9 Reasons for N-Scalers to Attend the NMRA HUB Division New England Model Train EXPO

Published: 2017-12-14 - By: Jenna
Last updated on: 2018-01-18
visibility: Public
Earlier this month, as head of marketing for the N Scale Model Train Database on TroveStar, I attended the NMRA HUB Division – New England Model Train EXPO at the Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA (December 2 & 3, 2017). This show is dominated by HO scale (the most popular scale in model railroading in the U.S. and around the world) but I wanted to see what it had to offer folks interested in N-scale (the second most popular model railroading scale in the U.S.).

Here are 9 reasons for N-scalers to attend this show.

  1. Get to see N-Trak modules.
    Club members from the MaiNE TRAK, Montreal N-Rail and Northeast N-TRAK exhibited their modules at this show. Freight and passenger consists ran through rural winter scenes, modules with kids frolicking in the snow, and a number of industrial scenes, including a lumber yard.

    Lumber yard module at MaiNE TRAK/Montreal N-Rail N-scale Layout

    (Hats off to the Montreal N-Rail members, Steve Richard and Jean-Francois Chaput, who not only undertook the long drive from Montreal but were detained at U.S. Customs for no less than two hours because the Customs official locked the keys to their van in their van!)

  2. Get to see T-Trak modules.
    T-Trak is not as well known or as popular as N-Trak. This show offers n-scalers a great opportunity to see these mini-modules, which use a work space just a bit bigger than the size of a sheet of loose leaf paper.

    The famous Fay Chin (and his lovely wife Jane) was at the show manning a slew of T-Trak modules, which included structures created using 3-D printing technology. Per usual, a number of kids were all too happy to manipulate toggles and switches that controlled a roundhouse turntable and the unloading of a hopper car.
    Unloading a hopper car at the Northeast N-TRAK exhibit.

    To learn more about T-Trak, you can read What Does a T-Trak Train Module Look Like? and An Interview with Fay Chin, T-TRAK Model Train Talent.

  3. Run your own trains and hang out with fellow N-scalers.
    Model railroading is for the most part a solitary hobby. A show like this gives N-scalers the chance to connect with other enthusiasts. It also affords them the opportunity to run long consists / 30 or more trains (something most folks just cannot do because they don’t have room for a huge home layout). Both the Maine/Montreal and T-Trak layouts chatted it up with show attendees and were happy to share their track space with them.

  4. Get up close and personal with newly released n-scale items.
    Given that more and more hobby shops are closing down or just don’t carry items for folks to pick up and inspect, vendors at a show like this give collectors the chance to actually see an item before buying it. As Bob Blair of N Less Trains said, “It’s a showroom for the Internet.”

    This show features close to a dozen vendors offering N-scale items. Not too far from the n-scale layouts, you could find two n-scale vendors (N Less Trains and Jimmy K’s) with a large selection who have been setting up shop at this venue for years. N Less Trains featured lots of Kato track and kits for getting started in this hobby. Jimmy K’s featured a mix of new and used (some used items are pre-owned and still in the box but never run) items.

  5. Add to your collection at a discount.
    Vendors typically offer items at 15% to 30% discounted prices because they don’t have the overhead of brick and mortar shops. Barry Ball, a show attendee who made the trip from Norwalk, Connecticut, found some “n-scale Bachmann cars – specifically the trailer on flat car items for half price of what the manufacturer is charging, a real bargain!”

    The White Elephant Table, a swap meet for collectors, offers collectors really deep discounts on items. Although it was pretty HO dense, George Michaels (TroveStar founder) was able to find a handful of Micro-Trains cars at $8.00 each at the White Elephant Table.

  6. Sell some of your inventory.
    Dave Stewart of Jimmy K’s almost always buys items at this show from collectors interested in shedding extra inventory. He reported that he bought about a dozen items this time around.

  7. Take advantage of the chance to find items from manufacturers, like Precision Masters, Red Caboose, AHM and Roco, who are no longer in business.

  8. Research the value of something you might want to sell.
    This show is a great opportunity to gauge the market when it comes to your extra inventory or items you might have inherited and have no idea how to value.

  9. Peruse Prototype Products.
    Whether it’s railroad videos, original pencil drawings and prints (from artist Cameron Sargent), books or memorabilia, this show offers a big selection for the model train enthusiast. He or she can learn more about a particular road name or bring home a bit of history like railroad lanterns, postcards, photographs or coins.