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March 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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How to model a modern lumberyard

My HO scale Georgia Northeastern RR (GNRR) models a modern-era short line that runs from Marietta, Ga., to Copperhill, Tenn. I wanted to include a building materials company on my layout to replicate one on the prototype in Marietta. The industry receives a large number of shipments by rail and is one of the main customers of the prototype GNRR. Supplies shipped by rail include drywall, lumber, and an assortment of other goods. A majority of these items arrive on standard and center-beam bulkhead flatcars, as re-created in the photo above.

While the facility I built isn’t an exact model of the prototype, it captures the key components and services of a building materials company. Follow along as I describe the steps I took to build the structure and other components.


Scratchbuild a small-town storefront

There was a vacant lot in the town on my HO scale Union Pacific layout. Since no commercial building kits would fit the space, I scratchbuilt a structure from styrene. My building, which measures 4-11⁄32" x 6" x 3-15⁄64", doesn’t follow a prototype. Instead, it’s based on storefronts found in small Midwest towns.

Why scratchbuild? The obvious reason is to make a structure that fits the space. A secondary benefit is having a structure not found on other layouts.

If you have some vacant real estate on your model railroad, try scratchbuilding. Styrene is easy to work with, takes glue well, and it’s easy to paint.


Scale drawings for a pair of passenger shelters

The Rochester & Eastern Rapid Ry. was incorporated in 1901 as a high-speed interurban line. It ran from Rochester, N.Y., to Geneva, N.Y., and opened for operation in June 1904.

Cars ran on an hourly schedule. Freight service was also provided for local industries. To accommodate passengers, many shelters of two standard designs were constructed. These were located at the line’s intersection with the main streets of the many communities it served.


A tale of two railroads

A journeyman bass player, Pat Driscoll played with several bands and traveled coast-to-coast in a music career spanning more than four decades. As an experienced musician, Pat thinks model railroading has a lot in common with music.

In his heart Pat hears the fierce roar of the waterfalls blending with that of the snort of fire-breathing iron horses. The gentle clickity-clack rhythm of wheels on the towering wooden bridge melds with the sound of the tom-tom emanating from the Native American village far below. The shriek of the eagles soaring above harmonizes with the screech of wheels upon steel. This is Pat’s song.


Cold storage for the Tar Branch

On an industrial layout such as the Winston-Salem Southbound Tar Branch, Model Railroader’s 2018 project layout, the buildings make up much of the scenery. Although it’s a rather small model railroad, there are 11 structures of various sizes.

We used a number of techniques to model the customers at the end of the Tar Branch. David Popp, Model Railroader Video Plus producer and designer of the layout, built the majority of the buildings, populating the center of the layout with a series of kitbashed structures.


Shake your own shingles

Before retirement gave me enough time to actively pursue modeling, I accumulated piles of Model Railroader magazines. While perusing them for ideas, I ran across some articles on modeling paper shingles. These suggested using a hobby knife to slice individual notches in paper shingle material.

This seemed to me to be a very time-consuming and tedious process. I came up with a simple shingle-slitting tool (try saying that four times fast) that can cut paper shingles quickly and efficiently. In the process, I also came up with some other variations for making shingles out of paper.


Third time's the charm

Paul Tartaglia finally has a “finished” model railroad in his basement. His detailed HO scale Chester Ridge & Pennebrook fills a beautifully finished 121⁄2 x 20-foot basement train room with idyllic town and country scenes inspired by a New York Central branch line. Getting to this point was a long, but rewarding, journey.

Like many model railroaders Paul got hooked on trains at an early age. He remembers being 6 years old and watching his dad run Lionel trains around the Christmas tree. He also built some 4 x 8-foot O gauge layouts, but his interests eventually turned to girls and other teenage pursuits.

Then in 1972 at age 25, Paul returned to the hobby. Married and a new father, he started building an HO scale railroad in the basement of his home on Ridge Street in Port Chester, N.Y. He named the layout Chester Ridge in honor of the town and the street.



How to personalize your model railroad.

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