Armand Cyr passes

Bill Hupe

Armand Gerald Cyr, 64, of Port Orchard, unexpectedly passed away peacefully in his sleep Thursday morning, July 24, 2014. Armand was born in Madawaska, Maine, on November 25, 1949 to the late Leonide and Albertine Cyr. He graduated from BassickHigh School in Bridgeport, CT in 1968. Armand is a U.S. veteran who served proudly in the Air Force for four years and served over twenty years in the civil service.

He married Karen (Yahnel) Cyr in Vacaville, California on February 19, 1972. Armand was a beloved member of the community and Crossroads church.

Armand was an avid model railroader. He frequently could be found building buildings, working on his railroad, helping build layouts, and participating in the local PacificCoast and Pacific Northwest Regions of the National Model Railroad Association. Armand belonged to a KitsapCounty model railroad roundtable, helping build and operate model railroads throughout the county.

Armand is survived by his wife Karen and two children, Armand Albert Cyr (Melanie) and Aaron Cyr (Rebekah), and by five grandchildren: Cameron, Shaun, Adrian, Zechariah and Adrianna. Armand is also survived by his eight siblings, Mona Cyr, Jeannette Sebastian, Robert Cyr, Rachel St. Onge, Roger Cyr, Jackie Gatchell, and Paul Cyr. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Ronald Cyr.

A private family viewing will be held on Wednesday, July 30. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at CrossroadsChurch on Friday, August 1, at 6:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, a donation fund to support his surviving family has been set up at

New Fourth Division Clinic

Al Carter

The Fourth Division has added yet another monthly clinic to better serve local NMRA members and other model railroaders.  The Skagit Clinic will have its first meeting on September 9, 2014, at the Mount Vernon Senior Center, starting at 7:00 pm.  The Senior Center is at 1401 S. Cleveland Street, easily accessible from I-5 via the Kincaid Street exit.

A number of Skagit and Snohomish County folks were making the monthly trek to Oak Harbor for the Whidbey/Skagit monthly clinic and several of us decided to start a newer clinic closer to home.  Our goal is to work closely with our fellow friends over in Oak Harbor to possibly share clinic agendas and clinicians, which seems like a win-win situation.  We also hope to serve more NMRA members (and other model rails) in the Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom County areas.

As of this writing, Ted Becker has agreed to step up and be the first clinician and he has proposed several ideas.  As we get closer to September 9, we will make a more detailed announcement in the Grab Iron.  In the meantime, if anyone has any questions or suggestions, or wants to volunteer to be a clinician, feel free to contact me at email hidden; JavaScript is required  or 360-399-1226.  If you wish to be added to an email list for a clinic newsletter, just let me know.


PSX 2014 – The PNR Convention in Tacoma, WA

Walt Huston

The day before the convention began several home and museum layouts were open for visitors who were on their way into Tacoma to view, including mine. I had ten drop by and am quite pleased. The convention took off with the Board of Directors meeting at 10:00 Wednesday morning. That was followed by a series of clinics Wednesday afternoon, and the first big mixer, the Ice Cream Social, Wednesday evening. The ice cream was delicious, as were the many toppings available. There was no ice cream left over, that’s for sure.

Thursday began bright and early with the bus leaving for the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad Tour and BBQ at 7:30 and clinics beginning at 8. The self-drive layout tours were in the area of Olympia, WA and were well attended.

Friday kicked off with the Tacoma Rail tour bus heading out at 8, while clinics headed into day 3. The layout self-drive tours were in the area of Puyallup, Spanaway and Lakewood. (I was open again.) Again, the layouts drew good numbers of visitors. (I had 39.)

Saturday the clinics again started at 8. There were no bus tours on Saturday, however, the self-drive layout tours were open in the Tacoma and Fife areas. Again, well attended. The General membership meeting was conducted beginning at 10 and adjourned at close to 11. A very good member attendance kept things lively and interesting.

The Banquet was held Saturday evening. The food was excellent; a good time was had by all. Awards were given to the contest winners, the 4D Golden Grab Iron Award (Person of the Year) was presented to Jim Sabol of Spanaway for the overwhelming amount of service Jim has given, not only over the past year, but also over a very long time. The highlight of the evening was the award of The President’s Award to Gary Hazell of the 7th Division. Gary is another PNR member who has given so very much of himself to his Division, to PNR, and to model railroading in general.

