Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

June 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!

Subscribers get exclusive online access to hundreds of track plans, product reviews, videos, bonus articles and more.
Issue Preview:



A modern Minnesota short line

When Alan Saatkamp moved from a house with a basement-sized layout in Harrisburg, S.D., to a townhouse in Shawnee, Kan., a few years ago, he was faced with a dilemma. He still wanted to enjoy running a modern-era layout that could support an operating crew. However, the only space Alan had available was an 11'-6" x 15'-0" basement bedroom. But with a bit of ingenuity, Alan was able to built an 11'-6' x 21'-0" model railroad re-creating a portion of the Twin Cities & Western (TCWR), a Minnesota-based shortline railroad serving communities through the south-central part of the Gopher State.

Getting the locomotive you want

Not only have I been a lifelong Alco fan, I'm particularly fond of the Alcos rostered by the Central RR of New Jersey (CNJ). The CNJ bought its first RS-3s in 1950, and many of them lasted into the Conrail era.

Alco RS-3 no. 1554 is owned by the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society and operates on the Delaware-Lackawanna RR out of Scranton, Pa. Being a Jersey Central modeler, I wanted to build a replica of no. 1554 as it appeared in the 1950s.

Serving steel in 11 x 13 feet

Thirteen feet of furnaces, rolling mills, and other steel mill scenes greet visitors when they open the door to my 11 x 13-foot train room. My HO scale Atlantic & Southern RR is inspired by memories of growing up in Butler, Pa. The town was home to a Pullman-Standard railcar plant as well as an Armco Steel facility, where my dad worked for 37 years. Although the layout is freelanced, I strove to capture the flavor of steel country in the steam-to-diesel transition era.

Building a powered lift-up section

I encountered a tricky situation when expanding my HO scale Southern New England RR layout [featured in the July 2010 Model Railroader Ed.] I was building a peninsula that's 9 feet deep and 12 feet wide, which made it almost impossible to reach into for scenic or track work. The center and back were always out of my reach.

So I came up with a solution: a lift-out section. I'd seen man liftouts on other model railroads, but I wanted to be able to handle it myself, rather than hand it to another person to set aside.


Railfanning the Pepper Valley Division

October mornings around the Pepper Valley Division (PVD) are always bustling with activity with winter just around the corner. On the other hand, Dick, Dennis, and I have a leisurely day of fishing and railfanning ahead of us.

Our morning begins with a hearty breakfast of sausages and flapjacks smothered in maple syrup at Shirley's Diner in Coyote Springs, where conversation quickly turns to the Pepper Valley.


On the Web

The latest features on our website

From the Editor

Compact is beautiful these days

Ask MR

Is onboard power feasible in HO scale?

Heritage Fleet

Geared locomotives got their due

Step by Step

Spruce up a scene with static grass

DCC Corner

Add a dedicated programming track

Trackside Photos

Featured layouts from your fellow model railroaders

On Operation

The mother of invention

Index of Advertisers
Trains of Thought

Still hard at work after all these years



How to personalize your layout.

Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Model Railroader magazine. Please view our privacy policy