Model Railroader Mag. Inspiration or Intimidation?

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autocoach

Active Member
Mainline I miss. Running Extra for MRH is getting really good. Historical group publications, specialist web blogs and group forums have picked up the slack from the publications that died and carry a lot of the more technical stuff. Craftsman is hit or miss each month. And my interests are now pre-1955 so much of MR and RMC just does not seem relevant.

Model Railroader is just blah these days. I still buy it from my local hobby shop. But even their more technical articles are not interesting or necessarily germane to my practice of the hobby. And the mid-west/east coast you gotta have a humongous basement fixation of their layouts turns me off. Almost like they have a certain size envy deep in their primal editorial minds. Even if I won the lotto, it would be smaller layouts that I can really complete for me.

OOps I left out two bi-monthly publications I get and read; Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette and from across the pond, The Model Railway Journal which has the best editing and brass locomotive construction articles of any magazine.
 
N

NP2626

Guest
I don't know, after 33 years in the hobby, I still find relevant information in Model Railroader, I even subscribe to MRVP and really like what they are doing on the video end of things. However, like you autocoach, I also love Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette, because I am first and foremost a model builder and find it covers that end very well. Although at this time, I haven't picked up the current issue and read anything in it yet, I always seem to get the magazine read before putting on the top of my collection.
 
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Blues909

Member
I remember John Allen's Gorre & Daphetid , I thought it was a feature article in the 60's . My father had that magazine and we always looked at it.

I just have a pile of older rail road magazines that I either bought used from the days when there still were real model train stores here.

I do feel the prices of new loco's and rolling stock has gotten out of reach , I had quite a few Atlas and Kato Walters and PK2 diesels and even Bachman spectrum. I sold most all of them which some I do regret and it was not that long ago you could walk into most model train stores and be able to afford them. I don't have a layout , I did for a few years nothing very large.

I look at the old magazines one in a while and have about 25 Diesels a few Atlas and a spectrum the rest are blue box athearn which are fine for me. I still have a some rolling stock also sold some. at my age my only goal is to finish what I started years ago. Maybe I will be able to do that.

Rail road magazines and train shops were all there was before the internet , I never got any ideas for the internet didn't have a PC until 2000.

I bought from ebay and sold on it as well however now the prices are for the most part out of reach. Last BB Athearn I got were $27.50 tops for a GP38-2 and maybe a SD40-2 before this less than $15 most were less than $10 . PK2 and walters were around $70 and most times much less new in the box on ebay. A few train shop's used to give me deals because I did spend money back in the day. I used to get dummy loco's and convert them to powered because you could get all the gears and parts these were blue box , those days are gone now. Not many months from now I'll reach 72 .
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
I've read Model Railroader since about age 8. I've always enjoyed it. A lot of it could seen as intimidating, but I saw it as inspiration. Kind of like reading Sports Illustrated magazine I guess. You know you're probably not going to a .300 batting average in the majors, but it's still fun to see somebody who does and read the story.

They typically have some "Wow, isn't this amazing!" type stuff, and then lots of useful information. Tips and techniques, product reviews, how to.

Granted, you look at some of it and think "Well, if I win the lottery and buy an airplane hanger..." But there's lots of other stuff that's far more down to earth. For example, this month's issue has an article on how to build a right of way fence. Can't get much more basic than that! You don't have to be a skill scratchbuilder to finish that project.

Even when you see the top end layouts, often you can get ideas and inspiration from them. Ok, so I don't have a 20 x 70 layout room, I still like how they did that engine servicing area, maybe I'll incorporate that idea into mine?
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
I remember John Allen's Gorre & Daphetid , I thought it was a feature article in the 60's . My father had that magazine and we always looked at it.
It was feature article for many, many years. Probably starting as far back as the 1940's with some of his earlier work, but I'm not sure of that. It was very popular in the 60's and 70's and even though he passed away in 1973, his work continued to show up for quite a while afterward.

