2023 Meets and Events

About Our Meets and Events

The San Diego Division holds monthly meetings and events, every second Saturday of the month, held at various times. For your information, instead of naming our meetings, "Meetings", we call them "Meets".

  • Our Meets and Events include what we call Quarterly Meets (February, May, August, November) which can include Silent Auctions, Hobo Auctions, Clinics, Show & Tell, contests, swap meets, Bingo for Trains, raffles, door prizes and food. On the other months, private layout tours (open house style) and other events are offered for all our members.
  • To learn more about the San Diego Division, please feel free to attend one of our Meets or Events as a guest by contacting Rudy Spano, Membership Services, at (858) 761-1424, or email Rudy at membership.
    • Please provide Rudy with your first name, last name and your phone number to be a guest at one of our events. Or to join the San Diego Division, please call Rudy by phone or by email and he will assist you.
  • You may also join the National Model Railroad Association on your own and the San Diego Division will be notified of your new membership status. The National Model Railroad Association has an introductory membership offer good for nine months, for $19.95 and it is called the Rail Pass.
  • We welcome all National Model Railroad Association members from the Pacific Southwest Region or any other region in the world to attend any of our Meets or Events.

April 8, 2023 - Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (PDT). Joel Shank's Sn3 Rio Grande Southern Railroad narrow gauge model train layout tour in Brawley, California.

Joel Shank's Rio Grande Southern Sn3 scale model train layout.
Joel Shank's Rio Grande Southern Sn3 scale model train layout.
Picture credit: Joel Shank.

Layout Tour: The layout tour is Joel Shank's Rio Grande Southern Railroad narrow gauge Sn3 scale 32X33 layout which is located in a 1,500 square foot air conditioned building. The layout was started in 1990 and the layout is finished. This might be the last opportunity to see Joel's museum quality model train layout as it will be moved sometime in the future. This layout tour is for NMRA members and their guests.

  • Date: Saturday, April 8, 2023
  • Carpooling: Everyone has the option to drive on their own to Brawely or to carpool together.
    • If you want to carpool, we are going to meet at a specific location in San Diego (to be announced in the near future) around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 8.
    • Once we arrive at the designated carpool location in San Diego, we will split up into carpools and those not driving can leave their cars at the designated location.
    • The carpool staging area will be announced through our San Diego Division email and the parking location will not be posted on the website.
    • Reminder: For those who are riders in the car pool (that is, you are not a driver in the car pool but you are a rider in the car pool), please remember to bring some cash (or a couple of gold bars) to help defer the cost of gasoline for the drivers.
  • Driving On Your Own: For those who want to drive on their own, please feel free to do so and meet us at 11:00 a.m. at Brownies Diner in Brawley for lunch.
    • The goal is to arrive in the city of Brawley around 11:00 a.m. and meet at Brownies Diner.
    • Joel will give a talk at the restaurant during lunch about his railroad and have a Q&A period.
  • Lunch: 11:00 a.m. We are going to meet for lunch at Brownies Diner which is located at 990 Main Street, Brawley, California 92227. The cross street is S. Cezar Chevaz Street.
    • We will have lunch at Brownies Diner and then have some time to stretch our legs.
    • Joel will give a talk at the restaurant during lunch about his railroad and have a Q&A period.
    • After we eat, we will then drive over to Joel's Sn3 model train layout for the layout tour.
  • Layout Tour Time: 12:30 p.m. (give or take a 10 or 15 minutes either way). We will be returning approximately at 3:00 p.m.
  • Layout Location: Joel Shank lives in Brawley, California which is east of San Diego. It is a two hour drive, one-way, from San Diego to Brawley. Joel's address will be provided to San Diego Division members through email, prior to the layout tour.
  • Masks: Masks are not required.
  • Accessible: The model train layout is not accessible.
  • More about Joel's model railroad: Rio Grande Southern Railroad narrow gauge modeling between Ridgeway and Rico, Colorado, USA. The narrow gauge railroad primarliy served the mining industry, mining gold and silver. Mines are not modeled. The industries on the railroad include a pro patria mill (in Rico, Colorado), stock bins, coal facilities and oil distributors. Rico has a railroad yard and Ridgeway railroad yard and a staging yard. 90% of the buildings are scratch built and the area modeled is a very rugged area.
    • The scenes on the railroad have actually been recreated from pictures of the area.
      The stations on the railroad are Placerville, Vance Junction, Ophier and Coke Ovens (in Colorado, USA). Rico has a railroad yard and Ridgeway railroad yard and a staging yard.
    • Bud Smith and Joel are the two who built the railroad. Bud Smith is the artist talent, Joel is the engineer and technical director. The layout has slightly over 3,000 trees and Bud built about 90% of the trees. The entire layout uses hand-laid track. The lowest elevation modeled on the railroad is over 5,000 feet and the highest elevation just under 10,000 feet.
    • The railroad was designed for Operations Sessions and typically uses four people during an Operations Session. The layout is a point to point railroad. Four times a year for Operations Session an Sn3 modelers only. About four people are needed for Operations Sessions. One crew starts at one end, the other crew starts at the other end and meets at Vance Junction.
    • To control the locomotives Joel uses NCE with DCC/Sound locomotives. The locomotives are P-B-L sound equipped with TCS Wow Sound decoders. The model train building has the layout room, a crew lounge, a work shop and a small bathroom.