This was my final convention as President and it was a great way to bow out. Thanks to everyone who assisted me over the past four plus years. I’m not done visiting the cities and towns within the PNR, but from now on, it’s going to be for pleasure and to do AP assessments with the Jack Hamilton 4D Hit Squad. Or, maybe augmenting local assessors, who need a helping hand.

Keep on Training!

Tacoma Clinic

Al Babinsky / Photos by Chip van Gilder

First I want to apologize for the late report, but a number of things happened and I had to get the layout ready for the PSX 2014 tour as well as a few models for the contest.

MMR Gene Swanson opened the clinic on time as always and asked for topics for future clinics. We had 38 modelers attending including two newcomers. The up-coming conventions was mentioned and has since past with I believe great success. The Kitsap Live Steamers announced that they are operating on the 1st and 4th Saturday of the month.

What’s new in the Hobby Shop presented a number of new items in Z scale, N scale, HO and Lionel.

Walt Huston presented Al Babinsky with a structure merit award.

In the Bring and Brag category Chris Clancey had a Kato ALCO RS-3 heavily weathered and a Central Oregon & Pacific diesel. Scott Taylor had a Grandt Line 23 ton Box Cab diesel that he converted to an electric traction unit. It is powered with a Stanton drive. Dale Kraus showed a Bachurus locomotive test stand and a complete scratch built hardwood lumber mill. Stu showed an N scale curved turn-out and Mike Stepner had a weathered track mobilephoto 2.

Scott Taylor won the Model of the Month award with his traction locomotive.

The clinic was presented by Robert Scott and was a slide show titled North Dakota – Requiem for a lost land. It showed the before and after the current oil boom which changed everything. An excellent show as always by Robert.

Our next clinic will be in September with Chip van Gilder presenting 3-D photography. It will at our usual location in the Pierce County Library Admin. Bldg. at the corner of 112th Street and Waller Road. Have a great summer do some railfanning and enjoy, see you in September. 

photo 1

photo 3

photo 4

NMRA Economics

Frank Koch, NMRA CFO

This month I’ll discuss the Assets and Liabilities aspects of the NMRA financial world. Assets are things with a positive cash value that contribute to our value. Liabilities are obligations we have that decrease our value. The difference between the two is the net value of the corporation. (Remember, I am trying to keep this simple.)

ASSETS – We organize our assets into six categories: cash, receivables, capital assets, investments, inventory, and pre-paid expenses. Cash is the sum of the deposits in our various bank accounts and the cash in our investment account. Receivables are those sums owed to NMRA by others, i.e., invoices we made that are not paid by someone else. The biggest items in this area are the unpaid HDM pledges. Capital Assets are the depreciated book value (we depreciate capital assets above threshold values and life expectancy) for our equipment. There was a major change when we sold the HQ building as we converted a physical asset into a “cash” asset (it actually mostly went to investments). Investments are the current market value of the various investments – stocks, bonds, money market – that are held by the NMRA. I’ll cover this in a future column. Inventory is the value of the various items remaining in our company store – books, gauges, apparel, etc. Pre-paid expenses are those deposits and bills we have paid that provide services in a future fiscal year.

For 2013, here is a summary of our Assets at the end of the year:

Cash                                                   $ 502,01

Receivables                                        28,166

Receivables (HQ Sale)                 896,360

Capital Assets                                     16,752

Investments                                     834,634

Inventory                                            33,880

Pre-paid Expense                            64,463


Total Assets                              $2,376,266


LIABILITIES – The other side of the ledger is more complex in some ways as the NMRA has a large number of commitments that fall into broad classifications according to common accounting principles. The major elements are unearned revenue, taxes payable, fund balances, and equity. Unearned revenue is anything that has been paid in advance and is to be used in a future year to cover an obligation. This includes part of the Life Fund, member payments for future memberships or conventions, and a portion of the current year payments for dues and subscriptions which are reserved for next fiscal year. Unearned funds are moved into current income in the year in which they are to be used. Taxes payable are those taxes due to governmental groups that have been set aside for later payment – think of it as a kind of escrow. Fund balances are the various committed set-asides where the money is reserved for a specific purpose, either by the donor or the BOD. I’ll cover these in more detail in the future, but it includes the Diamond Club, the Howell Day Museum Fund, the Heart of America Fund, and several other commitments.

