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Build a Small Model Railroad

Build a Small Model Railroad

Build a Small Model Railroad
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Build a Small Model Railroad offers step-by-step advice and instruction on constructing small railroads for compact spaces! The 84-page special issue includes HO and N scale railroads and an in-depth look at the staff-built Virginian layout - one of the most popular and versatile construction series of the past decade.

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United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines

in this issue

2 min.
it’s not just a place to start

THERE’S SOMETHING about the term “small layout” that has, over the years, come to infer “your first layout” or “starter layout.” After all, isn’t the goal to start modestly and move up to something larger? Well, maybe. Like so many things today, it depends. You have to ask yourself a few questions, and answer them fairly honestly. The first is, “How much room do I have?” Another is, “What do I want to do with my model railroad?” The initial question is usually pretty easy to answer. The second might require some thought. Do you want to watch your trains go around through highly detailed scenes? Do you want to switch cars between various industries? Do you want a layout you can run by yourself, or do you want to be able…

6 min.
narrow gauge logging in less than 4x7 feet

THE BACHMANN SHAY and Climax were what first attracted me. At the time, the Shay model had recently had excellent reviews, and I started researching the prototypes of the diminutive On30 [also called On 2 1 ⁄2 – Ed.] locomotives. The locomotives, combined with an interest in Western logging railroads, led me to build my small layout, which I call “The Deuce,” after the name given to the Michigan-California (Mich-Cal) Logging Co.’s Shay no. 2. The operational purpose of the Mich- Cal Lumber Co. was logging. Sugar pine was the most profitable, but Douglas fir was available in California as well. The latter wood was used for railroad ties and trestles. Layout goals I designed a logging camp and its environs after studying a number of model railroading publications. Modeling a logging camp requires…

1 min.
mich-cal roster

IN RESEARCHING THE PROTOTYPE for Bachmann’s Shay locomotive before building my model railroad, I looked into classic books, including Michael Koch’s Steam and Thunder in the Timber: Saga of the Forest Railroads (World Press, 1979) and The Shay Locomotive – Titan of the Timber (World Press, 1971). R. Stephen Polkinghorn’s book, Pino Grande – Logging Railroads of the Michigan-California Lumber Co. (Howell-North, 1966), is also superb. Although all out of print, they can still be found at used booksellers. Reading these books, I learned something about logging, but nothing about mining. Thus I looked at narrow gauge logging railroads using the T-boiler Shay (the so-called “boot boiler Shay”). Possible choices for prototypes narrowed considerably. My penchant for modeling backwoods hills, valleys, and mountains led me to discover the Michigan-California Lumber Co.…

7 min.
santa fe and southern pacific in a spare room

ALTHOUGH I LIVE IN GERMANY and am surrounded by many interesting European prototype railroads, I model the North American West. Perhaps because it’s so different from where I live, the arid scenes of the California high desert have always fascinated me. With some careful planning, I fit a freelanced HO scale version of this rolling landscape in a modest 11'-6" x 13'-10" room. In my Oak Valley RR’s (OVRR) fictional history, the Southern Pacific RR bought the line in the early 1900s. By the 1960s the SP and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. jointly operated the branch line through south central California. The point-to-point track plan fits a lot of action into a compact space. Both ends of the line, Valley Junction and Lakeview Siding, provide space for staging trains.…

11 min.
big time rail roading on a door or two

I MODEL PENNSYLVANIA RR mainline railroading circa 1956, and I’m an Air Force officer who has to move every few years, sometimes to places where basements are uncommon. Pursuing my hobby concurrently with my career meant I needed a portable model railroad that could still suggest the scale and intensity of a gigantic prototype in an impossibly small space. I found what I needed in a track plan with a scenic, double-track main line that could be made to look somewhat like the PRR Middle Division as it followed the Juniata River through central Pennsylvania. Astute fans of Model Railroader may recognize my track plan as an N scale project railroad from the December 1993 issue, and also appearing in the second edition of Small Railroads You Can Build (Kalmbach Books).…

1 min.
a friend comes through

THE AMTRAK PASSENGER DEPOT at Lewistown, Pa., is easily recognizable to PRR fans and modern railfans alike, thanks to its recent restoration by the PRR Technical & Historical Society. While I was discussing on the internet about how I might scratchbuild a model of this landmark, friend David K. Smith (owner of NZT Products and Great Model Railroads 2000 author) offered to kitbash the model for me. Usually I’m a lone wolf modeler, but being a big fan of David’s work, I was honored and excited at the prospect of having one of his masterpieces on the Juniata Division. I shared all of the photographs I had from various stages in the depot’s life, and Jeff Faulkner of the PRR N Scale Yahoo Group took additional photos for us. To my…