ballasted and connected to the rest of the layout, does nothing.  But the ME Model rails are, of course, built.  So as the child lifted the rail, some of the ties came with it, as if a small bomb had gone off.  We stopped the train in time, and repairs didn’t take TOO long, but it’s a danger we (or at least I) had not really thought of before.  Future note.

Saturday night Ed, AJ and I attempted to go to the KCS Holiday Express that was making a one-day stop in Beaumont.  It’s a free touring event, with holiday themed model train layouts and a Santa for the kids, all inside a specialty train which includes a custom flatcar with a tank car on top, modified to look a little like a steam engine out of Thomas the Tank Engine (including a face).  Unfortunately, it seemed the populations of both Beaumont and Port Arthur had the same idea, and created a huge line.  We opted not to stay, deciding to enjoy the event from pictures online.

http://www.kcsouthern.com/en-us/corporate-responsibility/holiday-express

Sunday came quickly, and with the late show time of Noon, the day went by quickly as well.  Just before 4 pm we began the process of tear down, and were done near about 5:15.  Thanks to the members of our host Club who stuck around to help, we were loaded out and ready to leave by 5:30. 

As always, the Southeast Texas Model Railroad Club folks were very pleased we could attend the event, and on more than one occasion over the weekend said as much.  They said we were the primary draw for a lot of folks, and we directly helped drive traffic their way.  This is a free event with no entrance fee, however we were generously given an honorarium of $120, which will be added to the general fund.

This is a hard show given the distance, time, and venue.  But it does give us a lot of good will with a lot of Model Railroaders that fully appreciate what we do and vehemently want to see LEGO given more respect within the NMRA.  And since it isn’t a huge show with thousands of people, it’s actually quite relaxing and gives us the ability to play with trains relatively stress-free.

 

 

 

 

 


November 7-8, 2015

Another excellent train event that invited us back. The Texas City Museum is the home of the Galveston County Model Railroad club, and always puts on a good show. Tony Sava and Ed Chang set up a very nice little seven-table layout with two loops. We learned that the museum has been fielding phone calls and emails asking "if the LEGO trains would be back this year."

Tony's video, with music from Silent Partner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xvxUE28Cfc

Comment from an organizer:

Tony - Thanks for participating in the 2015 Texas City Museum train festival.  Your LEGO layout was a star attraction, and you introduced a lot of people to LEGOs.  The total tickets sold for Saturday and Sunday was 1,525.  Attendance was higher than last year because Texas City combined its popular "Touch the Truck" event with the train show.  So we hope the city will combine the two next year, and if we have good weather, attendance could be even higher.  So please plan on join us next year.  The 2016 show will most likely be on the first weekend in November again, but I'll let you know once the dates are confirmed.  Thanks again for participating.  We hope to see you next year.
 
Jon Butcher
Galveston County Model Railroad Club

 

 

 

 

 

 


October 31-November 1, 2015

This was a very interesting show, yet we overcame. It started well. Not only were we offered a 16 x 24 space, right next to the dock, but a cancellation made it possible to give Joe's multilevel layout its own space.

Then the water came. The roads were so choked Friday that, after a lot of back & forth online, we decided to delay setup till Saturday. 

Nobody died. The show had good attendance in the morning, lighter in the afternoon, probably because parents were involved iwth Halloween plans.

I talked to some of the people from other clubs who did go up Friday, and yes indeed, they were in stop-and-start traffic for four hours or more. "Trapped between two rivers," one of them put it.

Joe had severe enough mud that he could not get out of his driveway for a while. I hope he still has a lawn. We discarded the lovely big plan and built a layout using the available tables: it's on 11 TBRR tables, with one in the middle for work. Four operating loops and - new to us - four moving carnival rides. It looked great..

Lasso contributed his time helping others set up, rather than building monorail, so we don't have that this time, but the audience doesn't know that it was in the plan :) There was one comment about "not as coherent as last time" but lots and lots and lots of ooh and awww and "Princess Train!" and "Look, all the rides move!" Yes, I can see the patchiness, but I'm very proud to be part of this setup, even if we overlook the circumstances. Considering the circumstances it is magnificent. All y'all done very good, and big thanks to those who could not make it but sent Stuff.

One of the things Lasso did was set up Sbrick on both my trains. He made it work! Thank you Lasso! Tomorrow I have to ask him to see if he can get the app to run on my phone :)

The fundraising table was a casualty of the schedule Saturday but ran Sunday and brought in a little money.

The new wood tables are marvelous - thanks, Gareth and Monica, for all the labor making those happen.

The Seek and Find was obsoleted by the layout change; a correted one was available Sunday.

The museum was very happy with us for soldiering on and getting there at all!

We had Steve, Will, Ed, Joe Herbert, Lasso, Gareth Ellis, Timothy Howell with exhibits in absentia, and Will Horner ditto. The Savas unfortunately could not make this one. Joe DID make it, and his multilevel setup was finished and delighted the kids on Sunday.

No stanchions, but very few little hands problems, and I know of no disasters. Batteries are stilll a limiting factor; we have lots, but we have lots of things that use them.

TexLUG-SA set up in their usual place and their display was the best I've ever seen - good for them, too. Lots of moving trains. Stefan has some new buildings. So does Marisa. You have to see ;)

- Steve Jackson

 


October 3-4, 2015

We had a much larger space, in a room of its own, for this year. And the museum promoted the LEGO trains explicitly, the first year they have done this.

It went AMAZINGLY. Once again, best layout ever. We had at least 8 AFOLs present and building, two more supporting remotely, and IIRC a couple more showed up to help with breakdown. We actually had three layouts in one room. Joe Herbert's was 10 x 17 baseplates, three levels, with brick-built monorail as the fouth level. The group layout was divided into 9.5x14 urban (mostly SJ and Tim Howell, with help from Will Heron and Tony) and 12x18 rural (mostly Tony and Ed, with a building under construction by Nathaen).

New constructions included Tony's old-timey water tower; Nathaen's building under construction; Tim's haunted dance party, complete with sound; and Steve's tile-topped roads, bus stops, and POSH frontage.

We ran four trains at once on the joint layout, three more plus monorail on Joe Herbert's individual layout, and constant motion from Tim's windmill and merry-go-round. The sides of the group layout were connectable if the switches were set right, and Joe's camera car ran all the way around. Pix expected soon.

We had Seek And Find for each part of the group layout, and we gave away a lot of TBRR and Brick Fiesta flyers. And Christina Sava brought pumpkin bread!

Saturday evening we hit the Baytown store and spent money, ate dinner at Zoes Kitchen, and sorted bricks on a nice big table in Tony's parents' living room. Thanks for that great hospitality!

The museum was very happy. The show was their biggest yet. It was the top story in the Sunday Galveston paper, and the Lego layouts were prominently mentioned. They mentioned Joe by name, and they got the club name right.

We have already been invited back; it's the first weekend in October 2016.

Tony's photos of the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/albums/72157657335152794

Local publicity: http://galvestonislandguide.com/galveston-railroad-museum-model-train-exhibit-and-santa/

Eurobricks comment thread: http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=115756

 

 


July 23-26, 2015
Austin, TX

Brick Fiesta layout image created by Tony Sava

We had a 24 x 16 space and filled it magnificently, with five separate loops and up to six trains at once (sadly, no monorail). We had six AFOLs contributing to the layout and six others visiting and supporting!

Edward Chang's Princess Train won "Best Train," and Ed also won the Poly-MOCer award for excellence in multiple categories - as Tony put it, the Master Builder award.

Comments from Tony Sava:

It was, I believe, the largest TBRR layout we've ever done solo. We're pretty sure it was even larger than the joint layout with TexLUG at our first show.  If I count correctly, this year's BF layout was 12 x 36 baseplates (10'x30'), contained 5 interconnected loops, and we had a record 6 trains running at one time (albeit briefly due to technical difficulties).  We used all 10 TBRR tables plus five of Steve's 8' plastic tables.

The only TBRR layouts that have surpassed it in size would be the 6-club collaborative layout at NMRA in Atlanta (which was in a league of its own) and the two PennLUG-TBRR Brickworld layouts (where we were only responsible for one little corner). 

Three train guys from PortLUG in Portland, OR - Steven, Grant, and Chris - decided to attend Brick Fiesta, in part, because they wanted to see TBRR in action.  I'd like to think we didn't disappoint.  They also helped us set up, and took over running the layout at a time when we all needed a break,so a big thanks to them as well. 

Two of our loops contained no standard curves - we had three ME Models curves and a Grand Curve, and they performed awesomely.  We had a few accidents, but they seemed to be caused by a problem in one of Steve's standard curve modules - a couple of loose plates had found their way under the track, causing the curve to be humped in the middle.  Ed's Princess Train took a nose dive off the table - twice - before we discovered and fixed the issue. (Steve comment: *facepalm*)

We were in the middle of the large ballroom, very prominently featured.  A thank-you to the BF organizers for that.

We used all of our switches - we need more.

We used all of our tables - we need more.

We used all of our trees - and we need more.  Yup, we, TBRR, the tree-folk of the AFOL universe, the keepers of the forest, actually RAN OUT OF TREES.  I made more during the event that mostly filled in the gaps.  I also spread the flower patch out into "fingers" which helped out too.