May 13, 2023, Saturday - Spring Meet - Short Track Railroad Club (Vista, California)

San Diego Society of N Scale Pacific Desert Lines layout, railroad yard.
Short Track Railroad Club.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

Winter Meet: The Short Track Railroad club (N scale) is hosting the Spring Meet.

  • Date: Saturday, May 13, 2023
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Location: The Short Track Railroad model railroad club is located at 2040 N. Santa Fe Avenue, Vista, California 92083 (Located in North County of San Diego).
  • Masks: Masks are optional.
  • Accessibility: Yes, the club's building is wheelchair accessible.
  • Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum: The Short Track Railroad club is located on the grounds of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum.
    • The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum is a living-history museum founded in 1969 and is located on 55 acres of county-owned land on the outskirts of Vista, California.
    • Parking is free. You may park at the front of the museum grounds but you will have a long walk to the Short Track Railroad's building. Or you can drive slowly into the museum grounds and find the model railroad club's free standing building which is near the rear of the museum grounds. Please drive slowly when driving inside the museum grounds.
  • Layout Tour: You are welcome to have a self-guided layout tour of the club's is the N scale model train layout. The club opens from 9:00 a.m. Feel free to talk to the Short Track Railroad's club members with any questions you may have. Some history of the club is listed below.
    • In 1991, the N scale Short Track Railroad (originally called the Short Trak'N Railroad Club) was formed and operations began in 1992. The club originally started as a module club, for over a decade, and exhibited their module railroad to local schools, retirement homes, National Model Railroad Conventions (regional and national conventions), other train conventions, the Del Mar Fair (in San Diego) and more.
    • When N scale model railroaders create and use modules, the hobby term is called NTrak. The NTrak Wikipedia page is filled with information about N scale modular systems. There is also a non-profit organization called NRail, Inc. which created the first national modular standards for N scale NTrak module modelers. The club has recently discontinued using modules and all their modules are gone.
    • In 2002, the club joined the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista, California. In 2003, the club started construction of their permanent exhibit in their 3,600 square foot club house. The club has a wonderful Donner Pass Exhibit, offers clinics to model railroaders, has Operations Sessions for its members and more. For several years, more new work has been done on their permanent exhibit, so this layout tour will be one tour not to miss.
    • The Short Track Railroad layout exhibit is open to the public every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Lunch - 11:00 to 1:00 p.m: There is a $5.00 donation for pizza and beverages.
  • Silent Auction - 11:00 to 1:00 p.m.: There will be a Silent Auction where every Division member can bring an unlimited number of items to sell. Note: The Division will be assessing a 10% fee off the grand total of what you make at the auction.
    • Please remember that all items you have for the auction must be related to model railroading and/or the real railroad. You can bring things such as rolling stock kits, used rolling stock, new rolling stock, books, railroad memorabilia, posters, pins and anything else you would like to sell.
  • Show & Tell: Bring a project or model and show off your work. We would like several people to participate in the Show & Tell portion of the Spring Meet. Please contact Ryan and let him know you'd like to participate in Show & Tell.
  • Clinics - 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Clinic 1: The Latest from PIKO by Jonathan Meador. Jonathan is the manager of PIKO America, the North American division of PIKO which is headquartered in Germany. PIKO is one of the largest model train manufacturers in the world with over 700 employees in multiple countries.
      • Jonathan will talk about working for a model train manufacturer, provide some history of the company and review recent and upcoming HO- and N-scale American products, including the SP Krauss-Maffei ML4000 diesel hydraulic locomotives of the 1960s.
    • Clinic 2: The SONGS Reactor Vessel 1 Move on Metrolink on May 24, 2020 by Tim Harris. Tim works for the North County Transit District. He is a Senior Rail Engineer overseeing track construction and maintenance projects there. He was previously at Metrolink as a Senior Track Engineer where he was when this project took place.
      • Tim will talk briefly about the recent interesting operation, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) vessel move that happened during May of 2020. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was shut down in June 2013.
      • Tim will present information about the move of the reactor from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Onofre State Beach (North San Diego County, California) to Placentia, California, where the load was moved on BNSF rails. Tim will show a couple of videos showing certain parts of the operation. This can be an idea and will provide the information needed for an interesting model train project.
  • Door prizes. There will be door prizes!!

