33rd Annual Open House

Model trains everywhere!  My husband is an model train enthusiast and works with HO scale trains.  He belongs to the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club located on the “state line” in Delmar Delaware.  Every year, the club opens its doors to the public on 4 weekends for their annual Open House.  Visitors come to view the train displays, and see the various scales of trains running.  The club has 8000 square feet of train displays, so much more than the home hobbyist can manage.  All scales are represented, and there seems to be “something for everyone”.

I typically spend those four weekends at the front door, greeting visitors and handling the sales of raffle tickets for those inclined to purchase them.  Each year there are 3 terrific train sets and 3 winners.  This year they have added 3 additional prizes, with tickets for 4 to the Strasburg Railroad.

Yesterday was the first day for the 33rd season.  There were 496 visitors. While not a “record setting number”, it was a significant amount, considering it was pouring rain all afternoon.  The club will be open to visitors on Sunday, Nov 25, 2018 from 12 noon until 4 pm, and again on Saturday, Dec 1st (11 am – 4 pm) and Sunday Dec 2nd (12 noon to 4pm).  After New Years there are 2 more weekends, Jan 5 & 6, and Jan 12 & 13 2019.

                                               33rd Annual Open House Delmarva Model RR Club

The club is located at 103 E. State Street in Delmar DE 19940, on the second floor of Camelot Hall.  There is plenty of free parking behind St Stephens UM Church.

I am always interested in how people hear about the Open House, as we have many 1st time visitors every year.  Social media is one way, and word of mouth is another way.  With a very small advertising budget, the word seems to spread.  Yesterday there were visitors from all over the mid-Atlantic. We have a lot of “repeat” visitors, some who attend EACH weekend.  Because there is so much to see, it is hard to take it all in at once.  They often say they see something new with each visit.  Since the admission is free, why not?

I thought I would share a few photo’s with you in the event you are unable to visit!

This is a picture of some “new this year” buildings on the O Scale layout –

new buildings on the O scale layout

On the HO layout one of our new members has built a train of double stack cars.  He had to make improvements to the many tunnel portals on the layout in order for his “high loads” to traverse the many “rail miles” and not hit a tunnel roof !

Waterfall and bridge on HO Layout

The HO layout is the most extensive layout at the club.  It is an “OPERATIONS” layout with many industries.  Every car on the layout has a purpose and that is identified by the “car card” and “weigh bill systems” in place. The HO layout members have an Operating Session once a month, and folks come from Baltimore Maryland and Philadelphia PA  to participate.  It takes a minimum of 15 operators to have a “good session”.  They operate a “fast clock”, and the dispatcher issues train orders, etc. The HO layout is signalled and has track detection and operates with DCC (Digital Command and Control) .

Signals are working

Coke ovens on the HO layout

There is something for “everyone” at the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club and whether you are a “serious model railroader” or a person who just likes to see the trains going “round & round”, it is a delight to see.

Do feel free to share this post with others who might be interested!  Find us on Facebook and like the page !

More information about the club, including membership information, can be found on the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club website .



How do you measure success?

At the end of the day, as we left the Apple Scrapple Festival with an SUV loaded with boxes, my hubby asked if I thought the day was successful.  It is difficult to measure when you aren’t really there to “sell” a product.

Apple Scrapple is just a month ahead of the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club annual open house, and it is such a great opportunity to promote our coming event. It is FREE advertising for the club.  (One of our members RUNS the entire craft show and allocates the club a 9×13 booth space for no charge).

So, I figured the measuring stick was the open house brochures we passed out.   We took a case of 1000 brochures for our upcoming open house. (There were maybe 50 out of the top of the box when we started).   We brought back about 1/3 of the box.   Hubby printed out 210 “labels” with info on an EXTRA RUN (more about that in a minute), and every brochure with that EXTRA Run label was handed out.  I can say for certain, that we spoke to OVER 210 people.  My “guess” is we handed out something like 700 brochures, so I think it was a successful day.

All set up and ready for visitors

People would see and hear the trains running and walk over to the table to watch.  Usually they were in groups of 3 or  4.  The men were attracted because they had been “schlepping around the craft show” carrying bags for the wife.

(I am a people watcher, and most of the men would stand at the edge of the booth while the wife, mother, daughter etc looked at the various craft wares.  They were bored.)  (It’s a good spouse who will wander the craft show, but then…I’m sure those wives have done their bit at car shows, fishing shows, etc) (Please don’t be offended gentlemen if you happen to LIKE craft fairs…this is strictly my observation and conclusion with no facts to support my particular point of view.)

When the men got to the train layout the eyes would light up, and they got to chat with the club members, and we were not “hustling them” to buy anything.  Then the women would wander up, and look at the “display” more so than the trains.  It gave us an opportunity to talk about both areas of interest.

We would hand an Open House brochure to someone in the group, inviting them to come see the “big layouts” at the club.

2017 2018 open house flyer

Overall, for a week & 1/2 worth of work getting this display ready to go, I was really pleased with the reactions it brought during the day from the public. By the time you put the buildings on, the trees, the vehicles on the streets and parking lots, and get some trains moving, it starts to look like a nice little town.

Double track

This little 4×8 train layout was built on a Styrofoam base with a plywood bottom and sides. That is what we started with the first week of October.  In my previous posts, I talk about the scenery, track, etc. After we had it all set up, we added plexiglass around the edges to keep the fingers away from the trains.


We took our 2 big open house raffle prizes to showcase.  We have a Polar Express and a Harry Potter set to raffle, and I was surprised that we sold a few tickets.  Not a lot, because that wasn’t the point, but some.  My point with the raffle tickets is to “show off” those great prizes, and not hustle sales.


We had the special Maryland Delaware box cars, and sold a couple of them. (These are available on the club website if you are interested in one, and not in the area).

I took along my train “pillowcases” and sold 3 of them. That was all “bonus” in my opinion.  If we had a separate booth with more space for display, I imagine we could have sold more, and could have brought other items from the club to sell. Oh good thing we left those wooden train whistles at the club!

The member of our club running the craft show was pleased with our set up.  It “slowed” people down near the back of the cafeteria, and as they wandered away; they stopped at the food booth run by his church and family. A win/win for all of us I think.  His son is also a club member, and he did the big job of transporting the 4×8 layout and the saw horse it sits on.

I think we met our purpose, achieved our goal, and will encourage the members to do this again next year. We’ve had a few years without the train layout at the festival, and people “LOOK” for it. Of course, I wore the hubby out pushing to get this ready and to “do” this festival.   I took the lead and did all the planning and coordinating, list making, 75% of the loading and unloading; and a smaller % of the tear down and reloading. We had 10 folks show up during the festival to help with the “passing brochures”, talking to the public etc.

Now, it is time to unload what we are storing at home, and sort what needs to go back to the train club this week.  We have to get ready for NEXT Saturday, our EXTRA RUN, when St Stephens UMC has their Fall Festival.  The church asked the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club to open for the festival. This is a first for the club. The club is very grateful to be located on the 2nd floor of the church fellowship hall for the last 32 years!  So, if you missed seeing our little 4×8 display, take a run to Delmar DE and enjoy the St Stephen UMC Fall Festival, and come upstairs and check out the over 8000 square feet of layouts!  I’ll be there, at the front door, greeting visitors, selling raffle tickets and inviting them back for the annual open house season.



Got it done

Wheew…..we did it.  Hubby and I took a 4×8 train layout and gave it new life in just over a week.  It is now “set up and ready to run” at the Apple Scrapple Festival – Craft Show on Saturday.  It’s amazing how quickly you can do this when the bits and pieces are at hand. Given a little spray paint, spray glue, craft paint, along with hubby’s electrical mind and railroad sense….we are set up and ready.  We will be handing out fliers for the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club open house, answering questions and promoting the model train hobby!

Enjoy the photo’s….and if you don’t remember what we started with, look back a couple of days on the blog!

Ready to unload

We arrived shortly past 4 pm, ready to unload at Apple Scrapple.  All the boxes came in to the cafeteria at Woodbridge Middle School in Bridgeville DE!

Once they were all in, the hubby got busy with the wiring, and I started unpacking scenery and staging it on the layout!

Yard masters shack

(You would never know that 48 hours ago that building was a yellow plastic looking building. Now it looks like it has been sitting in the yard for years.  I impressed the hubby with the peeling paint look on the door and window frame….the magic of paint)

My favorite view

This photo above is my “FAVORITE” view.

A long shot through town (yes, I know, the road needs work….that is what super glue is for in the morning..)

View down Main Street

I set up the “raffle prizes” for 1st & 2nd place, along with box cars and pillow cases to buy.  I will be replacing those 2 bankers boxes in the morning with a couple of “plastic milk crates”….covered in fabric.  I want the Harry Potter set to be elevated a little higher. Our buddy, Leonard, will be keeping a watchful eye on things overnight!

Table is set

It sure is a big improvement from what we started with last Wednesday!  Remember this??