My new MOC additions looked pretty good.  The warehouse facades performed a secondary purpose - we placed a work table behind them and it was very handy to hide the mess I made while I made more trees.  I want to thank Ed and Steve for putting up with my mess as I did so.

Steve's Posh Emporium was quite awesome, though it really needed a different placement so it could be seen from both sides - though I'm not sure how that would work.

All of the buildings looked great together.  I loved Tim's schoolhouse.

I had track left over from my area and did not actually need to borrow any of Steve's.  Steve had leftover track as well. Adding in the Cathedral, the Ravine, and other MOCs we didn't bring, we could have probably filled an additional 3-4 tables worth of stuff.  Maybe more.

 

Photos and Videos:

Tim Howell: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tdhowell/sets/72157656370291416

Tony Sava: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157656498420281

Eurobricks comment thread: http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=112614&hl=tbrr

 

 

 

 

 

 


June 17-21, 2015
Schaumburg, IL

Once again TBRR joined forces with PennLUG to create a mighty town/train layout at Brickworld. Attending from TBRR were Tony Sava, Edward Chang, Will Heron, and Steve Jackson.

Ed's Princess Train won Best Train against some really tough (that is, beautiful and well-built) competition.

Tony's train MOC donation to the charity auction went for $550!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


May 16-17, 2015
Austin Mini Maker Faire 2015
Austin, TX

Our third year at this show. This year it was back at the Palmer Event Center. Between TBRR, the Austin AFOLS, and the Austin brick businesses, we had a large area this year, with trains, pirates, town, and other awesome Lego THINGS. And we got a lot of traffic. A LOT of traffic. A wholly successful show.

Lasso organized the display and brought monorail, including a new pirate monorail station arrrrr.

New discovery: Chairs, with a banner-rope of Texas flags, make GREAT crowd control barriers. And the only thing we had to carry was the flags.

 

 

 

 

 


April 11-12, 2015

This event is sponsored by the New Braunfels RR Museum, and they appreciate us and always make a point of advertising the Lego trains. Overall, it went very well. This was our first year in a space separate from TexLUG-SA, and it was far enough away that we had to make a minor pilgrimage to visit them, and vice versa. We were on the main room stage, but we were at the back, behind two N-scale layouts . . . so if you didn't know we were there, and didn't read the banners, you might not see us. During breakdown, we met a couple of people who said "Oh, I didn't know you were back here!" On the other hand, we had a large space (and a bit more is promised for next show) and the two clubs in front of us had VERY nice stuff, so a lot of people came up just to see them, and then visited us. More than once our tables were completely surrounded by spectators.

We set up two completely separate islands - one of six TBRR tables, with Tony's stuff plus some buildings from Will, and one that used four of my (SJ's) 8-foot plastic tables, with my track and buildings from me, Will, Glenn, and Doc. The rationale for the two islands was that the plastic tables are way shorter than TexLUG tables and transitioning would have been painful. It worked quite well, and gave us extra perimeter, which we needed.

Max trains running at once: five, each on its own loop. Sadly, no monorail.

My tables are plastic 8-footers. I covered them with cardboard before we put down baseplates, to help even them out. As of Friday evening I thought it was a pathetic un-solid failure. At the end of the show, though, the squishiness had caused no serious problems. BUT - I would rather use TBRR tables, or even some of the very flat and solid venue skinny-tables at the convention center if those are available. The plastic tables would make fine dealer tables, kid building tables, or whatever, but they don't quite have the flatness that the TBRR tables do. The cardboard just didn't help much.

We had no stanchions but that was mostly okay. The biggest wreck was entirely caused by perverse trains, and the second biggest was a lady who was not paying attention to her huge purse when she turned around. And that wasn't entirely her fault because the aisle was narrow. Okay, it was mostly her fault  :) There were AFAIK no serious "tiny hands" incidents.

The big addition this show was Tony's pair of ME corners, one of which is a big, dramatic road cut. He covered the top corner with fall-colored trees and we put my crew of minifig railfans on the edge, risking life and limb to get the photo, just like real railfans. The top of the corner is high enough that the mini-fans were looking DOWN on the top of the Allegheny.

Other new things were my row of six brownstones - the three old ones plus the three bought from Lee, all spiffed up so they go together and use my best ideas PLUS Lee's. (I am going to miss Lee, if I have not made that clear.) We got lots of comments on that row. And I finally got my Alien Monster Jungle Gym onto the table. We put it behind Will's haunted house, of course! And one brownstone (brosnstone!) and the jungle gym had googly eyes. Thank you, Mixels. And Will's Classic Space train with the spaceman hanging on behind! WHEEEEEE!

We did separate "Seek and Find" slips for the two tables. They were very, very popular. Lots of people spent time, some more than an hour, hunting for things, and all the time they were hunting, they were finding new details on the layout, and making happy comments. Hardest to find item: the owl which is a part of the Market Square ironwork. It was a big win. But next time we do two separate S&Fs, the slips should be on different colors of paper.

Who participated: Tony. Me. Phil H, table-hauler par excellence. Will Heron, son Billy Heron, and two-N Glenn Copeland. Doc Geracci brought two buildings for the layout, and he gets specific props for proving to me that very small buildings have a legitimate place in a town display. They make a really nice transition between the big buildings and the weedy wilds of Baseplate County. Thanks also go to Mary from SA for coming up and making us eat :) Mary, you are a good person and a credit to the force.

The big need was just more people, especially for breakdown. Still, it may have been the club's best SOLO show yet.

Tony's photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157651492057917 . . . and his video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfwFsvCX69Q . . . and the Eurobricks comment thread is here.

Did we have a crowd there, or what?

 

 

 

 


March 7, 2015
New Braunfels, TX

"Kids Run The Train" is a regular event, every first and third Saturday, at the New Braunfels RR Museum. This was the first time TBRR has helped, but hopefully not the last! Steve Jackson took a three-loop layout. The kids liked it! And sadly, there are no pictures, because Steve is an idiot . . .


February 21, 2015
Trains On A Train 2015
Austin, TX
The first "Trains on a Train" event went so well that Lasso organized a repeat. This time it was even bigger. Thirteen fans of LEGO, of assorted ages, rode the Austin metro line and built trains. Four different sets were assembled, plus some Mixels, because, as we all know, those are really trains.
 
What?
 
No, really. Mixels are totally trains.
 
Photos:
 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10152729437102986&type=1


January 24, 2015
CreekCon
Clear Creek High School, Clear Lake, TX

CreekCon was a one-day officially-sanctioned event at Clear Creek High School in League City. It is a ComicCon-style event open to the public ($10 admission) with cosplay, games, workshops, guest speakers, and so on. It's intended to become an annual event. The CCHS librarian and event director saw the last TexLUG display at the Children's Museum and invited us to display.
 
Edward Chang was Trainmaster. His summary:
- Make a note here. Huge success.
- 1380+ ticket sales.
- Would be a nice annual event.
- ME Model curves are awesome.
 
This was a joint display with TexLUG. The attendees were mostly students and families, many in costume and sometimes in charactor too. Despite this not being a train-themed event, the trains were still popular - our display has movement. The Princess Train has been renamed "Elsa Choo-Choo" (in toddler voice) with the addition of a new Frozen refrigerated boxcar. Some of our hidden references were definitely more recognized at this show (Dr. Who and Friend, Shakespeare in the park). New TBRR member Susan Earls and her family attended, and she was able to run her Emerald Night and coaches.
 
We did not use a grand curve, but ME Models delivered Tony's Kickstarter order of wide-radius curves in time for him to build a 4x4 corner with a ballasted 104/88 curve. See Tony's article on Railbricks. The curve performed wonderfully.  There was a big improvement with the larger trains - less overhang, more constant speed through the corner. The curve was easier to set up and handle, and integrated better into the city "grid."  Track alignment was not any worse than with stock track, and the transition between stock and ME track was no problem for any of the trains. Overall, the new rails seem to have great potential to become a staple in the LEGO train world (at least for the PF side of things).
 
We didn't request any support this year because we had no idea what to expect, but this event would clearly qualify for CEE support. It would be nice to have more theme-appropriate displays . . . our only Star Wars reference was Yoda standing in line for a mini-train ride. We were given much more room than we could use (we had 2 venue tables - folding cafeteria tables, possibly 15' long, that we did not need).
 
Pictures from this show: Tony Sava's Flickr album and his video. Eurobricks comment thread with some of Tony's images here.

 


November 29, 2014
Houston Fall Model Railroad Tour
Orange, TX

This is a one-day show that usually draws fewer than 50 people, and it's a long drive for even our closest members, but we are talking about 50 serious train enthusiasts who like what we do and consider it "real" train modeling, so we are happy to support them as much as we can.

This year we were represented by Tony Sava, ably assisted by AJ. They set a club record - unloading took a half hour, then setup was complete 3 hours after they finished unloading, including minifigs, farm, and trees - only 30 minutes after the show opened.


November 15-16, 2014
New Braunfels, TX

November 8-9, 2014

October 4-5, 2014

2014 was is our third successive year at this show. Tony Sava coordinated. Eight AFOLs displayed and/or came by to help. Our layout included Lasso's lighted monorail and one of his stations, though Lasso himself was at the AMRE show in San Antonio with more monorail! This makes him the first TBRR member to officially be in two places at once. Between Lasso and Superman, we had a monorail track that everyone enjoyed. This was also the first outing for Ed's miraculous People Gate, which WORKS, and a display/staging yard using Tony's modified switches. We actually performed operations in that yard, with very little evidence of the Giant Hand From The Sky - another first for the club.

This is an excellent show that always draws good layouts in various scales, and the museum has a fine display of rolling stock, AND there's Galveston tourism for after hours. All of which we enjoyed. As long as you accept "visited Fuddrucker's" as tourism.

We've been asked back for 2015, and their current plan is to give us a separate LEGO room with a lot more space. The idea of a lot more space is exciting . . . and to the extent that we can't fill it with amazing train stuff, the museum is delighted to have us invite AFOLs with neat non-train stuff, the better to show off the awesomeness that is LEGO. We'll have more specifics on that when we can announce the 2015 Galveston dates; that won't be for a while yet.

(Pretend there is a picture of Superman here, until image uploads are fixed. You can see it in your head. You know you can.)

While you're at it, pretend Steve has put in the links to the photosets. Real Soon Now. Gotta get back to less-fun work for a couple of hours.


September 6-7, 2014
Houston, TX

This was our first time at the Big Texas Train Show, organized by the Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. It was in downtown Houston, at the huge George Root Brown Convention Center. They gave a large space - though it turned out, not large by their standards, so if we go another year and have more tables, we could ask for more space! As it was, we used all of our new tables . . .

Oh, yes! This was the first outing for TBRR's new 3x6-baseplate tables built by David Hawkins! He finished all ten of the planned first wave. Pat Hough picked them up and brought them in, and they worked perfectly and looked great.

Edward Chang was our Trainmaster for this one. Also exhibiting: Tony Sava (with his new telephone poles), Pat Hough (with another new railway/monorail station), Mellichamp père et fils with Robert's harbor area, and Steve Jackson.

We had large crowds and lots of very enthusiastic kid builders. Matt Sailors' old stanchions worked, and they worked even better when taped down.

Eurobricks comment thread here.


July 5-6, 2014
San Antonio, TX

Brick Fiesta was in San Antonio this year. The organizers had no room for layouts, so there was no TBRR group exhibit. Next year's show will be in Austin, and the Austin organizers intend to have more room and want us to come. More on this as it happens . . .


June 11, 2014
Schaumberg, IL

Brickworld is one of the biggest LEGO conventions. Three of us went: Tony Sava, Steve Jackson, Edward Chang.

TBRR and PennLUG set up a joint layout, since, conveniently, we build our track to the PennLUG standard. We are unashamedly thrilled to share a layout with these master builders! And GFLUG was right next to us! We also invited other train-AFOLs who brought rolling stock to run it on the layout . . . so they got to see their stuff in motion, and we got more good trains. We really ought to make this a tradition.

Award nominations included:

• Best Building: Tony Sava's Cathedral of St. Francis of Asissi

• Best Train: Edward Chang's Berkshire (which won the Peer Choice Award from the trainhead contingent)

• Best Train: Tony Sava's Daylight

• Best Train: Robin W (GFLUG) for his Amtrak

Edward's photo set: https://www.flickr.com/photos/42114068@N06/sets/72157645202391411/

Tony's photo set: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/collections/72157644854180609

Video from Scott Miller of GFLUG: http://youtu.be/n3Glz9_QsyU

Edward's new builds stole the show. The trainheads voted him the Peer Choice award for his engine; the kids followed his Friends train around the track; his raised display track gave the whole layout a third dimension, and now we want to figure out how to do runups and make it live running track.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


May 3, 2014

Maker Fair is a Saturday-only event. We had excellent participation, and enough minders for everyone to walk around and enjoy Maker Faire. Stefan Garcia, Steve Jackson, Ed Frazee, Ethan Balmer, Kurt Baty, and Brian Lasseter displayed MOCs. Josh Thomson, Jennifer Lasseter, Amy Meyer, Richard Meyer, Evelyn Meyer, Jacob Meyer, Deanna Frazee, Erin Frazee, Thomas Sitch, Devon Helms, Glenn Copeland helped with crowd wrangling. Kristena Bins-Turner, Denise Gall, Andrea Norman, and others managed the Bricks-4-Kidz tables.

