NTS 2012 Grand Rapids, MI

As you probably know, the 2012 NMRA Convention and the National Train Show (NTS) were held in Grand Rapids, MI. The North American Free-mo group was invited to create a layout for display on the floor of the NTS exhibition hall. We started the set-up on Wednesday before the show, and got it running by show opening time on Friday. Then, over the three days of NTS we ran trains and talked to visitors. Layout take-down occurred after 5pm on Sunday.

Unlike many modular railroad clubs, whose members are typically tied to a particular city or geographic area, Free-mo is more dispersed. Layouts are coordinated via the internet, allowing people and groups from many different places to converge and build a layout. For the 2012 NTS set up we had modules from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Massachusetts. Given the large number of Free-mo modelers who came together at NTS, we were able to field a very large layout. The Minnesota group is particularly active -- they contributed perhaps 3/4 of the modules, all of very high quality. Indeed, excellent modules were brought by all the participants. Attached is the layout plan we used:

2012 NTS Final Layout Design: The layout plan was created by AJ Murphy from the Minnesota Free-mo modelers. You will notice two different Free-mo layouts in the plan. The larger is the traditional HO scale Free-mo layout; the smaller one (on the upper right of the plan) is N scale. The HO mainline was several hundred feet long -- it took at least 20 minutes to run from the Wabash Yard (top central) to the return loop (right hand side). The mainline varied between single-track and double-track segments. The configuration allowed us to run trains in both directions simultaneously, since trains could pass each other on the two-track sections.

Stuart Brorson


Here is a link to some images:

8/12/2012 Over the next few days more photos will be added to the thread, so go back now and then to check for any updates.

Here's a video (by Bill Gawthrop) of coal moving across Kimble's Viaduct at the 2012 National Train Show. This is the HO scale Free-Mo layout. http://youtu.be/ssWs4bY_N0k Chessie locomotives powered the front end with a Chessie SD40-2 pushing on the rear.

Another video  (by Bill Gawthrop) from the 2012 National Train Show, Free-Mo [HO] layout. In this action scene a Great Northern freight inbound into Wabash Yard passes a Cheesie train in the hole at Chapman's Farm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKEa707R5jc&feature=plcp

Action at Nortyhwood Falls as the Milwaukee Road's Hiawatha passes by the station. The scene is on the HO scale Free-Mo layout at the National Train Show 2012 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A Grand Trunk Western GP40-2 leads a local across the overpass by Bill's Farm on the HO scale Free-Mo layout at the 2012 National Train Show.

Pioctures posted by Bill Gawthrop, SE Michigan Free-Mo

Cab ride from Woodhaven to Livingston. This is a view from the fireman's side of B&O (Chessie) GP38, #3812. Note that the fireman was not paying very close attention to the way he was holding the camcorder. As such, the view is a bit cockeyed.

Here's a video of a Chicago Metra train crossing AJ Murphy's bascule bridge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgmFXBH_8Fw

Norfolk Southern Triple Crown train cruises through Perry, Michigan on the HO scale Free-Mo layout at the 2012 National Train Show.

BNSF moves Covered Hoppers toward Livingston

 Pictures by Bob Hill

Some videos by Peter Keppel from Minnesota Free-mo Modelers
HO-scale Cab ride - Wabasha Yard to Summit Loop

N-scale Cabride - Valley Park Yard to Roseville Yard