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Great Model Railroads

Great Model Railroads

2021

Model Railroader presents Great Model Railroads 2020. Each year Great Model Railroads brings you some of the best layouts you’ll ever see – and this year is no exception. Inside this special issue you’ll find our favorite new layouts in a variety of scales, locations, sizes, and eras. Plus, the 100-page edition is chock-full of how-to advice and operating tips for model railroaders of all skill levels! Featured layout stories include Sandy River & Rangely Lakes, New Haven, New York Central, Southern Pacific's Placerville Branch, and much more!

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
Frequency:
One-off
BUY ISSUE
$13.98(Incl. tax)

in this issue

2 min.
all railroads big and small

I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SEEN a more diverse set of model railroads in an issue of GMR. HO scale (1:87.1) is the most popular scale by far, with more than two-thirds of hobbyists modeling in that scale. So it’s not surprising that most of the layout articles submitted to us are in that scale. Despite that, this year’s edition of Great Model Railroads features more layouts in other scales – N (1:160), S (1:64), O (1:48), and large scale – than in HO. If you’ve ever doubted it, this issue proves that no scale has a monopoly on great modeling. N scale is the second most popular modeling scale, and Glenn Wolfe’s Union Pacific Santiam Division, shown on page 56, shows why. This scale puts big rail yards, long main…

12 min.
take 4 for the bona vista

I’M NOT A BIG BELIEVER in moving a layout, or even sections of a layout. Almost everyone I’ve known who’s done it and used those sections in a new layout has ended up with a compromised track plan. Not to mention, in many cases, it means adding dusty, years-old scenery to what would be a pristine new layout. I’d rather start fresh. So when my wife and I moved to a new home in 2013, “start fresh” is what I did. I saved the structures, figures, and lumber from the Bona Vista Mark III [Great Model Railroads 2008 and 2015], but everything else went into the Dumpster. Nothing puts the fire under your feet like a Realtor saying, “I can’t sell this house with these trains in the basement.” The house we…

1 min.
the lights above

LIGHTING A MULTI-DECK LAYOUT presented a unique problem. Light-emitting-diode (LED) rope lights would work, but I’d need quite a few strings to get the light intensity I wanted. Fluorescent fixtures would work, but they’re pricey, and I’m not a big fan of the temperature of the light. That’s when I discovered 10-watt, high-power, warm white LED light chips on eBay for about $1 each. They’re postage-stamp-sized LED arrays that really pack a punch. I installed these at 12-inch intervals behind the valances. The chips get warm, so the manufacturer recommends a heat sink. I bought small L-brackets at a hardware store and bent them at an angle. I put a blob of silicone-based heat sink compound on the bracket, then attached the chip. The brackets serve double duty as both heat sinks…

1 min.
the lights below

I WISH I COULD SAY I came up with this tip, but I can’t. Thank Michael Hauri, a Model Railroader Video Plus (Trains.com) subscriber who left a comment on my MRVP show, “Off the Rails.” He was commenting on episode 33, in which I described holiday sale items that could be used on model railroads. I’d suggested purchasing on-sale LED rope lights to light a layout, but Michael suggested using the rope lights under the layout, as well. Face-palm on my part – of course! I’d always wanted under-the-layout lighting to make wiring and storage easier, but had never gotten around to it. One hour and two 30-foot reels of LED rope lights later (total cost: $24 after the holidays at a big box store), my dream had come true. The rope…

10 min.
country modeling moves to the big city

FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS I built and operated an HO scale model railroad based on the Boston & Maine RR in northern New Hampshire. Like many modelers, I was captivated by the 1950s rolling stock and the region’s rural charm. But I reached the point at which the roster and scenery were complete and there were few projects left. So the idea of building a new railroad based on a busy urban area began to seem more compelling. I could create areas that offered lots of switching. Urban architecture is different from that of rural areas, offering new and interesting construction opportunities. I also wanted a prototype location with seaport operations and a car float. I considered Virginia’s Tidewater area, where the cities of Norfolk and Newport News have a lot going…

1 min.
paper or plastic?

I ENJOY BUILDING STRUCTURES. I’ve used cardstock, stripwood, styrene, and more recently, photos printed on bond paper to create structures. I discussed how to do the latter in the May 2012 Model Railroader. Paper veneer structures are made by pasting photos of a structure facade on a cardstock wall section. The window and door openings and other recessed features are cut out. An identical photo of the exterior is glued on the back of the cardstock so the windows and doors show through the cutouts. The little bit of relief created by the cutouts is surprisingly effective. Because a photo captures every detail on a building’s surface rather than what we typically incorporate into a plastic or wood model, the paper model looks great. A photo of a window will capture…