When I’m 1:64 at an online convention

Well, that was fun!

Last night, I was the guinea pig – the first speaker at an online convention hosted on ZOOM and organized by the Railway Modellers Meet of British Columbia.

I’ve given lots of clinics at conventions – but I’ve never done one virtually, so I was a little anxious about what to expect. But I need not have worried: The organizers did a terrific job of setting up the meet – including managing approximately 160 people from around the world who took part. I hope others had as much fun as I did, and I look forward to more.

My clinic was about many things. I started by explaining how I ended up in the niche that is S scale, and how I ended up modelling the little-known, lightly-trafficked branch line to Port Rowan, Ontario. I then described how I assessed the S scale market to decide whether I could build a prototype-based layout in 1:64. These three sections, taken together, use my own experience to provide a (rail)road-map to others who may be considering a switch of scale, gauge, era, or prototype.

I also talked about why, when I build a layout, blogging has become as important to me as ties and rail. And I wrapped it up with a virtual tour of my layout, as a reward (I guess) for anybody who was still awake.

Did I really talk about all that? I guess I did!

I felt the clinic was well-received, and I was grateful that there were lots of thought-provoking questions from the audience afterwards. Since neither the organizers nor I had done something like this before, we weren’t sure how well we’d be able to stick-handle 160 online participants, but it went off really smoothly.

Everybody – including those participating in the clinic – should give themselves a big hand! Well done!

The handout from my presentation can be found here. It’s more than a PDF of my slides: I’ve reorganized everything and added some text to give the pictures context. Enjoy it if you download it.

If you took part in last night’s clinic and you have questions or comments, you can comment on this post – or get in touch with me directly via the contact form found on my How To Reach Me page.

After my clinic, Bill Decker from Oregon spoke about his basement-filling empire – an HO scale layout depicting the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Cascade Line. His layout is the polar opposite of mine: designed for a large group of people to enjoy, it fills a 2400 square foot basement. The ceiling height of more than nine feet is perfect for depicting mountain railroading with helper services. While our layouts are very different, we discovered many remarkable similarities in our approaches. We are both fans of lists, of assessing our hobby in terms of skills and resources so that we go into a project with full awareness of the commitment required, and of using blogs to organize and share our work.

One of the interesting choices made by the organizers was to not record the sessions. This is a virtual convention: if you attend, you get to take part. That’s the point. Its ephemeral nature is part of what makes it special.

The good news is, there are more clinics planned in the coming weeks, as well as an online “meet the modeller” event where people will be able to display and discuss their work. Full details – including the schedule of future clinics and information on registering – can be found on the RRMBC website. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

9 thoughts on “When I’m 1:64 at an online convention

  1. Thanks once again for speaking last night, Trevor. I found your approach to the decision to model in S scale was particularly interesting. It reminded me that I went through a similar exploration back when I was just starting out. I too found the folks at the NASG very helpful (remember the web was in its infancy then). Looking back now, I probably made the wrong decision to stay in HO. I could really use 2.5x volume to squeeze electronics and weight into the little steamers!


  2. Thanks for the evening of entertainment Trevor. And I hope that you got to bed at a decent time after leaving at 12:30pm!

    It was nice to finally put a face to some online names (Trevor & Rene). The demographics of the crowd once again showed that I’m one of the younger modelers in the group being in my mid 30’s! This hobby isn’t dying. 😉

    As a side note, because of asking a single question (and framing it in a specific way), I’ve already been contacted by the organizers about another modeler in my gauge (not scale) about modeling projects. It’s amazing how one question can lead to all sorts of new opportunities for learning.

    Craig Townsend


  3. Trevor, I am disappointed I can not see your clinic as I am sure it was exceptional. If you would consider presenting it again, consider the NMRA-X project.


    1. Hi Ken:
      Since this was a Zoom meeting, members of the audience would be randomly visible on the screen during the presentation. The organizers decided they would respect everyone’s privacy by not broadcasting images of them – or their homes – all over the internet.
      Also, they wanted this to feel like a live event – like being at a convention. The fact that you can only see the presentation when it’s live gave people a reason to join the audience – ensuring that the speakers (me and Bill so far) would actually have an audience. We did – about 160 people. I appreciated that so many people joined up to hear my talk and I’m sure Bill did too.
      I’ll look into the NMRA-X project.


      1. Wonderful, just another way we are adapting to keep the fellowship o four hobby alive.



  4. Hi Trevor. Your usual fine comprehensive work as always. Thanks for sharing your presentation with us.


    On Fri, May 22, 2020 at 10:25 AM The Model Railway Show wrote:

    > Trevor posted: ” Well, that was fun! Last night, I was the guinea pig – > the first speaker at an online convention hosted on ZOOM and organized by > the Railway Modellers Meet of British Columbia. I’ve given lots of clinics > at conventions – but I’ve never done one” >


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