Clinics & Presentations

View Clinic Descriptions  
View Clinic Dates & Times

Clinic Chairman:  Barry Schmitt
Contact Barry at

The Susquehannock clinic program will feature presentations by talented modelers, authors, and experts in every field of model railroading. The clinics will vary in presentation style and some will include hands-on operating sessions to solidify the material taught in class. We’ve lined up presenters from all over the Mid-East Region and even a few from beyond. Whatever your interest, we’ll have the clinic for you.

Clinics at the Susquehannock will be presented Thursday through Sunday from morning to evening.  Several of the clinics will be presented twice during the convention. Specific dates and times for these clinics are still being developed.  Thursday clinics start at 7:00 PM.



Clinics & Presenters

Please note this list is TENTATIVE and subject to change without notice.

So far, we have these clinics and presenters lined up: (as of: July 4th, 2017)


One Modeler’s Approach to Building a Layout

This clinic will be based on lessons learned in building layouts since the 1950s in HO, HOn3, N, On3, O Scale – Proto48, and live steam.  We will review issues of space preparation and room environment, layout design questions, modeling a freelance or prototype pike, building techniques, allotting time periods to work, and people’s different approaches to the hobby over the lifespan of a layout.  The clinic will be somewhat introspective, and it will cover layout building from doing a project using just glue, scissors, and pliers on a flat-sheet type to a full size operational layout of Master Modeler quality.  Presented by Andrew Dodge, MMR


Modeling Railroads of the Civil War

This clinic will provide an in-depth look at the development, equipment, technology, and operations of railroads during the American Civil War. It will include many examples of world class modeling. Presented by Bernard Kempinski.


Down to the Sea in Trains

This clinic will provide an overview of how railroads and ships interact at marine terminals from the early days of railroading to the current era of unit trains, double stacks, and massive container ships. This talk complements my latest book from Kalmbach Publishing due in late Mar 2017. Presented by Bernard Kempinski.


Modeling Slate Roofs

Because slate was used as a roofing material over a wide geographic region, there are many modelers who will want to have slate-roofed structures on their layout. The great Pennsylvania Slate Belt is located less than 100 miles north and east from the location of this convention and was a great customer of the local railroads. This clinic, an extension of Bruce’s RMC article from May 2009, will look at how slate roofs were/are constructed in the real world and then ways to simulate them on our models. This clinic has been accepted into the NMRA’s EduTRAIN® Program. Presented by Bruce DeYoung, MMR.


Modeling Tips and Tricks for Structures

This clinic covers a variety of tips and tricks for building and detailing structures. Techniques applicable to both kit builders and scratch builders are presented. Topics include foundations, walls and roofs, as well as interior and exterior decoration. Presented by Bruce DeYoung, MMR.


Logging Railroads of Pennsylvania

The peak period of logging by rail in Pennsylvania ran from 1880 until roughly 1929. During that period there were literally hundreds of logging railroads that came, operated, and then disappeared. About half of those railroads were narrow gauge. Examples of the motive power and other equipment used by these railroads, along with a discussion of the large variety of industries they served will be looked at from both a prototype and modeling perspective. The presentation contains many prototype photos of the period and is augmented by model photos from Bruce’s HOn3 Slate Run Railroad and a sampling of model photos from friends in the hobby. Presented by Bruce DeYoung, MMR.


Weather or Not

This clinic provides an introduction to weathering without an airbrush. Attendees will learn how to weather structures, freight cars, and motive power using a variety of different methods. Techniques covered include washes (alcohol, water, and mineral spirits) as well as the use of powders, markers, and pastel pencils. This clinic has been accepted into the NMRA’s EduTRAIN® Program. Presented by Bruce DeYoung, MMR.


Creating Photo Backdrops of Historical Scenes

The advent of low-cost image manipulation tools such as Photoshop Elements has led to increased popularity and feasibility for custom photo backdrops. Several modelers have published articles and clinics focused on working with contemporary photography. This clinic provides a brief overview of image manipulation for custom photo backdrops in general. It then shows first how to recreate long-gone period scenes by “back-dating” (i.e. extensively editing) modern photography. It next illustrates the manipulation of perspective in, and the colorization of, historical black and white photography designed to produce custom representations of period scenes. Examples are drawn from custom photo backdrops on the presenter’s S/Sn3 layout based on the PRR and EBT. Presented by Lee Rainey.


Modeling Mount Union

“The Standard Railroad of the World” meets “The Most Modern Narrow Gauge”! It happened in Mount Union Pennsylvania, and with a bit of two-foot gauge thrown in for good measure! For many years Mount Union was the largest shipping point on the PRR’s fabled Middle Division, due in no small measure to the traffic generated by the narrow-gauge East Broad Top Railroad (EBT). Coal, brick, lumber, leather, textiles, furniture, feed and flour, grain and fresh vegetables, petroleum products, chemicals, sand and stone, and merchandise for local grocers all passed in and out of Mount Union on a daily basis creating a remarkable prototype setting showcased through period photos that will be presented in the clinic. You will also see the track plan for the Mount Union S/Sn3 switching layout now under construction in the presenter’s basement. And the two-foot gauge – come to the clinic to find out! Presented by Lee Rainey.


History of Coal-fired Power Plants for Modeling Purposes

Coal-fired power plants have historically been a very large generator of railroad traffic. However, since they became a dominant source of electricity in the 1882–1900 time frame, they have changed dramatically in architecture and capability. For modeling purposes it is essential to understand the design of coal-fired plants in order to match the plants with the era being modeled. Using extensive photographs and drawings, this clinic looks at power plants in the following eras: pre-1900, 1900–1920, 1920–1945, 1945-1970, 1970–2000, and 2000–present. Issues discussed include transportation, receiving methods, coal yard design, design of the coal-fired power plant, and post-combustion pollution controls. Some historical data presented highlight the changes over time. Presented by David Tillman.


Modeling Modern Power Plants

This clinic describes techniques for modeling modern (post 1970 era) coal-fired power plants, explains why modeling them is appropriate for many model railroads, presents basic factors in power plant and model power plant design, and modeling techniques. The clinic is based on a 1000 megawatt (MW) power plant built on my railroad – a freelance HO scale layout depicting the theme, “sources and uses of coal.” It also describes a repowered gasification facility – another model plant on my railroad. Recognizing the complexities of modern coal-fired power plants, these models are designed to convey the “feel” of generating stations without attempting to include all piping, cable trays, etc. The clinic presents pictures collected over 40+ years working in coal-fired and biomass-fired power plants. It also includes pictures from the power plants built on my layout. The clinic also addresses basic model railroading design issues: coal receiving, coal yard design, and design of the power house and ancillary systems (e.g., cooling towers) and pollution controls. Specific subassemblies will be shown including conveyor types, coal stackout, whether the plant has or does not have side walls, and more. Selective compression methods will also be discussed. Presented by David Tillman.


Styrene Structure Scratch Building

This clinic will discuss the basic tools required for scratch building with styrene and also the various adhesives needed for construction. Through demonstrations, the techniques used in assembling buildings from drawings and photographs will be explained. Also, websites that offer various building materials needed for scratch building will be shared. A display of HO and N scale models, including a lighted structure, will be available for viewing. Time will be provided for questions. Presented by Tony Segro.


The Frugal (Cheap) Model Railroader

Model railroaders are a unique type of hobbyist. Our hobby has all levels of skill and experience. However, there is one common characteristic that I have observed over the years. That trait is frugality (also known more commonly as being cheap). We all want the best and most accurate locomotives, rolling stock, structures, accessories and scenery; yet we balk at paying top dollar for these items. As a premier frugalist, I would like to share some ideas, thoughts, and concepts that rely on common household items many consider disposable trash. Your outlook on these simple items will focus on the ‘what ifs’, ‘how can I use it,’ and combining parts as well as selective cannibalism. We will explore the uses of fishing line, tape cores, bottle caps, fabric accessories, coffee stirrers, drinking straws, security envelopes, aluminum foil, plastic wheelsets, modeling scrap, etc. All of these recyclables can be applied to accent scenery, construct car loads, add details to layouts, and save money! Please join me and experience the world of the Frugal Model Railroader! Presented by Rich Wurst.


Thirty-Five Years of Tips and Tricks

In this clinic, Brian will present dozens of handy and proven ideas and techniques that solve everyday model railroader problems. Presented by Brian Sheron, MMR.


Electroluminescent Signs

In this clinic, Brian will briefly explain how electroluminescent signs work. He will show what commercially made signs are available, how to install them on your layout, and provide some tricks for hiding the connecting wires and plugs. Finally, he will show how you can easily make your own custom electroluminescent signs. In addition to his topic discussion, Brian will also have several operational electroluminescent signs set up and operational during his clinic. Presented by Brian Sheron, MMR.


Improve Your Trucks and Trains

In this Keynote presentation Lou will discuss the techniques and materials he employs to convert and detail vehicles intended for the children’s toy market into realistic representations of their prototype counterparts. He will also explain the techniques he uses to improve not only the looks but also the performance of various types of freight equipment on his SR&RL Railroad.  Presented by Lou Sassi.


