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Adamphillip

How to Exhibit your layout?

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I just thought it would be a good idea to make a guide thread about how to exhibit layouts for people who are trying it for the first time, how to get a place at an exhibition, what to expect, tips and tricks, that sort of thing.

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Join your local club.

Go out with other people's layouts to get a feel for the exhibition scene.

Exhibit at your club show, that's where the invites come from. 

Read this excellent post on filling in exhibition paperwork.

Remember, the exhibition manager is a volunteer doing a difficult job. Don't be a prima-donna with endless demands*. Questions are OK though, better to ask well before the event if you aren't sure about something.

If instructions are sent out, read them and comply. If you think they don't apply to you**, they do. 

Take lights***

The marshals generally know what they are doing and have a much better "big picture" view of the venue than you do. Yes, some may be jobsworths, but most are just volunteers wishing they could have a cup of tea. 

Be nice to everyone.

 

 

*I once had to point out that having your stand couriered to a show to the manager to receive and look after until the owner turned up was not going to go down well. 

**Hi-vis during show set-up. It's not "clever" not to bother. The manager has had this forced on them by the venue, so you taking a stand against "H&S gone mad" doesn't change anything other than making next year's booking for the show harder when the venue points this out. 

***It's not up to the venue to light your stand. In big halls, the normal trade shows bring their own lights, so the stuff in the ceiling is just to get you between stands. Planning any show is hard work, much more so if a stand demands they are put in a light/dark spot.

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43 minutes ago, Phil Parker said:

Join your local club.

Exhibit at your club show, that's where the invites come from. 

Remember, the exhibition manager is a volunteer doing a difficult job. Don't be a prima-donna with endless demands*. Questions are OK though, better to ask well before the event if you aren't sure about something.

If instructions are sent out, read them and comply. If you think they don't apply to you**, they do. 

 

just to say I'm asking because as some of you may know St.Neots are no longer running their Kettering show due to the exhibition manager having retired from the role and no one has stepped up to take their place, so I can't exactly exhibit at the club's show

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1 hour ago, Phil Parker said:

 

**Hi-vis during show set-up. It's not "clever" not to bother. The manager has had this forced on them by the venue, so you taking a stand against "H&S gone mad" doesn't change anything other than making next year's booking for the show harder when the venue points this out. 

 

 

Surely it makes it easier for next years show? The manager is simply not going to invite you back!

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19 minutes ago, JohnR said:

 

Surely it makes it easier for next years show? The manager is simply not going to invite you back!

I think Phil meant difficult for the club as they are the ones who get it in the neck from the event hall management 

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, JohnR said:

Surely it makes it easier for next years show? The manager is simply not going to invite you back!

 

That's true, but I'm sure that it will also result in additional paperwork for the exhibition manager.  What procedure has he put in place to avoid another exhibitor doing the same thing again?

 

52 minutes ago, Adamphillip said:

just to say I'm asking because as some of you may know St.Neots are no longer running their Kettering show due to the exhibition manager having retired from the role and no one has stepped up to take their place, so I can't exactly exhibit at the club's show

 

Presumably your club have had invites from other fairly local exhibitions in the past, so you could contact these clubs directly to make the exhibition managers aware that you have a layout that you could make available to them.  The alternative would be for you to exhibit your layout on behalf of your club.  I know that my own club has offered layouts owned by individual members in the past when we didn't have a suitable layout available.  In one instance it was because we were approached late on (someone had had to pull out of attending) and asked if we had a layout that would fit a certain space, about 12 foot long, I think.  The club didn't, but one of our members did and was willing to attend.  At another fairly local event, we're usually asked if we can bring two layouts, and usually elect to bring one fairly large club layout and a smaller member's layout.

Edited by Dungrange
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You could take your layout (or part of it) to the CMRA modellers days (I think you have missed them for this year) that will get you exposure to dozens of axtive modellers in the club scene in Southern Britain, one of them might see something they like and follow it up with an invite.

 

Jon

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Test your layout and stock before the show.

 

If you have newbies operating with you, get a running session in with them before the show, so they know how it works.

 

Make a list. This list covers all the layout separate components, tools/spares and stock. Use the list when loading/unloading  the layout.

Include  a spare controller and extension cables.

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Have your electrical gear PAT tested and bring the documents with you as evidence.

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I can understand the problem.  How to break into the circuit given that your own club is not a way to entry. 

 

I suggest visiting local shows and try to talk with their exhibition manager.  Small to medium shows are usually keen to invite suitable local layouts since these will help keep their exhibition costs to a minimum (no overnight hotels to book, lower transport costs).   Have some pictures and a short description of the layout.

 

Once your foot is in the door so to speak with a first invite, then it is down to you and your layout.  Good layouts will attract interest from other (probably local) shows and slowly the word gets out about a layout worth inviting.

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25 minutes ago, Colin_McLeod said:

Have your electrical gear PAT tested and bring the documents with you as evidence.

Not necessary as if the show requires it then they should organise it for all layouts there on the day. Warley does it and Eurotrack did. 

 

 

 

Build something that’s fun to operate for hours. 

 

Test it by running it for hours so any problems rear their heads at home. 

 

Test all the stock, take spare locos,  and if something causes problems put it away to sort after the show. Consider how you transport it so it’s easy to get stock out and away easily and fast. Just use the inner packing rather than the card outer can speed things up a lot. Or use commercial stock boxes. 

 

A spare controller is a good idea. 

 

Lighting is preferable because you can get put in a dark room or one with strong contrast light. If the lighting is good then you don’t have to use it. 

 

Make sure it it fits in your car or intended van with all the stock before the day ;) I had to saw 6” off the lighting rig on an old layout as the van was shorter than any previous one!

 

Take a lightweight plastic dust sheet to cover the layout if it rains getting in and out of the venue. 

 

Take enough operators that you can take breaks but don’t ask for too many or shows won’t afford to invite you. 

 

Keep expenses to a minimum, share cars for operators and avoid hiring vans if you can. Some layouts need it but it might be possible to design it to fit two cars instead and get the operators in too. 

 

Put on a good show, that tends to get you invites from people wandering round who belong to clubs or it might be their show manager. 

 

Have a brief info sheet that interested parties can take away with a picture, so they remember which layout it was,  and contact details even if it means setting up a free gmail address to keep your main one private. 

 

Enjoy the show :) 

 

Run until closing time. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do something a bit different. There are far to many layouts that are very similar to each other, almost clones, but if you have something that stands out from the crowd, it will get noticed.

 

Is it a model of a real place? Don't just think 'model railway show', village shows can be quite welcoming, you'll also get a very different kind of experience.

 

Above all have fun - enjoy yourself. I've lost count of seeing miserable faces behind boring layouts. Do not let yourself get, like I heard layouts described - straight out of some dusty loft.

 

You will get problems at the show. Don't be tempted to repair (unless absolutely essential) at the show, have spares as already suggested. As soon as you get home, write down a list of the problems you had. Set too repairing those before the next show.

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18 minutes ago, Tim V said:

You will get problems at the show. Don't be tempted to repair (unless absolutely essential) at the show, have spares as already suggested. As soon as you get home, write down a list of the problems you had. Set too repairing those before the next show.

 

If your memory is like mine, keep a notebook or clipboard under the layout to make a note of what needs attention - I'll not remember every detail when I get home!

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54 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

Not necessary as if the show requires it then they should organise it for all layouts there on the day. Warley does it and Eurotrack did. 

 

 

It's still advisable to turn up at the show KNOWING that your equipment is compliant.  Otherwise what would you do if "on the day"  a PAT tester failed your equipment?

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Guest JiLo
Posted (edited)

Go online to club websites and send an layout info pack (in a single document) to their exhibition manager email address, or the nearest that looks like it.  Provide the following;

  • Layout description (era/location/special features etc)
  • Photos
  • Trackplan
  • Overall size
  • Operators needed
  • Transportation method and costs - never expect to make a profit!  Bare bones van hire (if needed) costs and estimated fuel costs
  • Contact details including your location

If you get an invite, you should do the following:

  • Full test of all locos and stock combinations across the whole layout
  • Have an extended operating session, in the way you would like to operate at a show - a good 4 hours (a good test of your power supplies)
  • Train other operators not only in layout operation, but also in how the controller works and electrical troubleshooting
  • Draw up a full, clear, wiring diagram and make a couple of copies
  • Detail a set-up and break-down routine, and test
  • Clean all wheels

Exhibiting is tiring!  Great fun, but the travelling, set-up, breakdown and getting back home is knackering, especially the last 2 after a full weekend.  To make things easier, I do the following with each layout (I design my layouts to be portable)

  • Figure out a way to minimise the amount of space the layout, legs, lighting etc takes up in a van/car
  • Ensure all bolts are the same size and have a suitable socket attachment for a rechargable driver (and make sure its charged!)
  • Work out the best way to minimise trips to and from the van/car and exhibition hall, based on 2 people
  • Detail the way everything fits in the van/car - unpack in the reverse order you pack

Another thing to consider is how you store the stock, is it in the original boxes?  If so, think how long it takes to unpack/pack and consider mass storage, such as customised plastic storage boxes that can be stacked on each other - stick to the one size.

 

Nothing beats lists, and lots of them.  List of everything you need to take, list of spares you'll need, and even a list of a few different routes to get to the venue.

 

Above all, have fun, interact with the public and smile!  Too many grumpy folk behind layouts!  If you get invited to a social event (usually on the sat night of weekend shows), go along, its a great way to meet other modellers and make connections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by JiLo

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If you do get an invite to a show, arrive at the time stipulated on the paperwork, not beforehand - especially if the venue is a school. Most exhibitions in schools will only have access after the students have gone home and there is nothing worse than an exhibition manager having to speak with the headteacher before any setting up starts because an exhibitor has decided to walk around/through the school during school hours. This can trigger a lockdown of the whole school and a visit from the police...

 

Please remember that you are probably one of at least thirty plus stands at a show so the fewer headaches the exhibition manager has, the better the show will be!

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3 minutes ago, Harry Lime said:

If you do get an invite to a show, arrive at the time stipulated on the paperwork, not beforehand - especially if the venue is a school.

 

Please remember that you are probably one of at least thirty plus stands at a show so the fewer headaches the exhibition manager has, the better the show will be!

Cant agree more.  Whilst its tempting to get there as early as possible so you can set up and get to your digs asap, it can cause a lot of problems (and frustration)

 

If you are near the venue and its too early, pull over, go for a coffee or bite to eat.

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Be prepared for hard work beforehand.  I took my 00 layout to the big three day exhibition at the Great Central Railway this year.  I wanted to make sure everything was in its best condition before going and it took me three months of hard graft  eg every item of rolling stock had to have its couplings checked and adjusted, every wheel cleaned and back to backs perfect.  It did pay off as it ran faultlessly for three days. I’ve just finished writing an article for our club newsletter about getting it ready.

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13 hours ago, Adamphillip said:

 

just to say I'm asking because as some of you may know St.Neots are no longer running their Kettering show due to the exhibition manager having retired from the role and no one has stepped up to take their place, so I can't exactly exhibit at the club's show

My Local Club has this issue as well, this year will be the first time in many years they have not put on their large show.

 

Because most of the organisers have moved away this year, and over the years have complained so much about all the hard work that unsurprisingly no one now wants to volunteer for any of the thankless jobs.

 

Paul

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Make it interesting for the spectator.  Don't just run trains aimlessly - draw up a timetable, or working schedule and stick to it at the show.  Try to let the spectators know what's happening - a simple flip chart that spectators can read or a computer screen of some sort that tells what the current move is all about.

 

DT

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As mentioned in the above posts , making a layout different  to stand out  will get you noticed with more booking likely to come your way . With the first showing of our Crossley scrap layout  at the small cardiff show two years ago,  we had further invites , a recommendation to Hornby  magazine for a photo session with an article published this year and a invite the Great Electric show this October followed by Railex Taunton ! So far we have had invites from every show in the last two years of exhibiting. 

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11 hours ago, Colin_McLeod said:

 

It's still advisable to turn up at the show KNOWING that your equipment is compliant.  Otherwise what would you do if "on the day"  a PAT tester failed your equipment?

Yes off the shelf equipment should make sure you are compliant though and you're as likely for it to fail between testing and the show. It all comes down to if you don't know how to do it don't touch it. Possible failure is also the reason I take a spare controller.

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13 minutes ago, bazjones1711 said:

As mentioned in the above posts , making a layout different  to stand out  will get you noticed with more booking likely to come your way . 

 

I’m probably going to be shot down in flames for this, but nevertheless...

 

I’ve noticed several times on this forum that some people start a layout build with the specific objective of exhibiting it. A case in point above, building something different in order to get noticed?? Whatever happened to building the layout you want for your own amusement? (and if someone else likes it enough to invite you to exhibit, fair enough). Is the hobby railway modelling, or is that just a means to an end, the end being having something to exhibit in front of people?

 

Far be it from me to tell anyone else what to do with their free time, of course. Different strokes and all that. If that’s what floats your boat, that’s all that matters. I just don’t understand it.

 

Sorry for the rant. 

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7 minutes ago, Titanius Anglesmith said:

 

I’m probably going to be shot down in flames for this, but nevertheless...

 

I’ve noticed several times on this forum that some people start a layout build with the specific objective of exhibiting it. A case in point above, building something different in order to get noticed?? Whatever happened to building the layout you want for your own amusement? (and if someone else likes it enough to invite you to exhibit, fair enough). Is the hobby railway modelling, or is that just a means to an end, the end being having something to exhibit in front of people?

 

Far be it from me to tell anyone else what to do with their free time, of course. Different strokes and all that. If that’s what floats your boat, that’s all that matters. I just don’t understand it.

 

Sorry for the rant. 

Building a layout for exhibition purposes isnt just about getting noticed, it can be a very rewarding experience and can lead to great friendships.

 

Plus if no one built a layout to be exhibited, there would be no shows to exhibit at!

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3 minutes ago, Titanius Anglesmith said:

 

I’m probably going to be shot down in flames for this, but nevertheless...

 

I’ve noticed several times on this forum that some people start a layout build with the specific objective of exhibiting it. A case in point above, building something different in order to get noticed?? Whatever happened to building the layout you want for your own amusement? (and if someone else likes it enough to invite you to exhibit, fair enough). Is the hobby railway modelling, or is that just a means to an end, the end being having something to exhibit in front of people?

 

Far be it from me to tell anyone else what to do with their free time, of course. Different strokes and all that. If that’s what floats your boat, that’s all that matters. I just don’t understand it.

 

Sorry for the rant. 

 

1) I find operating a layout without an audience boring and so don't do it apart from testing.

2) Why do you assume something different isn't going to be amusing for the builder? I enjoyed building a 3mm scale layout and that's as exhibition manager tempting as you get. 

3) For me, exhibiting was always a big part of my hobby. I enjoy getting out, putting on a show and talking to people.

4) If you have any plans at all to exhibit your layout, it really needs to be designed with this in mind. You need to make sure it fits in a car (ideally) and is quick to put up and dismantle. You need lights. Retrofitting this to an existing model can be a nightmare.

5) Railway modeling is a multi-faceted hobby. Just because you don't want to exhibit, why should this preclude anyone else? If we all did the same thing, the hobby would be very dull!

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