At the end of 2013, NMRA Liabilities were:

Accounts Payable                                                 $ 8,895

Accrued Vacation Liability                                12,000

Unearned Revenue                                              798,717

Taxable Payable                                                            175

Unrestricted designated Assets*                  323,209

Unrestricted, non-designated Assets**      910,997

Temporarily Restricted Assets***               322,273


Total Liabilities and Equity                        $2,376,266

*Life Service Obligation, Dean Freytag Memorial Fund

**Approximately 2.5 months operating expenses and BOD reserve fund

***Heart of America, HowellDayMuseum, Diamond Club

At the end of every fiscal year, the NMRA hires an independent accounting firm to audit our finances and prepare a report for the BOD and to prepare our tax filings. The firm reviews all our records and spends about a week at HQ to examine the documentation and to ask questions of the staff. We passed the 2013 audit with no issues or weaknesses. The results will be posted on the new website after the audit is accepted by the BOD.

Next time, I’ll review the various funds we use to keep track of specific commitments that will require cash at some point in the future…and we need to be sure to set it aside.

Model Power Closes

Al Lowe

After more than 50 years in business, hobby product manufacturer Model Power has closed.  The third-generation, family-owned company stopped taking new retail customers April 21, said Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Tager.  An announcement was posted on its website on April 22.
The company is exploring licensing options for its product lines and the possibility of selling off any of its tooling that might be readily available, Tager said. “We thank everybody for all of their support over the years, and we apologize for any inconveniences,” Tager said.

Train Show Inc Acquires Great Train Expo

Al Lowe

Train Show Inc., corporate parent of Greenberg’s Train and Toy Show, Great Midwest Train Show, and World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour, announced that it has acquired the assets of Great Train Expo.  Train Show Inc. will sponsor shows in many of the venues formerly used by Great Train Expo.
“This is a natural expansion of our business,” said Randy Bachmann, president of Train Show Inc. “This purchase allows us to sponsor shows from coast to coast.”  More information and a new show schedule will be posted online at

No June Eastside Clinic — attend PSX instead!

JJ Johnston

There will be NO EASTSIDE CLINIC on the third Thursday this month due to the PSX2014 Regional Convention in Tacoma next week.

But there is still time for you to register for the convention. Just go to


Board to Meet June 14 — All 4D members invited

Russ Segner

The last Board of Directors meeting ran long and was continued to conclude on June 14 at 11:00 at the Sheraton Hotel in Bellevue. We will focus on completing the budget for the coming year as well as some changes in the BOD and some committees.

We have sufficient information from the modular groups, so they need not attend unless they want to be there. Space is somewhat limited, so I would appreciate knowing ahead of time who will be there for sure.

While I will be away from the area for the next week, I will return on Wednesday. I may be reached by cell at 206 200 2211. I will also email hidden; JavaScript is required and respond immediately.


Approval of minutes

Approval of Agenda

Superintendent’s report

BOD changes and committee changes

Assistant Superintendent’s report

Recommendation regarding Directors and Officers Insurance

Old Business – continuation of budget discussions

New Business


Seattle-North Clinic – Something Different on June 5, 2014

By Jeff Moorman

At our last meeting we discussed several options for our June meeting. However, it turns out we’ll do something that wasn’t discussed. This is an opportunity that just presented itself, so we thought we’d take advantage and try something we haven’t done before.

What:    Prototype Activity

When:   June 5, 2014 – leave from the church parking lot at 10:00AM; should return around 3:00PM.

That’s right, 10 in the morning on a weekday! I told you it was different.

The number of participants is very limited. To claim a place, check on availability, or ask questions [but exactly what we’ll be doing is a surprise] contact Roger Ferris via email hidden; JavaScript is required or 206-362-3371.

Please do not show up without Roger first acknowledging you have a spot. And bring a lunch if you want to eat before returning.

We meet at the Ronald United Methodist Church, 17839 Aurora Avenue North, Shoreline, WA. That is on the west side of Aurora (State Route 99) between 175th and 185th Streets and more specifically, between the Cadillac dealer on the south and Deseret Industries to the north. Going southbound on Aurora, make a right-hand turn into the church driveway immediately after passing the Deseret location. The parking lot is at the rear of the church. For regular meetings enter the lower, left side of the church from the rear lot.