Step 2 adding ballast paint

So; with determination, we put together a 1/2 decent 4×8 model railroad layout in a week, complete with weathered track and buildings, and a few trees and shrubs thrown in for good measure.  I hope that the “viewing public” enjoys it on Saturday.

The craft fair at Woodbridge Middle School opens at 9 am!  Stop by and say hello, pick up a flyer, and get some raffle tickets!  See you there!

Autumn Jubilee and more model railroad display work

If you have read my blog for a period of time, you know that I enjoy following posts by Carole – From My Carolina Home

Carole has been writing and sharing mystery quilts – of which I have done a couple; and last fall she did a sew along, and in December she did one as well.  Her projects are easy to work with, as you do the steps in small “chunks”.  This month, she is running her annual “Autumn Jubilee” on the blog, and there is another sew along.  The pattern this time is called Stars on Autumn Lane.  So far, it is looking like an easy project to make. I love that she gives out multiple sizes, so you can make a table topper, a lap quilt or a twin.  I told her in a comment I was GLAD she did not give out the KING SIZE info, or I would make one!  You see, when I get started with one of Carole’s patterns, I have SEW MUCH FUN, and want to “keep making” the units.

Do you remember my leaves and pumpkins from last year?  Well, you may remember I made THREE table runners doing that project, and those were Carole’s patterns!  And last month, I blogged about the place mats I was working on – Still playing with Autumn Jubilee 2016

Anyway, it is NOT too late to get started and sew along!  So, go visit Carole’s blog for the cutting instructions –Stars on Autumn Lane cutting instructions

and visit today’s post for the first block assembly – Block A – Stars on Autumn Lane

Now, you know me, I like to sew along!!  I have not even gotten started!!!!  I do have my box of Autumn Jubilee fabrics and stuff from “last years project”; so once I have some time, I can get busy.

You see, I haven’t been in my sewing room in over a week, because I have been helping the hubby get ready to display a model railroad set up at the Apple Scrapple Festival this weekend in Bridgeville DE. The display will feature HO model trains and we are promoting the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club open house season coming up in November through January.

He has had me painting and adding various elements to the scenery.  We loaded the SUV last night with 8 boxes of scenery, two boxes of trains, a table, 2 folding chairs, 2 bar stools, a box of brochures, a raffle ticket box and donation box, 2 great raffle prizes, box cars to sell, and much more that I can’t even think about right now.  Once we get the train display all set up tonight, I will get a few pictures!  In the meantime, here is a sneak peak of some of the scenery I have been playing around with —

Back of the School House

The school house is mounted to foam core board, and I have added a gravel parking lot and a green space between the building and what will be the edge of the train tracks.


Added lots of green to “plastic model trees” to give them a more realistic look.

Weighting down the foam core board

Along side of the railroad track, I have some greenery going in next to the foam core board to “soften the edges”.   This piece of foam core was painted to give the appearance of concrete; for sidewalks and parking lots; then glued down to the layout.  The paint cans are to hold it down until dried.  Then the buildings will be placed after we transport to the set up location.  These buildings in the photo are not in position and have since been painted to give them a less “plastic” look.

This is “just a peek” at what I have been up to all week!  If you are in the area, be sure to stop by the Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville DE on Saturday and look for us in the Woodbridge Middle School Cafeteria!  (Listen for the train whistle!)http://www.applescrapple.com/

Crafting and model railroad displays

So, I know, you expect to read about quilting. Sorry; not today. I put on my wife hat the last few days and went to help the hubby, Bill, get a model train display ready. His club, DelMarVa Model Railroad Club will have a space in the craft fair at the Apple Scrapple Festival    next weekend in Bridgeville DE.  (You really have to go to the Apple Scrapple link and read about this very unique fall festival!).

Anyway, back to trains.

Hubby & I took the “lead” to get the display ready, the equipment sorted out, the “stuff” to the festival next week.   The train display is a 4′ x 8 ‘ display, built with a foam base and wood framing; that sits on saw horses.  Transporting it is a challenge, but it can be done.  Thankfully we have a member with a truck bed that is “big enough”.

The display was made by a member over 13 years ago and has been transported once a year, just for this festival. (Typically the club does not set up displays outside of the club facilities).  After all those years, the display needed some work to freshen it up somewhat.

The club had a big donation of Bachmann EZ Track, which is “roadbed and rails” on molded plastic.  To give the layout a little more ‘realistic’ look, we decided that weathering (painting) the track would give us the look we were after.  Rust-oleum makes some GREAT paint products, and we used several different types. Over the last 2 days I have made 1 trip to Lowes, and 2 trips to Wal-mart to pick up “the perfect paint”. I will try to identify the product with the photo’s.

