By Jim Pitts
Way down yonder - just
north of New Orleans - is a land of steamy scenes. The crown jewel of the
small scale live steamups, Diamondhead, Mississippi is the destination to
boil water and refresh our shared enthusiasm for steam machines.
The 17th International
Small Scale Steamup, Diamondhead 2010, welcomed over 180 participants from
near and far. Some traveled by air, others by car, and few kept the faith
by traveling by rail.
Our host, Jerry Reshew
initiated the steam ups back in 1993. Other than 2006 when the aftermath
of Hurricane Karina spoiled the show, Diamondhead has been a constant and
welcoming oasis in a sea of change. This winter weekend event has now
grown to a full week with 24 hour track time.
Elevated tracks –
three separate dual track layouts with steaming bays – never close. At
the center of each layout and along the perimeters are areas for viewing,
tables for servicing, display and fellowship.
Trackside becomes the
arena for coaching and a classroom for one-on-one teaching. The fine art
of coal firing, alcohol burning and butane gas systems can be “clinically”
observed. The knowledge gained enhances confidence and operational
success. Complimenting the informal instruction trackside, seminars were
offered by Vance Bass, Dawn Brightwell, Ron Cole, Howard Freed, Jerry
Reshew, Dan Rowe, Jeff Young and Sonny Wizelman.
For those seeking to
purchase or sell, a Steam Flea Market was staffed by Carol Homuth with the
assistance of Bruce Gathman and Tom Toth. This was in addition to the
exhibits by Crescent Models, North Jersey Gauge 1, Piedmont Steam Supply,
R&R Train Company, Sunset Valley Railroad and The Train Department. Also,
throughout the atrium were displays of various Gauge 1 live steam
locomotives and rolling stock by Accucraft, Aster, Regner, Roundhouse,
etc. Examples of historic Bassett Lowke, Beck and Hemmens were also on
Always a source of awe
are custom crafted locomotives and rolling stock. Notable this year was a
pair of scratch built, 1/32nd scale, cabooses built by Ross Schlabach. He
explained that they were built like the prototype with a wooden
superstructure and a fully detailed metal underframe. They incorporated
custom bent brass channel, handmade corner steps and windows framed up in
prototype fashion painted with the proper siding and colors. The only
commercial parts used were trucks from Accucraft plus brake gear &
couplers from Precision Scale.
A celebratory feature
this year was a leap backwards in time when playing with trains meant
clockwork engines. Marc Horovitz and Jeff Young hosted a parade of
wind-up locomotives. These twenty three clockwork engines displayed the
full range of the toy train experience - some could barely move while
others were adept at making to owner chase them down. They were a reminder
that the gold old days in our hobby was simpler and safe for “children of
highlight was Sonny Wizelman’s Shay-Up. Unfortunately no world records
were broken. A Regner Shay built during the steamup proudly participated.
Mike Simpson hosted a parade of Crickets, the only small scale steam loco
manufactured in the US.
Back again for the
2010 was the Locomotive Weight Lifting Contest. Coordinated by Bruce
Gathman on a dedicated track in the atrium, competitors measured the
pulling force or tractive ability of their locomotives.
Award and Category
winners included: Clockwork - Raif Copley and his Bassett Lowke Prince
Charles 4-4-0 (11.5 oz), ONE AXLE - Sonny Wizelman and his Accucraft/Gage
gypsy winch ( 2lb 4.8oz), TWO AXLE - Mitch Mitchell and an Accuraft 2-4-4
Forney (1lb 12.7oz), THREE AXLE - Bob Pope’s Accucraft 2-6-0 Mogul (2lb
15.6oz), FOUR AXLE - John Frank’s Accucraft K-36 2-8-2 (8lb 140z), and
MOST UNUSUAL - Travis Weidner’s “Junk Yard Dog” (6 oz).
One cannot talk about
the talk about the Gulf Coast without mentioning their world famous
cuisine. Evening meals at the Jourdan River Steamer, Trapanis, Pier House
restaurants, breakfast at the Waffle House, and brunch at the Diamondhead
Country Club are always memorable occasions.