Meetings are the first Thursday of each month, September through June. However in June we often do something different, so there may be no “regular” meeting. Doors open around 7:00 PM and the program starts at 7:30.

Remember, the next regular evening meeting is September 4. The special prototype activity (with prior permission) is June 5. Hope to see you there or at least sometime on down the line.

3D Printed Rolling Stock

I was reviewing the offerings at the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire  and came across this little jewel.  They appear to be limited to trolleys and small electric locos from California.  Who knows, they may expand or may be able to offer custom one-offs in the future.

Grizzly Peak Model Trains
3d Printed N-Scale Model Electric Trains

May 2014 Skagit Valley/Whidbey Clinic

Tom Buckingham / Photos by Al Frasch

Clinic Chairperson Rich Blake called the May 2014 meeting to order with 39 members in attendance. 

Rich announced that there would be no meeting in June. He was scheduled to run the clinic but has become unable to due to recent commitments. The group talked about the idea of canceling the June meetings altogether as it consistently has the lightest attendance. After some discussion it was agreed not to hold meetings in June.

Once again Rich appealed to the audience for someone to step up and take over the job as snack coordinator. Rich also shared the preliminary clinic topics for next season (September 2014 – May 2015). One important date on the horizon is the annual picnic at John Marshall’s home on August 9th . Rich also mentioned that the 2015 NMRA convention will be held in Portland August 23-29th. It’s not too early to make plans to attend.

 Our clinic was run by Dr. Nick Muff showing us how he adds working headlights and taillights to his fleet of HO vehicles. Nick shared an interesting pictorial history of his various layouts from the time he was 10 and how lit vehicles ever got into his layout plans in the first place. He insists he never planned to light vehicles. However, by the time he got ready to do the scenery on his current layout, he decided to start on the right end of his layout and fine tune his skills as he got to the Kansas City Union Station. In the process he reached his first road. In the background was a small town and he added a couple of lights to buildings  in the village. The next logical step was to add lights to a couple of vehicles on the road and the rest, as they say, is history.

 Moon-over-KCThe first step is to select the vehicles. You must consider the purpose of the road—general thoroughfare or industrial with primarily trucks; time of year—convertibles don’t work well in the winter; your era—but don’t have all cars from the same year. Once those decisions are made select the actual vehicles. The more detailed cars should go toward the front and the less detailed, less expensive cars towards the back.

 Good sources for cars are Greg’s Garage in Saginaw, Michigan, Woodland Scenics, Jordan kits, MiniMetals and others.

 When assembling the vehicles, some will be ready-to-run while others will require a good bit of work. When using cast resin vehicles he first paints the window areas with Micro Mark “Mask-It” liquid masking film. Next goes a coat of primer before the paint. Then the details go on. Nick feels figures are one of the most overlooked details in vehicles—especially convertibles (Al Carter would agree.). He had a wonderful photo of a convertible with four occupants just for Al who was unfortunately out tooting his horn at another event in Oak Harbor.. All of his vehicles have license plates—another excellent detail. Some vehicles get white wall tires. He prefers using commercial stickers instead of hand painting them.

 Some of his vehicles have open doors and trunks. His preferred method to accomplish that is to make repeated scribes around the door or trunk with a scalpel with a #11 blade until the job is finished.

 His taxis all have the “available” sign on the top. Some are lit. To accomplish that he positions a tiny LED below the sign and holds it in place with Canopy Cement. Canopy Cement, dries clear, holds well, but remains slightly “gummy” which allows you to reposition the light later if necessary.

 Now  the vehicles are ready for the lighting. Drilling the holes takes patience, but is not difficult (metal being the exception). Once the holes for the wires have been drilled, Nick uses a slightly larger drill to hollow out some recess for the actual LED. Nick uses Golden White and Red surface mount LED’s from Richmond Electronics. The LEDs can be ordered with or without the leads attached. He strongly recommends getting them with the leads attached. Once the headlight LED’s are in position he puts a small drop of Canopy Glue, which acts somewhat like a lens, consequently it is hard to actually tell that the lights are square and not round. Canopy Glue is also used to hold the tail lights in place.

