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April 2018

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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Rebuilding a bridge line

When I told my wife, Gerry, that I thought it was time to move, she was quite surprised. After all, we had a large HO scale model railroad in the basement, and I was involved in a local model railroad operating club. However, we were the oldest couple on the block and had a large house with three empty bedrooms. We were ready for a change but had no plans to give up model railroading.

It didn’t take long to find a new house in an active 55-and-over community. Our new home included a finished basement with its own restroom and central heating and air conditioning, which were amenities we didn’t have in the basement of our old home. The basement also provided a 17 x 37-foot space that could accommodate a double-deck layout.


Build the Tar Branch, Part 4

It's been said that a model railroad is like a stage, and the trains are the actors. It’s almost a cliché, but there’s truth to it. The scenery that surrounds our trains is the stage dressing that lets us be transported into our railroad’s daily dramas. It must be believably realistic, but it musn’t compete for the viewer’s attention. The trains are the stars, after all, and our scenery mustn’t upstage them by being either obviously unrealistic or cluttered with fastidious detail.

In constructing the scenery for the HO scale Winston-Salem Southbound, Model Railroader Video Plus producer David Popp and the rest of the crew set the stage for the drama that realistic model railroad operation brings.


Plans for a fertilizer blend plant

The development of granular fertilizer in the 1950s led to plant-to-field shipment that became popular in the 1960s and continues today. Agway, formed in the mid-1960s mergers of Grange League Federation, Eastern States Cooperative, and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Cooperative, oper-ated more than 50 fertilizer blend plants in the Northeast.

Since the company was formed through mergers, there were a variety of plant designs. One of the more common styles, including the Auburn, N.Y., plant, featured pole-barn construction with bins for material storage. The Auburn plant had seven bins for fertilizer storage, with blending and receiving equipment in the center. An auger under the tracks brought materials into the plant, where it was lifted by a bucket elevator to a movable conveyor over the storage bins.

Materials were taken out of the bins with a skid-steer loader and weighed in a hopper. Finished batches were processed through a blender, similar to a cement mixer. An auger took the finished product to the spreader truck.


A small piece of Arizona in Sweden

On a cold November day I went to the suburbs of Stockholm to visit Willem Van der Hoeven. Willem has been a model railroader most of his life. In 1940 he was given a Märklin O scale train set. Sixteen years later, in 1956, he bought his first copy of Model Railroader magazine, which sparked his interest in North American railroads.

But it wasn’t until 1964, when he bought a house with a full basement, that he could fulfill his wish to build a U.S.-style layout and start construction of the Sierra Pintada & Western, a fictional railroad set in Arizona in the 1880s. The choice of modeling the 1880s was influenced by Willem’s passion for Western movies.


On the Web
From the Editor
Ask MR

Pennsylvania RR's GG1: What's under the hood?

Heritage Fleet

Compromise was the name of the game

Step by Step

How to build a wood caboose kit

DCC Corner

Selecting a sound decoder

On Operation

Dispatching with verbal authority

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Look to the prototype to enhance operations



Layout plans for realistic operation.

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