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September 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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Modern-era masterpiece

Dismantling layouts is part of my hobby lately; I’ve taken down two in the last six years. In 2008 I dismantled my N scale Union Pacific Rochelle Subdivision, featured in the November 2008 Model Railroader. That layout was replaced by the bigger and more prototypical N scale Union Pacific Geneva Subdivision, which was still under construction when I wrote about it for Model Railroad Planning 2013. I kept working on the 25 x 48-foot model railroad, and more of the finished scenes are featured in this article. Due to a job move from Rochelle, Ill., to Marietta, Ga., the Geneva Sub was dismantled in July 2014 and is being resurrected at our new home.

Plans for a small-town station

I was out on one of my railroad measuring and photographing trips when I first saw the former Buffalo & Susquehanna station from Rushford, N.Y. I considered passing it by as just another common wood station. However, the diamond-pane windows and dormers gave the building a certain charm and distinction that required further investigation.

Fortunately the building’s owner, Mike Ronan, and his wife were cordial hosts. The couple allowed me to measure and photograph the building inside and out.

The station was built 5 miles east of Rushford. The rail line through the southwest New York community was out of service by 1917. The station was saved in 1930 and moved to a farm 100 feet across the road, where it stands today.


Add DCC and sound to a brass steam locomotive

Owners of brass steam locomotive know adding Digital Command Control (DCC) and sounds can be a rewarding upgrade. The variable is the amount of room in the tender. On my Balboa HO scale Southern Pacific class Mt-4 4-8-2, there wasn’t enough room to install two speakers and a decoder. So I had to go to plan B.

The Bachmann 16,000-gallon tender is an excellent reproduction of the SP class 160-C-1 tender. [Bachmann offered the Hicken-style Vanderbilt tender separately as item no item no. 89912, now discontinued. Models may still be available online and at model railroad swap meets. – Ed.] It comes with a front bulkhead that can be removed to gain access to the inside of the tank. Using this tender seemed like the ideal way to add DCC and sound to my 4-8-2. The project also gave me the opportunity to upgrade the details on this tender.


Build a prototype setting for a heritage fleet

After members of the Northern Virginia Model Railroaders club collected examples of all 20 Norfolk Southern heritage units, Doug Kirkpatrick built an HO scale diorama of the roundhouse at Spencer, N.C., to re-create the scene when the prototype units were gathered in 2012.

A space-saving urban track plan

What’s a model railroader to do if he or she is strapped for layout space? For situations where even a 4 x 8-foot layout is too big, I present the Central Maine RR. This HO scale track plan offers a lot of modeling and operating potential in 39 x 80 inches. I designed the track plan with off-the-shelf components and simple benchwork in mind. This makes it an ideal track plan to use for a first layout beyond a starter set loop.

My inspiration for the track plan is the Maine Central RR in an urban setting, such as Portland, Maine, during the late 1960s, when four-axle diesels and 40-foot boxcars were still common. Readily available models of the relatively short locomotives and rolling stock could easily negotiate the HO scale railroad’s tight curves.


Switching in a small town

Modular railroading offers advantages for modelers who lacks space or time for a larger, more complex layout. In just a few square feet, a detailed scene can be created – rewarding unto itself. And by participating in a club, these scenes can be connected together as modules for larger operations.

In the club I belonged to, the Catskill, Adirondack & Berkshire RR in Albany, N.Y., each module is 2 x 4 feet, with three straight sections of HO gauge track at specified locations parallel to the module’s front side. These tracks are necessary to connect the modules, but beyond that, each modeler can choose the module’s theme and placement of additional track.

Sometimes 4 feet isn’t enough. In that case, two modules can be fashioned together and inserted as a pair into the overall layout.


On the Web
From the Editor
Ask MR

Why do larger containers go on top?

Step by Step

Install a Tortoise switch motor and control it with a stationary decoder

DCC Corner

Speed matching for DCC consists

On Operation

Meets, superiority, and train orders

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Raising expectations for structure kits



Servicing steam locomotives step-by-step

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