Model RR Books - NEW List

Here's a revised list w/ titles, etc. They all sound terrific.
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#12148 ... Track Planning for Realistic Operation, Third Edition
Book John Armstrong
#12256 ... The Model Railroader's Guide to Industries Along the Tracks
Book Jeff Wilson's
#12248 ... The Model Railroader's Guide to Freight Yards
#12250 ... Realistic Model Railroad Design Book Tony Koester
#12249 ... How to Build & Detail Model Railroad Scenes
#12228 ... The Model Railroader's Guide to Locomotive Servicing Terminals
#12235 ... Trackwork and Lineside Detail for Your Model Railroad
#12234 ... Trackside Scenes You Can Model
#12233 ... Basic Scenery for Model Railroaders
#12194 ... Scenery for Your Model Railroad
Many Thanks!
Reply to
Matt Brennan
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I'd add some not from Kalmbach.
1. Anything from Paul Mallery - especially his trackwork and bridges books - he also has one on operations.
2. Scenery for ... by Robert Schleicher.
3. The Best of Mainline Modeler's Bridges, Volume 1. I don't know if there were any more volumes.
These are all books I have and use.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
I'll comment only on the ones I know personally. Gneerally speaking, I;ve never yet been disappointed in a Kalmbach book. You should also have a look at Carstens books (they publish Railroad Model Craftsman), especially their plans collections.
Excellent - because it's about how the real railroads operate. Armstrong covers what they did when they were still running passenger trains, peddler freights, etc. And he writes well. He was a pioneer in the design of complete layouts, paying attention not only to designing the trackplan for operation, but also to viewpoints, backdrops, staging yards, aisle width, and so on.
Very good as a reference. IMO many a good layout has been spoiled by indifferent or poor right-of-way modeling, and lineside detail is a large part of that.
Good book, covers the range of tried and tested techniques. One of the books that you graduate to when the beginner's books have been absorbed.
Have fun!
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
Wonderful input - my sincere thanks to both of you!!!
Sincerely, Matt
Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan
Hi Matt,
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 benchwork construction.
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:
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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 info, though.
That's all I can think of at the moment. Hope this has been of some help to you, Matt.
Take care.
Paul - "The CB&Q Guy" (Modeling 1969 In HO.)
Reply to
Paul K - The CB&Q Guy
Hi Matt,
I have some of the books you're considering, plus some are also on my list of books to get.
I have the second edition of this book and it's rightfully at the top of your list. It's as good as everyone says it is.
These two are on my list. Looking at the table of contents of Jeff Wilson's book it focuses on specifics whereas the Koester book below is more a general overview type of book.
I bought this book before Koester's earlier Realistic Operation book. This one is just as good. It's like an extension to the Armstrong book above. It focuses on how to make your model a realistic representation of a (possibly fictitious) prototype and how to avoid having something look toy-like -- this goes much further than just weathering etc.
Note that 75-80% of the material in this book is about steam servicing facilities.
I've looked at the first two of these, I didn't find them that inspiring -- maybe because I'm not up to that phase yet.
I'd recommend getting the Model Railroad Plannning Annuals, they're good value for money, IMHO.
Reply to
Colin 't Hart
Hi Paul,
Paul K - The CB&Q Guy wrote:
Your sentiments are shared by everyone that has posted or e-mailed me directly. This book is on my first tier purchase list.
I found it on Amazon. The reader opinions consistently rated it as a 5-Star book. Based on the book description(s), I am unsure if this is something that I would read or use as a resource at this junture in my modeling effort. Assuming that the other books I am considering do, in fact, achieve their described objective, I would not rely on this specific book until my model RR was actually built - I'd most likely use this book in my effort to then create waybills to facilitate sensible car movement(s).
Presently, I am looking for books to assist me in drawing a layout [actually editing my many sketches] that accomodates car movement via sensible track design. In the process, I want to plan for the various industries that would be serviced by the trains so I leave the correct spacing for buildings, scenery, track side detailis, etc.
Here is where I want to make a public thank you to someone from this NG [I feel terrible not remembering who the person was] who contacted me and mailed me a copy of this book a couple of years ago. I have poured through this book on many occasions. It has been my definitive 'reference book' whenever I have needed a question answered on operations. It's a gem - a true model RR encyclopedia on operations.
The only wiring book I have on my list is DCC made easy [Kalmbach #12242]. I know zippo about DCC wiring, and this is definitely the system I will be buying into when I am ready to make the leap. Tonys Toy Train Exchange in VT will be the place that I buy into DCC. However, I will wait on the wiring book purchase until a DCC purchase is approaching just in case a new [possibly better] book or a revised edition of this book becomes available.
My MR magazine collection is reduced to images of track designs and color photos of layout scenes that have been removed from the magazine and stored in 3-ring binders for ongoing reference/use. I do have all of the Annual Great Model Railroads magazines in tact. I love looking through that collection. Those articles tend to comment on operations, design decisions, etc. in more depth. My initial book purchase will be three books due to budget. My goal is to focus on books that will make immediate contributions to the drawing stage of our RR layout. Right now, my top three choices are:
1. Track Planning for Realistic Operation - Armstrong [#12148] 2. The Model Railroader's Guide to Freight Yards [#12248] 3. The Model Railroader's Guide to Industries Along the Tracks [#12256]
Colin's input in the next NG post [Thanks Colin!!!] has helped a ton. Per his input, I have ruled out the Locomotive Servicing Terminals book [#12228]. I have a small steam collection that will certainly require a servicing area, but it doesn't warrant an entire book. I can probably create a yard to accomodate the steam engine needs by looking at the many images in my 3-ring binders that I cut out of my MR magazines.
Colin also commented on the Realistic Model Railroad Design Book by Tony Koester [[#12250]. Since I own and really like the Operations book by Koester, I will definitely purchase this new Koester book at some point in time.
These books and the two Kalmbach books on my [#12194] and [#12233] will factor into my second tier of book purchases. Once I reach the scenery stage, I'll definitely require a couple of "How To" books.
As always Paul, your post is a reference guide in of itself. It has been a great help!
Many Thanks! Matt
Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan
I'd recommend joining -- or just perusing the archives of -- the ldsig (Layout Design SIG of the NMRA) Yahoo Group, at
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The Kalmbach DCC received some poor reviews on Amazon; I'd investigate other options. Tony's has lots of information available on his site. There are also several Yahoo Groups worth checking.
Thanks -- what I forgot to suggest was to shop around for better prices than the purchase-direct-from-Kalmbach price. Check Amazon and the various on-line stores (,,, etc)
Reply to
Colin 't Hart
The Bruce Chubb book is truly a great reference.
Reply to
Mark Mathu

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