Model Railroader Magazine circa 1951.... is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.

Old 97

I was able to purchase 11 months of Model Railroader Magazine from 1951.
A fellow at work was selling them for a dollar a piece.
June 1951 originally sold for 35 cents in the U.S.A. and 40 cents elsewhere.
Looking through the pages is like a time machine.
Varney has an ad showing their 1,001 genuine HO loco & car parts catalog for 35 cents, Irvin R. Athearn has a photo ad showing his 24 page catalog for the hefty price of 10 cents!
Bob Peare was selling three foot sections of HO brass prefab track for 98 cents.
John A. English and company had a new HO Mikado locomotive and tender
kit for $24.95.

Topics covered in the magazine that month were as follows:
1) Passenger train operation By Frank Ellison
2) How I built the T&E Railroad By Jeff Richardson
3) Construction Project Railroad By Boyce F. Martin
4) Rivet forming machine on page 25.
5) Port Able Railroad (Track plan of the month) By Charles F. Small
6) Flywheels By P.J. Elsey
7) Roll your own B&O HO Loco boiler By Tom Beresford
8) Building an O Gauge 0-4-0 Switcher (Part 3) By Mel Thornburgh
9) Water Column By K.N. Lowry
10) The Silver Plate Road (Cartoon) on page 59.

On page 34, there is a scale drawing of the new Westinghouse 4000 h.p.
gas turbine passenger locomotive.
The drawings were done by Berne E. Danielson.
Permission is given for the user to have these drawings photostated to
different scales for any gauge.

These magazines provide a priceless glimpse of our hobby in the post war years and I'm looking forward to many more hours of enjoyment reading them.

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
That's some cool stuff. Isn't it great to take a look back? Last summer, I bought some old issues in Wichita. One dates to 1948! I bought several issues from 1965 (the year we model, I'm also a 1965 model ;) ). I thought that was cool. Keep them and enjoy the time warp for years to come.


Stay off the tracks!
I'm having fun going through my MR's from the early 80s - funny how people who claim that was some sort of golden era.

From what I see available, it looks more like a "gotta buy brass to get what I want" era.

I prefer it these days.


Lazy Daydreamer
JeffShultz said:
From what I see available, it looks more like a "gotta buy brass to get what I want" era...
As a diesel modeler in the early seventies, I lived in the "gotta-kitbash-a-few-Athearn-shells-if-I-want-one-of-those" era. And Athearn was plain "Athearn", none of this newfangled "RTR-vs-bluebox" jargon.

As the late Carroll O'Connor always sang at the start of his famous show:
"Dose woy da days!":p

I agree though, I do like the wider selection of the present day.
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Master Mechanic
Yeah. it sure is good to go back through the old magazines at times. I had a complete set to 1939 and some going back to 1934 when it started publishing, until I lost a lot of them when my basement flooded from a busted HWH.

I've been gradually going back and picking up some of the old ones that pique my interest. I do like the car construction articles from that era, using basically anything you could obtain to build with. I remember the first article using a plastic to build a depressed center car. The author built a special wooden clamp and form, placed the plastic (Clear abs I think), and the clamp in an oven and heated them to soften the plastic. The clamp was then screwed down to form the basic shape of the car.

You mentioned building an O-gauge switcher by Mel Thornburgh. I remember reading his articles for years. Most modelers now say they could never scratchbuild an engine like that until they had the machinist lathes and training needed to use them. IIRC Mel never used anything more shophisticated than a file and a portable drill for his "lathe". With this he even turned his own drivers in some cases.


I have been going through the old ones too. Time machine is the word. I found a few doubles from the 40's and I think they will be my conmtribution to the club's white elephant sale. I loved watching John Allen prgress from a photographer with a small diorama to the premire MRRer of the era. I enjoyed his Varney adds.


Long Winded Old Fart
I use to have all the original MRR mags from the beginning to 1949. I sold them about 10 years ago & only kept a few of the duplicates. Then about 5 years ago a man about 35 miles from me was advertising on the local ISP classifieds section that he had over 500 issues he wanted to give away. I jumped on that deal & now I have them from 1949 to the present. They are in excellent condition. I was going to donate them to a train club & they said they had 2 complete sets that were donated years before. Here in south Florida they are cheap at the train show/flea markets. I've seen old issues for $5.00 a bundle(1 yrs. issues). Now, if you have Lionel catalogs from the 30's in excellent condition, that's where the money is. I sold 15 copies on a friends Ebay site for $2,400.00 about 6 years ago. I still have some Lionel mags from the 40's which I may sell someday when I get low on funds.
I tried to read all my MMR mags in a year, but kept going to sleep. So, now I just read certain years when I haven't anything else to do. The years from 1976 to 1979 have a lot of stuff that you can see in all the new editions from
1999 to now.



Registered Member
Staff member
I agree though, I do like the wider selection of the present day
LOL Ken, if you're modeling the early 70's how wide a selection do you need? :D
Seriously I know what you mean, my road represents the late seventy's and all my completed locos are kitbashed with Athearn Power train and frames, and a couple have modified Athearn body shells. Not one one loco out of nine completed are right out of the box. Based on what most of these bashes cost me in details and shipping it would have been cheaper to buy Atlas/ PK or equiv locos for the same price. The trade off here is I now have models of loco's that I wanted.


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