2014 NASG Convention: "The Heartland S-Press"

The 2014 NASG Convention was held in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, from Wednesday July 23rd through Sunday 27th, 2014, at the Olympia Hotel & Convention Center.

The Convention was sponsored by the Badgerland S Gaugers and the State-Line S Gaugers clubs. The contact persons are Steve Lunde and Roy Meissner.

Convention Car


Organized Tours

There were two all-day tours. The first was on Wednesday July 23 to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The second was on Thursday, July 24 to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois.

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Illinois Railway Museum; photo by Bill Winans

Self-guided Layout Tours

The private-home layouts that were open included Roy Meissner (scale), Jeff Madden (scale), Steve Lunde (hi-rail/scale), Ron Schlicht (A.F.), Jim Larson, Brad Nelson (hi-rail), Craig Wright (Sn3), Larry Blank (scale), and Terry Dyer.

Steve Lunde layout; photo by Bill Winans

Steve Lunde layout; photo by Bill Winans

Ron Schlicht; photo by Jeff Madden

Brad Nelson; photo by Jeff Madden

Craig Wright; photo by Jeff Madden

Roy Meissner's layout under construction; photo by Bill Winans

Mock-up of Roy Meissner's layout; photo by Bill Winans

Larry Blank; photo by Jeff Madden

Jeff Madden; photo by Jeff Madden

Jeff Madden's layout under construction; photo by Bill Winans

Jeff Madden's crew lounge; photo by Bill Winans

Southeastern Michigan S Gaugers' large (award winning) hi-rail layout (web site); photo by Jeff Madden

Southeastern Michigan S Gaugers layout; photo by Bill Winans

Promotions Committee's layout; photo by Bill Winans

NASG switching layout; photo by Bill Winans

Special Contest

In addition to the standard NASG contests, Jamie Bothwell held the "The Greeley's Place Contest." However, this year the contest revolved around the Des Plaines Hobbies/S Scale America car kit of the PRR X29 box car, which came out at last year's NASG Convention.


Don Heimburger
"Highballing with S Through the Years - a Perspective"

Don, editor/publisher of the S Gaugian magazine, who started in S gauge in 1959, took a look at where we started in S gauge with A.C. Gilbert Company products, highlight different company's products and individual modeler's building efforts, and brought us up to date with current products and the state of S today.

Jim Larson
"Bashing American Flyer Freight Cars"

Jim demonstrated his techniques to transform American Flyer freight cars.

Gil Hulin
"Mexican Railroading in S Scale"

Gil went over modeling Mexican motive power, rolling stock, typical structures, and his search for appropriate products and ability to scratch-build rather than buy off the shelf models.

Marty Lydecker
"A.C. Gilbert Auto Rama"

Marty went over the history of the A.C. Gilbert Auto-Rama slot car sets that were featured in the early 1960s. He had a nice display of the many sets, slot cars and accessories produced by A.C. Gilbert.

Jamie Bothwell
"Detailing Lightweight Passenger Cars"

Jamie presented the construction of lightweight passenger cars and how to model them including the use of available parts.

Jamie Bothwell
"Detailing Heavyweight Passenger Cars"

Jamie presented the construction of heavyweight passenger cars and possible modifications and detailing of the American Models heavyweight Pullmans.

Chic Hartert
"Tree Making"

Chic shared proven methods of modeling trees for your layout. Many of his methods allow for a good number of trees to be made in a short period of time.

Ken Zieska
"Building a 3D Laser-cut Wood Kit"

Ken demonstrated building and finishing techniques. He used Monster Kits.

Dave Jasper
"Painting Backdrop Scenery"

Dave showed how you, too, can create a great looking backdrop for your layout.

Steve Doyle
"How to Make Signs for Buildings"

Steve showed us how to make signs for buildings.

Dick Karnes
"Passenger Train Operation"

So you think passenger trains are dull? That they just run around the layout, stopping at the same station with every circuit? Well, think again. Passenger trains do switching. Their locomotives may have to be swapped out at division points. And they have the right of way over freights (except on the UP!), so the way freights have to get out of the way. Passenger trains can make operating sessions VERY interesting. Dick Karnes described how he accommodates 18 passenger trains during his normal operating sessions that also include through freights, way freights, and transfer freights.

