Rails By The Bay 2021 logo

NMRA 2021 Virtual National Convention


July 6 – 10, 2021
Santa Clara, California


Bruce Morden, Clif Linton, & Frank Markovich, MMR®


Rails by the Bay NMRA's 2021 virtual convention will feature world-class clinics by the hobby’s top modelers, layout owners, and operators. Our focus will be on what the prototype railroads do and how we can learn from their practices to apply it to our model railroads.

Clinics & Presenters

Current as of:

NOTE: Subject to change without notice.

Check the News & Updates webpage periodically as the convention date approaches to stay up-to-date with the latest additions.

  • Bernhard Beck — "Building Untergroeningen - From Prototype to Model"
    Bernhard is building Untergroeningen station, a small terminal station in southwest Germany, as part of a modular extension to his stationary Welztalbahn layout. The clinic will cover prototype research on the location and rolling stock, turning the prototype information into a model that captures the flair of the prototype, laying track, decisions on modular setup, scenery, background, lighting, decisions on scratch building vs. kit-bashing vs. straight kits for buildings, etc. He'll cover how the modular extension expands operations on the Welztalbahn, and an outlook on further expansion. See blog.lostentry.org/search/label/untergroeningen
  • Guy Cantwell — "Fast Forward – 15 Years of layout Construction in an Hour"
    Join Guy for a photo presentation on the construction of his Willoughby Line layout. The clinic compresses fifteen years of construction into a short presentation. Watch as the layout grows from ground zero into a multi-deck monster. Guy will show how he has approached some of the classic double-deck construction issues, such as: crossing the door, lighting the lower deck, helix, supporting the upper deck, staging, etc. Check out Guy's layout and modeling at: thewilloughbyline.com/.
  • Guy Cantwell — "Scenery techniques – Modeling the Central Valley and the Western Sierras"
    A presentation on scenery techniques to help you model California's Central Valley and the Sierras. Topics include grass techniques, trees (Oaks to Ponderosa pines), ground cover, bushes, and rocks. Guy will walk you through the basics of the techniques and demonstrate how he applied them to build scenes on his Central valley/Sierra-themed layout. Check out Guy's layout and modeling at: thewilloughbyline.com/.
  • Guy Cantwell — "Blurring the line: Freelancing from the Prototype"
    Join Guy for a presentation on how to use prototype information to create a realistic freelance railroad. Topics covered will include: creating a group of prototype roads, selecting equipment and rolling stock, creating scenes inspired by prototype locations, and practical tips for building models and scenes on your layout. Check out Guy's layout and modeling at: thewilloughbyline.com/.
  • Bill Decker — "So You Want to Build a Dream Model Railroad?"
    Reflecting upon the past eight (nine by the time of the 2021 convention) years of construction of Bill's basement-filling SP Cascade Line, this clinic identifies design, construction, and project management ideas that have led to success. While most individuals may choose different approaches, the intent is to provide thought about the individual modeler's goals and to try to match those goals to one's own work habits and hobby style.
  • Paul Deis — "Tuning up your rolling stock"
    Are you plagued by derailments? Do you have trouble with couplers? Does your rolling stock wobble down the track? What can you do? Come spend some time with us as we explore easy steps you can take to improve the reliability of your railroad. Paul will describe the methods he uses and the tools he has found helpful.
  • Bob Frankrone — "Love Those Loads"
    Bob is the author of the “Love Those Loads” series featured monthly in the NMRA Magazine. This clinic features plenty of photos of both prototype and HO modeled loads. A real crowd-pleaser, this clinic appeals to the beginner as well as the seasoned model railroader. Learn how to create interesting loads using commercially available products and kits. If you enjoy open loads, you will not want to miss Bob's clinic.
  • Bob Frankrone — "Creating Operations on the Louisville Southern Lines"
    If you think you can’t operate your layout...think again. In this clinic, Bob discusses how he transformed his Louisville Southern Lines (LSL) layout into an operating layout long after it was designed and built. He presents a short history of the layout; describes the cities, towns, and industries; and diagrams the LSL route map. Bob explains his requirements for model railroad operation, the constraints his layout poses, and the mechanics of an operating session on the LSL. (45 minutes).
