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December 2019

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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Planning a realistic freight car fleet

The photo to the left shows an HO scale scene that I staged to represent Lehigh Valley's former Central RR of New Jersey Allentown Consolidated Yard in 1975. The scene seems fairly realistic. But is it?

The background image consists of a single prototype photograph that I cloned and combined using Adobe Photoshop software. The yard "tracks" are pencil lines drawn on a white mat board sheet that represents snow. Many of the rolling stock models aren't particularly detailed. There isn't even any snow on any of the car roofs.


From the Sierras to the Valley

The year 1977 was notable for more than just the death of Elvis Presley, the first flight of the space shuttle Enterprise, and the theatrical release of Star Wars. In that historically notable year, one more significant event occurred: the founding of the Roseville Roundhouse Model RR Club in Roseville, Calif. The five founding members first met in the projection room of the Jones Exhibition Hall at the county fairgrounds in Roseville, and construction on the first layout began soon thereafter.

After several relocations within the city, the club returned to the fairgrounds in 2005. Two permanent N scale layouts and a modular HO scale layout were soon constructed. In July 2008, the HO modular layout was removed, and construction began on a permanent HO scale layout. By the end of the year, the benchwork, track, and wiring were all completed, and trains were running.


Freelancing an Appalachian short line

Since the mid-1960s, I've spent a lot of time exploring the mountains and foothills of the southeastern United States. I especially enjoy the region's Appalachian scenery and its coal-country railroad operations. This mountainous setting and the coal industry provide the theme for my 13.5 x 23-foot HO scale Greenville & Ohio RR (G&O), a freelanced short line that parallels the prototype Clinchfield RR.

The layout is set during the steam-to-diesel transition era, which allows me to run both diesel and steam locomotives. In the G&O's functional history, the railroad was also purchased by the Southern Ry. at that time.

A business Main Street

As an avid modeler of the Chesapeake & Ohio Ry., I fell in love with the town of Thurmond, W.Va., when I first laid eyes on it in 1992. Even though the town was a shell of its former self, it still was awe-inspiring.

I knew I wanted to model this town. I had a space over 20 feet long and 30 inches deep to try to re-create Thurmond on my layout. My friends and I built the railroad buildings at Thurmond, but I needed to add the commercial structures that still stand along the main line.


Build a small rail-served dairy

The Buffalo Creek & Gauley RR (BC&G), an 18.6 mile coal-hauling short line, operated in Clay County, W.Va., from 1904 until 1965. For most of that time, the BC&G was owned by the Elk River Coal & Lumber Co. (ERC&L). In addition to a mine and sawmill, the ERC&L Co. owned and operated a small farm and dairy at Cressmont, located about halfway between the BC&G’s interchange with the Baltimore & Ohio at Dundon and the mine at Widen.

The Cressmont dairy building, with its interesting covered trackside loading dock, provided the inspiration for my S scale model. The simple structure that resulted could be modified, however, to represent any number of small industries.

Stretching structure proportions

Scale modeling has always required some selective compression. This is especially true with structures. Accurately modeling a 16 x 40-foot depot is seldom a problem, but tackling a sprawling industry is often impractical.

From a manufacturer’s point of view, there’s another factor that sometimes comes into play: packaging and displaying in a retail store. The size of more than a few structure kits has been based on what would fit into a standard-sized polybag or box. The result is usually a pleasing structure, but one that is truncated in length, width, or both.


On the Web
From the Editor

If you're getting started, welcome

Ask MR

How do I color a riverbed and tint water?

2020 MR Photo Contest

Rules and how to enter

Heritage Fleet

Big Trains in 1989 vs. 1947

Step by Step

How to install a stall-type switch motor

DCC Corner

Mixing DC and DCC

The Operators

Doubling the hill

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Setting a 'best if used by' date



Five compact track plans.

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