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April 2016

Model Railroader has been the leading model train magazine for the past 75 years.  Each month, we bring you step-by-step modeling projects, fascinating photo tours of model train layouts, unbiased product reviews, new product announcements, tips from the experts and much more!

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How to model realistic track and roadbed

Follow along as the author shares his favorite tips for building a good-looking and smooth-running right-of-way. He describes how to cut and install cork roadbed, lay flextrack and turnouts, and provides a simple method for painting and weathering. Although he's laying HO scale track, these techniques will apply to any modeling scale.


Animate structures with microcontrollers

With the availability of low-cost Arduino microcontrollers, layout structures can be transformed from having simple interior illumination to a structure that comes to life. My first structure using an Arduino simply turned room lights on and off randomly. For this project, I used an Arduino board to do more by adding animated lights, sounds, and figures to a small HO scale home.

Drawings of a steam era interlocking tower

This Lehigh Valley RR interlocking tower once sat diagonally across from the station at Rochester Junction, N.Y., adjacent to a wye that served the branch to Honeoye Falls, N.Y. The wye was used to turn the gas-electric car that ran to Rochester.

I had visited this area once before to study and draw the station [published in the June 1990 Model Railroader], but at that time, the tower was already gone. However, I later acquired more information about the tower, in the form of some old photos and a plan of a similar tower that was published in Flags, Diamonds, and Statues magazine, the publication of the Anthracite Railroads Historical ­Society (


A bridge line in HO scale

Larry Hickman began work on his dream layout, the 28 x 38-foot HO scale River Falls & Eastern, in November 1999. But his journey in model railroading started decades earlier. The retired professional railroader, whose father and step-grandfather were also railroaders, received a Marx layout when he was 6 years old. The track was attached to a 4 x 6 sheet of wood that conveniently slid under his bed when not in use.

Low riders on the Sandy River

The author modified the boxcars on his Sandy River & Rangely Lakes On30 layout with inspiration from an old magazine article.

The article, by Bob Hayden, was in the May-June 2008 issue of the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. Bob’s technique for altering the boxcars was to grind away the bolsters and replace them with various thicknesses of styrene strip stock. He also cut off the Bachmann draft-gear boxes and installed Kadee no. 5 couplers in their stead.


Building from memory

John Mueller models the C&NW in the 1950s in a freelanced version of northern ­Wisconsin. His choice of eras lets him run both steam power and the Electro-­Motive Division F3s, F7, and GP7 diesels he watched on his camping trips. To him, first-generation diesels had so much character that they were a must for his railroad. Also appealing about this time period were the pulpwood gondolas and the cabooses.


On the Web
From the Editor
Ask MR

What's in a buffer car?

Heritage Fleet

George D. Stock helped pioneer HO scale

Step by Step

Making mountains for MRs project layout with plaster gauze on a cardboard web

DCC Corner

The basics of decoder installation

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Lineside details



How to personalize your layout.

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