  • Bob Frankrone — "How to add a scene to a layout in 15 easy steps"
    Unless you are one of the few model railroaders that have a finished railroad, there is a good chance you have some areas on your layout that are void of any scene or scenery (plywood prairies as they are sometimes called). This clinic will demonstrate how easy it can be to create a nice-looking scene on your railroad, regardless of one’s skill level. Watch as Bob converts a three-square foot plywood prairie on his layout into a complete scene in 15 easy steps. A few simple tools, some readily available scenery materials, and various odds and ends like paint and glue are all he uses to create his scene. Whether you are a beginner or a Master Model Railroader, we think you will enjoy seeing a complete scene come into existence.
  • Bryan Fraser — "What is Modeling?"
    A presenter-led discussion exploring what it means to model in all aspects of model railroading including; design, building, scenery detail, and operations.
  • Byron Henderson — "Layout Design Bootcamp"
    An intensive 4-hour session on track planning sponsored by the Layout Design SIG. Discover how to refine vision, concept, and purpose; select layout footprints and schematics; draw accurate and useful plans; create efficient and engaging yards and industrial areas; make the best use of staging tracks; maintain space for people, and avoid common track planning errors. Presented with Seth Neumann.
  • Michael Hill"Simplifying wiring on your panels with Arduinos, Neo-Pixels and resistor chains"
    Learn how one creates a nice compact yard panel that has lights, power, and points control without all the messy and hard-to-repair wiring. These have come across as we got annoyed at all the excess wiring and the need to make things easier to fault find. The panel concept will work nicely with a basic shelf layout all the way up to a multi-cab railroading empire.
  • Paul Hobbs — "Fifty Years of Amtrak "
    On May 1, 2021 Amtrak celebrated its 50th birthday. We will review the company's progress from start-up, including schedules, equipment changes, paint schemes.
  • Paul Hobbs — "Business Cars, Private Cars"
    Railroad business cars have been in service from near the beginning of steam railroading, known to be on the roster of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1855, before the Civil War. In 1863 the United States Military Railroads built a 4-truck car for their CEO – President Lincoln. Business cars were at their most numerous in the 1920s, about 900 cars, representing less than 1.5% of the passenger car fleet. The role of business cars has evolved, several among the fleets of present-day railroads as exquisitely maintained sales tools and inspection vehicles. Private cars were the corporate jets of earlier times. Often configured similar to business cars, they were the transports of the rich and famous. Today’s private cars are restored members of the heavyweight and streamlined fleets, many available for charter. Modeling these cars can be an interesting kitbash project or a brass model purchase. We will explore all these elements and more.
  • Benita Jameson — "Frankensteining Your Figures"
    Modifying scale figures to meet your needs. It is hard to find figures for certain eras or a figure for a certain pose. It is easy to modify figures to get exactly what you need.
  • Mark Juett, MMR® — "Setting Up for Operations"
    If you are interested in model railroad operations, there are several things to consider even if your track is operational and the scenery complete. How will you dispatch trains? Where and how will you build a Dispatcher’s Office? Will you use radio, telephone, telegraph, or another method to communicate? What method will you use for car forwarding? What paper forms will you need? Time Tables, Clearance Forms, Switch List, Bad Order Forms, etc. Will your operators be able to identify locations and industries on your railroad?
  • Mark Juett, MMR® — "Car Forwarding with JMRI"
    There are several methods to generate traffic on your railroad. Car cards are very popular, but cars are limited to four destinations. The old guys used colored thumbtacks but that detracted from the appearance of the car. There are several software programs but many of them are dependent on one person to maintain and update the software.
  • Mark Juett, MMR® — "Planning and Wiring for DCC"
