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Book Review
50 Ways Better-Looking Layout
50 Ways To A Better-Looking Layout
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

50 Ways To A Better-Looking Layout
Series: Modeling & Painting
Author: Jeff Wilson
Item: 12465
Length: 95 pages
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-0-89024-819-5

An adage of model railroaders is that no model railroad is ever really finished yet if one is, then itís time to start a new one. A reason that one is need never be finished is that once the track is down, trains running and scenery created, then one can focus on adding more detail to all of those components. Indeed, one could spend as much time super-detailing a box car as most of us spend creating a rolling layout! 50 Ways To A Better-Looking layout presents 50 ideas to make your layout a unique showpiece.
Author Jeff Wilson is a freelance writer and model railroader who worked for Model Railroader magazine for a decade. Mr. Wilson emphasizes that one can try all or none of the ideas presented within these covers, introducing this concept with his first sentence:
    Too many modelers rush to finish their layouts, losing sight of the fact that this hobby is not a race: itís a journey.

Mr. Wilson assembled and collated this concise series with both original articles as well as a few he published in Model Railroader, focusing the tips and techniques into this useful reference book. Mr. Wilson presents these 50 processes and techniques through 95 pages in 5 sections:

    I. Buildings
      1. Convert a boxcar to a shed
      2. Detail an industrial loading dock
      3. Cardboard cases by the stack
      4. Signs out of matchbooks
      5. 3-D signs from stir sticks
      6. Advertising sign decals
      7. Give building a level base
      8. Improve roofs on structures
      9. Build cardstock structures
      10. Impressionistic interiors
      11. Scratchbuilt exhaust fans

    II. Streets, Vehicles, and People
      1. Show vehicles turning
      2. Detail sidewalk scenes
      3. Roadway striping and weathering
      4. Set an era with roadside billboards
      5. Add locomotive cab crews
      6. Paint your own figures
      7. Place drivers in vehicles
      8. Open truck doors
      9. Upgrade a truck
      10. Detail semitrailers
      11. Apply license plates

    III. Trackside
      1. Gravel road with grade crossing
      2. