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December 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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Big-time U.S. railroading in the U.K.

One Saturday a month I carry my HO scale model railroad module – Quisling, CA – to a local Scout Hall. There, I meet a few friends who bring their modules, and we get a lot of pleasure running good-looking U.S.-outline, or prototype, trains in a reasonably prototypical way with a dispatcher.

While this activity is commonplace in North America, I’m a quarter of a world away in the nautical city of Plymouth in the far southwest of the United Kingdom, from where a certain Mayflower left in 1620. Here, I’m a member of the small but robust Western Union Division of the British Region of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA).

Quonset hut building flats made easy

Anyone who served in the military has likely slept, worked, ate, or received medical treatment in a Quonset hut. During World War II, between 150,000 and 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured. Today, they can be found in cities and towns all across the United States, as well as in far-flung corners of the world.

Based on the design of the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I, the Quonset hut was manufactured by a wide range of independent contractors in countries around the world. The first were made in 1941, when the United States Navy needed an all-purpose building that could be shipped anywhere and assembled quickly without skilled labor.


40 years on the Utah Belt

An autumn storm is brewing over the Continental Divide and will soon leave a fresh dusting of snow on the higher peaks. The pine-and-sage scented wind is noticeably cooler than the previous week. Ground squirrels scurry to gather winter provisions. It's the region's so-called "golden week," when the aspen trees reach their peak of fall color.

Far below the narrow shelf that the railroad has blasted from the walls of the canyon, the water of Furnace Creek bonds over boulders and rocks on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Occasionally the wind will set the signal lines humming, as steel rails creak and expand under the hot sun.

Kitbashing an HO scale 2-8-2 steam engine

Say there’s a locomotive you need for your roster, but nobody makes one. One answer is to build it yourself, starting with another model that looks fairly close. That’s what I did when I needed a Cascade Lumber Co. 2-8-2 Mikado for my HO scale layout.

The Tacoma Eastern (TE) is a short line that, despite its name, runs south, not east, from Tacoma, Wash. It splits at Fredrickson, just south of Tacoma, with the main line running southwest to link up with the trunk line into Portland, Ore., at Chehalis, Wash. A major branch continues south, running far into the hills to tap the forest and mining properties around Mount Rainier through a network of branches and privately owned short lines.

Scratchbuild a small-town station

I model a "could-have-been" Soo Line branch set in southeastern Wisconsin during the mid-1950s that connects with the Chicago & North Western. One of the structures I wanted to add to my O scale model railroad was a small-town station. No Soo Line structures were available commercially in 1:48. However, by doing prototype research and using a lot of styrene and stripwood, I was able to make a station typical of those along the Soo Line throughout the Upper Midwest.


On the Web
From the Editor

Like vitamins for your modeling

Railway Post Office

Letters from our readers

Ask MR

How do I pick a decoder for an older diesel?

Heritage Fleet

Personal favorites from the Art Deco era

Step by Step

Add a park in a compact space

DCC Corner

The advantages of advanced consisting

On Operation

Ahead of schedule

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Truly, a hobby for a lifetime



Layout plans for realistic operation.

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