Published in the NMRA Bulletin: November 2002
(Text and photos © Copyright NMRA Bulletin and Scale Rails Magazine)

NMRA Bulletin: Z-Scale Rails by Jeffrey MacHan

Z-SIG NewZ Bulletin #2: NTS Champ Layout Goes to Germany and Back!

It's not every day that a NMRA member gets to participate in a major German train show. Even rarer still are two NMRA members who get to operate a championship North American layout at a major German train show but that is exactly what happened last March 21-24 at Faszination Modellbau, Sinsheim (Heidelberg), Germany where I was invited to show my Z scale Val Ease Central Railroad layout. For one very exciting week my crewmate, Terry Sutfin (Vancouver, Washington) and I (Toronto, Ontario) enjoyed a model railroaders dream trip.

Terry and I were the guests of the BDEF (Friends of German Railways) who organised the 2nd biannual US Modellers Meet as part of Faszination Modellbau. When plans were being made to take a NA layout to Europe about 1 year ago, a first for Germany and only the second time NA modules have travelled to Europe, the BDEF was looking for a North American prototype Z scale layout. It appears that there is a very limited supply of US prototype Z layouts in Germany. In the meantime the VECRR captured the NMRA 2001 National Train Show "Best of Show" crown in St. Louis, MO. This was a happy set of circumstances and made having the VECRR even more interesting for the organisers and the 44,800 visitors who braved the sometimes stormy weather to see the show.

The Val Ease Central RR at Fazination Modellbau, Sinsheim, Germany as guest of BDEF
The show was a huge success for all involved and a unique experience for two very happy US and Canadian model railroaders. We were treated like VIPs from the moment we arrived in Sinsheim until our plane took off for home two weeks later. In addition to the excitement of Faszination Modellbau, we were invited for a personal tour of the Märklin factory and museum in Göppingen and meetings with Z scale clubs in the Munich area during the week following the show.

Model railroading is a great hobby and has been very good to me from many perspectives. I especially enjoy my role as Z Ambassador and moderator of the Z_Scale forum and NMRA SIG. Hopefully my experience will encourage other amateur modellers to take their layouts to Europe. Yes, it can be done and it is well worth the time and effort needed to do so.

In addition to the BDEF my corporate sponsors were Micro-Trains Line Inc., Märklin Inc. and Kalmbach Publishing who were very generous in their support of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A complete account of the trip (the Sinsheim Chronicles!) can be found at the VECRR web site and discussion group. Val Ease Central Railroad / VECRR SIG

Jeffrey MacHan
Chief Imagineer
Val Ease Central Railroad