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 GSQ Tour / Convention 2001

    The Tour and first ever Grand Scales Convention held in October of 2001 was an outstanding success. We would like to thank all who participated. We had as much fun putting it on as you said you had attending.

    The Tour left Detroit on Sept 29 and immediately began with two unscheduled stops: the
Detroit Zoo and the Henry Ford Museum. That evening and night was spent in Frankenmuth, Michigan at the famous Bavarian Inn where we all enjoyed a fantastic meal.
    A railroad in Bridgeport, MI canceled on their previous arrangements with us, so were able to take a shop tour at the 3' gauge
Huckleberry RR in Crossroads Village, Flint, MI. This unscheduled stop was a great hit with the group. It is a rare privilege to see a K series narrow gauge engine all torn apart!
     Later that day we went up to Fairview, MI to visit the impressive 16" gauge
Michigan AuSable Valley RR. Howard and Joanne Schrader showed us a really nice time. (For a great look at their railroad, get a copy of Big Little Railways Continued). We also had a change to visit Bob Jenner's layout next door and ride behind is beautiful 16" gauge shay.
     The next day was VERY busy. We started out by visiting
Vierson Boiler Works in Grand Rapids, MI, where we got to ride behind steam and a G-16. Immediately afterward we enjoyed another unscheduled stop at the standard gauge Coopersville & Marne. Members of the tour enjoyed the opportunity to climb all over their SW-9 diesel and get a couple short cab rides. Then it was off to Benton Harbor and the remains of the train at the House of David. Finally, we made our way down to Wakarusa, Indiana, where we got a private showing of the now-closed 15" gauge Old Wakarusa. Joanne Schrock was kind enough to have Mr. Kim Stickel, Mr. Tim Bainter, and others come down to run both the steamer and the diesel for us.
     The following morning saw the railroading commence at the 14" gauge line at the Hesston Steam Museum. The crew there sacrificed their precious vacation days for us, and we really appreciated it. Then we had a nice long visit . . . and a fantastic barbeque lunch at Ken Coate's 12" gauge
Paradise RR. This is a railroad that has to be seen to be believe (So to believe it . . . you should get a copy of Big Little Railways Continued).
     The next day found us in Illinois. We started the morning out at the 15" gauge Waterman & Western, where Pete Robinson (no relation to your editor) gave EVERY SINGLE member of the tour a chance to run the diesel and train around the layout. But soon it was time to get back on the Motor Coach and head up to the Illinois Railway Museum. Even a full day wouldn't be enough time to appreciate all the equipment they have there, but our whirlwind visit gave everyone a sense of their collection. The day was capped off at Doc Hoffmann's 15" gauge
Spring-Hill & Northern, where everyone had a great visit with the host and enjoyed riding behind his G-16 (G-15) and big 74-4-4 Jubilee.
     Bright and early Thursday morning we were at
Hank Balinski's fabulous 3" scale 14 1/8" gauge railroad. The craftsmanship that he and his son put into their equipment is absolutely incredible. Here too a number of our guests had the chance to run his fabulous steamer. Then it was over to see Don Woelbing's private 16" gauge empire, the station he built is a real gem, and seeing the historic cabin (completely furnished with 18th century antiques) was a real treat.
     Lunch that day was at the Milwaukee Zoo. The crew, led by Ken Ristow, was absolutely fantastic. They fired up both steamers for us and set up a doubleheader photo shoot. It was magnificent. The last stop of the day was the Riverside & Great Northern. These guys too put on a great show for us. The 4-4-0 was in perfect running order, and we got to enjoy a trip out behind it, and a night run to the end of the line behind the diesel. Thanks to Tom and the whole crew for that.

     The Tour group showed up at 8am Friday morning at
Little A-Merrick-A. The convention didn't officially start until 9:00. This allowed a special private showing of the Whiskey River shops, including the balance of the McAllister equipment which was stored in a building off limits to the convention at large.

The Convention

     It went better than we even dared hope. There were about 200 people in attendance from all over the U.S. (CA, NY, FL, AL, OR, WA, AZ, IN, IL, MI, WI, MO, PA, etc.) There were also attendees from Canada and the world famous Simon Townsend joined us from England. You can see Jim O'Conner's article about the convention on his very popular "Discover Live Steam" web site.
     There were lectures going on constantly both days. These were very well attended, and we were told by countless people that they learned a great deal. Here we see Andy Jugle addressing the group with a fantastic lecture, slide show, and memorabilia collection of MTC history.

     There were also shop tours of the 16" gauge Whiskey River Railway at Little A-Merrick-A. Everyone enjoyed seeing where Darrell Klompmaker does his magic. The 14 1/8" McAllister 2-8-8-2 was in the shop waiting to be regauged to 16".
     One of the most popular features of the convention was the Rent-An-Engine program. On Saturday every single time slot for the big Pacific steamer was filled. The diesel was busy too, and the other steamers also had engineers who wanted to take them for a spin.

     Probably the best thing about the convention, though, was the fellowship. There were tall tales and baloney flying everywhere. We are still hearing back from attendees who say they made some great friendships. Many felt that for the first time they were in a huge group "of their own". Everywhere you walked during the convention you would see a group of fellows over here talking about track laying, or a huddle of guys over there showing photos of unfinished engines, or a few people who had heard of one another but never met. And they were exchanging addresses to keep in touch. It was great.

The BAD NEWS: It's over and not everyone got to come.

The GOOD NEWS: We're throwing another party next year! Join us in England for GSQ TOUR 2002 as we visit the best Grand Scale Railroads in the UK.