Scenery Along the Right of Way

In this presentation Lou will explain the materials and techniques he utilizes to replicate various kinds of colors of rocks, specific tree types, woods, grass, and Right of Way fencing representative of that found on the prototype of his model railroad – the SR&RL Railroad.  Presented by Lou Sassi.


How to Build Turnouts to Fit Where Commercial Turnouts Will Not Fit

We have often encountered spaces on our model railroads where a commercial turnout will not fit because the space is too small or the intersecting track is too much of an angle. The only way to fit in a turnout is hand-lay or scratch-build one. You have never tried to do that and are reluctant to try “because it is so hard.” John will show you an easy way to build a non-standard turnout without jigs. You can also use this method to build a standard turnout (#4, #5, #6 etc.). If you can solder, you can do this. The tools you will need you probably already have: a vice, files, soldering iron and solder, rail nippers, an NMRA track gauge, a 3 point track gauge, a pencil and paper. Also you will need rail, switch ties and paper template, throw bar material (printed circuit board material) .005″ sheet brass and spikes. You do not need any expensive jigs or fixtures. John developed this method in the 1960s and has built more than 50 turnouts since that time. Come and watch this PowerPoint clinic that shows an easy method how to do it. Presented by John Wissinger, MMR.


Scratchbuilding In Brass

This clinic will show some of the techniques Alan uses in Scratchbuilding brass locomotives. Included will be the topics of frame construction, soldering, sheet metal work, etc. Examples of some of his award winning scratch-built brass locomotives will be on display. Presented by Alan Mende.


Research & Building a Historic Structure – The Sheafe Warehouse

What happens when you are traveling and suddenly discover a structure you desire for your layout? Time is short and you lack the tools to measure all aspects of the structure. This clinic provides some guidance on how to measure and research a structure to build an accurate model in this situation. Presented by Fred Willis.


Scratch Building Blacksmith Shop & Railroad Station from Photos

Structures abound in photographs but unfortunately kits of most structures do not exist. How can you build a structure model from a photograph? This clinic provides guidelines and ideas on how to research and build an accurate structure from a photograph. Presented by Fred Willis.


Timetable & Train Order (TT&TO) Operations

This 2-clinic period presentation will teach basic timetable and train-order operating rules as used in the past by prototype railroads to control train movements. The clinic will cover key operating rules and then use those rules to simulate operation on a railroad. Attendees will also copy a train order and prepare a clearance form. All handout material will be provided by presenter. TT&TO works great in controlling operations on model railroads. There is no fee for this clinic. Presented by Steve King.

NOTE: This clinic is open to all convention attendees. However, only those attending this clinic will have the opportunity to participate in the Friday evening follow-on TT&TO Operating Lab referred to as South Penn TT&TO Operating Lab below. Those attendees wanting to attend the Operating Lab operating session will do so by signing up at this TT&TO Operations clinic.


South Penn TT&TO Operating Lab

Bob Charles’ South Penn Railroad is a free-lance version of the never-built segment of the PRR from Columbia (PA) to Wheeling and Pittsburgh. The railroad is designed to emulate 1956-era railroad prototype operation with an emphasis on recreating the prototype railroad operating environment.

As an operating crew member you will participate in the operating experience as though you were an employee of the railroad. As an operating crew member you will go on duty at Columbia, Wheeling, or Pittsburgh for the trip over the single-track line or you may work as a train dispatcher, train order agent/operator, or yardmaster. However, this ops session is not just about running trains. Instead, you will use the information learned at the Friday morning TT&TO Operations Clinic as you move trains across the railroad using those TT&TO rules.

NOTE 1: Attendance at Friday morning’s Timetable & Train Order clinic (Timetable & Train Order (TT&TO) Operations above) is a prerequisite to attend this Operating Lab clinic.

NOTE 2: This Operating Lab clinic will be limited to 12 attendees due to layout space limitations.

NOTE 3: There will be a $5 fee for this Operating Lab Clinic. The payment process will be accomplished during the Timetable & Train Order (TT&TO) Operations above.


Introduction to Model Railroad Operations

Model railroad operations simulate the movement of trains on a railroad. Like any simulation, some details are emphasized and other details are suppressed according to the objective of the simulation. There are many choices to be made in establishing the rules and procedures for a model railroad operations simulation. This clinic provides a systematic survey described by Car Forwarding and Traffic Control Systems.

Car Forwarding can be defined as is the purposeful movement of rail cars from one location to another. Prototype car forwarding is determined by customer needs. Model railroads simulate this part of the activity to varying levels. Two methods are popular for arranging model railroad freight: Car Card & Waybill, and Switch List.