We were worried about our upstairs position, but we seemed to have good flow all day, and we had good AC. We easily had double the crowd from last year, but it was easier to manage since we had lots more people and four times the area allocated to us.  As you can see from the pictures, fully half of our display area was just open play on tables. http://lasso-jenn.com/photos/2014-05-03%20%20Maker%20Faire/?d=c&img=7 You can also see the pretty bin of Friends brick that Lego sent with the event support.  Thanks Lego! Thanks also to San Antonio, who loaned their tables.
 
The fully stocked bar behind our display area helped to lubricate the day.  I enjoyed my cranberry and vodka.  
 
Cleanup went pretty quickly with the many hands, and I know I was out of there by 7pm, which was a mere one hour after the event closed at 6pm. (SJ adds: It's a bit difficult to get a whole floor of exhibits down the single elevator in reasonable time. We may need an Elevator Conductor next year to make sure it doesn't go down without a full load.)

 

 

 


March 22, 2014
Trains on the Train!
Austin, TX

 


Brian Lasseter is organizing this for all interested AFOLs, not just TBRR:

Come join us for a mobile meeting! The March 22nd Austin TexLUG meeting will be on the Capital Metro Red Line train! The goal is to build trains . . . on the train. So bring a set of your own, or some parts. We will attempt to sit at the tables on the SOUTH facing side of the train. There are 2 tables that seat 4 people each. I will get together one of my Futron Monorail 6990 sets. Can anyone volunteer to bring a Constitution Train Chase 79111?

Pics of the train tables: http://littleaustinite.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/tableseats.jpg from http://littleaustinite.com/2010/06/riding-the-capital-metrorail-for-fun/ They are small, but useable. The regular seats have tray tables, and there is spotty wifi on the train.

The train leaves from Kramer Station at 4:00pm sharp. So be at the station 15 min early to buy a ticket from the kiosk, or park at my house at 3:30p to carpool to the train station. There is some street parking on Brockton Drive near Kramer Station, which should be available early on a Saturday. I live less than a mile from Kramer station. People coming from the south could meet us at the Downtown station. Unfortunately, it would cost money to park in the Austin Convention Center decks near the Downtown station. People would also have the choice of joining us for 1hr 8min, or 2hr 16min. These are the times that a MetroRail train would leave a given station if you were riding one train back and forth:

Schedule:

3:30p - Lasso's house

 4:00p - Kramer Station (going Southbound)

 4:41p - Downtown Station (going Northbound)

 5:08p - Kramer Station (going Northbound)

 5:56p - Lakeline Station (going Southbound)

 6:16p - Kramer Station (going Southbound)

 6:30p - Culver’s (dinner)

 6:57p - Downtown Station - for those who joined us downtown at 4:41p, and do not want to go to Culver’s

Lasso's house: Pending permission to post address.

Kramer Station: 2427 ½ Kramer Lane, Austin, TX 78758

Downtown Station: Outside the Austin Convention Center on 4th St. between Neches & Trinity.


March 15-16, 2014

December 7-8, 2013
Rosenberg, TX

Christmas in Rosenberg is sponsored both by the Rosenberg RR Museum and the city. It closed down the entirety of downtown Rosenberg! Tony Sava and Robert Mellichamp started setup Friday in very cold weather – despite three propane heaters in the room, they could see their breath. By the time the show begain at noon Saturday, Tony, Robert, and Edward Chang had the whole layout set up. The propane heaters struggled with the cold all through the show!

Edward showed off his complete Polar Express coaches.  Robert displayed his now massively expanded container port.  Tony brought new "generic" passenger coaches, and displayed St. Francis' Cathedral with colored lights inside. The dimness of the room made the stained-glass effect dramatic.

The museum had not advertised the TBRR display for Sunday, but we kept it up for a 1:30 birthday party, much to the delight of the little boy and his family.  At about 2:30 we began teardown, and we were completely loaded up by 4. We did not have as much turnout as hoped, both because of the weather and because not everyone could find the outbuilding where we were set up (though the museum did try to direct visitors there). But the people who braved the cold had a good time.

Images: Tony Sava's video, Tony's photoset, and Edward Chang's videos here and here. Eurobricks comment thread here.


November 30, 2013

Tony, Edward, and Robert and Thomas Mellichamp, with help from KFOL A.J. Sava, did a one-day setup in Orange for around 150 visitors, an increase from last year when Tony did the show by himself. This was the first outing for Tony's Grand Curve/baseplate design, which proved easy to set up and take down and was judged a success. It was unloaded AND set up in only about a half-hour!

The Mellichamps set up an ocean freight terminal, Edward ran his Polar Express, and Tony once again gave in to the temptation to let a thousand plastic flowers bloom.

Images: Tony's Flickr set.


