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I attended O Scale West on Friday, May 26, 2023.  Here are my photos and observations.  NH Joe

O Scale West was held at the Hyatt Regency hotel that is located across the street from Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.  The SF 49er football team plays at Levi Stadium.  Parking was free.

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My friends Dick Stark and Bill and Melanie Darling were at the checkin desk.  As an 18 year old Marine, Bill assaulted Peleliu and Okinawa during WWII.  These were two of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific war.  He was badly wounded in both battles.  Melanie is Bill's daughter.  Dick is the leader of the O scale display at the Alameda County fairgrounds.  

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I am the O Scale Central (OSC) membership director.  O Scale Central promotes O scale 2-rail modeling.  I left OSC materials at the reception desk.

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This is a photo of the trading hall.  The number of vendors and attendees was much smaller than at past O Scale West meets.

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More views of the trading hall.  Note the empty tables.

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Note the extra wide aisles because there were a lot less tables than at past meets.

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Some people had a good selection of mostly western railroad models for sale.  

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This was a beautiful City of Los Angeles brass diesel set.  I believe it was priced at around $3,500.  I don't recall the manufacturer.  

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The Orange County O scale modular group has attended OSW for many years.  This year, however, they couldn't attend because the fellow that drives their truck or trailer had a mild heart attack the week before the show.  Fortunately, he is OK and was at the show with his wife.  

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The Orange County group brought a small modular display.  It can be seen in the photo above and below.

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This is the area of the trading hall that the Orange County group usually occupies.  

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There were two modular layouts at the show.  This is the Yosemite Short Line On30 sectional layout.  This is a sectional layout, not a modular layout, because it can only be put together in one configuration and cannot be mated with other modular layouts.  Control is by NCE DCC.  

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Here is one side of the YSL.

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The YSL modeling is outstanding.  Several NMRA Master Model Railroaders helped build the display.  Here is the honeymoon cabin.

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The saw mill.

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The quarry.

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The logging camp.

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The second layout was the Bay Area S Scale display.  

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This was a small back and forth switching display.  

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I had a good time at the show.  I met some old friends, made some new friends and had a great pizza for lunch at the hotel's bar.

As noted above, the show was not well attended on Friday.  I hope that today, Saturday, was better.  None of the major manufacturers that attended in the past were present (Kohs, 3rd Rail, Key, etc.).  None of the hobby shops who used to attend were there either.  Nearly all the vendors were individuals selling excess things.  A few vendors were selling some of their inventory.  

One of my friends looked around the trading hall and said that we are witnessing the death of O scale 2-rail.  I don't necessarily agree but something will need to be done to promote the O scale 2-rail hobby segment more effectively.  This is the reason is that I am an active O Scale Central member.  


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Last edited by New Haven Joe

@New Haven Joe

Thanks for a great report and pictures of the event. It’s sad to hear about members of the hobby that are aging out with no younger fellows stepping in.
Being part of a train club in a 55+ community we are experiencing some  of those problems. We took steps two years ago to rewire and connecterize our power buses and accessory buses on our sectional Christmas layout. This has greatly reduced under the table time at setup. One of our members documented all the wiring and I wrote an operators manual. We were all 9 years younger when we started with many now on the cusp of 80 years old.

Here are some photos I took in the hall. I arrived late Friday, and when I walked in Saturday morning I was afraid I had really messed up by missing Friday, as it looked like many vendors had already cleared out. However I came to find out that it wasn't very well packed with vendors from the get go. Sad to say, since this meet is so much closer to my home, that it was very small compared to the Chicago March meet, and also very small compared to the last Indy meet I went to (fall 2021).


One bit of bad luck I had. I am a fan of the SP Moguls done by Sunset (about 15 years ago now). The one I saw at a good price ($200 under retail) was a model I already have, and then on another table I found one of the models I am missing, but the price was $400 higher ($200 over retail).

However, I was able to find a few nice items at a reasonable price. My haul:


A couple of the well-connected peole at this meet seemed to have a difference of opinion on how to improve attendance. One thought they should move the date back to February (I think it was only in February for a couple years). The other thought it wasn't promoted well enough.

I personally like it being on a 3-day weekend, because I have a chance to make a family trip out of it. We drove up Friday evening. Ate Saturday morning at Sara's Kitchen (nice local diner), then attended the show and checked out of our room. Spent Saturday afternoon doing some things in Frisco (Lombard Street, Ghirardelli's, a coin shop, clam chowder, Golden Gate Bridge) before setting off for Reno by way of Lake Tahoe. Hard to believe how much snow is still in the high Sierras; they tell me there will still be skiing in Mammoth until mid July. Woke up Sunday morning and had a great breakfast in Carson City at Black Bear Diner, then visited the mint. We had planned to drive across America's Loneliest Highway, but flash flood warnings changed those plans, so we headed down to Tonopah, then the ghost town of Rhyolite (nice old train depot) and ended Sunday in Las Vegas. Monday we had time to go to Battlefield Vegas (a popular shooting range) and do a couple other things before heading back to Southern California.

I guess my point is saying all that is that the train show was just one stop on a 4-day road trip. And given that, the train show was a wonderful stop on that journey. However, if the trip had been all about going to the train show, I think I would have come away very dissappointed.


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I also enjoyed the show.

I was there on Friday, and paid at the door ($45).

Saturday was cheaper at $25 for that day only, but I had a train show in Sacramento I wanted to attend.

I feel I saved enough money on On3 and HOn3 Brass Train purchases to more than cover the door and gas costs.

All the local open layouts were ones I had seen before, so I passed on them this time, but they were a highlight of the show in pass years.

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