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2018 Del Mar Fair

(latest news on top, if your first time here, read bottom up)


2018 DEL MAR FAIR UPDATE – Gene Cook - 26 January 2018

By now, most of us have seen our Pacific Island centerpiece, the volcano, we are planning to add a sugar cane field, the sugar cane transport train and a small shipping port, with steamship. 

On the other side of our Pacific  Ocean, our fair display will continue with the fair’s theme, ‘How Sweet It Is’.

Here we will model a little bit of California, represented by C&H Sugar, an actual sugar processing plant, closed in 2017, that was located in Crockett, a small town on the Sacramento River.  We will model the main C&H buildings, that will also include the ship receiving facilities, silo storage, product warehouse, storage and shipping. Our railroad’s spur and mainline will provide the needed rail service to deliver the C&H products across the country.

Nearby will be one of our three candy manufacturing companies,  MARS Candy.  It will consist of three buildings, manufacturing, storage/shipping and access to the mainline and a point-to-point railway.  Outside of the industrial and rail yards, will be an area to establish a small residential area. 

Further up the mainline, will be the HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY, a larger factory setting which the access to the mainline, as well as their own point-to-point rail service to the warehouse district.

The third candy factory will be located on the upper level of our display.  Here will find the NESTLES’ BABY RUTH factory, formerly the CURTIS CANDY COMPANY, the name as seen on our railroad’s, billboard reefer, rolling stock. Here we will have a three building setting, with access to the upper, mainline railway.

“But wait, there’s more…”  In a later newsletter, I will be mentioning other details for our fair display, like mountains, tunnels, farms, river, waterfall, bridges, trestles, track, trains, dirt, blocks, water and more blocks, more dirt.



The FAIR THEME is announced:


On Tuesday October 17th the Garden Display Staff held a kickoff meeting for the Garden Exhibitors. Gene, Dick and Andy attended. The Fair Theme for 2018 is "How Sweet It Is" and the Garden Department made a slight twist to that and came up with "Living the Good Life". They were hoping to avoid a lot of exhibits with candy canes and lolly pops.

We have taken the Sweets theme to the basic core concept. The theme for the Railroad Exhibit will be based on C&H Sugar and expanded from there. This year the exhibit/layout will be slightly bigger than last year. We will be increasing the size to 1,000 square feet to 750 square feet. This extra space was quickly used to get larger radius and spread things out a bit. This allows us to have 6 trains running at one time. There will be 4 loops and 2 point to point lines.

The C&H Sugar theme leads to the 2 basic components of the Exhibit/layout. There will be a Hawaii side and the mainland side separated by the Pacific Ocean.


The Hawaiian side has a large active volcano, a water fall and the tropical plants. The Volcano will have some special effect features such as: a water fountain out the top (the eruption), smoke (both a small lingering smoke and occasionally the large burst), simulated lava flow, a water fall and yes we must not forget two trains.
The trains that will be running on this side will be an Eggliner that is up the side of the Volcano a ways and a sugar cane train which will run at the base of the Volcano. Along with a shipping dock and a few buildings.

The Volcano is being pre-built at Andrew Kann’s house. Work is being done almost every weekend so give him a call if you are interested in helping or just want to come by and see the progress.

A few of the plants for the Hawaiian side include: palms, pineapple, banana tree, orchid, vinca among a few others. We are still looking for a plant that best models sugar cane at our scale. So if you have a suggestion lets us know.


The mainland side will have the manufacturing plants. There will be a C&H Sugar plant, 3 candy factories, dairy farm, orchard farm and a town. There will be a river with a lake, several tunnels and bridges.

The trains that will be running on this side will be diesel electric engines with candy themed rolling stock. There will be 2 main larger loops with a vertical separation and 2 point to point lines.
The plants will be many of the same plants as last year as we are holding those plants at Andy’s house for re-use with this exhibit/layout. We will most likely add a few new ones as the design progresses.


We will continue to bring updated information to the monthly meetings.
The January 2018 meeting will be held and Andrew Kann’s on Sunday January 21st This meeting will be the kick-off meeting for recruiting members to volunteer to help with preparation work, scenes and write ups to be displayed at various points of interest and the Volcano should be operational.




