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January 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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Build and operate an industrial zone on the waterfront, part 2

As I studied rail operations at Baltimore’s Wagner’s Point, it struck me as an ideal inspiration for a layout scene, as I said in part 1 of this story in last month’s Model Railroader. In my era, 1955, two competing railroads switched several industries. The Baltimore & Ohio RR had secured the area early with a land route. Later, a large shipper invited the Western Maryland Ry. to provide service via car float. This combination of two railroads, one coming in via water, was irresistible to me.

How to kitbash a wooden caboose

One of the many reasons I model the 1950s is that cabooses were still the norm on the rear of all freight trains. Since I model the Central Vermont (CV) I needed several cabooses to carry the markers on the through freights and locals on my HO scale Boston & Maine RR.

The 30-foot double-sheathed offset-cupola caboose was the CV standard caboose for several decades. In the late 1940s CV began re-building its caboose fleet with a steel underframe and Canadian National (CN) style end platforms and steps. In the 1950s the CV block lettering was replaced with a green maple leaf herald and white lettering similar to parent company CN.

Meet the Eagle Mountain project layout

There’s a ghost town in Southern California that’s a popular site for post-apocalyptic films and videos. It was built in the economic boom after World War II and abandoned in the mid-1980s. At one time, part of the town was a prison, and for all of its working life, it was at the end of a railroad line.

The town is Eagle Mountain, built by Kaiser Steel as home for the workers at the company’s Eagle Mountain Mine. The open-pit mine produced iron ore that was shipped by rail to Kaiser Steel’s Fontana Steel Mill east of Los Angeles.


Basic weathering with pastel sticks

Powdered pastels have been my weathering material of choice for over three decades. I use them to weather rolling stock, figures, structures, vehicles, roads, and the list goes on.

Over the years I’ve experimented with other techniques, such as airbrushing and ink washes. All have produced good results, and some of the best effects I’ve created used combinations of them.

Colorado in just 8 x 8 feet

One of the most common reasons want-to-be modelers give for not building a model railroad is space. But longtime modeler Steve Kibort didn’t let the space constraints of a fifth-floor condominium dash his dreams of building a layout. Instead, he views his 8 x 8-foot double-deck N scale model railroad as both a layout and an animated, three-dimensional piece of art.

3 ways for realistic rocks

Cliffs and exposed rock faces are a signature element of many famous prototype railroad scenes, such as the “high line” of the Durango & Silverton RR or Windy Point on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR. A rocky vertical landscape also adds a dramatic element to model railroad scenery, as I found on my HOn3 (HO scale 3-foot gauge) line.

I use three basic techniques for modeling rocks on my layout: casting plaster with rock molds, carving partially cured plaster, and installing charcoal chunks in wet plaster. Each method is effective in any modeling scale and easy to master with a little practice. I’ll also describe how I paint and weather my model rocks to make them look like the real thing.



Freight yard design and operation.

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