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November 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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Showing off Colorado narrow gauge

The sight of a steam train snaking through breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery draws many railfans and modelers to narrow gauge railroading in Colorado. Such was the case for Bob Smoczynski and Jim Zeren. The two friends built a 2 x 15-foot modular display layout to showcase slim gauge rails in the Rockies and introduce the public to the hobby of model railroading.

Track plan for an industrial corridor

Living only an hour away from Tampa, Fla., I’ve long been fascinated with the railroad scene in the Sunshine State. When I picked up a copy of Model Railroad Planning 2009 and read Lance Mindheim’s article about the Miami Downtown Spur, I was completely sold. I knew for certain I wanted to model an industrial switching layout. Now all that was left was to find a prototype.

I searched Google Maps for inspiration, looking at short lines like the Florida Northern, First Coast RR, and numerous CSX spurs. My search came to an end when an Internet friend sent me a large collection of official CSX track charts created by Bernie Beaver. While browsing the charts for the CSX Clearwater Subdivision, I found what I was looking for: a small corridor of five industries known as the Southside Spur.


Model fall forests

Autumn represents one of the most appealing and challenging seasons to depict on a model railroad. The author shares his approach to modeling realistic fall scenery.

Legacy of the Berkshire Lines

For almost 70 years the focus of the Rensselaer Model Railroad Club has been to provide a creative outlet for an ever-changing group of college students. The club also includes a core group of experienced modelers who remain a driving force behind the club’s long-lived layout, the HO scale New England, Berkshire & Western.

Model Railroader last visited the club for the November 1997 issue. Follow along as we take another look at this legendary model railroad.


How to model a rebuilt diesel locomotive

Imagine you’re the motive power director of a railroad. You have a large group of locomotives that are technologically outdated yet still have the correct power requirements for both yard and local service. Why not rebuild them and give them a second life?

In January 2005, Norfolk Southern did just that when it pulled 73 Electro-Motive Division GP38 diesel locomotives from the dead line and rebuilt them to GP38-2 standards at the railroad’s Juniata Shops in Altoona, Pa. These units, rebuilt as NS 5601 through 5673, were inherited from predecessors Southern Ry., Norfolk & Western, Lehigh Valley, and Penn Central.


Building a model railroad telephone system

Don Ball wanted period telephones for the operators on his HO scale 1890s Stockton & Copperopolis RR, so he combined vintage equipment like the headset and scissor phone Minnie is using with modern wiring.

Improved hands-free uncoupler control

In the November 2011 Model Railroader I presented a circuit designed for hands-free control of a Kadee 309 electromagnetic uncoupler. The circuit provided 20 to 25 seconds of activation of the electromagnet after only a 2- to 3-second press of a pushbutton.

I now have an improved andupdated version of the circuit. One advantage of the new circuit is it includes an indicator bulb that lights when the electromagnet is energized. In fig. 1, the circuit is in operation, with bulb aglow, using the testbed I built for development and testing.


On the Web
From the Editor
Information Desk

Amtrak I and II carbody and interior differences

Workshop Tips

Add passengers for a "working" coach

Step by Step

How to build a laser-cut wood kit

DCC Corner

Back to basics: Making power routing turnouts work better with DCC

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Trains of Thought

Finding pieces of the puzzle

Index of Advertisers
The Operators

Moving empty freight cars



Two great beginner layouts.

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