Here's my two cents or so opinions on these books.
The John Armstrong Track Planning book is excellent and is considered
to be THE "bible" of layout track planning. John Armstrong is
considered to be the "Dean of track planning" by most in the hobby.
If I could only buy one of the books on your list, this would be it.
There is another book he has written called, "The Railroad - What It
Is. What It Does". It is an excellent overview of how the real
railroads operate and is a great resource if you're interested in
that. I believe there is a newer, revised edition available out
there, and also one on a CD. It is currently available and you should
have no problem finding a vendor for it by just Googling around.
The Tony Koester Ops Book is pretty good, but the model rr ops book
considered by most to be, again to use the term, the "bible" on the
subject, is the operations book by Bruce Chubb. Unfortunately, it is
long out of print, but with some looking around and patience and
persistance, you should be able to locate a copy...eventually.
Another good one, and I don't recall as I write this if it was
mentioned, is the Kalmbach book on building model rr benchwork,
written by Linn Westcott. This is, again, a very much referenced book
which initially introduced and describes the "L-girder" method of
Andy Sperandeo's book on wiring the layout is, I believe, the current
reference on the subject available.
The other books on the list are so-so but I haven't seen all of them.
A lot of times the Kalmbach books are just a collection of articles
that originally ran in Model Railroader mag, so if you have a
collection of MR going back a couple decades, you probably already
have everything that appears in these books. They used to indicate
this by displaying on the cover of the book, the phrase, "From The
Pages Of Model Railroader Magazine", but I seem to recall a couple
recent ones that didn't have this on there.
Another good book by Kalmbach, and I don't know off hand if it's still
available, is the scenery book which was written by David Frary. I
believe he used to sell this on his web site at:
Someone mentioned, I think it was Larry, the books by Paul Mallery
(recently deceased, as well as John Armstrong). Yes, his books are
good but be aware they are kind of dry reading. Nothing wrong, with
that, but that style of writing may not appeal to everyone. Good
That's all I can think of at the moment. Hope this has been of some
help to you, Matt.
Paul - "The CB&Q Guy"
(Modeling 1969 In HO.)