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August 2020

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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5 tips for trouble-free turnouts

Since turnouts play a prominent role on model railroads, they deserve attention before and after installation, as well as during routine maintenance. Taking the time to ensure turnouts perform well will guarantee more reliable, and therefore more enjoyable, operation.

Freight cars of the '70s

So you want to model the 1970s. Now you have to figure out what equipment is appropriate. Aspects of the whole world touch on our modeled landscape, so there' a lot to consider. For now, though, I'm going to focus on freight cars.

The '70s were the era of my youth. Like many modelers, I want to model what I remember. For me the draw is the combination of the traditional and the modern.


Transition-era favorites

Representing locales ranging from Michigan to North Carolina, my HO scale Midwest & Southern Atlantic RR (M&SA) is freelanced, letting me celebrate a variety of my favorite railroads. I chose 1954 as the era of my layout so I can plausibly run both steam and diesel locomotives. I also chose that year because there's a wide variety of commercially available structures and details for modeling that time period.

How to model a concrete retaining wall

Retaining walls are a common trackside feature, especially when an industrial spur rises a few feet above grade. The elevation change and the wall are also easy ways to add visual interest to a model railroad scene.

All you need to know, in four square feet

Life often has a way of pushing our dream model railroad into the future. Depending on your circumstances it may be years or even decades until you're in a situation where you can have the layout you ultimately want. the question is, how do you best prepare for "the day" when you finally have the time, space, and money for a model railroad?


Video Plus

See this month's highlights, including free preview videos, from our subscription video channel, Model Railroader Video Plus!

From the Editor

A lumber plank teaches valuable skills

Railway Post Office

What's a control point?

Heritage Fleet

M&Ms: Mountains and a Mohawk

Step By Step

Weather a coil steel car

DCC Corner

Loading sound projects in sound decoders

On Operation

Writing a train order

Trackside Photos

Photos from your fellow model railroaders

Trains of Thought

Smelling the roses



Five compact track plans.

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