National Capital Trackers O Gauge Club at October TCA York Meet
By Matt Panagos (14-69872) and Mike Fistere (92-34689) Fall 2016
EDITOR’S NOTE: AN ABBREVIATED VERSION OF THIS THIS ARTICLE WAS FEATURED ON PAGE 6, IN THE SEPTEMBER, 2016 NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS NEWS, AND FORWARDED TO e*TRAIN BY HQN EDITOR, TIM STIER.
Well, it’s that time of year again—the TCA Eastern Division will be holding the Fall York Meet on October 20-22, 2016 at the York Fairgrounds. The National Capital Trackers O Gauge Railroad Club is the Washington DC area’s premier O Gauge modular railroad club. With over 100 members, primarily from Washington DC, the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, the Baltimore metro area and even the Maryland Eastern Shore and Southern Pennsylvania, the Trackers have successfully managed an aggressive schedule of over twenty five public and private events each year.
Our venues range from the turntable of the B&O Railroad Museum each Christmas to the College Park Aviation Museum on the grounds of the College Park Airport – the oldest continuously operating airport in the world where the Wright Brothers taught the Army to fly, to local Greenberg train shows, street fairs and much more. We also support several private events – a favorite being a display at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington DC where Trackers share their trains and listen to stories from those that have fought for this country.
In addition, the Trackers have demonstrated commitment to technology both on the layout and on the computer. We run our trains using the latest WIFI control systems, MTH’s DCS Command System, Lionel’s Legacy as well as conventional operation out of custom-built power cabinets. We pride ourselves on being able to accommodate all trains as well as all operating interests. In addition, the Trackers make use of a state-of-the-art website, YouTube and Facebook. Our Facebook page has approximately 700 “Likes” or people interested in our club and following our page for the latest and greatest info, pictures, and news. Several Trackers manage our Facebook page, allowing us to provide “real time” updates and photos from many of our events. If you are on Facebook, please search “National Capital Trackers” and “Like” us. You can also find a link through our website, www.nationalcapitaltrackers.org.
Our membership ranges from father/son and grandpa/grandchild teams, teenagers, working professionals, and retired professionals. Our members’ creativity shines in many of our modules and displays and we will be exhibiting a newly designed modular layout in the Black Hall at the Fall York in October 2016. The Trackers have participated in many past York Meets, most recently in April 2014. We are the first ever club to exhibit in the Black Hall and are excited to build our largest and most complex layout yet as well as our fifth layout for the York meet!
While we will not let out all of the surprises, here is a short run down of what you can expect to see:
- John Zampino’s triple track 20 ft. long, 6 ft. high Hell Gate Bridge, modeled on the real version that Amtrak uses in New York.
- Bernie Gross’s incredibly detailed and intricate Civil War battlefield diorama of Manassas.
- Up to 10 trains operating at the same time.
- Regis Harkins’ incredible Pittsburgh steel mill, representing the US Steel Blast Furnace where his dad worked.
- A custom module with scenery made by Scenic Express especially for the York show.
- Different levels of track throughout the layout – watch trains cross over each other, including a bridge configuration never before done on an O Gauge Modular Railroad.
- 34 foot long, 6 track yard.
- 90° crossover on mainline (crashes likely, we won’t name the likely culprits!).
Again, we won’t be giving away all the secrets – you will just have to come to the Black Hall at York in October to see it for yourself. As you can see, the display promises to be a big crowd pleaser and will surely generate a lot of buzz in the O Gauge community. We welcome everyone coming to the York meet in October to visit the Black Hall and see our display. If you are a resident of the DC Area and are interested in joining us and wonderful group of people to promote the hobby and have fun, please visit our website at www.nationalcapitaltrackers.org.
The Trackers use integrated power cabinets allowing quick, easy set up. The cabinets were built by several Tracker members and incorporate storage drawers, 2 Z-4000 MTH Transformers, a test track, MTH DCS and Lionel TMCC/Legacy Command Control and Wi-Fi equipment. We use the latest and greatest technology for O Gauge train control. The cabinets allow for easy, quick hookup and eliminate any “operator error” in setup.
Tracker Bernie Gross’s intricate Civil War Battlefield
The Trackers display their railroad at the College Park Aviation Museum during Labor Day weekend and Christmas each year. College Park Aviation Museum is on the grounds of the College Park Airport, the oldest, continuously operating airfield in the world. Established in 1909, the Wright Brothers taught the Army (US Army Signal Corps) to fly at College Park, among many other aviation “firsts” that occurred on the field.