June MR

Gang, If you haven't picked up MR for a while this is a really good issue. More meat than anything for a long time.
I'm glad to see the new one page contents much like in the old days but better. You can again check out the contents at a glance rather than wander around the wasteful two page picture and white space BS. The high quality photos and layout drawings are present as usual but there seems to be some real reading material as well. If you take this one to the can you'll finish pooping before you finish reading. The new column called "MR Project Illustrated" appears to be a reworked and renamed "Working on the railroad" that at least in this issue describes and illustrates in one page a simple and useful modeling technique. I think this is a very good idea and hopefully we will see many clever ideas come along. They will pay $25 for any published idea. Being short, sweet and simple this might be helpful ( more so than the $25) in attracting some first time contributors and some fresh ideas. The events column will be missed by some. I always checked it out but I can get the information just as easy on the net so its no big loss, but some brand new model railroaders who are first time readers may not even be aware that there are train shows. To my personal relief there is only a little peep from Terry T and not a word of drivel from Strang as his column is gone with this issue. Of course Terry will be back next month and something from Strang is sure to surface. Hopefully Strang with out the need to concoct something each month to fill space will be able to take his time and write some articles that he really wants to that may be interesting as he did on a few occasions years ago. I can hardly think that this issue was a product of Terry T's design.. It does not appear to be his style. Might there be a new influence at MR? I did not see one article akin to how to buy a massed produced plastic caboose. But then maybe Terry has been pushing for this and finally its taken form. I hope this is the case but I doubt it. Whatever the reason if our friends at MR could consistently deliver issues like this I think some folks who have been disappointed with the magazine might enjoy it again. Anyone else have a look at the June issue? What do you think? Bruce
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Yes, Bruce, I agree, the June MR is the best in many years. Of course, a downhill trend lasting over a decade can hardly be offset by one good issue but I too am hoping the June installment of the magazine marks a new direction for it. It's a shame MR had to loose 50,000 readers over the past ten years before it woke up to the fact that it wasn't providing readers with what they were looking for!
CNJ999
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I don't think I can buy that as I think the loss of their subscribers come from outside factors (the internet, more competition, etc.), much more than MR's content. If you think that adding Rail Model Craftsman-type articles are going to boost MR's numbers, then why did RMC proportionally loose even more readers than MR did over the same period? Personally, I have only one real problem with their new layout: they got rid of the train show schedules. It may not sound like much, but this was great for all the train clubs and other small organizations that they could get advertising in the hobby's #1 magazine for free. Big shows like Springfield, Timonium, etc., it doesn't effect them. But what about the vast majority of shows that can't afford to buy a 1/4 page ad? They are told to buy advertising or get listed on the website. Great, except that the website train show listings are buried in the site, and while the internet is good stuff, it's still not as widespread as the magazine is for MR.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Paul, Thanks for mentioning the Timonium with W. Springfield. As far as the loss of listings having no effect on the show.....nothing could be further from the truth. Our advertising surveys show that over 40% of attendees hear about the show through the MR/RMC listings. The display add is responsible for about 15%. Ironically that cost us over $1000, and the more productive listing was free. I have already had serious words with Kalmbach's advertising chief. I suggested to charge for the listings as I feel any serious show promoter would gladly pay for this effective advertising. We have had thousands attend the show who are new to the hobby and had heard about the show by purchasing the magazine and then seeing the listing. I agree that eventually folks who are familiar with Kalmbach's site will find the show listings, but for now it is quite elusive for many. The main loss is that the listings were a very fine service and feature for the reader...........but as previously mentioned, next to military intelligence, "customer service" is way at the top of the all time oxymoron list. I feel that Kalmbach will not improve their subscriptions by improving their site. I must be missing something here as even though I took business in college, I fail to understand why one would delete from something that is profitable, and add to something that is obtainable free of charge. HZ Howard Zane 5236 Thunder Hill Road Columbia, MD 21045 410-730-1036

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Howard, Did you install or at least get a chance to test the new Walthers turntable you friend was going to bring over a while back? If you have I'd like to hear your thoughts about it. Bruce