John Heck
"Fixing and Maintaining Flyer"

John demonstrated how to get your American Flyer engines performing and how to keep them running like new.

John Mann
"The Gogebic Iron Range"

John talked about the history of the Gogebic Range from the early boom years in the 1880s through the end of operations in the 1960s with an emphasis on how railroads interacted with the mining industry. Some specific mines were used as examples to show the type of structures needed. The railroads (C&NW and Soo) operations, both as competitors and as pooling partners, were discussed. Finally, some modeling aspects from an S-scale standpoint will be discussed such as railroad structures, locomotives, and cars.

Andy Malette
"Canada's Steel 8 Hatch Refrigerator Cars"

These cars were used primarily in Canada but traveled all over North America. They were produced from 1939 up until the mid 1950s and had many variations in both the freight and express versions.

Jay Mellon's Report

For the last number of years, Jay Mellon, member of the Crescent City S Gaugers in New Orleans, Louisiana, provides a complete report (from his perspective) of the happenings at the convention. His disclaimer follows: "As usual, this report is not intended to include all aspects of the convention. I have no financial associations with any of these vendors."

Azatrax - Owner John Parsons had a selection of train detector/signal systems.

Des Plaines Hobbies - Ron Sebastian was there with his new kit, an outside-braced 40' Fowler box car that appeared to be selling well. There was also a pilot model of an upcoming hopper kit (H30). Progress is being made on the SD-45 engine model. A query as to the possibility of this model being available as a kit was answered with a quick, resounding "NO". A large selection of RTR S-Scale America product was also there.

East-West Rail Service - Al Castellani was displaying his PFE icing platform model. Simply gorgeous! He also had cross-buck kits for a number of Eastern roads.

Hoquat Hobbies - Jeff Wilson was there with his usual diverse selection of S scale goodies.

Jeff Madden - Had his usual selection of 1:64th scale truck vehicles.

Michigan Models - While much reduced in size, Tom Hawley still has a sizable inventory of Smoky Mountain Models kits and some other miscellaneous S items.

Milepost 169 - Tom Lennon had a good selection of S decals (1960s-1970s production) as well as other assorted S items.

Mini-Motors Inc - This new vendor apparently concentrates on the motor vehicle collector market. They had a nice selection of 1:64th trucks, as well as kits of model show room buildings.

MLW Models - Andy Malette had the new Express CN reefer kit which, I believe, is now sold out due to limited availability of the correct trucks. The freight reefer kit (8-hatch) is still available.

Pikesville Models - Dave Blum had new S 'Old Manhattan' reefers (MTH product), as well as lots of Gilbert AF inventory available.

Port Lines Hobbies - Doug Peck had a large selection of S product, much of it derived from estate collections.

Pre-Size Model Specialties - Colorado modelers Steve and Linda Wolcott recently acquired this company and quickly expanded the product line to include 1:64th scale culverts, tunnel portals, retaining walls and bridge piers, as well as trees constructed from sage brush stems. Check them out.

River Raisin Models - Dan Navarre had a beautiful display of his more recent SP models. The project that is closest to "GO" status is the C&O F-19 'Pacific' model, but he still needs additional reservations to make that happen.

Scenery Unlimited - Don Heimburger had the new MTH-produced 'Apache Beer' reefer models, as well as a nice selection of other S items and railroad-related books. The reefers appeared to be selling well.

Although Lionel, American Models, and MTH representatives were not present, Des Plaines Hobbies had a very large display of SSA product that should have satisfied most S modeler desires. A number of vendors were displaying the newly available MTH models. Also, a number of vendors were selling off items from personal collections, including Gilbert AF products. All in all, I would say this NASG convention provided a decent selection of currently available S product.

I went on the Illinois Railway Museum tour to visit this large facility in Union, IL. The museum has examples of many types of steam/diesel engines, as well as buses and trolleys, etc. They have a beautiful Electroliner train well preserved indoors. The Nebraska Zephyr train is housed there. As we first exited our tour bus upon arrival, there was a stunning example of a UP Turbine. There were also several Budd-built passenger cars. We were treated to a 10-mile trolley ride on a gorgeous day, weather-wise. By the end of the 5-hour visit, everyone seemed pretty tired out.