Prototype Traffic Control is the purposeful movement of trains from one location to another, as determined by customer needs, physical constraints, and the desire for profitability. In the model railroad simulation we typically schedule or sequence trains. In rough order of increasing complexity, model traffic control includes: Random – run anything, anytime; Sequential – trains running in a specific order; and Timetable & Train Order (TT&TO) – trains run by time (usually using a fast clock) according to rules patterned after the prototype. Presented by Marshall Abrams.


Using Model Railroad Switch List Software

This Clinic presents a computer program used to generate freight traffic on their own railroads. Computer generated switchlists use tables of the cars on the layout, their type, and potential delivery locations. The system generates moves of appropriate cars to appropriate destinations, attempting to avoid repetitious activity. I will describe how I use the RailOp program and also address JMRI Operations. Presented by Marshall Abrams.


Overview of Rail Transportation Engineering Education in the United States

After nearly a century of decline, the railroad industry is now facing growth because of its relative fuel and operating efficiency, increased highway congestion, and a heightened environmental concern at all levels of society. At the same time this growth is occurring, many skilled managers and track engineers are reaching retirement age. The railroad industry is reporting an acute need for engineering graduates but reporting difficulty in attracting suitable and qualified people for entry-level engineering design and management positions. Countless railroad industry companies and organizations are seeking trained engineering professionals, including: Class I railroad companies, rail passenger and transit agencies, short line railroads, railway suppliers, federal agencies, engineering consulting firms, and various research institutions. This has resulted in many colleges and universities beginning to offer courses in rail transportation and railroad engineering. Penn State Altoona is at the forefront of this new educational movement with their Bachelors of Science Degree in Rail Transportation Engineering (RTE), the first in the nation. This presentation will provide an overview of railroad transportation education in the United States and the future needs to equip the next generation of railroad engineering professionals. Presented by Bryan Schlake.


Installing Structures to Permit Undamaged Removal

There is usually a point in time where one’s model railroad will need to be torn down, either by the modeler himself or by others. There are surely some prized structures on the layout that would want to be saved with no or minimal damage if at all possible. Structures that are cemented to the surrounding scenery are prone to much damage when attempting to remove them. This clinic will present ways in which structures can be mounted on the bench top that permit easy removal when the time comes to change the scene or dismantle portions of or the entire railroad. Also shown will be a way to pack the prized structure for moving, even by a shipping service. Presented by Jerry Lauchle.


Layout Command & Control (LCC) – Future Worldwide Model Railroad Layout Control Standard

This clinic will define what LCC is; elaborate why you should embrace LCC; learn about its benefits, standardized control, and capabilities; and become familiar with the basic concepts of how it works. Using the NMRA LCC HO layout you will see demonstrations on an actual working LCC layout that incorporates the latest LCC support products that includes a working LCC DCC Command Station with operational signals and turnout control. In summary you will learn where LCC is today and where it will be in the future. This introduction to LCC will be presented by John Forsythe, owner of Train Control Systems, Inc. The follow-on clinic that presents the details of LCC signal systems will be presented by Dick Bronson, CEO RR-CirKits, Inc. Presented by John Forsythe.


Get to Know WOWsound – Why It’s the Best

We will review the main features that set WOWsound apart from the competition and review some really neat features you may not know about. This clinic will be presented by John Forsythe, owner of Train Control Systems, Inc. Presented by John Forsythe.


WOWkits Make Sound Installation Easy

Follow along as we show you step by step how easy it is to install WOWsound in your locomotives using a WOWkit. We will review solder tips and equipment as well as installation tips and tricks along the way as you install a WOWkit. This clinic will be presented by John Forsythe, owner of Train Control Systems, Inc. Presented by John Forsythe.


Steel & Rail – Railroad Interactions with Steel Industries

This clinic is divided into three parts – transport of raw materials to the mill, transport within the mill, and moving finished products out of the mill. The program draws on the collections of the presenter’s two employers, the Industrial Archives and Library as well as the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Presented by Nick Zmijewski.


Pour, Sip, Paint, Repeat – Artist-led Canvas Painting

This hands-on triple clinic (7-10PM) clinic is for both modelers and their spouses. This unique evening presentation will feature an artist-led canvas painting session. Our guest artist will provide scenery painting instruction with emphasis on depth perception with the goal of bringing reality to any painting project you choose such as a model railroad backdrop. There is absolutely no need for any attendees to possess “artsy” skills; in fact most attendees will have little or no art experience. All art materials including paint, canvas, brushes, smocks, and so on will be provided, and wine and other beverages will be available for purchase at the hotel bar – a great opportunity to uncork your creativity. Presented by Susan Charles.