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Bruce, Sure did.....instead of an off group reply, I'll say publicly that it is excellent. All electronics are in the hub leaving the normally powered circular rails just as dummy guides. It works and programs to almost perfection. The plastic detailing is quite good and I am impressed. The only drawbacks are that you must keep the circular cog gear free of debris at all costs, and the controller is an embarrassment design wise. I have seen Chinese made $4.95 toys with more sophisticated looking controls. The innards are well designed and work just fine. We took these "innards" and mounted them directly to my regional control panel. I have heard that Walthers has commissioned the builder ( I think Heljan) to produce smaller turntables as this critter is gigantic. I'm sure these will also be winners. Best regards, HZ
--
Howard Zane
5236 Thunder Hill Road
  Click to see the full signature.
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Paul and CNJ999, I think you may both be correct. Another factor to consider is that more specialized or scale specific magazines took hold and became mainstream publications for model railroaders. I'm sure MR and RMC suffered some attrition due to this. If one considered all of the magazines I wonder if subscriptions are really down or just more spread around. Bruce

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In fact, Bruce, those "specialty" magazines probably don't amount to a hill of beans. Subscriptions to the top examples don't even top 10,000 and their readership is in decline across the board (just check their annually published circulation figures for the past few years). There have been various specialty magazines initiated in our hobby as far back in time as one cares to go. Most failed after only brief runs and those that have survived I suspect haven't made a significant impact on MR's circulation.
I have to likewise question just how much clout the Internet really has relative to the hobby's magazines. I note that it was reported in a recent NMRA regional publication (NER) that more than half its members are apparently not computer literate and most indicate they don't plan to become so! Remember, ours is a hobby populated largely by Baby Boomers, who are often uneasy with the computer age. While the Net may play a big roll with newer and younger hobbyists, I doubt it's a major factor for those over 55...who remain the majority.
CNJ999
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CNJ999, Oh well so much for that idea. Maybe too many subscribers are dead. The dead have a difficult time renewing subscriptions or even doing the most basic paper work. It seems there is just no persuading them to do better. Bruce
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CNJ999, Oh well so much for that idea. Maybe too many subscribers are dead. The dead have a difficult time renewing subscriptions or even doing the most basic paper work. It seems there is just no persuading them to do better. Bruce ```````` Unless they're from Chicago!
Paul - "The CB&Q Guy" (Modeling 1969 In HO.)
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Doesn't that only apply to voting? Bruce

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wrote:
(snippage)

I have always enjoyed Lionel's contributions to MR. I've clipped many of his how to articles for my files. Sure, I'm relatively new at the hobby and far from a master modeler. And, no, I didn't subscribe to MR in my youth and wasn't a model railroader then either. You are free to have your opinion of Lionel and his work but please recognize that his contributions were valued by others.
(snippage)

I thought June was very good. But then I usually like MR, even Strang's articles.... ;-)
Best,
Rick
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Rick, I would say that my opinions and thoughts about things are often contrary to what many people think. We all have favorites and while one of yours is Lionel Strang one mine is Jack Work. We view the same thing but from different reference points. Why would you think I don't recognize that others may think differently? I am only offering my opinion I am not dictating it. I have been reading model railroader since before I could read. My father would sit with me and go through his MRs every month. I still have those MRs and most issues since. Rightly or wrongly my reference point for what I've seen from fellows like Thompson or Strang is what I've seen from guys like Westcott and Work.
Bruce .

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wrote:

It is one thing to make constructive comments while reviewing MR articles. It is quite another thing to consistently state that an author is writing drivel, particularly when that "drivel" is aimed at providing "how to" information for the novice to intermediate modeler. Are we not important in the overall scheme of things? Should MR only appeal to the master modelers? I think beginners are very important to the future of model railroading and should be supported. That's really my beef with your use of the word "drivel".

I haven't heard of Work but I have read Westcott's book on building benchwork. It is an excellent guide but does not include many of the current methods discussed in MR. I assume the second edition was brought up to date. I have not read any of Westcotts articles in MR, they occured before I developed an interest in model railroading. I therefore can't agree or disagree whether he provides a better "how to" article for the beginning through intermediate modeler.
Rick

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Rick, I agree that my critisim of Strang has been presistant, and that it would be better for me to phrase my thoughts in a more constructive manor. I'm not always very PC. But you seem to make some assumptions and read things in to my posts that are are not there. Where did you get the idea that I felt articles for beginers were "drivel". MR has always made an effort to provide articles and information for beginers. Most every reader past and present myself included applaud them for it. My derogatory remarks about drivel have been reserved for Thompson and Strang alone and not about the presence of articles that help new hobbists. What makes you feel that I am only interested in things that would appeal to a Master Modeler? I may enjoy scratch building my rolling stock and structures but I'm brand new to DCC and relativly inexperenced with sceanery, backdrop painting, lighting and some other things. Hardly a Master Modeler. Besides more complex or detailed craftman type projects can appeal to and be built buy anyone. If they are written up well all a guy has to do is follow the directions. If anyone has been neglected in the pages of MR lately it is the guys who enjoy detailed prototype articles and drawings or the folks who want to scratch build things new the hobby or not. The difference between a craftman and a new modeler is mostly information. The craftsman has the information and has applied it. The new guy may not have the information yet, but if he did and he applied it he would be a craftsman. There is nothing more pleasent ( in regards to Model Railroading) than to look at a really neat but intimadating project then after reading the article being able to say "Wow I can do that".

Current methods though often superior don't always mean better. In fact sometimes they may be inferior but require less effort. I'm using the newer method of foam over plywood. Its adequate and easy to work with but inferior to the splines I've used in the past. Over all modeling looks better today than in the past especially scenery but many methods used in the construction of models are timeless. Also the older articles are well written. I'm really not talking about recent value. I'm talking about the quality of presentation, the caliber of the text, the depth of information and things that are not necessarily tangible but noticeable still. Get a years worth of old MR's anywhere from the 80's on back to the 50's and you will see what I mean. Of course some of the material will be dated but much of it will be very useful to this day. I will revise my opinion of Strang because obviously he has been of help to you and probably many others. That is certainly a good thing so I'll just shut up about him already. Bruce
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Bruce Favinger wrote:

50's and you

but much

The old MRs were nearly as thick as phone books and RMC too and loaded with so many articles it could take a month to read them all, as much info as you would find in a book. Those were the days.
I just thumbed through the latest RMC and it was literally a collection of ads with a few articles thrown in. 80%/20% it looks like.
The June MR is closer to the old days. So I took a chance and finally subscribed.
Robby
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You must live in a very small town. I think the size of MR peaked in the 80s (I'd have to dig out my collection to check) and has fluctuated since. At that time the number of pages month to month occasionally varied.                                 ---john.
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Rick wrote:
> It is one thing to make constructive comments while reviewing MR > articles. It is quite another thing to consistently state that an > author is writing drivel, particularly when that "drivel" is aimed at > providing "how to" information for the novice to intermediate > modeler. Are we not important in the overall scheme of things? Should > MR only appeal to the master modelers? I think beginners are very > important to the future of model railroading and should be supported. > That's really my beef with your use of the word "drivel".
I'm with Bruce on this. Strang's columns *are* often drivel, regardless of their intended audience. His effort in the May issue, where he waffles on about his tool caddy, is a good example. But he is merely part of a larger trend towards lowering the editorial standards of MR.
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mark_newton wrote:

Sorry, I disagree. Strang's writing is the exploratory type - he essentially takes a newbie's p.o.v., and works his way through a problem the way a newbie would, mistakes, false starts and all. It's admittedly very elementary stuff, a lot of it, but that's OK. I've found that newbies need to be told the obvious. Ie, what's obvious to an old hand like Bruce or Mark isn't obvious to a newbie. For that matter, if you've been performing a task a certain way for years, it won't be obvious to youy that there are a) other ways; and b) at least one of them is better than yours. So occasionally Strang's columns provide new stuff even for an old grump like me (I've been active in the hobby for 50 years, and playing with trains for longer than that.)
If it's "drivel" to admit that there are things you don't/didn't know or didn't think of, well, I wouldn't mind more drivel. Too many articles (in RMC, for example) are written up after the event, omitting the false starts and mistakes made by the author. This is IMO not a good thing - a reader may well try to "improve" on the author's advice, and commit the very errors that the author has avoided mentioning.
The first rule of good writing is to write for your audience. Strang writes for beginners, who simply don't know most of the stuff that experienced modellers know.
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