No. 43: 2017 St. Louis RPM

We’re about two months away from the 2017 St. Louis Railroad Prototype Modeler’s Meet, which will be held on Friday, June 23rd and Saturday, June 24th 2017 at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, Illinois—just about 12 miles east of metro St. Louis and a short distance from the old PRR-B&O-TRRA Willows Junction.  Here’s a little info, plus some links, and some of my favorite photos from past St. Louis RPM meets.


Above. From our first RPM at the O’Fallon, Illinois Rec Center.  That’s Mike Budde on the right, displaying a ton of models.  Mike’s modeling has gotten way more extreme since 2004!

We expect about 500 of your friends and enemies to attend this year’s meet, all gathered in one huge 28,000 sq. ft. room in the Gateway Center. We added a fourth 5,000 sq. ft. room this year and it is already sold out, so we’re going to have a packed house!

There will be plenty of manufacturers and vendors here this year—115 tables, maybe a few more, all hand-picked vendors (no swap meet stuff!), plus 15 railroad historical societies, four high-quality visiting model railroads, five cool hands-on learning stations, clinics, home layout tours, and special evening presentations, plus after-hours parties fellowship, and a whole lot more. Our focus this year is on Freight Cars so most of our clinics will be oriented towards studying the prototypes, and building exceptional models.

Below.  One of our favorite manufacturers, and clinicians, is Ted Culotta–seen at far right in the blue shirt.  Ted will be at St. Louis this year with Speedwitch Media.  The guy int he white shirt is Jim Mischke, the B&O historian.


The heart of our event is your models. Last year we had 60 full eight-foot tables packed with your models. No kidding. This is a modeler’s meet and that’s what we do. So bring your models, one or a hundred, and be part of the big discussion. All scales, gauges, and models from all eras are welcome; bring locomotives, structures, freight cars, dioramas, vehicles or other models. Support our Freight Cars theme and bring plenty of cars. There are no contests.  The purpose of our event is to share and learn new techniques, and meet your fellow modelers from St. Louis and around the Nation.  Attendees normally bring around 3,000 models.

The models at St. Louis come in all shapes and sizes and scales.  One of my all-time favorites is this model of AC Tower at Marion, Ohio, built by Ben Bartlett.


There’s more…A LOT more…our highest count was 3,500 models in 2014.  Here are some more random shots from over the years…


Above.  L&N engines by Bobby Vaughn.  Below, Yosemite Valley models far from home.



Above.  This L&N module showed up at the 2016 meet.  I wasn’t able to record who brought it, but all kinds f modules like this show up regularly.  Below, this laser-cut wood depot is by Bill Hoss.



Above.  The Milwaukee Road Red Wing depot.  Below, one of many CGW models brought by Gregor Moe.



The PC covered hopper is a Chris Zygmunt kit.  Below, Stu Thayer, who attended the first St. Louis RPM meet, is shooting photos.



Above.  Fabulous engine models are everywhere.  This is one of the many engines brought by Brian Banna.  Below.  This model is from the mind of Mike Budde–smashed vans on a bi-level.  Who else could come up with something like this?


We’ve got a slightly expanded lineup of clinics this year, in two rooms, plus some spare room space for private meetings (in case you want to gather all the guys from the Proto-Layouts list, for example). Highlighting our lineup this year is Tony Thompson, Bernie Kempinski, Dan Holbrooke, Ted Culotta, Ed Hawkins, Clark Propst, Paul Ellis, Ryan Crawford and more, all discussing the prototype and how to model it.  We may even throw a few surprise presentations at you too. Presentations begin at 9:30 a.m. both days.  If you want a clinic room for a small group meeting, give me a shout at There’s no charge for the meeting room, but I do like cold beer…just sayin’…


We’ll have two hands-on weathering stations, one hands-on airbrush station (courtesy of Badger), and two new hands-on opportunities for 2017. First, Jeff Otto, of Oak Hill Model Railroad Supply, will guide you through track and turnout building, using Oak Hill’s fine product line, all day, both days. See Jeff’s website at And second, Matt Herman of Loksound will bring a Loksound programmer along so bring your Loksound-equipped engines for programming, including sound updates, function mapping and more (one locomotive per attendee please)!


Oh yeah…almost forgot…we’re featuring Eric Brooman’s famous Utah Belt Railroad and two other large, highly-detailed local layouts, open to registered guests only.

We offer this all at a great price—just $25 admission. No registration is necessary. Just show up and enjoy.


Events start on Thursday night. Meet us at Bandana’s BBQ (4 Commerce Drive, Collinsville, IL 62234) at 6 p.m. on Thursday for our annual pre-RPM get-together.  No reservations are necessary but it’ll be full so get there early.  After the BBQ join us at the Double Tree next to the Convention Center for a night cap with your fellow RPMers.  There are more parties on Friday—we’ll get you the info at registration on Friday morning.

Seriously…don’t forget to bring your models.  That’s what our event is all about.  One of our regular attendees–and one of the most outstanding modelers you’ll ever meet–is the swashbuckling Tony Sissons, seen below in the black shirt.  Check out our new photo site here at Flickr for model photos from past RPMs:


Want more info?  See our website at or just Google “St. Louis RPM” and check out our flyers, photos and reviews.

I hope you can make it to St. Louis this year—you won’t be disappointed!


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