June 7-10, 2023, Wednesday-Saturday - Grand Canyon Special 2023 Convention

(PSR Convention 2023)

Welcome to the exciting Grand Canyon Special 2023 Convention. Flagstaff, Arizona has over 100 trains passing through each day and is the centerpiece of the convention with excursions to Williams and the train to the Grand Canyon.

Pacific Southwest Region NMRA Grand Canyon Special 2023 Model Train Convention.
  • Date: Wednesday-Saturday, June 7-10, 2023
  • Location: Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
  • www.azdiv-nmra.org/psr2023convention
  • Convention Registration: Register for the convention here.
  • Hotel Reservations: Make your hotel reservations here.
  • For Hotel Discount: When booking your hotel room, please remember to add the convention's group rate code which is 3764683. On the hotel reservations web page, choose:
    > Add Special Rate or Code
    > Group Code
    > 3764683 (add this code)
  • About the Convention: The High-Country Convention Center is where the convention is being held and the theme is Steam to the Grand Canyon. There are clinics and activities for everyone including a series of clinics dedicated to the Grand Canyon excursion. The format is new, unique and exciting, featuring two days of indoor convention activities with the third day devoted to the Steam Train and the Grand Canyon.
  • About Flagstaff: Nestled in the pines of the Arizona High Country, the City of Flagstaff offers cool summer temperatures and a rich diversity of downtown attractions and activities along historic Route 66.

July 8, 2023, 2023, Saturday - Steve Harris' layout tour

Layout Tour: Steve Harris will be providing a layout tour for his Rocky Mountain narrow gauge railroad.

  • Date: Saturday, July 8, 2023
  • Time: Noon - 3:00 p.m.
  • Location: Valley Center (San Diego North County. Valley Center is northeast of Escondido), California, USA. The address will be emailed to San Diego Division members several days before the layout tour.
  • Masks: Masks are preferred but are optional.
  • Accessible: Unfortunately, the model train layout is not accessible.

August 12, 2023, 2023, Saturday - Summer Meet

Summer Meet: More information will be provided when we get closer to August.

  • Date: Saturday, August 12, 2023
  • Time: To be announced.
  • Location: To be announced.
  • Masks: To be announced.
  • Accessible: To be announced.

September 9, 2023, Saturday - Mike Komo's layout tour

Layout Tour: Mike Komo will be providing a layout tour for his N scale layout.

  • Date: Saturday, September 9, 2023
  • Time: Noon - 3:00 p.m.
  • Location: Carmel Valley (San Diego), California, USA. The address will be emailed to San Diego Division members several days before the layout tour.
  • Masks: Masks are not required.
  • Accessible: Unfortunately, the model train layout is not accessible.

October 13, 2023, Saturday - North County Model Railroad Society and Swap Meet

Swap Meet: We will be visiting the North County Model Railroad Society during their September Swap Meet.

  • Date: Saturday, October 13, 2023
  • Time: To be announced.
  • Location: Oceanside (North County San Diego), California, USA.
  • Masks: Masks are not required.
  • Accessible: The model train layout is accessible.

November 11, 2023, Saturday - Fall Meet

Fall Meet: The Fall Meet will be held at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum located in Balboa Park.

  • Date: Saturday, November 11, 2023
  • Time: To be announced.
  • Location: Balboa Park, San Diego, California, USA.
  • Masks: Masks are not required.
  • Accessible: The museum is accessible.

December 9, 2023, Saturday - Holiday Party

Holiday Part: We will have our holiday party at a restaurant and will include reindeer games.

  • Date: Saturday, December 9, 2023
  • Time: To be announced.
  • Location: To be announced.
  • Masks: Masks are not required.
  • Accessible: The restaurant should be accessible. We will update this information as soon as we know the restaurant location.


Past 2023 Meets/Events

January 14, 2023, Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. (PST) - San Diego S-Gaugers layout tour

San Diego S-Gaugers Grossmont Mall directory
San Diego S-Gaugers Grossmont Center (mall) directory
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster. Photo taken December 2022.

Layout Tour: The new year will be kicked off with the San Diego S-Gaugers layout tour. The San Diego S-Gaugers model train club is celebrating their 15th anniversary in January 2023 and has invited the San Diego Division to be part of their celebration.