    Wiring for DCC is different than wiring for DC. We can get rid of all those blocks and toggle switch wiring but with several locos running at once we have a lot more current draw. We need beefier wiring to prevent voltage drop at the far end. We still may need multiple blocks and power districts, circuit breakers, and more equipment. If we plan to have a signal system, we will need many blocks and detectors.
  • Mark Juett, MMR® — "JMRI with Decoder Pro"
    JMRI DecoderPro is a great tool to set up and configure your decoder. Learn how to best use DecoderPro to your advantage. It has a great graphical user interface which makes it easy to use.
  • Mark Juett, MMR® — "Installing Sound Decoders"
    Not every decoder installation is plug and play. Older locos can be upgraded for better performance. You can find a way to make the installation in most locomotives.
  • Clifton Linton — "Butane by rail - a prototype you can model"
    Butane is still a commodity shipped in manifest quantities by rail. Here's the background on the commodity, why and how it moves by rail, and how you could model it on your layout.
  • Frank Markovich, MMR®Building the demonstration layout for the "Magic of Scale Model Railroading"
    Frank will cover the building of the new exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum from the ground up, including, but not limited to Benchwork, Subroadbed, Trackwork, Electrical, Scenery, Structures, etc.
  • Bruce Morden — "Layout Without a Plan: Changes as You Go Along"
    What happens if you build a layout and then want to make changes? Add signals, change track arrangements, add more lighting, add animation, and more? The argument for building small and experimenting before you build your life layout.
  • Bruce Morden — "Using Sanborn maps and aerial photos for layout design"
    Layout design based on research from Sanborn Insurance maps, aerial photos, railroad maps, and USGS topographic maps. Some examples that Bruce used on his model railroad as well as some areas close to the convention will be presented. Sources for your own use and exploration will be provided. A great way to study the prototype for design and operation.
  • Chris Palermo — "Seasickness Unknown: The Pacific Coast Companies, 1875-1935"
    Pacific Coast Steamship Company invented the California-to-Alaska cruise business in the 1880s and was unique in having connections to three railroads, two of which were narrow gauge. The 3' gauge Pacific Coast Railway in San Luis Obispo County, California provided an essential passenger, freight, and mail link for rural communities in the early 20th Century. Both companies held US mail contracts that helped maintain profitability. Bridging the hobbies of model railroading and postal history collecting (philately), this clinic will trace the history of these lines, highlighted by displays of original 19th and early 20th century artifacts and ephemera from the author's collection, including postal items carried on the lines, menus, advertising, and photographs.
  • Frank Schneider — "Make your own decals"
    In this clinic, Frank will describe a way of making waterslide decals with white and metallic printing. All it takes is some special materials, a laser printer, and a laminator. Make silver, gold, white, or any color or combination of color decals.
  • Pete Steinmetz — "Dead Rail Systems in Smaller Scales"
    An overall discussion of battery-powered remote control systems currently on the market. Pete will give a brief history of Battery Power, advantages of Dead Rail, available systems and their advantages, discussion of batteries, battery charging, and battery safety.
  • Jesse Walden — "An Operating System for Smaller Layouts"
    Jesse does not have a multi-hundred-foot layout but he likes to know why am he's moving trains and where they are going. We will cover what is an operating system and what is it supposed to do. What do real railroads do and what is appropriate for a smaller layout. How the system works on his home layout.

Do you want to present a clinic?

Have you learned a special technique while building your model railroad or weathering some of your rolling stock? Would you like to share some of that learning with other model railroaders? Please consider giving a clinic at Rails By The Bay.

To offer a clinic, click on the link below and complete the "Propose a Clinic" form. Please complete a separate form for each clinic.

Propose a Clinic

Thanks in advance! See you on Zoom!

Bruce Morden & Clif Linton
Clinics Co-chairs

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict       Valid CSS!


This page last updated: