ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Model Railroad Personal Review - Great Train Expo: Part 1 - Experiences

Updated on July 24, 2011

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

This is a review of the Great Train Expo held on July 23 and 24, 2011 at the Pomona Fairplex near Los Angeles, California. While some of the information applies to all Great Train Expo shows, some is useful only for the Pomona Fairplex venue.


I’d been burned by traveling model railroad shows before, especially when they promise hundreds of exhibitors and deliver only a dozen. Initial web reports seemed favorable for the Great Train Expo, and they were only charging $7 for admission. (Though parking was another story as I explain in Part 2 of this series.) I decided to take a chance.

Great Train Show
Great Train Show | Source


The venue was the Pomona Fairplex, a sprawling complex that’s known in the Southland as the location of the annual Los Angeles County Fair. It occupied building 9, which was a walk from any parking lots. My initial impression was not good. The entry area seemed unprofessional, with two or three staff behind folding tables. A few flyers littered one of the tables but there was no sign of a map or plastic shopping bags to hold purchases. However, the staff was upbeat and friendly.


The ceiling of the building is at least two stories high, and the floor space sprawls over 45,300 square feet. Every empty space was packed with dealer tables and visitors. I could easily walk through the crowded aisles, which seemed wide enough to accommodate even wheelchair visitors. Near the entrance was a train table where kids could play with wooden trains for free. It complemented the free kiddie train ride outside.

I headed to the layout area where about a dozen clubs had set up their modular pikes. All scales were represented.

  • The smallest belonged to ZoCal, the Southern California Z-Scale Model Railroading Group. Their modules were only two feet wide. And yet the multiple-car consists, such as the passenger cars of the orange Southern Pacific Daylight, moved elegantly around the 11-inch radius curves.
  • Larger scales were also represented by such groups as the Del Oro Pacific in G-Scale. Their lighted oil refinery attracted attention with its silver tanks and smokestacks.
  • My favorite layout belonged to the Southern California Traction Club, where HO scale trolleys, powered by live overhead, traveled over intricate street track. Those who bothered to look under one table could spy a working New York subway station, while above, skyscrapers towered into the sky. Many of their building also featured lighting and interiors.


I think you could’ve bought almost any model railroading item at the show. Booths were devoted to locomotives, freight and passenger cars, books and magazines, tools, scenery, structures, tools, vehicles, figures, train sets and track in every scale, and even a complete N-scale layout. Though some items were clearly priced, others were not. In either case, haggling was the rule of the day. I ended up with some street turnouts for my HO trolley layout. (Check out Part 2 of this series for some advice on buying.)

My Take

I easily spent two hours at the show and could have probably spent more time if hunger and exhaustion didn’t get the best of me. I very much enjoyed the modular layouts and the chance to browse through dealers I don’t normally see. Everyone exhibited the camaraderie you find among model railroaders, and were willing to patiently answer any questions I had about the hobby. I recommend catching the show if it appears in your area.

For some tips on viewing the show, see Model Railroad Personal Review - Great Train Expo: Part 2 – Tips.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alocsin,

      This sounds like it would have made for an interesting day getting to see all of those model trains and all the setups, literature, etc, all in one place. Model train collector or would be quite entertaining. Voted up and interesting. Thanks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Please e mail me contact info on getting in touch to donate H O Scale kits and accessories to the club Also anybody looking for Real Railroad books Dating back to the 1050s in memory of my deceased father Norman O. Jones Thank you Peggy Bourassa e mail or phone 951 681 6382 Thank you


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)