Clinicians

The Clinicians Page contains a brief biography of the Clinicians presenting during the conference.


Stefan Bartelski


Stefan Bartelski has recently returned to the hobby after brief flirtations in his early years. After retiring he joined the Country RRoads Modular group and also started on his own home layout in HO scale, based on the L&N/Family Lines/CSX Etowah Old Line route. 

Stefan will be presenting two clinics:

Clinic One:  MRI Operations 101

An introduction to using free JMRI software to generate manifests/switchlists for operating prototypical trains on a layout. This approach is very applicable to modelers running more modern layouts as it closer to modern practices than car cards and waybills. However, it can be used for layouts of any era. The clinic will cover how to setup towns, industries and enter your rolling stock, as well as how to define trains to serve the industries. Examples of manifests will be available to see the end result.

Clinic Two:  Cheap, Effective Wireless Throttles

How to set-up a wireless DCC throttle network for less than $150. This clinic will show using a cheap microcomputer, free software and dedicated burner phones to build a state of the art wireless.throttle connection to your DCC base station. The solution requires no soldering, no programming so can be created even by those that are technically challenged.


David Booker



David Booker has been employed in the railroad industry his entire working career. After working his way through college loading and unloading railcars at a paper mill he went to work for Itel Rail, a boxcar leasing company during the per diem days. From there he was one of the founders of Railcar Management, (RMI) a provider of software to short line and regional railroads. For several years David was also the Vice President of Administration for Indiana Hi-Rail, a short line holding company based in Indiana. Upon returning to RMI, David managed the customer service and installation teams for their transportation software division. David retired when RMI was sold to General Electric and started Rail Advisors, a consulting company catering to providing software support for short line operations.


Clinic Description:  Operating Your Model Railroad Like a Modern Short Line

David Booker has spent his career providing short line railroads with the expertise needed to incorporate modern software into the day to day operations needed to manage rail operations. As retirement approached 5 years ago David began construction of the Coosa Valley Central, an HO scale model railroad inspired by the many prototype operations he visited during his career. The CV is based in the present day in the North Georgia mountains and runs from an interchange staging yard to a large paper mill at the end of the line. In his presentation David will review how modern short lines operate and the challenges they face. He will then incorporate those challenges into how he has used his model railroad to train those new to the industry on how a modern short line operates.


John Bost


John Bost has been a member of NMRA since 1993 but has only been active after retiring from 30+ years in the high technology industry. John has been scratch building models for over 35 years starting with armored vehicles in IPMS (International Plastic Modellers society) and over the past 20 years has found a passion in the world of scratch building structures.

He is currently working on his third layout and is looking forward to creating many new structures that will be required. John has been married For the past 48 years to his wife Sharon, has 2 grown children and 3 grand daughters. His education includes degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering.


Clinic Description:  Scratch building on your Railroad - The Fundamentals

This clinic will provide an introduction to scratch building structures for your model railroad. It will cover the basic tools required, the process for getting all the information you can on your proposed scratch project, the “do’s and don’ts” of scratch building, and examples of scratch-built buildings, including the example of step by step construction of a basic project. The intent of this clinic is to make modelers more comfortable and confident when attempting a scatch-built project.


Al Churella, MMR


Al Churella is a professor of history at Kennesaw State University. He has written two books on railroad history – a study of the transition from steam to diesel locomotives, and the first volume of a two-part history of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Al models in On2, rather than the more common scale/gauge combination of On30. His layout, which covers most of an 1,800-square-foot basement, is a faithful recreation of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad, as it appeared in the summer of 1919. The layout features numerous scratchbuilt cars, structures, and bridges, and has earned Al the AP certificate for prototype scene.

Al will be presenting two clinics:

Clinic One:  Setting The Scene

Every layout has scenery, but not all of them have scenes. Once we have assembled a collection of structures, rolling stock, and figures, it takes both planning and imagination to put them together in a way that tells a story or simply appeals to our sense of humor. This clinic will provide examples and offer suggestions about the artistry involved in creating scenes that can be humorous, poignant, or evocative of a bygone place and time.

Clinic Two:  Tales from the Two-Foot Gauge: Following the Narrowest of the Narrow Gauges from Wales to Atlanta

HTwo-foot-gauge railways originated in Wales more than 150 years ago. From there, this obscure narrow gauge spread to Massachusetts and to Maine, and even included ambitious plans to link Canada to the New England seacoast. While those efforts did not succeed, five two-foot lines lasted well into the twentieth century, carrying timber, sportsmen, and holiday campers through rural Maine. It is still possible to ride some of those lines, on both sides of the Atlantic. You can also see them in Atlanta, where Al has used the uncommon scale of On2 to faithfully recreate scenes from the most extensive two-foot-gauge railroad to operate in the United States.


Tom Gordon


Although Tom Gordon is an avid model railroader - currently building an HO version of the SAL Birmingham Subdivision, one of his passions is interfacing different technologies in the fields of software and hardware development. (both professionally and in the hobby.)

With his new layout reconstruction effort underway (his 5th 'big' one), the electronics portion is expected to be even more capable and less expensive than ever before, through the use of small, cheap electronics.


Clinic Description:  Arduino's and Raspberry Pi's - Oh My

This clinic will cover the very basics of the newer electronics that can be used in model railroading. It will discuss the what and how these devices can be used, tools that make them easier and hardware tips and tricks to help implementation.

No code will be used in the clinic.


Jim Gore, MMR


Jim Gore is a retired professor of biology and Dean Emeritus from the University of Tampa. Within the NMRA, Jim serves as the AP Director for the Sunshine Region, on the Board of Directors of the National NMRA, as At-Large North America Director, and, most recently, as the manager of the Modeling With The Masters® program. Having grown up in New Mexico, he models an imaginary branchline of the Santa Fe division of the narrow gauge D&RGW (also known as the Chili Line) in On30. It assumes that the line was not abandoned in 1942 but served the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos into the 1950’s.

Jim is known for his cardstock structures and clinics on the topic. He also builds adobe structures from balsa and balsa-foam. Articles about and pictures of the J&RG have appeared in O Gauge Railroading, Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette, Model Railroader, O Scale Trains, Sn3 Modeler, Narrow Gauge Down Under, the NMRA Magazine, All Scale Rails, Model Railroad Hobbyist and O Scale Resource.


Clinic Description:  Building Grandpa’s Gas Station

This clinic describes the historical research (including the vague memories of a 7-year old boy) needed to construct a cardstock model of my grandfather’s Mobil gas station in Emporium, Pennsylvania. It also focuses upon construction techniques in cardstock, wood, metal, and plastic pieces to make the scene depict the station I recalled as a young boy. Finally, there will be a description of the 1957 disaster that caused the demolition of the gas station and replacement with the typical Art-Deco Mobil station of the 1950’s and 1960’s.


Thomas Klimoski


Thomas Klimoski is a retired City of Miami Firefighter who currently lives in the mountains of Northeast Georgia. His HO scale layout, the Georgia Northeastern, was initially featured in the 2016 issue of Model Railroad Planning in an article titled “Georgia short line on my mind”. Thomas has written several articles appearing in Model Railroader, Model Railroad Planning, Great Model Railroads, and Model Railroad Hobbyist. In addition, he has a YouTube channel and website, www.ThomasKlimoski.com, where he posts videos of his layout and current projects. Tom is a member of the Piedmont Division of the NMRA.


Clinic Description:  The Georgia Northeastern Railroad, Prototype and Modeling

In the presentation Tom will review the history of the Georgia Northeastern Railroad (GNRR) and outline its present day operation. Also included are photos from when Tom was able to ride along with the GNRR crew as they traveled down the Marble Hill switchback spur to switch the marble industries there. The second portion of the presentation will highlight Tom’s HO scale Georgia Northeastern layout which was featured in the 2020 issue of Great Model Railroads. He will discuss the construction of the layout, operating sessions, prototype based switch lists and track plan. Numerous photos showcase the scenery and structures of the layout.


David Orr


David Orr is retired from a thirty-three year career with L&N and its successors and resides in Jacksonville, Florida. David is a native of Nashville and grew up a few blocks from Tennessee Central and L&N tracks where he developed his interest in trains. After receiving his mechanical engineering degree from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, he was employed by L&N in 1970 in Louisville as a management/engineering trainee at South Louisville Shops. His railroad career took him to Evansville, Corbin, Baltimore, and ultimately to Jacksonville, serving in operations management in the mechanical, engineering & signal, and transportation departments.

He has been a member of L&NHS since about 1986 and is also a member of the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, Carolina Clinchfield Chapter of NRHS, and the Central of Georgia Historical Society. David’s memberships in those railroad historical societies are indicative of his interest in preserving the record of “fallen flags” in the southeast. He also is a modeler of the three primary Nashville railroads. David has three sons, five grandchildren, and is married to wife, Dora.


Clinic Description:  Adventures In L&N Modeling

The Louisville & Nashville Railroad began construction between its namesake cities in the 1850’s. It played a significant role during the Civil War, and afterward became a major player in the rail network in the southeast. The L&N Historical Society was formed in 1982 to foster interest in the history of the L&N and its predecessors and successors. Modeling is an important element of society activities. This presentation will focus on numerous examples of L&N themed models constructed by L&NHS members. Discussion will include overviews of the prototypes and tips on how modelers achieved realism consistent with the prototype. The L&NHS is working to make accurate, L&N related models more readily available. A brief summary of current efforts will be given and a listing of L&N modeling resources made available.


David Popp


David Popp is Kalmbach Media’s executive producer, and is also executive editor for the tracks titles group, including Model Railroader, Trains, Classic Trains, Classic Toy Trains, and Garden Railways magazines. David is a life-long model railroad and train collection enthusiast.

In 2013 he launched MR Video Plus, Kalmbach’s subscription video website, and is founding editor of the award-winning Model Railroading: The Ultimate Guide annual magazine series. He and his wife also own Dropped Pencil LLC, their own creative media company which produced The Fred and Susie Show for Christian television from 2009-2016.

David will be presenting two clinics:

Clinic One:  45 years of the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy

Model Railroader’s 28 x 54-foot in-house HO scale layout, the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy, celebrates it 45th anniversary this year. The original layout started in 1975 in Kalmbach’s downtown Milwaukee offices and built to host club operating sessions. In 1989, the company moved to its present location, and a new MR&T was designed and constructed in a purpose-built room. Today the layout is primarily used to test new products and construction techniques, as well as hosts a wide variety of projects that have been featured in Model Railroader magazine, as well in a variety of videos for MR Video Plus. Kalmbach executive producer David Popp provides insight into the construction and evolution of this storied railroad with plenty of video action and some great how-to layout construction advice.

Clinic Two:  Building the N scale Canadian Canyons

Model Railroader’s 2019 project railroad, the 5 x 8-foot N scale Canadian Canyons, features the majesty of mountain railroading in a compact space. The layout features modern railroading on the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National set on part of their joint Trans-Con main line in British Columbia. The concept for the project railroad came from a railfan trip taken by Model Railroader Video Plus personalities Kent Johnson, Drew Halverson, and Charlie Conway, who covered the line from land, water, and air. It was built with more photographic and video reference material than any MR project railroad since the Clinchfield. In this overview, David Popp provides plenty of insight to the design and construction process for MR project railroads, as well as many tips for layout construction. If you’re looking for a compact layout with a lot of scenic punch, this clinic is for you.


Sam Swanson


Painting and weathering techniques with acrylic and water-based paints is the focus of this clinic, through a series of structure, rolling stock, and locomotive examples in both HO and O scale.  Although examples are primarily brush-painted with inexpensive acrylics, some models are finished using a combination of spray-can priming and airbrush base-coating.  Painting multi-media models (built from styrene, basswood, cardstock, brass, and cast urethane) to appear consistent will be presented as part of a priming, base-coating, shadowing, and highlighting finishing system.  Specialty approaches will also be discussed, including finishing sheet styrene to appear as weathered wood, highlighting and corroding black surfaces to accentuate detail, and representing a variety of metal corrosion on roofing and hardware components.