The Clack Valves and
Cornets Steam Band entertained at the lavish Country Club brunch. This
music ensemble ( steamers all ) is directed by Joe Hall. Cornet players
are Rob Lanichek, and Marc Horovitz. Baritone Horn section featured Bill
Courtright and Jerry Reshew. Trombonists were John Garrett and Charles
Russell On Tuba were Gary While and John Bigelow with Doug Joslyn
rounding out the musical ensemble on drums.
Adjacent to the
atrium, the hospitality suite offered a haven for unhurried conversation
and a never ending sweet supply of King Cake, coffee and tea. A veritable
avalanche of King Cake was consumed during the week. The cumulative blood
sugar readings for the week are off the charts .
locomotives were equally hungry. Jerry Reshew reports that 120 gallons of
distilled water, 11 gallons of alcohol, 80 large Primus cans of isobutene,
23 small cans of isobutene and 48 small cans of butane were consumed.
from: Florida (28), Texas (14), California (15), Georgia (10), Washington
(6), Louisiana (6), Michigan (5), Illinois (4), Colorado (5), Mississippi
(5), Arkansas (4), South Carolina (4), Virginia (4), Alabama (3),
Pennsylvania (3), Missouri (3), Maryland (3), North Carolina (3), New
Mexico (3), Kansas (2), New Jersey (2), New York (2), Arizona (1),
Oklahoma (1), Iowa (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Ohio (1), Oregon (1),
Utah (1), Vermont (2), and Wisconsin (1). Our International visitors were
from: Canada (11), United Kingdom (5) and Trinidad (1).
Credit goes to the
“front desk ladies” who are the administrative glue that holds the Steamup
together. Their welcoming smiles and helpful spirit with registration,
distribution of aprons and shirts, and responding to countless questions
allows the administrative process to flow like a well lubed, user friendly
machine. Our thanks to Sue Garrett, Carol Krutzke, Jerra Matticks, Ginny
Morris, Fran Reinhardt, and chief of staff Valerie Nichols. Our roving
photographer was Carol Jobusch - she is like the Timex commercial of years
ago - she never stops!
Among the notables
were Yves Guillaume, Marc Horovitz, Norm Saley, John Shawe, and Geoff
Spenceley. Yves Gulliaume and John Shawe are the in house experts on coal
firing. Marc Horovitz, editor of Garden Railways, is the self effacing
enthusiast for small scale, regardless of vintage or fuel or as he
demonstrated this year, running spring-powered trains. His recently
published - Passion for Steam (Atlantic Publishers, 2009) – tells the
history of small scale live steam and is a virtual showcase of locomotives
past and present.
Norm Saley is one of
the resident mechanical problem solvers. His years in Orlando’s Magic
Kingdom bring insight and skill to all things mechanical. While trying to
diagnose a problem with coal fired locomotive suffering from asthma. Ruth
Saley had the solution. She provided a sewing needle that opened up an
exhaust vent, thus avoiding hours of mechanical surgery. What a team!
Sir Geoff Spenceley
observed that “the steamup was as wonderful as always; the camaraderie,
the clinics, the special events, make for a truly a learning event. The
young lasses who handle the registration all deserve medals and ribbons,
so do all the other volunteers who assist in all manner of activities from
set up, to clinics, contests and trade exhibits. However the ladies at
the registration desk have to make the biggest efforts, I say XXX to them.
Now the Brass band, aren’t they fabulous. We are so fortunate to be able
to listen and enjoy!"
Of course, The biggest
thanks goes to Jerry for organizing and hosting these fabulous Steam ups
since 1993- CLAP, CLAP, CLAP - do I hear more clapping- yes I do!
However, there is one change I would like" : By all means "Let the games
begin" early as it did this year but I believe the official opening with
Jerry's introductory talk should be either on the Wednesday, Thursday or
Friday. Many of us missed his opening as we arrived later and in my humble
opinion, everyone should be able to hear Jerry's introduction with his
unequalled wisdomic humor!”
Already plans are
underway for 2011. Another full week awaits - January 16 - 22, 2011. A
special feature will be a Mamod festival. This will bring back memories
for some of their early steam experiences.