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May 2015

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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Symphony in a crawlspace

A symphony in a crawlspace

Jay Sheridan is a classical violinist who understands every ­instrument has a role in creating a beautiful symphony. What does this have to do with model railroading? A model train layout works best when all the parts work in harmony with each other. And just as it takes an orchestra to play a symphony, it can take many people working together in concert to create a model railroad. This is the story of Jay’s Iron Mountain, ­Marquette & Lake Superior RR – an HO scale railroad built in an unlikely place.
Battery power and radio control

Battery power and radio control

Many HO, N, and even O scale modelers probably have thought at one time or another, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have battery-powered motive power and not have to deal with layout wiring or electrical pickup issues?” This portable power source is commonly used on larger scale outdoor garden railroads, but is seldom found in smaller scale models because of a lack of space inside the locomotives.

Improve a bi-level auto rack

Improve a bi-level auto rack

Before I could place my new auto carriers in service on my layout, they ­needed weathering. Many of the prototypes appear rather run-down with lots of rust, especially on the roof, and of course graffiti. This makes them ideal if you like weatherbeaten freight cars.
Prototype operations on UP's Butte Line

Prototype operations on UP's Butte Line

My model railroading started with the American Flyer trains of my youth. This progressed over 50 years to include an early N scale layout, followed by several HO scale model railroads, almost all of which were loosely freelanced on Union Pacific themes. A decision to build a new home about 14 years ago allowed me to start planning for a new and larger layout, this time to be based on a specific, prototypical area of the Union Pacific.
Building a brick switch tower

Building a brick switch tower

I’d been looking for just the right switch tower to control the classification yard on my Boston & Maine RR layout, and there were several pictured in my reference books showing Boston yards. I didn’t want a wood structure for this urban tower, and the brick ones that I saw on the market weren’t close enough to the design of the B&M towers. In the several books I studied, Tower H in the B&M yard seemed to be the perfect tower for my layout.
How to build DCC-friendly signals and occupancy detectors

How to build DCC friendly signals and occupancy detectors

When I built a gantlet track for the Rockfish River bridge on my Piedmont Southern HO scale layout [See the September and October 2014 issues of Model Railroader. – Ed.], I wired the track and turnouts for Digital Command Control (DCC)-friendly operation, as explained in last month's issue. To regulate train movements through the gantlet track over the Rockfish River, I installed signals with DCC-friendly block occupancy detectors (BOD) to control them. The first decision was choosing and building appropriate signals. Then I need to decide what kind of detection circuits to use.
L.A. Junction trackplan for a shelf

LA Junction trackplan for a shelf

For fans of urban industrial railroading, the Los Angeles Junction Ry. (LAJ) is a prototype that begs to be modeled. The LAJ was originally planned in the early 1920s as the switching railroad for the Central Manufacturing District just southeast of downtown Los Angeles in the cities of Vernon, Maywood, Bell, and Commerce.  Today the LAJ is a wholly owned subsidiary of BNSF Ry. with 63 miles of industrial track.


On the Web
From the Editor
Information Desk

Concrete mileposts and property markers

wye diagram

Use a wye to turn locomotives and cars for enhanced switching operations

Step by Step
how to layer backdrops for depth

How to layer backdrops for depth

DCC Corner
minimize signal distortion

How to minimize signal distortion

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Trains of Thought

In search of HO scale corn

Index of Advertisers
The Operators

Practicing what I preach



Two great beginner layouts.

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