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November 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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How to model a concrete team track ramp

Team tracks have been dubbed “universal industries” by model railroaders, as virtually any type of freight car can be spotted at them. On full-size railroads, team tracks were often located near depots. Today, a typical team track consists of a siding surrounded by an open gravel lot that allows the freight cars to be reached from either side. Some locations may also include a wood or concrete ramp.

On my HO scale Georgia Northeastern layout, featured in Model Railroad Planning 2016, I wanted a team track with a concrete ramp similar to a prototype location north of Atlanta that regularly receives boxcars loaded with bricks. The ramp allows forklifts to drive into the boxcars, unload pallets of bricks, and drive them to a storage yard adjacent to the siding. Like the prototype, my team track ramp sees plenty of boxcars loaded with bricks. But it also serves other local customers, all without adding extra structures or sidings to the layout.

Better hardshell scenery

Featured in Great Model Railroads 2011, my S scale Buffalo Creek & Gauley (BC&G) model railroad was started 20 years ago using tried-and-true techniques. As the BC&G was set in West Virginia, the 25 x 44-foot layout had a lot of tree-covered mountains. These were built on a scenery base of plaster-impregnated gauze applied over a lattice of cardboard strips or a layer of kraft paper, followed by a layer of Sculptamold.

In 2017, a move to a new home required that I dismantle the BC&G. At age 70, I found myself starting a new layout. I’d planned to build this new version of the BC&G with the same familiar methods. However, it soon became clear that it was time for this old dog to learn some new tricks.

Narrow gauge through the U.P.

Why would someone dismantle and sell off a huge dream HO scale layout and switch to On30 (O scale, 30" track gauge, also known as On2½)? I’ve been asked that question many times and even asked that of myself for a year before making the switch. Why get rid of something I’ve always dreamed of and go to something completely new?

My HO layout was huge – 30 x 60 feet, with multiple decks – and designed for operation. Building and operating the layout was a great experience. But after I had it for a few years, the novelty wore off, and it frankly became a maintenance headache. I could have fought the urge to move on and stuck with it, but the enjoyment in the hobby was just not there.

Build a long-span bridge

Bridges are a favorite scenic feature of model railroaders. The longer the bridge, the more dramatic, even spectacular, the visual impact becomes. As anyone who has attempted it can attest, installing even a simple, short, single-span bridge takes some forethought. But when a bridge or viaduct is lengthened beyond a span or two, construction and reliability issues start to arise. How do you keep all of the spans aligned as one continuous structure? How do you make them dimensionally stable? How do you install guardrails so they don’t buckle with changes in temperature and humidity?


On The Web

See the latest features on our website

From the Editor

A favorite product returns

Ask MR

When were knuckle couplers instituted?

Rehab My Railroad

Merging old and new benchwork

DCC Corner
Virginian & Ohio Baldwin sharknose no. 267 heads up a consist on Larry Puckett's Piedmont Southern layout

LokSound for a Baldwin sharknose

On Operation

Virtual operating sessions

Trackside Photos

Photos from your fellow model railroaders

Trains of Thought

How we see things



Freight yard design and operation.

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