Portland 2015 Convention Activities

The 2015 NMRA and LDSIG Conventions will be held in Portland, OR from August 23 through August 29.

Information on the NMRA Convention is available here; information on the LDSIG Convention will be available below.

The major LDSIG activities at the Convention will be the clinics, the Wednesday tour and the dinner. To get involved, please contact the LD SIG Conventions Chair.


The schedule for the week includes:

Sunday night meet & greet - 7:00 -10:00

Monday AM Layout Design Bootcamp - 8:00 - Noon

Clinics, Monday afternoon 1:00, 2:30, Tuesday and Thursday 9:00, 10:30, 1:00, 2:30, Friday 1:00, 2:3- (depending on what they do about clinics during the train show

Wednesday - Annual Business Meeting

Wednesday - Tour all day and evening

Friday Night Dinner - Bruce Chubb is the speaker.


We do welcome interested model railroaders not already members of the Layout Design Special Interest Group to join. Membership information is located on the LDSIG site here.

SIG Room

Meet and Greet, Sunday, August 23, 7-10 PM

We will hold our traditional Meet and Greet in the SIG Room providing an opportunity for all Layout Design and Operations SIG members and friends to introduce themselves and their interests, and find folks who can share ideas and solutions to your layout design and operation concerns. We have invited owners of the Wednesday Layout Tour to provide a preview of the Tour. It is also a time to arrange car pools for the Wednesday Layout Tour. Do not worry about arriving late if your're enjoying tours and op sessions, we will be there until at least 10:00 PM.

Displays and Consulting

The SIG Room will be open Monday to Thursday from 8AM to 10PM. It is a great place to congregate, meet friends, make friends, enjoy the SIG Room Displays, get or give layout design consultation, or generally take a break between clinics or from other convention activities.

LDSIG Table Volunteers Needed

If you can spare an hour or two to help man the LDSIG table, please contact the convention SIG coordinator, Bill Decker at sigs@nmra2015portland.org   The duties are easy and the benefits can be rewarding.  You will have a chance to meet SIG members and potential members who you may only know through the internet or articles in the LDJ or the national model railroading press.

Layout Design Consulting Service (Monday through Friday - Open to all convention attendees)

Members of the LDSIG will be offering free half-hour layout design consultation sessions. Limited availability, sign up in person in the SIG Room during the Convention.

Help Providers Needed!

Help-provider volunteers are crucially needed. We need experienced LDSIG members volunteers to provide half-hour layout design help sessions during the Convention. This offers a service to the hobby and promotes the SIG. Each volunteer will be asked to set aside one, two or more hours during the Convention when they can commit to being available for help sessions. It is very important that we have volunteers and hours confirmed before the Convention begins. To volunteer, or for questions, contact LDJ Editor Byron Henderson, ldjeditor at gmail.dot com, who is coordinating the help sessions.


There will be many Layout Design clinics presented during the convention. Beyond the Layout Design Bootcamp described immediately following, there are clinics by other LDSIG members. All the LDSIG clinics, including the Layout Design Bootcamp are open to all Convention Attendees.

Layout Design Bootcamp, Monday, August 24, 2013, 8 to Noon

Layout Design Journal editor and custom layout designer Byron Henderson and Seth Neuman of the NMRA's Layout Design SIG are leading a Layout Design Bootcamp at the Portland 2015 NMRA Convention. We'll still begin at 8:00 AM Monday, August 24 with LDSIG President Seth Neumann and LDJ Editor Byron Henderson as your friendly presenters. The Bootcamp is an intensive session on track planning and layout design. Discover how to refine vision, concept, and purpose; select layout footprints and schematics; draw accurate and useful plans; create efficient and engaging yards and industrial areas; make best use of staging tracks; maintain space for people; and avoid common track planning errors. Step-by-step examples from a variety of layout designs will be discussed.

Whether your dream layout is strongly prototype-based, a creative freelanced theme, or somewhere in between, this practical session will give you the tools and best practices to design a great layout!