November 16-17, 2013
New Braunfels, TX

We did this show in cooperation with TexLUG-SA. SJ was supposed to be the coordinator, but when he was swept away by the Halloween flood, Stefan Garcia of TexLUG-SA stepped in and very ably pulled together a large layout with more than a dozen exhibitors.

Notable new MOCs included Doc's large RR car, Pat Hough with a 3x6 harbor area featuring a large  frigate (which has now been disassembled, so be sure to see the pictures), Lasso's suburban stations, and Kurt's beautiful new engine.

The very generous event-brick support from LEGO was parceled out, with each full-time participant getting a couple of gallons, and some leftover play brick returning to Austin with Lasso for local events.

Images: Stefan's photos.


November 9-10, 2013

This is a family-oriented train festival focused on displaying to people of all ages the world of model railroading and attracting more people to the Texas City Museum.  It was a quiet show in a huge venue.

Tony reports: "When my son and I arrived late Friday, Robert and his son were already there and set up.  They, and several members of the host train club, helped unload my truck in less than 5 minutes.  We then rearranged tables and started unpacking.  Robert had already been there for many hours, so he left shortly thereafter.  We set up till about 9:30 before we called it quits.

"I arrived back Saturday morning and continued setting up.  Ed came by and visited, helping to set up derail bits on my layout.  Robert and son arrived before public hours and added to their display. 

"Robert brought his civil war train diorama, his WWII rail gun diorama, and his holiday train.  He also had set up informational cards and a bucket of patent pending bricks which he generously gave to show attendees.

"My layout was pretty standard for those who regularly see me.  New for this show was Old MocFiller's farm which Christina set up.  It looked really quire awesome.  Also new was the fishin' hole, aka Old MocFiller's pond.

"The show was a quiet one; apparently there was some issue with public advertisement.  But the people who did attend seemed to enjoy themselves and our layout.  Several members of other clubs asked what company made the steam and engines I had on display.  The folks from Orange were there as well, which gave us an opportunity to plan in person a bit for that show

"The museum venue is huge, and sports a truly massive permanent model train layout upstairs. "


October 5-6, 2013

We had a great time at the Galveston show. Six AFOLs exhibited - Tony and Christina Sava, Pat Hough, Edward Chang, Steve Jackson, and Robert Mellichamp. Phil, Steff, and Kira were at the show, too. The layout covered ten 6' by 30" tables, and featured a double-mainline loop with a Grand Curve, a small 9V loop, and monorail track all the way around the perimeter - set up as two bounce lines so there were two monorails moving at once.

New at this show: Pat's large tan/trans-clear station which unites train and monorail lines; printed "Texas Brick Railroad" signs to go on the monorail; Tony and Christina's plaza for the Cathedral, with Edward's flowered wall; Edward's design for diagonal monorail supports; Steve's Texas flag billboard with sign painter. New to most of us were Robert's plane and rail gun builds.

Also memorable: There was no unballasted track on the 10-table layout. We had a 20-high monorail loop all the way around the layout, divided into halves so two trains could run at once. Most catastrophic loss of MOCs in memory: Daylight locomotive, giant bricks flatcar, two Texas State Railroad passenger coaches, and several ballasted track sections). The Allegheny was able to pull 32 heavyweight cars, mixed freight and passenger load, with the aid of rare earth magnets.  The tight turning radius of LEGO curves was a limiting factor because the longer cars began to tip over; Grand Curves would have allowed longer trains. The pulling power of the engine is limited by traction rather than pulling power; a 1-liter soda on the Allegheny tender increased its pull.

We got generous support from LEGO. We donated two door prizes to the museum, did a drawing for one, auctioned one among those present, and still had some left over for auctioning online or at later events. We discussed the tables and crowd control that this support will let us build; there were some very interesting examples on display.

We were only a few hours into the show when we were invited back for 2014!


July 19-21, 2013
Atlanta, GA

A number of LEGO clubs worked together to create a big layout for the National Train Show. This is the show held in conjunction with the national convention of the NMRA; for 2013, it was in Atlanta. Tony Sava and Steve Jackson drove to the show (in Tony's pickup, towing a trailer full of tables) to set up the TBRR part of the layout. Matt Sailors (now a Floridian and GFLUG member, but still with a Texas flag on his badge) and Edward Chang joined us there.

This year's layout was organized by Atlanta native Scott Lyttle, who also brought out the massive CUT (Cincinnati Union Terminal) building. This was a MOC originally created for the NTS in 2005, and now being revised and refurbished by Scott. Another central feature of the event was Matt Sailor's huge, working turntable.

Clubs in attendance were TBRR, the North Georgia LTC (NGLTC), the Greater Florida LUG (GFLUG), and the Mississippi Brick Railroad. The combined AFOLs had the second largest layout at the show and one of the most popular with visitors.