I recall reading an article on John Allen in Model Railroader and they commented on just how many feature articles they'd run over the years. The editor said that it had gotten so bad that people were tired of them. He noted "RMC ran a John Allen feature and we (Model Railroader) got angry letters saying 'Stop running so much John Allen stuff!' even though they hadn't run anything for a few years.

In an era when model railroads were far more "Toy Train" than model railroad, he was a true pioneer. His ideas of things like operating trains like the real railroad, where they actually went someplace and picked up and dropped off cars was ground breaking at the time. Before then, it was pretty much the fact that the train could move and looked somewhat realistic was all that mattered.

On a personal note, my club module featured a John Allen "Timesaver" switching puzzle. Some of the tail tracks were longer than the puzzle, to provide for better switching, but when you want to play the puzzle, you simply spot a car and say "That car's being unloaded, it can't be moved!"
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
The December 1981 issue of Model Railroader has a photo of John Allen's Squaw Creek High Bridge on the cover and inside two great articles on John Allen's legendary Gorre & Daphetid railroad. My original issue was read so many times that I had to use clear tape to hold the magazine together and I since purchased a second issue at a swap meet.

The second issue was in pile of maybe 100 issues of Model Railroaders for $3.00. The fellow wouldn't even sell me a single issue for even $3.00, the price for 100 issues. I ended up getting my copy for $1.00 near the close of the swap meet.

Yes, Model Railroader is and was for countless years an inspiration to me and I find something new in every issue.

Greg
 

malletman

Alcohaulic
I prefer the older issues, much more "how to" articles on modeling, detailing and not just a glossing "showing off" that we get these days. The magazine was thicker and had more substance in those pre internet days. Guys showing how to take a Rail Power Products shell and detail it to the point of rivaling brass and a fraction of the cost. If I pay $100 or more for a caboose, it better be brass. Mike the Aspie
 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
I prefer the older issues, much more "how to" articles on modeling, detailing and not just a glossing "showing off" that we get these days. The magazine was thicker and had more substance in those pre internet days. Guys showing how to take a Rail Power Products shell and detail it to the point of rivaling brass and a fraction of the cost. If I pay $100 or more for a caboose, it better be brass. Mike the Aspie

The old Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman was definitely far different from today's version. As you mention, much thicker and more in detail. They had articles on super detailing and the like, as you mention. Thinks like building a farm house, or even building your own rolling stock.

Classic example, Bruce Chubb did an intense 16 part series on the Computer / Model Railroad Interface. Sort of a proto DCC system. You think installing a DCC decoder is tough? You ain't seen nothing pal! When Bruce ran that series, he had circuit board plans. If you wanted to build one, you etched your own PCB board, and bought components from Radio Shack or wherever and soldered them on! We're talking serious technical cred, and many many hours of work and troubleshooting to get one running.

Later on, they came out with kits and I think somebody was even making ready to use boards. Here's a website that still offers some of the components:

 

bob

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, and one more thing. The old Model Railroader magazines had a "gatefold" in every issue, with detailed drawings of a car or locomotive. You know, just in case you wanted to build one, from scratch, but needed a drawing of it to work from. Amazing amount of work and detail went into those drawings.

It was also the source of some embarrassment in Junior High for me. One day on the bus one of the kids noticed that my magazine had a "centerfold". Now, being young high school boys, they enjoyed centerfolds of a different nature, ones featuring naked ladies, rather than trains. (That's right kids, we had no internet, so we had to buy "dirty magazines" to see naked women...). Boy did I ever get teased about the centerfold being a train instead of a girl!
 

malletman

Alcohaulic
We are showing our age Bob! I remember no cable, no remote control for the TV when I was very young, then the first cordless phones with antennas you had to pull up if you wanted some range. Then the first cell phones ect. Such a different time. I love looking thru all the old brass ads, remembering some of the dealers I did get to meet as my brass buying started just before the Internet age, so I got to meet a few of them face to face at larger shows. Mike
 



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