  • Date: Saturday, January 14, 2023
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Location: Grossmont Center Mall, Suite 304, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, California.
  • Masks: Optional.
  • Accessible: Yes, the club's layout is accessible.
  • About the San Diego S-Gaugers model train club. The S scale (1:64 scale) San Diego S-Gaugers is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit model train club that welcomes new members of all ages and skill levels. If you want to get started in model trains, this is a good club to join.
    • The club has a space that is 41 feet X 22 feet. The main model train layout has 24 modules, each module built by club members.
    • The club also welcomes the public to bring in their trains in storage, to see if they still run.
    • The club has a several test tracks for HO, S scale, Sn3 and O scale trains, to test your model train locomotives.
    • Members own a variety of trains from vintage toy trains to those who use the latest technology in trains.
    • The club also sells trains and accessories that are donated to the club and 100% of the selling prices goes directly back to the club to support the S scale club.
    • The club is a National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) 100% club. This means that all its members are National Model Railroad Association members.
    • Here is a big congratulations that the San Diego S-Gaugers is a NMRA 100% Club.
    • When the club is closed, the trains still run. Just push the button outside the window and the trains on all three window layouts will run for about a minute.
    • As of 2020, the club has been busy upgrading existing layout features.
      • Some of the additions include adding a sky board and building flats to the left side of the layout.
      • A Ghostbusters scene was added, Plasticville buildings added, new business section added, barber shop added, auto dealer added, the lake has upgraded and the mountain has been upgraded.
      • The Westside Lumber Sn3 layout has been upgraded and partially operational.
      • The museum walls have been decorated with new items and a painting by one of the members.
      • A farmers co-op display has been added, a Jurassic Park scene has been added, the interior of the train station has been upgraded, a super hero area has been added, a snack bar has been added and a Crispy Creme trailer has been added.
  • About Grossmont Center (mall).
    • The Grossmont Center opened in 1961.
    • The mall occupies 100 acres of land.
    • It cost over $20 million USD to build the mall.
    • At the time, Grossmont Center was the largest development project in the City of La Mesa.
    • As of December 2022, the mall has a total of 97 places of business.
    • The largest stores in the mall are Macy's, Reading Cinemas, RH Outlet, Target and Walmart.
    • The mall is also home to Bath & Body Works, Cost Plus World Market, CVS Pharmacy and Dollar Tree.
    • The mall has 13 sit-down restaurants, has nine fast food restaurants in their food court, has 11 spa and beauty stores, and there is much more.
  • Shopping: Attending the layout tour is a great way to make your time count as you can also do shopping, watch a movie and/or eat out for lunch at the mall.
  • Carpooling: Help take the sting out of high gas prices and carpool with a friend.
  • Follow-up: We had a total of 24 members attend this Meet.
    • Here's a big thank you to the San Diego S-Gaugers for inviting the San Diego Division for it's 15th Anniversary Celebration.
    • Even though the day was cloudy in the morning, then in the afternoon, the weather turned to heavy rain, everyone enjoyed the layouts and speaking with the members of the club about their layout, trains and modeling.
    • Division members and friends took advantage of shopping at the mall and some ate at the restaurants.

February 11, 2023, Saturday - Winter Meet

Some Winter Meet 2022 pictures.
Some Winter Meet 2022 pictures.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

Winter Meet: The Winter Meet for 2023 will have a potluck, swap meet, a Golden Spike Award Ceremony, two clinics and door prizes. The Meet will be held in Linda Vista.