Among the topics to be covered: Layout design phases:

  • Conceptual, Structural, and Detail
  • Developing vision, theme, and purpose
  • The impact of givens and 'druthers considering space, resources, and skills
  • Prototype research techniques and tools
  • The user and viewer experience
  • Layout footprint techniques
  • Drawing and rendering tools and best practices
  • Planning for people
  • Multi-deck considerations
  • Yard planning
  • Staging design
  • Signature elements vs. typicality
  • LDEs: Possibilities and pitfalls
  • Tricky traps of layout design (common errors to avoid)
  • Layout design for operation

Other Clinics

We will probably have a room where many of the layout design related clinics will be presented as a 'Layout Design Track', however there are many other clinics of interest.  Here is a selection of the layout design related clinics and their authors.

An update on my 1892 Housatonic Railroad layout Bisgeier, Craig


CATS: A CTC panel that grows Black, Rodney


Layout design for signaling Black, Rodney


Prototype modeling the Pacific Northwest Chubb, Bruce


Sunset Valley Oregon System updates and operation Chubb, Bruce


Both Sides of the Sunset Valley Story    Chubb, Janet and Bruce


Passenger terminals and servicing facilities: Protoype examples Clark, Robert A.


Layout design with a passenger train emphasis Clark, Robert A.


8 bridges for the Columbia & Western Dance, Mark


The Columbia & Western: Designed for Operation or "2500 vertical feet into a two car garage!" Dance, Mark


SP's Cascade crossing in HO scale: Design, construction, and initial operation of a dream Decker, Bill


Thinking outside the box: Designing the B&O Chicago Terminal RR

Freeman, Henry


Introduction to prototype research Freeman, Henry


Model Railroader's Wisconsin & Southern project layout: From concept to finished model railroad Grivno, Cody


Building a layout in a hostile environment Hanley, Don


LDSIG Bootcamp        Henderson, Byron and Neumann, Seth


Small Layout Design - Beyond the Timesaver Henderson, Byron


Designing and building the T&NO in East Texas Johnson, Greg


Modeling the State Belt Kaufman, Bill


The State Belt railroad Kaufman, Bill


Model Railroads go to war Kempinski, Bernard


The USMRR Aquia Line: Modeling a Civil War Railroad Kempinski, Bernard


Pacific Great Eastern Railway rail-marine operations, 1912-1957 Kennelly, Greg M.


Update on the Nickel Plate Koester, Tony


Lighting your layout Maginness, Max


The Northwestern Pacific - Challenges and rewards of modeling a prototype railroad Merrin, Ed


Using Sanborn maps and aerial photos for layout design Morden, Bruce


LDSIG panel: What would you do differently? Neumann, Seth


Designing a signaling system with cpNode (CMRI on Arduino)

Neumann, Seth and Catania, Chuck


Utah Colorado Western update Nicholas, Lee


Cumberland West layout infrastructure Parks, David


Add perspective to your modeling Paul, Kermit


Getting Started in DCC Petrarca, Bruce


Slow orders - Dangerous track ahead Petrarca, Bruce

Petrarca, Linda


Finer than fine scale - modeling the SR&RL in Proto 20.3n2 Providenza, Jim


Truck to rail pulpwood transfer yard Robinson, Gary


Building a realistic bulk oil dealership Thompson, Tony


Signalling your layout with DCC for control/operations

Waterstreet, David L. and Klein, Phil


Big railroads in small spaces Wright, Greg


Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 8-9 AM, LDSIG Annual Meeting

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 9:30 AM until 10PM, LDSIG Annual Layout Tour

This year we have gathered another amazing group of layouts for your touring enjoyment.  

Carpooling is strongly encouraged so you can discuss the unique features of these layouts as you travel.  Sign-ups for carpools will be posted in the SIG room.  On the LDSIG tour, one can stay as long as one wishes to study a particularly interesting layout or design element.  The hosts are aware of SIG members' interest and are happy to answer questions.  All this makes the tour an invaluable learning experience.

No lunch is provided so you and your carpool buddies can eat what and when you want (there are plenty of good restaurants in all categories and price ranges along the route). 

The following layouts will be on the Tour.