NOTE: This 7-10PM clinic requires a special fee and advanced registration.


Photo Etching for the Modeler

Photo etching has a wide range of uses for the modeler. Glyn will explain the process for producing etches at home using the MicroMark photo etching system. A number of practical model railroading applications will be explained during his clinic with examples. Glyn will also describe areas for further experimentation and common problems that occur. Presented by Glyn Thomas.


Modeling to Prototype Standards and Operating Procedures

This session will delve into the specific issues of modeling a Prototype or Freelanced Prototype railroad. Areas to be reviewed will encompass track and roadbed standards, fuel and water facilities for locomotives, bridge construction, passenger car issues, building size and placement on a layout, operating rules, and prototype paperwork for operating sessions. Presented by Andrew Dodge, MMR.


Building Structures with Plexiglas

This clinic will introduce modelers to what is possible with Plexiglas as a building material and walk the modeler through the simple process of fabrication. Constructing the base structure of a model building using Plexiglas is one of the easiest methods available. Plexiglas provides a superb foundation for scratch built buildings that will not warp, absorb moisture, and provides its own window glazing. It only takes a few minutes using any type of table saw to cut out the parts for a structure. Plexiglas is also modest in price, and it can take the place of making mock-ups that usually end up in the trash. If you are interested in learning how to scratch build a structure the easy way and seeing some of my projects, this clinic is for you. Presented by Andrew Dodge, MMR.


Layout Planning and Design

This clinic will examine the wide range of topics a modeler should consider before going to the hobby store and commencing construction of a layout. Topics will include geographic location, era, type of layout, how much is enough or too much layout room issues, pointers on construction, and space management and environment. Presented by Andrew Dodge, MMR.


Camden NJ Car-float Operations

This is an updated clinic based on the MER 2015 NJ clinic with new focus on the facilities and operations of not only the Reading Railroad on the Camden waterfront but also that of the Pennsy and some of the other rail operations in the area of Camden and Philadelphia. The clinic will include many historic photos and associated interesting information. The focal point of the clinic will be the Free-Mo that is setup and operating during the convention. Presented by Mike Prokop.


Lite Up Your Layout with LED Lighting

This is an update to the LED lighting clinic presented at the Sep 2015 Susquehanna Div. This clinic will discuss the many types of LED strip lights that are available along with interesting ideas and techniques for using them to illuminate your layout. If it’s new construction or an existing layout LED lighting can provide an easy and cost effective method that will make your layout shine. Light up your hidden trackage, staging yards, under the layout storage areas, and display cabinets. The latest working hardware samples of LED lights will be shown along with power supplies, controlling devices, and mounting products. Presented by Mike Prokop.


Modeling Applications of CNJ Operations in PA Wyoming Valley

This clinic describes the chronology and unique aspects of the Jersey Central’s anthracite operations in the mountainous region of the Northeast PA Wyoming Valley. The area includes the Ashley Planes which operated from 1843 to 1948, the large yard at Ashley, and the large classification yard with one of the first US hump yards at Penobscot. Emphasis will be placed on applications to modeling operations and layout design. Presented by Chuck Davis, MMR.


Behind the Scenes at Model Railroader Magazine

Presented by Neil Besoughloff.


Harris Tower – Past, Present, Future

Presented by Dan Rapak.


3-D Printing

Presented by Earl Hackett.


Customer Based Operations System

Presented by Earl Hackett.


Estate Planning

Presented by Ken Montero, MMR.


Railroad Museum of PA – Past, Present, Future

Presented by Pat Morrison.


Modeling B&O Steam Locomotives

Presented by Bill Hanley.


Modeling B&O Box Cars in Steam Era

Presented by Bill Hanley.


Laser Structure Kits

Presented by Jeff Grove.


Building the Colorado Model Railroad Museum

Presented by David Trussell.


JMRI Throttles

Presented by Bob Bucklew.


Layout Command & Control (LCC) Signaling Systems

Presented by Dick Bronson.


Strasburg Rail Road – Past, Present, Future

Presented by the Strasburg Rail Road.


WMSR Preservation of C&O Locomotive 1309

Presented by John Garner.


Dead Rail Operations

Presented by Steve Sherrill.


Urban Modeling in Limited Space

Presented by Brian Sheron, MMR.


How to Present a Clinic

Presented by John Gallagher


Signs, Awnings, and Building Details

Presented by John Gallagher