  • Date: Saturday, February 11, 2023.
  • Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Location: Peace Lutheran Church. 
  • Parking: Please park in the church parking lot and not on the street. There is lots of parking in the church parking lot.
  • Masks: Optional.
  • Accessible: Yes, the building is accessible. 
  • Potluck Lunch: We asking for main dishes, side dishes and deserts.
    • Last names starting with A-M are asked to bring a side dish or dessert.
    • Last names starting with N-Z are asked to bring a main dish.
    • The Division will bring drinks, plates, utensils and napkins.
  • Swap Meet: The Swap Meet starts at 11:00 a.m. and ends in the afternoon.
    • Buyers: Please remember to bring cash to purchase model train items and prototype items.
    • Sellers: Here's a good opportunity to sell your model train items of any scale. Please bring your locomotives, rolling stock, scenery, tools and any other model train items you want to sell. Also, prototype items can be sold at the swap meet. Tables are free and the Division will NOT be taking a percentage of your sell price. The Swap Meet is completely free for the sellers.
  • Golden Spike Awards: There will be a Golden Spike Award Ceremony.
  • Clinic 1: Rebuilding A Locomotive by Tim Foote. Tim's clinic will cover diesel restoring topics including: Amp draw testing the existing motor; Engine run test; Cleaning and lubing wheels and gears; Gear replacement; Motor replacement; Installing a Digital Command Control (DCC) decoder; Discuss decoder types; The ins and outs of using capacitors; Placement of a decoder and a speaker; and last but not least, installing LED locomotive lights.
  • Clinic 2: Working with Foil by John Johnson, Master Model Railroader. This is a National Model Railroad Association's video clinic presented a few years ago at the Philadelphia national convention. In it, he demonstrates how heavy aluminum foil can be used to create various parts for structures and freight cars. It includes techniques for handling, bending, cutting and embossing the foil. Foil seems like it would be somewhat fragile and tricky to work with but in the clinic, we see it can actually be quite a robust modeling material.
  • Door Prizes: There will be door prizes.
  • Carpooling: Help take the sting out of high gas prices and carpool with a friend and remember to park in the church parking lot.
  • Update: We had 25 members attend the Winter Meet. The potluck was a huge success, we had lots of food, drinks and desserts. The clinics were very informative for the members. Even though the swap meet had only several sellers, the amount of items was huge and the prices low, low, low!! Two members, Steve Harris and John Vavra received the Golden Spike Awards! Congratulations to both Steve and John.

March 11, 2023, Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (PDT) - Chula Vista Live Steamers.

Santa Fe GP30 locomotive
Santa Fe GP30 locomotive.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

Layout Tour: The Chula Vista Live Steamers.

  • Date: March 11, 2023
  • Times: Steam-up starts at 9:00 a.m. Rides are from noon to 2:30 p.m.
  • Location: 4548 Sweetwater Road, Bonita, California
  • Parking: Please park in Gate B parking lot.
  • Accessible: Yes, the facility is accessible.
  • Masks: Optional
  • When To Arrive:
    • The Chula Vista Live Steamers has invited San Diego Division members to arrive as early as 9:00 a.m. to see the "steam-up" of the locomotives and to watch the club's members prepare the trains for the train rides.
    • Division members are more than welcome to ask any question to the club members.
    • If you prefer to arrive for train rides only, the train rides start at noon and go until 2:30 p.m.
  • More Information and Regulations About The Chula Vista Live Steamers:
    • All train rides are free for this event.
    • The club is open on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month from 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. and the club offers free rides to the public.
    • The club has 8,000 feet of track.
    • When riding on the train, think safety first.
    • Please remember to obey the stationmaster and train crew.
    • Board and exit the train at stations only.
    • Sit as directed and keep your hands and feet inside the rail car.
    • Children are not allowed to be held in arms of anyone while riding.
    • Do not use electric equipment while riding the train.
    • Food and drinks are not allowed on the train.
    • Riding the train is at your own risk.
    • Donations are welcome.
    • Remember to bring your cameras for pictures and video.
  • Carpooling: Help take the sting out of high gas prices and carpool with a friend.
  • Follow-up: There were 17 members of the San Diego Division who attended the layout tour even though the weather was cold, cloudy and drizzling throughout the morning. The club was not offering train rides for the public due to the weather but the club members gave Division members several rides on their trains.
    • The club was incorporated in February 1974.
    • The scale of the club is 1-1/2 inch scale and this scale is also nick-named live steam.
    • The club has multiple types of steam locomotives and diesel-electric locomotives and the trains typically have a six car maximum on their trains.
    • The club's members have locomotives that weigh from 500 lb to one ton.
    • Most of the club's rolling stock are made by the club's members.
    • The club owns a small sit-down hand car which is fun for kids as well as adults.
    • The track that was installed in 1985 with wooden ties is now being replaced by plastic ties. There are several main tracks, crossovers, a railroad yard and service bay.
    • The club is open to new members. If you are interested in this scale, please contact the club and meet the members.
    • There at least 35 known live steam railroads in California as of March 2023.


Note: Pacific Daylight Time starts March 12, 2023 and Pacific Standard Time starts November 5, 2023. In the USA, in general, Daylight Time starts the second Sunday of March and Standard Time begins the first Sunday in November. In Europe, summer time begins the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday in October.

We do not have a physical office, permanent meeting room or layout. Each month, we meet at various locations throughout San Diego County. With the exception of during a pandemic, we hold virtual meetings.

[Covid-19 Information: Our Division provided virtual Meets during the Covid pandemic of 2020 and during the first half of 2021. Our in-person Meets started back in August 2021. Masks are optional at our in-person Meets and Events in 2023, unless otherwise noted or when required by state or federal law.]