Clinic Description:  Finishing Models

Sam has participated in model railroading activities for about 45 years, and built many models in HOn3, HOn30, and On30 formats.  Many of those structure, rolling stock, and locomotive models were finished with water-based paints (once getting past the Pactra and Testors enamels of his youth).  It’s been a few years since he overcame his Polly S and Polly Scale addictions (along with Floquil as well), and has been able to move on thanks to a wide variety of acrylic paints available from art and hobby stores.


Gilbert Thomas Jr.


Gilbert Thomas, Jr. modeler since the age of 4. Former Paramedic for 20 years with Polk Co. FL EMS. Currently working as a Clinical Coordinator RN at Advent Health Zephyrhils. Former Western Division Superintendent SSR NMRA, Former Vice President of SSR, Former President of the SSR, Former Journal Box Editor and past co-chair of the NMRA2017Orlando National Convention.

Gilbert is a 15 year member of the NMRA, 23 year member of the H.B. Plant Railroad Historical Society Plant City, FL and a 3 year member of the Ridge Model Railroad Club in Winter Haven, FL. Gilbert is an active modeler of the Tropicana "Juice Train" and Canadian Grain Train.

Gilbert will be presenting four clinics:

Clinic One:  Modeling Considerations for the 1950's modeler.

American railroads are quickly retiring their steam locomotives and purchasing new diesel locomotives. This clinic will review the major changes in railroading and help to give the 1950's modeler a clearer focus for their modeling efforts.

Clinic Two:  Modeling Considerations for the 1970’s Modeler

American railroads have reached a crisis point. After years of fixed pricing by the government railroads are going bankrupt in record dollar amounts. Passenger service will nearly cease to function. The government will get in the railroad business. Mergers galore as the railroads fight for their survival. This clinic will review the major changes in railroad and help give the modeler a clearer focus for their modeling efforts.

Clinic Three:  Modeling Considerations for the 2000’s Modeler

American railroads have completed their mergers (for the time being). Railroads are more focused on developing efficiencies within their companies. Technology is quickly replacing employees. A new concept in railroading “Precision Railroading” is taking hold. What does all this mean for the 2000’s Modeler? This clinic will review major changes in the modern railroad business and help give the modeler a clearer focus to help them in the modeling efforts.

Clinic Four:  Modeling a Freight Yard

What does it take to have a great freight yard on your model railroad? Good Question! This clinic will discuss observations, things missed and opportunities to take your rail yard to the next level.


Peter Youngblood, MMR


A past NMRA National BoD At Large North American Director (ALNAD), Southeastern Region Education Program Mgr., SER Director, Superintendent and current Superintendent Emeritus of the Piedmont Division, Peter’s earned all 11 MMR certificates. In his 6th year as a Modeling With The Masters instructor at annual NMRA Conventions. His continued dedication to the NMRA and numerous contributions helping to increase member benefits have been acknowledged with 2 NMRA Nat’l President’s Awards and the SER’s prestigious Vern Yarbrough Award.

A devout southwesterner, Peter models the Santa Fe Railway in HO scale as it was in the 1960’s in parts of CO, NM, and AZ. His layout and articles have appeared in MR, RMC, Scale Rails, NMRA Magazine and Classic Toy Trains. A narrator for Green Frog Productions’ DVD videos, he’s also authored two published model railroad books, Modeling Cajon Pass and Realistic Railroading with Toy Trains, both now out of print. Peter says he’s glad to be here before “he’s out of print!” A retired military, airline pilot, and hobby shop owner, he’s lived in different parts of America and abroad residing now in Kennesaw, GA, a suburb of Atlanta.


Clinic Description:  Modeling Details Along The Right-of-Way

Peter will show how often overlooked prototypical details along the right-of-way can be added to your layout using either commercial products available in most scales or can easily be scratch built in one evening. You’ll also see how creating “mini-scenes” with figures and vehicles become individual story tellers that draw the viewers attention deeper into a layout.