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October 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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Operating on the Gorre & Daphetid

In 1962 I was transferred by the U.S. Navy to Monterey, Calif., and had the good fortune to become part of John Allen’s Wednesday night operating crew on his HO scale Gorre & Daphetid. By this time John’s layout had been featured in Model Railroader and other hobby magazines many times. Since I was now residing in the same town as the “Wizard of Monterey,” I reached out to John to schedule a visit to his layout.

About two weeks after moving to Monterey, I called John. He said if I could come over in about 15 minutes it would be perfect, as he had other guests visiting at that time. I was out the door in a flash.


Kitbash a mission-style Santa Fe depot

The variety of structure kits available today provide excellent raw material for kitbashing unique models. An example on my HO scale layout is the Englewood, Colo., depot ❶, which I built from Walthers kit components, styrene, and stripwood.

The prototype for the model is a mission-revival depot built by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. just south of Denver in Englewood, Colo. Built in 1915, the depot served the Santa Fe until it was closed to passengers in the 1950s. The building was moved a few blocks away from the tracks in the 1990s and still stands today as the Letterpress Depot print shop and museum (

In addition to historic photos, I took present-day reference photos to use for the project. A contemporary photo of the station prior to its current restoration is shown in ❷.

Installing ground throws in the foreground

Caboose Industries ground throws have been a popular way to manually line turnouts for many years. The plastic castings are reliable, easy to install, and inexpensive. But in HO scale, they’re oversized, standing a scale 21⁄2 feet tall. To minimize the visual impact of the ground throws, and to prevent operators from having to reach into the model railroad, I installed them on the front edge of the layout and used non-operating ground throw castings next to turnouts. Labels on the fascia make it easy to see which route the turnout is lined for.

Chasing trains on the Erie and Lackawanna

A 1960 merger marked the birth of the Erie-Lackawanna RR, but my fondest railroad memories are of the Erie RR and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western (Lackawanna) RR in the previous decade. Growing up in Elmira, N.Y., I’d visit the yards with my grandfather, who worked as a machinist for both railroads. My grandmother’s house was a few blocks away from the Lackawanna station, and I’d take regular trips on the Lackawanna’s Phoebe Snow to visit relatives in Buffalo. When it was time to build my current layout, it was no surprise that I found inspiration in my hometown railroads.

Traveling through northwestern Wisconsin

Traveling along U.S. Highway 8 across northern Wisconsin, Mark Digerness found himself chasing a train between Ladysmith and Tomahawk on his way back from a family vacation in Hayward, Wis. Mark liked the mood of the train going through the woods and countryside, and it made an impression on him and his family. He decided that was what he wanted to re-create on his layout.

The West Wisconsin RR was an HO scale model railroad depicting Chicago & North Western Ry. operations in northwestern Wisconsin in the early 1990s. The layout in these photos is gone now, the result of a move to a new home, where it will be reborn. The 27 x 27-foot double-deck model railroad filled about two-thirds of Mark’s basement. “The railroad’s purpose was getting freight from Chicago to Superior, Wis., with lots of switching along the way,” Mark said.


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DCC Corner

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Trackside Photos

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On Operation

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Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Looking under the wrapper



How to personalize your layout.

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