Update from Rich Perrelli:

The LGB sugar cane car photo came through.  It is representative of the actual cars.  I think I have a magazine article on building and detailing sugar cane cars someplace - if I could only find it...

As near as I can figure the cane was harvested and immediately sent to a mill to be ground to remove the sugar and molasses from the cane.  This greatly reduced the bulk and made it easy to transport the cane sugar out of the islands.  The straw byproduct was then used to fuel the steam engines and the steam powered mill.  Plantations had their own mills, but it was more cost effective for plantations to pool resources and build a larger mill for common use.

Once the raw cane sugar was received in the states, it went to a refinery where some or all of the molasses was removed to create different grades of sugar.  For example brown sugar had some molasses content while white sugar was refined to remove all of the molasses which was then sold separately.  

Based on this preliminary info, a mill at the Hawaii side and a refinery at the US side would be good.  However, I don't know if we really care about that level of historic accuracy.  I suppose just a warehouse and dock master's office at each dock would suffice.

I have almost completed two basic 8 inch long dock sample sections which can be extended to any length.  Together both samples took less than a day to construct.  I will bring them to the next meeting so we can review the construction method and discuss how to enlarge them to fit the theme and the space available.  I also have a book, "Where the Rails Meet the Sea" which has a chapter on Early 20th century Californian sea ports.  I can bring that along as well.

I started building a "Tramp Steamer"  which I thought would make an interesting dock detail.  It is more of a costal vessel than a deep sea craft due to it's 65 foot length.  Even at that, the boat is almost 3 feet long.  I think this is just part of the selective compression we garden railroaders must live with.   I will complete the steamer even if you don't want to use it as a dock detail.   This is my first attempt as a solid foam core fiberglass sheath unsinkable self rightening boat model and it will be an interesting addition to my R/C boat collection.



Board Approves Fair Event

At the August 20 meeting, a subcommittee was formed, headed by Andy Kann, with other members Dick Ericksen and Gene Cook

There's a lot of preparation involved, and please check here for progress.

If you would like to sign up to help, or learn more, feel free to contact Andy directly at 619-787-1552 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There are some exciting things planned, including a volcano! The official theme for the San Diego county fair is not announced yet, but we will fit our display to this.


The committee needs all kinds of help, from design, to construction, to manning the display, to tear down.



OK, this is Greg E's idea, so it's here for consideration by the committee: Can we have an interactive display where kids can actually run locomotives?

My idea was something like the "Eggliners" with sound and remote control.

I might be able to get a donation of a few Revolution HO units with sound. The kids could blow the horn and ring the bell as well as control direction and speed.

The max speed could be limited to minimize collision effects, and maybe a small oval for them to circulate on... a figure 8 might be too destructive ha ha.

Of course the transmitters would probably have to be bolted down or on a chain, but the stuff is inexpensive. Put some foam rubber on the ends so they can "bump"...



 The Board has approved the involvement of the SDGRS in the upcoming 2018 San Diego County Fair with a vote of 5-0-0 (5 Board members present).  Andrew Kann present an outline of the request to the Board.  Omega Engineering will be sponsoring the event once again.  A committee was formed at the Board meeting as well.  The committee is compromised Andrew Kann (chair) along with Gene Cook and Dick Erickson.  It was brought up at the Board meeting that the SDGRS were not properly represented at the 2017 Fair Exhibit.  So to ensure that this covered in the 2018 Exhibit, we are looking for one additional committee member that would be coordinating various SDGRS signage, brochures and applications at the Exhibit/Layout.  Please contact Andrew, Gene or Dick Erickson if you are interested in being on the committee.

The committee will be meeting at our monthly meetings to review status and progress of the project.    We are planning on having some workshops for preparing some of the scenes.  We will keep you posted on when these will be happening.

The theme of the 2018 Fair will be announced in October.  Once the theme has been announced we will be full speed ahead developing a track plan and various components that support the Exhibit.  As we did last year, we will have scenes that will be developed/constructed by various members to be placed on the  layout.

We will have a signup sheet at the next meeting for those interested in working on the project.