Salt Lake City NMRA Convention 2019

The NMRA and the Layout Design Special Interest Group held their national convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, from July 7 to 13, 2019

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

The major LDSIG activities will include clinics, the LDSIG Tour, and the dinner.

The schedule for the week includes (all times Tentative at this point):

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

Clinics, all week

Wednesday - Annual Business Meeting

Wednesday - Tour all day and evening

Friday Night Dinner - dinner speaker TBD


Meet and Greet, Sunday, July 7, 7-10 PM, Location TBD

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.

The SIG Room has space for you to post a display about your railroad, its design challenges and how you've solved them (or how you need help).  Bring a display with you to the convention.  It can be flat poster-board or 3d room models or whatever you think will help people understand your dream railroad. Display setup will begin Sunday afternoon and tear-down on Friday at noon.

LDSIG Table Volunteers Needed

If you can spare an hour or two to help man the LDSIG table, please contact the convention SIG coordinator, Cal Sexsmith at calvinsexsmith at sasktel dot net.   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. Monday and Tuesday are the businest days when volunteers are most needed. The table will not be staffed on Wednesday during the LDSIG tour.

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, please contact Byron Henderson, ldjeditor at, who is coordinating the help sessions.

 Clinics - all week

There are layout design clinics all week given by some great clinicians. 

Featured Clinic not to be missed for beginners or veterans.  Lots of great information.

Layout Design Bootcamp, tentatively July 8, 8am - 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 Salt Lake City 2019 NMRA Convention. We'll begin with Seth Neumann and 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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 8-9 AM, LDSIG Annual Meeting

This important meeting will be held in the SIG room. Information for the LDSIG tour will be handed out at this meeting.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 9:30 AM until 10PM, LDSIG Annual Layout Tour

We currently have 22 layouts on a tentative list.

Carpooling is strongly encouraged so you can discuss the unique features of these layouts as you travel. Carpool size will be limited due to roadway restrictions. All members of a carpool must register for the Tour. 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).

We’re working on the layouts to be included the Salt Lake City LDSIG tour.

Neither the LDSIG Inc. nor the NMRA will provide insurance coverage for private or rental transportation.

Friday, July 12, 2019, Annual SIG Dinner

No-host happy hour, followed by buffet dinner and speaker.