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Text And Photos By Jim Kelly

One of the two huge buildings that house Train Fair.

After months of preparation including the construction of dozens of modules in both Malvern, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia) and in Syracuse, NY, two chapters of the Standard Gauge Module Association joined together to present one of the largest Standard gauge operating layouts ever at the annual Great New York State Train Fair in Syracuse during the weekend of November 1 & 2, 2008. A four member team from Pennsylvania drove to Syracuse on Friday, October 31 pulling a 20 ft. trailer jam packed with an estimated 5,000 lbs. of Standard Gauge tinplate trains, accessories and modules. The modules from Pennsylvania were stored and transported in a number of specially designed wooden cabinets with large heavy duty casters built by SGMA founding members Kirk Lindvig and Chris Bogus.

At Syracuse, the four man SGMA Pennsylvania team of Lindvig, Bogus, Pat Rolland, and Jim Kelly met up with four members of the Syracuse SGMA group: Jim Cottzolla, Charles Grover, Dick Gordon, and Max Champion. Both groups joined to set up the SGMA operating display. The display consisted of two independent modular layouts, each with three-main-lines, one inside the other. The interior modular layout measured 12 ft. by 20 ft. and included an operating Airplane & Pylon tinplate model as a centerpiece. The interior layout was surrounded by a massive exterior layout measuring 60 ft. by 36 ft. The exterior layout incorporated the SGMA's specially designed Horseshoe Curve modules featuring curves ranging from a minimum 84" diameter to an almost prototypical 122" diameter. Also incorporated into the outside loop for the very first time at Syracuse were two specially built ravine modules featuring extensive scenic detail with custom and stock bridgework including a Hellgate Bridge.

The Great New York State Model Train Fair is sponsored by the Central New York Chapter of the National Historical Railway Society. The Fair is housed in the two largest buildings at the New York State Fairgrounds. The total exhibit space is an incredible 165,000 square feet. In addition to a plethora of vendors, Train Fair features 50 operating layouts in various scales, and it is unique in that the layouts are distributed throughout the exhibition area rather than being concentrated in one area of the exhibit as is the custom at most train shows.

Attendance at the show was quite good both days with crowds including many families with children, who delighted in seeing and hearing the big Standard gauge trains roaring down the tracks. SGMA members rotated trains regularly on the six available loops running a combination of vintage Standard gauge sets, locos and cars as well as modern day Standard gauge tinplate, in all its shiny glory. As always, Standard gauge enthusiasts are encouraged to bring something to run to all SGMA exhibitions. Bob Thon, proprietor of Robert's Lines, stopped by with one of his Standard gauge Challenger locomotives. This massive piece looked great running on the SGMA's exterior 84" main line pulling a consist of Bob's custom tinplate cars.

Chris, Kirk and Pat prepare to unload the SGMA trailer upon arrival at Syracuse. Those are the scenic ravine modules housed in the specially built storage and transport cabinet.

The Syracuse SGMA team had assembled the interior Standard gauge layout by the time the Pennsylvania group arrived in Syracuse. In the background are several of the PA group's rolling storage cabinets filled with modules.

Kirk begins the process of assembling the exterior layout. Here he is working on a corner module and one of the new ravine modules.

Pat and Chris attach legs to a module that features SGMA designed leg pockets. This is a time saver instead of using bolts and wing nuts. The cabinet in the background is nearly empty of modules as setup progresses.

Jim Cottzolla and Kirk survey the completed outer and inner loops late Friday afternoon. Note the two empty module transport cabinets in the background and the SGMA power and storage console on the right.

When the show opened on Saturday morning, the trains were running. Here's Pat's beautiful MTH Pennsylvania RR 392E set crossing one of the ravine modules.

It wasn't long before the cacophony of Standard gauge tinplate attracted the attention of some of the younger attendees at the show! This youngster is watching some vintage and modern tinplate crossing the SGMA Hellgate Bridge scenic ravine module.

Here's a look at the power center and storage cabinets used by the PA SGMA group.

On the outside 84" loop is Dick Gordon's McCoy Circus Train, perhaps the longest train of the weekend. On the 72" loop are Jim Kelly's double headed twin motor vintage Lionel 42s pulling three Mfg. era #29 Day Coaches. On the inner 42" loop is the SGMA National 384E Limited set. The consist is made up of cars named after the eight SGMA participants at Train Fair. These cars were specially prepared by Phil Edwards of J & R Junction in Syracuse.

Children and adults alike are attracted to the sights and sounds of Standard gauge tinplate trains and accessories. Jim Kelly's Erector operating windmill and signal tower were attention grabbers.

Bob Thon, of Robert's Lines, gets ready to run one of his massive Challenger Standard gauge locomotives on the SGMA 84" main line.

SGMA PA member and master craftsman Pat Rolland (r) with SGMA Syracuse members Charlie Grover (l) and Max Champion (m). Pat built this Standard gauge work car out of sheet steel at his employer's shop during his lunch hour.

Charlie Grover prepares to run Dick Gordon's McCoy circus train.

Here's a wide angle view of the large SGMA Train Fair '08 modular presentation. The Horseshoe Curve modules are centered between the two ravine modules in front in this view.

Standard Gauge Module Association Train Fair '08 Participants

(l to r) Charles Grover, Jim Kelly, Dick Gordon, Max Champion, Kirk Lindvig,

Jim Cottzolla, Pat Rolland, Chris Bogus

This video shows some of the Standard gauge trains running at Train Fair

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