Bill decided on a track plan that made sense to his “operations” mind.  He wanted switches, and a yard track, so multiple trains could be run and staged.  That is a huge job, deciding on which curved track pieces will fit the parameter of the existing track. The track has different curve radius, and you need the right one to work!   (I didn’t take a photo before he got started).  He worked on that track plan for several hours on Wednesday night.  I showed up with him on Friday afternoon, and we worked until 11 pm getting the weathering done of the track.

First step of painting

We used Rust-oleum Camouflage paint to “dull” the rail, ties and grey plastic molded ballast. The top of the rail cleaned up nicely with a “bright boy” (pumice type stone).

Yard track with weathering pain

Of course, we taped off all the switches and rail connectors.  We lifted & slid the whole yard section off of the layout onto a board, so he wouldn’t have to re-invent the track plan again.

Once the base color dried, we taped off the rails to get ready for the next step – STONE PAINT.

Prepping for the stone paint

Step 2 adding ballast paint

We used a product – Rust-Oleum American Accents Stone Spray – in a grey.  Gives great texture to the “ballast area” of the track.  It can be pretty messy, so we did as much as possible “off the layout”.  It takes HOURS to dry too.  Yes, it is back to grey, but it has a really great texture that gives the impression of stones (ballast). The ties are still brown, and the top of the rail has been cleaned up from the brown paint.  (An entire roll of painters tape was used in covering the rails while painting.

Setting the yard back in place

We left it to dry overnight, and on Saturday afternoon, we set all the track back in place.  Not before we considered changing the entire layout though! We wasted an hour trying to figure out a ‘better plan’, and went back to the original.  In the process, buildings were pulled out of storage boxes and set around the “town” .

Once we decided on which buildings to use, Bill got busy finding trains that would run on the small layout well, and have a variety to look at.  Because of the small radius of the inside track, only cars in the 36′ (scale) could be used.  I got busy trying to figure out scenery, and making “bases” for the buildings to set on using foam core board, and lots of spray paint.

Checking the trains on the curves

The area where the small auto is sitting was painted with flat grey auto primer, then some more of that “stone paint” in brown on the curve by the track.  While the brown was wet I added some green ground cover.  The next step for that piece is add some darker grey paint in the parking lot, and perhaps expand the green space between the courthouse building and the track. Once the base is satisfactory, the buildings will be “glued” to the foam core board, and then the whole section will lift off and go in a storage box for transport. You can’t transport this type of layout due to it’s size with the buildings on it.  In the photo above the train is handling the curve well, but we find there is a “hump” in the track at the base of the curve (opposite the black road). That is Bill’s project for today.  I will work on the main platform scenery too; getting the pink foam, and the brown paint covered up, while Bill also works on extending that road end.

I’ve got lots more scenery work to do; and need to add some “shrubs” on the edges of the foam core board to camouflage the edges.  (This board had a plastic coating for photo’s and was a bear to cut decently….but you use what you have and fix it up afterwards).  The point of this layout is to represent something you might “build at home quickly”, and to show how you can take it up a notch or 2 from plastic track.  We will probably have 40-50 hours into this display for a “one time” viewing. I am learning about products along the way.  And, proof that you don’t have to be an expert to have a half decent model display.  Of course, if you are building a more permanent display in your basement, or spare room, you will spend much more time.  The permanent displays at the DelMarVa Model Railroad club are greatly detailed, and done with  precision.

Figuring out building placement

You can really see the texture of the ballast showing in this photo.  We tried hard to vary the intensity of the paint so it wasn’t all “uniform”…because in real life, it is not.

I will add a few photo’s after it is finished and set up. We will be at Woodbridge Middle School, in Bridgeville Delaware for the Apple Scrapple Festival on Oct 14.  If you are in the area, find the display in the cafeteria.  Stop by and say hello and see what you think in person.

NOTE – these are HO trains, and there is one of our special Maryland and Delaware 40 foot box car in the above photo.  Maryland Delaware is a regional short line in the area, and they gave us permission to use their logo on the cars. DelMarVa Model Railroad club currently has  40 foot double door box cars for sale, and you can find the order form on the club website http://www.delmarvamodelrailroadclub.org/

Maryland & Delaware Railroad 40-foot double door box car. Athearn HO scale custom built for the Delmarva Model Railroad Club. Completely assembled and ready-to-run with metal wheels and knuckle couplers. Two numbers are available: 1984 & 2011. $19.00 each plus $6.00 each for shipping. Send check or money order (payable to DMRRC) to DMRRC, P.O. Box 19, Delmar, DE 19940