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December 2017

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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A model railroad is never done

One day, I knew, I’d expand my current version of the Dutchess & Hudson Valley RR. I wholeheartedly feel that a model railroad is never truly complete.

I’ve been bitten by the train bug. There’s always another structure kit I’d love to add, or a change in elevation so I could add a bridge, or a different splash of detail.

As my wife, Christine, says, “It’s all in the details.” She loves to add people, cars, and birds to my layout. Recently she fell in love with some floral features made by Scenic Express. We just got back from the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show, where she “got lost” in a scenery booth.

Building a vintage wooden freight car kit

Recently, we came across a gold-foil-covered box with an Ambroid label that said “One of five thousand” HO collector’s item. It was a kit for a U.S. Navy helium tank car. Inside the box was a big, yellowing sheet of paper with plans and isometric drawings of the car, along with a manila envelope full of bent-wire grab irons and plastic brake system parts, and a pile of sticks and dowels.

With your letter in mind, my editor decided someone should build the kit and report on the experience. Since I was out that day, I got the assignment.


Sticky stucco

History is filled with all sorts of inventions that happened by accident. Post-it notes, penicillin, even Silly Putty came about when their inventors weren’t paying attention or thought they were making something else.

And so it happened with me. One recent day I was busily using some “rattle can” spray paint to put a primer coat on a model made of plain styrene. I gave it a good coat and stood back to let it dry. Without taking my eyes off the model, I grabbed a can from the shelf and gave the model another good spraying. What was strange, however, was that this second coat didn’t seem to have any effect on the color of the model – it never got any darker.


Composing a realistic bridge scene

Whether on a prototype or model railroad, there’s something intriguing about watching a train cross a bridge. I made a railroad bridge the focal point of the Green River section of my HO scale Union Pacific Daneburg Subdivision sectional layout [See the May 2017 Model Railroader. – Ed.].

The bridge also serves a practical purpose, as it allows the main line to cross under itself and run behind the backdrop into a hidden staging yard. The surrounding terrain and scenery provided an effective view block to the opening in the backdrop.


The best of the Badger State

When Larry Blank started work on his freelanced 22 x 24- foot S scale railroad in the early 2000s, he knew he wanted to re-create Wisconsin scenery. A lifelong resident of the Badger State, Larry had the opportunity to explore Wisconsin’s rolling farmlands, hardwood forests, and glacial hills while biking, hiking, and driving. With a locale picked out, Larry needed a name for his layout.

Luck intervened when Larry purchased a 2-8-0 locomotive lettered for the “Ahanapee & Western” at a swap meet. The full-size Ahnapee & Western was a 34.5 mile line that extended from a connection with the Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western at Casco Junction to Sturgeon Bay and Algoma, Wis.


On the Web
From the Editor
Ask MR

Where were concrete phone boxes used?

Heritage Fleet

S scale has a split personality

Step by Step

How to weather without an airbrush

DCC Corner

Power supply considerations for DCC

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

On Operation

Bombers, Decks, and Cement Heads

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Balancing progress and enjoyment

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