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July 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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Steam through the Sierras

Marty Bradley's freelanced HO scale Oakhurst RR was inspired by the rich railroad history of California's Sierra Nevada, including the Madera Sugar Pine RR, Pickering Lumber Co., and Sierra Ry. The 8-1/2 x 11-foot model railroad is housed in part of his garage and features logging, freight, and passenger operations.
Pennsylvania RR class N5b cabin car

Drawings of an iconic Pennsylvania N5c cabin car

Early in 1942, the Pennsylvania RR started construction of 200 new cabin cars, the Pennsy’s name for a caboose, at its Altoona and Hollidaysburg car shops. They were given the designation N5c, and were similar to the earlier N5a and N5b cars, but more streamlined.

These new cabin cars were constructed of steel with heavy crash beams on both ends to protect the crews during pusher operations. The cabin car’s most distinctive features were its round porthole windows (four on each side and three on each end); the cupola, with its angled profile enhancing the streamlining effect; a lower belt rail; and no vertical butt strips on the sides. Many had antennas that served a special communication system called train-phone.

Atlantic Coast Line's Champion

Track plan for a 1950s resort-city terminal

St. Petersburg, Fla., was one of the premier destinations for Florida-bound trains in the heyday of passenger traffic. Just across the bay from Tampa, St. Petersburg boasted pristine beaches and weather that ­attracted tourists.

The city was at the end of an Atlantic Coast Line RR branch that left the main line at Trilby, Fla. Despite longtime rival Seaboard Air Line competing for passenger traffic just across the street, the ACL in 1953 was enjoying successful passenger traffic into the area, while ­ridership on other railroads had begun to decline. With name trains like the West Coast Champion and the Southland, as well as a good amount of freight and mail ­traffic, St. ­Petersburg makes an ideal prototype modeling subject for a large branchline terminus.


Rebuilding the Hoosier Line

My interest in trains ­began when I was a young boy growing up in Indianapolis. While other kids were watching cartoons, I spent my Saturday mornings watching the switching action in New York Central’s Brightwood Yard. Though other concerns sometimes took precedence as the years progressed, trains never left my mind.

In 1998, with the help of friends, I started work on an HO scale version of the Monon RR that consumed half my basement. The prototype Monon, also known as the Hoosier Line, ran from ­Lafayette, Ind., to Bloomington, Ind. On my version, trains traveled through two basement walls as they moved ­between the cities of Chicago, Michigan City, Ind.; Indianapolis, Ind.; and ­Louisville, Ky.


Easy and effective static grass

Grass is often the most prominent scenic element on a model railroad. In this article, the author shows how he achieved realistic results by blending static grass and other materials.

A practical guide to momentum and braking

Digital Command Control (DCC) has been part of my model railroading hobby for 15 years, but for most of that time my decoder programming skills were limited to the basics. With my first decoders, all I did was program the locomotive address. With sound decoders, I learned to adjust the overall volume.

To run my locomotives at prototype speeds, I used the same approach one would with an analog direct-current (DC) throttle. I advanced my DCC throttle knob slowly to start the train, and then decreased it just as slowly to stop a train. This approach worked reasonably well, but didn’t take full advantage of the capabilities of a DCC decoder.


On the Web
From the Editor
Information Desk
Southern Pacific's Black Widow

Did the Southern Pacific's Black Widows pull passenger trains?

Step by Step

How to build a heavy industry

DCC Corner

Tips for consisting DCC locomotives: basic, universal, and advanced

The Operators
Bob Nowland

Waybills and switch lists

Trackside Photos
Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. Climax locomotive

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought
Dave Olesen's Chessie System

From plan to railroad



Freight yard design and operation.

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