hundreds of tables of trains for sale.
After spending time at this past weekend's Greenberg Great Train & Toy Show in Wilmington, MA (March 25 and 26, 2017), I decided to highlight some (obvious and not-so-obvious) reasons to attend these kinds of events.
- There is no substitute to actually seeing and touching an item you are considering buying.
(In this digital age, we can purchase virtually any product with the click of a mouse. But there's nothing like being able to handle and scrutinize locomotives, rolling stock, accessories, building supplies and books before purchasing them.)
- It's entertaining.
(Model train shows feature creative, fun and intricate train displays by local train clubs -- many of whom have been perfecting their craft for decades. The Greenberg Train Show had close to a dozen displays featuring a variety of gauges including HO, N, O, Lego, S).
- Model train collectors and enthusiasts can find a wide variety of inventory at reasonable prices.
(Trains and the other model railroading paraphernalia for sale at model train shows are almost always offered at lower prices than those found on e-Bay; e-Bay prices are often inflated because sellers add e-Bay's seller commission to product prices.
- Test the item you want to buy before purchasing it.
(Train shows are great places to find used items; however, sometimes these engines and rolling stock don't operate properly. As a result, train shows provide special testing tables where consumers can run their engines or boxcars or hopper cars to make sure they run smoothly.)
- Chew the fat with fellow collectors, enthusiasts and modelers.
(This weekend I heard two veteran n-scale modelers discuss the pros and cons of Digitrax versus NCE for DCC Systems.)
- Expose your family and friends to a great hobby.
(The Greenberg Train Show had a slew of train displays. It was neat to just watch the different freight trains and passenger trains (Amtrak was quite popular) make their way through the different modules. Many of the displays featured buttons and switches, making it possible for kids to interact with the displays. For instance, one T-Trak module had a switch that made it possible for kids to empty a coal hopper.
Coal fired power plant with an operational coal dumper.
- Immediate gratification.
Instead of waiting for a train purchase to arrive in the mail, walk away with it in hand and plop it (gently) on your home layout after the show.
- Free workshops and demonstrations.
Learn about modeling techniques and different aspects of train equipment.
The Greenberg Show ran a number of workshops and demonstrations, such as Introduction to DCC (Digital Command Control), Making Custom Models with a 3-D Printer and Weathering Buildings and Freight Cars.
- Kids 11 and under are admitted free.
- Support a worthy cause.
The Greenberg Train Show was held at the Shriner's Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. The Shriner organization is best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, which it administers, and the red fezzes worn by members. The Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 hospitals in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The hospitals treat any child under age 18 for orthopedic injuries, diseases and birth defects. For many years, these hospitals provided care free of charge to patients and their families. Since 2012 (due to a smaller endowment) the hospitals offer free medical care to children without insurance and they waive all out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance.
- Witness first-hand the all-important group dynamic / see people interact and help each other as a group.
(In this day and age where people are more connected (thanks to the Internet and social media outlets) than ever before, people are also more socially isolated than ever before.) At the Northeast N-TRAK display, members helped each other trouble shoot some irksome DCC issues.
- Provide the opportunity for train clubs to meet as a group and run their trains and socialize.
For some clubs, such as Northeast N-TRAK, train shows represent the only way to get together.