Saturday, October 14, 2023


A welcome development in the Portland, Oregon, area has been regular, annual Rail Prototype Modeler Meets using the “Bridgetown” moniker.  “Bridgetown” refers to the many bridges over the Willamette River in Portland plus the three (auto plus rail) over the Columbia River.  Kudos to Bruce Barney, Rod Loder and their helpers plus others in the Pacific Northwest in the RPM movement for helping establish this as a significant modeler event.  My only “issue” is that organizers seem to have settled upon the first Saturday of October for the meet which conflicts with my regular spot in the Portland metro area operating layouts rotation.  Sigh.  These RPM Meets are worth my having to annul my October sessions. 

Rail Prototype Modeler Meets developed as a counter-point to the established NMRA contests, beginning in the 1990s.  The intent is for model display and ready access to the modelers to share techniques for better capturing prototype railroad equipment into scale model form.  It is a meeting of peers and fellow rail modelers.  


Typical assortment of models on display.  The model craftsmanship level is high.  The subject matter is quite varied.


A number of vendors, both “large” (Kadee and Tangent) and small were present with someone to talk to from each. Three-dimensional printing has taken off and opened up quite a number of model applications.


Jason Hill’s lumber train in the foreground with several vendors alongside the walls.


More vendors with a couple with 3-D printed models of Canadian prototypes in the foreground.


The big, exciting announcement at this RPM Meet was Tangent’s new model of the SP rebuilt forty-foot boxcars with ten-foot doors—the “yellow stripe” boxcars of the 1960s and 1970s.  This car builds on Tangent’s recent release of the SP B-50-28 (and beyond) post-war boxcars.  Just as the as-built cars were vital to the 1950s SP boxcar fleet, so also were the rebuilt cars to the 1960s-70s.  By 1970, over 7000 cars had been converted to the 10-foot door rebuild.  They went all over the country, such that many/most general merchandise trains had at least one of these cars in them.  SP modelers need them in great numbers.  The “yellow stripe” cars have long been a “missing link” for proper modeling of the SP, even if one is not (as I am) modeling Oregon.  I can go on and on about these cars’ importance and what they did for the SP and its shippers; perhaps I will do so sometime later.


It was great to meet Daniel Kohlberg who represented Tangent at this meet.  Dan has his own line of decals (ICG Decals, and has done the graphic artwork on Tangent’s and others’ models.  I already have a number of his decals for the production SP B-50-28 boxcars and now have decals for the “yellow stripe” rebuilds.  I also picked up four of the newly released rebuilt cars (unlettered, but assembled and having the yellow stripe on the door).  Those are just a beginning and will help my overall plan to do shifting equipment eras on my railroad.  


A side note about Tangent:  They often release new models at an appropriate convention, meet, or show, based on the geography of the event and the prototype of the new release.  For the Bridgetown RPM Meet, the newest release (that day!) was the SP rebuilt boxcar.  Also featured prominently were the new NP-BN-SP&S wide vision cabooses from last month and the 40-foot appliance boxcars (“Baby Hi-Cubes”) from this summer.  NP had a small part of that fleet.  All of these models neatly come together in Portland.


Daniel Kohlberg with the Tangent display.


It was great to meet with long-time friends from the prototype modeling part of the hobby.  Although I find myself now categorized as a “layout builder,” the urge to return to my modeling roots grows stronger each year.  


SF Bay Area friend Harry Wong taking photos of models while others do the same and otherwise observe.


The Bridgetown RPM Meet has become an essential part of my fall railroad calendar.  Someday soon I will be displaying as well.