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January 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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Another round: MR returns to the Beer Line

For years, trains ran through the middle of Milwaukee like beer flows from a tap at Oktoberfest, but changes in business, both in brewing and railroading, stanched the flow by the mid-1980s.

For Model Railroader’s 75th anniversary in 2009, however, the party was on again as the staff built an HO scale model of the Milwaukee Road’s Beer Line. This hometown project railroad has always been popular with readers, and for 2017, we’re back for another round.

The Beer Line is a sectional layout, designed to fit together in three configurations. Taking advantage of this feature, David Popp, producer at Model Railroader Video Plus, designed an addition that slots between existing sections. David designed the original Beer Line in 2008 when he was managing editor of Model Railroader, and this was a chance to add some industries that didn’t find a place before.

Modeling a compact diesel service terminal

While researching prototype railroads to base my new layout on, I came across the Georgia Northeastern RR locomotive service terminal in Tate, Ga. The Georgia Northeastern RR (GNRR) is a short line that runs from Marietta, Ga., to Copperhill, Tenn., and has a small fleet of second-hand Electro-Motive Division Geeps. The GNRR terminal, shown in the inset on the next page, has all the necessary workings to service the locomotives in a relatively compact space. Once I studied the prototype, I knew that it could easily be compressed to fit on my model railroad.

I obtained permission to photograph the terminal and made notes on the dimensions of the sand tower and other structures. Once I had the dimensions and the general setup of the prototype terminal, I broke each area down into specific components that would fit on my layout. While not an exact model, my service terminal captures the look of the prototype. The terminal models everything needed to service a small fleet of shortline diesels.


Conquering Cajon in HO scale

After eight years of construction I’ve completed my dream layout. My layout is based on Cajon Pass, with the double-track Santa Fe main and the single line of the Southern Pacific (now Union ­Pacific). The Santa Fe main line is Micro ­Engineering code 83 weathered rail with concrete ties. The single UP main, at a higher elevation through the mountains, is also Micro Engineering code 83, but with wood ties. Since UP has trackage rights on the BNSF Ry., this gave me plenty of operating options.

The layout was designed for one-man operation, but the layout can handle four trains running at once. Any more is a challenge. With the ability to operate multiple trains under Digital Command Control ­operation, I do have to remind my grandsons, who love to run the trains, about collision avoidance.



Scratchbuild a diesel shell from styrene

Can’t find the locomotive you want in the hobby shop? Try scratchbuilding. Brooks Stover shares how he modeled this Buffalo Creek & Gauley Whitcomb 65-ton diesel locomotive in S scale using styrene, brass, and surface detail decals.

Plans for a distinctive trackside shed

The V-shaped vertical siding along the top of the walls first caught my eye when I came across this lineside structure more than 20 years ago. For a simple storage shed, this building is quite ornate. This shed was located along the former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western RR tracks in Norwich, N.Y., a town in the center of the state that was on the DL&W main line running south from Utica, N.Y.

When I photographed the building in the early 1990s, the windows were all shuttered, possibly for security. The walls are sided in 53⁄4" shiplap. The photo shows modern asphalt shingles, but the original roofing was more than likely wood shingles.

Two railroads in one bedroom

What’s better than a railroad in a spare bedroom? Two railroads in a spare bedroom, of course.

Along the south shore of Lake Erie, CSX and Norfolk Southern main lines run in parallel. Near Willoughby, Ohio, they draw within 50 yards of one ­another. It was here that a young Perry Pollino would ride his bike to watch what were then Conrail and Norfolk & Western trains pass.

Fast-forward to today. Perry hoped to evoke the area around Willoughby in N scale in a bedroom about 11 feet square. He asked me to design a plan for him, and we managed to fit a great deal of ­operating interest – including two ­functioning main lines – into this ­modest space.



Freight yard design and operation.

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