Bruce Barney's Arrow Lake and Western

Willamette Model Railroad Club's Columbia, Cascade and Western

Jay Becker's Tillamook, Bay City & Garibaldi

Charlie Comstock's Bear Creek & South Jackson

Mike McGinley's Southwestern Pacific

Larry Kennedy's GN Steven's Pass

Ed McNamara's Century Model Rail Road Club

Joe Fugate's Southern Pacific Siskiyou Line

Bill Decker's Southern Pacific Cascade Line

Tom Dill's Southern Pacific - Ashland Div

John Dulaney's Peavine Line of the Santa Fe

Charles Clark's Modoc Southern Pacific Line

Rod Loder's SP in Oregon

Jerry Boudreaux Pasquinel Division, AT&SF

Gene Nevelle's Great Basin and Pacific

Corvallis Society of Model Engineers'  Cascade Pacific

David Clune's Cascade County Narrow Gauge

Jeff Johnston's Sugar Pine Lumber Company

For a map and links to information about each layouts please visit our Wednesday Layout Tour Page.


The tour includes a pocket polo shirt with an SP&S ALCO C636.  To get your ticket for the tour click on the link below but PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PAGE AND IN THE COMMENT SECTION PLEASE INCLUDE: Indication of your Shirt Size: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL, XXXXL and your choice of Monogram Name: (limited to 12 characters or spaces)

 To purchase tickets for the Wednesday Layout Tour, please click on the 2015 Portland LDSIG Layout Tour.

 LDSIG/OPSIG Dinner Friday August 28, 2015

This year's dinner speaker will be Bruce Chubb.   Bruce's two Sunset Valley layouts have interested model railroaders for decades.  His Computer/Model Railroad Interface (C/MRI) was years ahead of its time and still used on hundreds of layouts around the world.  To read a bit about what Bruce will discuss in his speech you can click on this sentence and see a preview.

This year the LDSIG and OPSIG have an interesting venue for the Convention wrap-up dinner.  We will be hosted at the Widmer Brothers Brewery and Pub in Portland.  The facility is located in a building across the street from the throat for the historic Union Pacific Albina yard, and looks out on the Willamette River and the Fremont Bridge, a steel tied-arch bridge with the longest single span in Oregon and second longest tied-arch bridge in the world.  We will be in a private room on the second floor, where the yard can be seen from the windows, along with a great view of the city.

This will be a great opportunity to relax and rub shoulders with fellow SIG members, discuss everything you have seen during Portland 2015 and reflect on how to apply your new insights to your layout! 

We will start the no-host cocktail hour at 6PM, with plenty of time to get from the Train Show or 4PM clinic to the Brewery.  Most of the beers made in the Brewery are available only in the Pub rather than through stores.  A sit down dinner with salad and dessert will follow.  We might even get a tour of the brewery after the presentation by our guest speaker. 

Access is a block from the MAX (light rail) yellow line stop, which connects downtown with the Train Show' Expo Center location.  From the convention hotel (Doubletree) it is an easy transfer from the green line at Rose center.

Parking is available but it appears easier to take the MAX.  There will be carpool sign-up sheets in the SIG Room, for driver with seats available, and for those needing rides.  If private transportation will be used, insurance is to be provided by the participants in the event.  Neither the LDSIG Inc. nor the NMRA will provide insurance coverage for private or rental transportation.  Directions will be posted in the SIG Room. 

The cost of the dinner is $58.  Sign up for this extra fare event will be through the NMRA Convention Company Store (Click Here and scroll down to the bottom to purchase tickets.  Be sure to specify Beef, Salmon, or Vegitarian).   If there are still tickets available when the convention arrives they will be available at the convention Tour Desk.

Sunday, August 30, 2015, LDSIG After-Convention Layout Tour

This year we have several layouts that are south of the Convention but at a distance that we were not inclined to put them on the Wednesday layout tour.  They are still wonderful layouts and their owners have agreed to be open after the convention for any of our members heading south toward California.

The layouts open for this special going home tour include:

Bob Sanchez' West Coast Transportation System

George Booth's Great Western Railway

Rogue Valley Model Railroad Club's Pacific and Eastern

Eel River Valley Model Railroaders 

For a map and links to information about each layouts please visit our After Convention Layout Tour Page.