Photos can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157634775984468/ (Tony's trip blog), http://www.flickr.com/photos/savatheaggie/sets/72157634781621724/ (Tony's layout shots with his good camera), and http://www.flickr.com/photos/42114068@N06/ (Edward's photos).

 

 

 

 

 


July 4-7, 2013
Mesquite, TX

Brick Fiesta was put on by TexLUG, the umbrella organization for Texas fans of LEGO.  David rolled out more of his new 3x3 tabletop modules for their second major show, and they worked flawlessly. Tony's Allegheny successfully tested out her new wheels and was able to haul 18 freight cars. David's Steamwood Falls continued to impress and won the award for Best Train.


May 29-June 2, 2013

We had a one-day display at the Lone Star Express, setting up at the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel in Irving. We started early in the morning of Saturday, June 1, and ran throughout the day. This is a milestone for Texas LEGO fans; it's the first time we have ever been invited to participate in a National Model Railroad Association event. We were one of the few actual layouts in the convention hotel, and they gave us 21 feet of space!

This event was organized by David Hawkins, who also exhibited brand new 30-inch square tabletops to allow for streams and other underworks, and switches trimmed to allow new train geometry. Tony Sava drove up from Houston with MOC buildings, MOC trains and trees. Kurt Baty and Chris MacDougal came by and helped. SJ couldn't be there, but sent trees. We got the usual ""Lego makes trains?" questions, but they will remember us next time!

This picture by Tony Sava shows the edge of a tabletop and the way it can be cut down to allow a brick-built river to flow under the bridge.


May 5, 2013
Austin, Texas

Texas Brick Railroad went to the Austin Mini Maker Faire on Sunday, May 5th. Brian Lasseter was the organizer; Brian and Steve J brought train and monorail, and drew a lot of interest, and got slashdotted! We also had a free-build area. Julie Rogers watched the table for a while, and Monica Stephens helped with the breakdown, but we could easily have used three or four more AFOLs to take care of the display and talk to the crowd. A couple more trains would also have been good. But it was a nice layout and, crowd-pleasing-wise, a big success.


April 6-7, 2013

We set up a big layout at the New Braunfels Train Show Jamboree. We had 11 AFOLs exhibiting and two more helping with table-sitting and breakdown. Our layout was a C shape 33 feet along the long side, 24 along the short sides, with lots of space in the middle. It looked excellent. Lee Rahe was our contact with the museum, with Joe O'Donnell planning the track.

Highlights of this show:

• We sometimes had seven trains running at once, with two of them monorail and a third monorail train on a "siding"! This was the best monorail show ever. The whole north side of the layout was covered with monorail, with a wiggly sightseeing line running halfway down the west side. Pat Hough brought his track/monorail union station, and Brian Lasseter debuted his brand-new monorail station, with finished interior and trans-blue canopy and accents.

• There was an excellent long "Main Street" line of buildings along the west side, with many of them Will's MOCs, and scattered buildings on the south side from Roscoe and SJ, plus Sharon's display of Friends sets.

• The whole west and south were a single long dogbone, almost all ballasted, with the wide curve in the middle and paired tracks running right through Lee's big station, so we tried a LONG train. We got a single Maersk engine to pull 20 units of Maersk and ATX container cars! Very slowly, and it stopped when it hit the flextrack, but it started the pull on its own and made it all the way through the wide curve. When we added Edward's two MOC engines on the front and another Maersk on the rear to push, the train moved out very nicely and made several loops.

• Thanks to fantastic LEGO event support, we had two Ninjago sets to give to the convention as door prizes, a Mini Modular set to give away in an AFOL drawing (Lasso won), a Spook Train to auction (another $50 for the fund), and 32 pounds of loose bricks, which were packed into grab bags and distributed. It was Christmas! Afterwards, there was a trading session, though it was more of a "generously giving our friends what they need from our bags" session than actual trading.


February 9-10, 2013
Great Train Expo Houston
Houston, Texas

This was the first show for the Texas Brick Railroad, and it was a big win. 13 AFOLs were present, and about 5,000 attendees. We operated eight trains (including a monorail!) at once. Old-timers agree this is a record for a LEGO show in Texas. We'll see how long it is before we break our own record. SJ was the organizer, with backup from TJ, who brought the tables and printed layouts.

Highlight MOCs of the display were T.J. Avery's Pennybacker Bridge, David Hawkins' railroad station, Tony Sava's Palestine (Texas State RR) layout, and (just created for this show) Pat Hough's monorail/train Union Station. We also did a presentation to introduce attendees to the world of LEGO trains. And we had a great dinner at Pappasito's!