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June 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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Pacific Northwest Empire

Gary Randall and I knew each other from Scale Rails, a train club in Fort Myers, Fla. [See Great Model Railroads 2017. – Ed.] When Gary approached me to help build and design his new layout, I knew it would be a great project. I’d worked with him on several club projects and was impressed with his attention to detail and modeling skills.

When I went to Gary’s home to see the room where the layout would be built, we started talking about the footprint and type of layout, how wide the aisle should be, and more. We decided a walk-in, G-shaped layout with no duckunders would be the best solution.


Using multiple techniques to build a cement plant

This is the final installment of our Beer Line series. The layout has three prototype-based industries on it, and modeling them offered a variety of challenges. With Tews Lime & Cement Co., I had a distinct advantage: access to someone who worked there. John H. Tews, a grandson of the two brothers who founded the company, is a model railroader who is deeply involved in the Milwaukee-area National Model Railroad Association division.

John is also a buddy of retired Model Railroader senior editor Jim Hediger, so a call to Jim set up a meeting with John, and the project was off and running.

Coal and steel for Rod Stewart's masterpiece

In the past two decades, Rod Stewart has recorded more than 50 songs, toured the world, been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (twice), been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music and charity – and completed one remarkable model railroad.

The 23 x 124-foot HO scale Grand Street & Three Rivers RR fills a large room on the top floor of his Beverly Hills home. It’s inspired by the landscape of Pennsylvania and the postwar industrial cities of the Midwest and East Coast.

How to model realistic rock outcroppings

Outcroppings are a prominent scenic feature in the part of Indiana that I model on my S scale Monon RR. When I started my layout, the available rock molds didn’t work well to re-create the Indiana landscape. These molds represented vertical surfaces, and I needed something appropriate for sloped terrain.

Tree bark proved to be just the material I needed. Unlike rock molds, bark comes in an endless variety of shapes and convincingly models the top surfaces of rock. It can also be easily cut, shaped, and curved to fit the terrain.


Model a modern log-grasping lift

The LeTourneau Letro-Porter machine was designed to lift trailers and containers on and off flatcars. After reading an article on scratchbuilding one in the August 1985 Model Railroader, I was so impressed that I built one. Though the task was time consuming, the finished machine was a fantastic HO model that has been the talking point among visitors to my layout for many years.

More than 30 years have passed since the article was first published. Though I still model the same period, I now favor branchline operations over mainline railroading. I didn’t really have space for a piggyback terminal. However, I didn’t want to confine the LeTourneau to a display cabinet. To justify keeping the machine on the layout, I converted it to an HO log stacker.


Mount a switch motor horizontally

The Tortoise by Circuitron switch motor has been a staple in model railroading for many years. When mounted vertically, the motor stands 33⁄8" tall. But what if you have a low-profile fascia or a multi-deck layout where every inch between levels counts? By mounting the Tortoise on its side, the switch motor’s profile slims down to 23⁄16".

All you need to mount the motor on its side is .060" sheet styrene and .032" music wire, also called piano wire. The price per conversion is less than $1.

Try this method of mounting your switch motors in areas where vertical space is a factor. I’m sure you’ll be satisfied with the results.


On the Web
From the Editor
Ask MR

What makes a hopper "offset"?

Heritage Fleet

Where are all the passengers?

Step by Step

1940s cement mixers from 3-D printed parts

DCC Corner

Keeping short circuits at bay with DCC

On Operation

Identifying which train just went by

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

"Are you Tony?"



Add more operational possibilities to your layout.

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