 For Taxi’s he uses the Golden White LED glued under the roof top sign, the light that “leaks” through looks perfect as an interior dome light. However if you wanted the dome light “off” he uses a small dab of Pactra Racing Finish TESRS 50”Outlaw Black”. It is quite thick and very black and will cover the leak with one coat.

 As to the LED’s themselves he had several pieces of advice, the most important being to test the LED’s before installing them and be sure to use the appropriate dropping resistor when connecting an LED to power, otherwise your LED is gone. As he is fond of saying “once you let the smoke out they don’t work any more”.

 When Nick is done with all the above steps he weathers the cars. His favorite medium is Bragdon Weathering Chalks. Bragdon Chalks are mixed with a powdered adhesive that is activated by the heat generated by brushing it on. Another weathering technique he favors is a light wash of dilute black paint over the grill areas. It make the detail stand out and makes it look more realistic.Night-view

 It was a wonderful clinic filled with many great ideas on vehicles. Thank you Nick!

 For those of you who missed the clinic, Dr. Muff has authored a booklet titled “Lighting Vehicles Using LEDs” offered through BHI Publications. Their website is :


Remember, no meeting in June.

1:1 Model Railroading for “The Lone Ranger”

Al Lowe

Like many of you, I saw the film The Lone Ranger last year but assumed the train sequences were computer generated. Wrong!

The director, Gore Verbinski, built a five mile oval of track and multiple engines, rail cars, and stations! Plus, they built railcar sets on semi-trucks and drove them on existing highways.

Watch the video below to see the incredible effort and craft that went into it. Too bad the plot wasn’t as believable. (If you can, be sure to watch in high-def.)

John Novotny Passes

JohnNovotnyJohn Novotny battled a year-long bout with cancer and passed on May 13, 2014 in Tacoma. He is survived by his wife, Jeannine, of 44 years; children, John, Lisa and Scott; and six grandchildren.

John grew up in Flint, Michigan and moved to Tacoma in 1982. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and a great friend to many. He was very generous with his time and resources. John loved people and impacted many lives. He is greatly missed!

John was secure in his faith in Jesus Christ and was a long-time member of Abundant Life Fellowship in Tacoma. A celebration of his life will be held there at 5917 S Thompson St. on Saturday, May 31, at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, John requested donations be made to the Salvation Army.


Eastside Reminder

JJ Johnston

Let us all take a moment to remember our legendary modeler, Paul Scoles, MMR, who passed away Friday morning following a difficult surgery. Paul has been a trusted friend and a generous mentor to many of us. As you may know, Paul presented several clinics at our Eastside group and has allowed us to visit his amazing Sn3 home layout on several occasions.

This Thursday, May 15, is our last scheduled meeting until September. Our guest presenter this Thursday will be noted modeler and Inside Gateway famous hobby store owner, Steve Depolo. Known for his extensive modeling talents and his scenery expertise, Steve will share the stunning methods he uses to age and weather models.

Of course we will offer the Model of the Month Showcase, bring stuff to sell or buy at the best known RR Mart around, coffee and donuts organized by CJ Turner, welcome by Ambassador Clay Hanson and the video library may also be available for rentals. We start at 7:30 in the BellevueFoursquareChurch so be there early to make sure you get an apple fritter.

PS: Following last month’s clinic on coal loads presented by our favorite newsperson, Glenn Farley, Lee Marsh (our presenter from the previous month) posted this photo of his coal load he modeled using Glenn’s techniques. Sweet!

See ya Thursday.

Lee Marsh's coal load

Lee Marsh’s coal load

Paul Scoles passes

Paul Scoles

Paul Scoles

Al Lowe

Paul Scoles, one of the Fourth Division’s internationally known model railroaders, passed away Friday morning, May 9, 2014 of complications from back surgery.

His Sn3 Pelican Bay Railway & Navigation Company layout has been featured in numerous magazines. He created a series of videos and books about scenery and operations. He was a Vietnam veteran who continued to suffer from shrapnel wounds in his legs.

Paul cared passionately about model railroading as an art form and was one of the great talents of our hobby. He was a man of dignity and humor — both of which could be seen on his layout.

His obituary is here.

Add your remembrances to the comments section below.

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