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June 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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Chessie serves the Steel City

Back when I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., was earning its reputation as the “Steel City.” Several railroads served Pittsburgh’s steel industry, including the Baltimore & Ohio RR, which, along with the Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. and Western Maryland Ry., became the Chessie System in 1972. A lifelong model railroader and railfan, I’ve always admired the colorful Chessie locomotive paint schemes of the 1970s and ’80s. When it was time to build my layout, it wasn’t a surprise that steel mills and diesels with the sleeping kitten herald took center stage.

My proto-freelanced HO scale model railroad is called the Chessie System Pennsylvania Division. Although inspired by the Chessie, my layout doesn’t follow a particular prototype line. Because I wanted to include first- and second-generation diesels, the layout time period is fairly loose, roughly spanning the years 1972 to 1992.


Easy wall signs with image transfer

Colorful signs painted on exterior walls are a feature I wanted on my 1930s-era model railroad. While trying to figure out how I could model these signs, I stumbled upon an image-transfer technique using acrylic medium that’s often used by artists. Basically an image on paper is embedded in the acrylic medium and then transferred to another surface. The technique is commonly used to add photos and other images to ceramic, canvas, or any other surface that takes acrylic paint. I adapted the technique to add vintage advertisements to the walls of my plastic structure models.

Battery power without compromises

Battery power for locomotives in HO scale has been an area of interest that continues to grow in model railroading. Large scale modelers have been using battery power on their layouts, both indoors and out, for years.

Modelers in O scale are adapting the components to their locomotives, as well. [See “Battery power and remote control” in the May 2015 Model Railroader. – Ed.] Now, the evolution of battery technology and the miniaturization of electronic components is making this concept more feasible for HO scale with few, if any, compromises.


A scenic showcase in HO scale

My freelanced railroad, the New Baltimore & Fair Haven Ry., is the product of not only my ideas and efforts, but the creative input of many people that I’ve talked with over the years. They’ve all left their thumbprints somewhere on my railroad. All the personal interaction and the lifelong friendships have made my railroad so much more than just a fancy train set. It represents the many good people that it’s been my privilege to have known over the years.

Basic scenery for a T-RTrak module

T-Trak modules are dioramas with sectional Kato Unitrack that snap together to create layouts from a simple oval to large, complex shapes. The modules are designed to be set up on ­tabletops, but could just as easily be placed on the floor. Layouts are easy to assemble and disassemble. T-Trak can be a great choice for those who don’t have space for a permanent layout. The compact size of the modules make them easy to store and transport.

The content of my module was left up to me, so I chose a rural Midwestern scene. That’s the theme on my current HO scale layout, so I already had most of the scenery materials I needed.

Big city in two decks

Thinking big can be fun. Marc Goldstein had big goals: He wanted to model Toronto Union Station and the large Spadina passenger and engine terminal in downtown Toronto as it existed in 1980. He wanted at least a representation of the busy Toronto-Hamilton Canadian National Ry. corridor, with a couple of suburban stations to give Union Station a reason for existing. He was even hoping for some freight operations to complement the focus on passenger and commuter rail.
Great Scenery Tips

Great Scenery Tips

Realistic creeks and streams.

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