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Great Model RailroadsGreat Model Railroads

Great Model Railroads 2017

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!

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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model railroads are like fingerprints

THERE ARE AS MANY WAYS TO APPROACH the hobby of model railroading as there are model railroaders. Sure, certain prototypes have more followers than others, and some modeling scales are more popular than others. Even different parts of the country have their fans – the Appalachian mountains, the prairies of the Midwest, or the American Southwest, for instance. But even within those broadly popular categories, you’ll find a lot of variation. Like snowflakes, fingerprints, or Stradivarius violins, they may look the same at first glance, but when you look closer, no two are alike. And I’m not just talking about differences in scale, era, or room size. Take, for example, Ken Jenkins’ Rock Island Clay Center Branch (which you can read about starting on page 8) and Jim Senese’s Kansas City…

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prairie skyscrapers on the high line

DECIDING WHAT TO MODEL can be a long and often enjoyable discovery process. Ken Jenkins began with a modest N scale depiction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Later, after getting married and moving, he started working on a small HO layout loosely based on the Union Pacific RR. Ken was honing his modeling skills, but he yearned to go beyond a generic model railroad to one based on a specific time and place. He looked at the Union Pacific main line west of Kansas City, but rejected it as a modeling subject because it was doubletracked and had relatively few industrial switching opportunities. Ken grew up near the Rock Island’s Kansas City Yard, and his interest in that railroad increased when he got a copy of Thomas R. Lee’s…

access_time13 Min.
pushing steam on horseshoe

My favorite prototype has always been the Pennsylvania RR. I like steam locomotives, especially Pennsy’s distictive Belpaire firebox design and high-mounted headlights. In a previous home, I’d built the Panhandle Division of the PRR in HO scale. It was an operation-based railroad with staging yards at each end. Then in 2002, I visited fellow model railroader Larry Reynolds in Allentown, Pa., and his PRR Allegheny Division HO railroad. I knew that if I ever had the opportunity to design and build another model railroad, it would be the Pittsburgh Division. So when we moved into a new home in 2004, I began planning the model railroad you see here. The Pennsylvania RR’s Pittsburgh Division dates to the 1850s, when J. Edgar Thomson, chief engineer and later president of the railroad, planned how to…

access_time8 Min.
mining british columbia on the dolly varden

Dolly Varden RR On30 (1:48 scale, 30" track gauge) Layout size: 3 x 28 feet 12" grid Numbered arrows indicate photo locations Illustration by Rick Johnson and Kellie Jaeger Find more plans online in the ModelRailroader.com Track Plan Database. The On30 Dolly Varden RR has a globetrotting pedigree. Though it models a little-known narrow gauge mining railroad in British Columbia, Canada, it was originally built in Australia. After a few years on the train show circuit there, the layout was sold to its current owner, who displays it in a Southwest Florida museum dedicated to fine scale modeling. The prototype Dolly Varden mines were located around the small settlement of Alice Arm on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Now almost a ghost town, Alice Arm is situated at the head of a narrow…

access_time7 Min.
worn-out ware on the waterfront

Holidays are a time to do whatever you want. For most model railroaders, vacation time offers a good opportunity to make significant progress on their layouts. Since my brother and I actually build custom model railroads for a living, a twoweek break sounded to us like a chance to do something totally different. But before I knew it, I was model railroading again. My father talked me into starting a new project small enough to be finished in “less than a week,” as he put it. Our shop is full of long weekend projects we work on every now and then, so I was a little reluctant to start a new one. But this diorama sounded like a nice project – to model a specific scene with a unique context that we…

access_time7 Min.
appalachian adventure in 3 decks

Though I’ve been interested in model trains since I was a teenager, I never focused on any one particular era or aspect of railroading. I just liked trains in general. That changed after I read an article in the January 1962 Trains magazine about the Graham County RR in western North Carolina. The Shay locomotives and the lumber industry they served intrigued me. A few months later, Model Railroader did an article on modeling the Graham County RR. Since the railroad was still in operation at that time, I purchased an 8mm movie camera and drove from Long Island, N.Y., to western North Carolina to see these strange-looking geared steam engines for myself. As luck would have it, I arrived just after a Shay picked up a few cars from the…