I was able to attend several clinics during the convention. Andy Malette took us through the specifics of all 14 different versions of the Canadian 8-hatch freight reefer. Dick Karnes explained how he has included passenger trains in his operation sessions. Ken Zieska showed us how he uses different types of building kits to achieve structure diversity for his layout. Steve Doyle gave us the "low down" on attaining realism by using signs. He even gave us some material to build our own signs. John Mann presented a very interesting clinic on the early days of iron mining (hematite) in Northern Wisconsin/Upper Peninsula Michigan. Passenger car enthusiast Jamie Bothwell presented clinics detailing the items he favors to achieve realistic looking lightweight/heavyweight car models in S.

There were several layouts set up in the vendor hall, including those of Jeff Young, Alan Evans (NASG switching layout), and the Southeast Michigan S Gaugers. They are to be commended, as these folks sacrificed some of their convention time to bring enjoyment to other attendees. I especially enjoyed seeing Tom Hawley's long modern trains blasting by, pulled by recently produced motive power (SD70Ace; ES44). I had a chance to see Steve Lunde's home layout on the Wednesday I arrived. He has done a nice job of integrating some vintage AF items with scale aspects to create an interesting layout. Several local modelers opened up their layouts for visitors on the Sunday following the end of the convention. It was good to see what Roy Meissner had been working on since I last saw his layout. Jeff Madden's layout is a work in progress. I did notice that he has incorporated some of the new Pre-Size Specialties products into some of his layout scenes. It was a real treat to see Larry Blank's layout. Some very nice modeling there, especially the rock scenery. We thank these folks for their hospitality.

Other Activities
The 'Ice Breaker Reception' on Wednesday evening allowed the attendees a chance to partake of a classic Wisconsin beer/brat feast and renew friendships; make some new ones. A guest speaker filled us in on the history of Oconomowoc. President Bill Winans opened the General Business Meeting on Saturday afternoon, following the closing of the vendor hall. He outlined some items discussed during the BOT (Board of Trustees) meeting. The Regional Vice President duties were more clearly defined. Donations made to NASG must be made to the 'General Fund' and not designated for a specific purpose. NASG officer nominations were opened following the close of the convention. All of the Regional Vice President and Secretary positions will be on the forthcoming ballot. Treasurer Jim Kindraka's report emphasized that NASG is very solvent financially and there will be no dues increase in the foreseeable future. Bill Winans also indicated that input is needed form the membership regarding NASG awards, as well as discussion of future policy on this matter. The closing banquet was a festive affair; food and fellowship were good. NASG and contest model awards will be covered elsewhere. Executive Vice President Dave Blum provided a brief promotional description of the 2015 NASG convention to be held in Kansas City, MO. Auctioneer Jamie Bothwell provided his usual style of 'gonzo entertainment' during the auction following the banquet. I look forward to this event at every convention. We attendees thank Convention Chair Steve Lunde and the rest of the organizing committee for their hard work in successfully putting together this fine convention. See you next year!


Bill Winans reported that 276 people attended the Convention, and that it was an overall success. The weather was very nice for that time of year. The food at the hotel was good, although the wait staff seemed to be somewhat overwhelmed by the crowd.

Hotel view; photo by Bill Winans

The convention's registration table; photo by Bill Winans

Meet-n-greet dinner, which was followed by a local historian's talk on the rich and famous who had "cottages" (mansions) on Lake Oconomowoc (left to right: Jay M., Bob N., Jeff W., Willy M., Dave Blum, Monte Heppe; photo by Bill Winans

Dick Karnes' clinic on Passenger Train Operation; photo by Bill Winans

Jamie Bothwell's clinic on Detailing Passenger Cars; photo by Bill Winans

Vendor Hall at the Convention; photo by Bill Winans

Saturday evening banquet; photo by Bill Winans

Ron and Sue Sebastian (Des Plaines Hobbies) receiving their Sandersfeld award; photo by Bill Winans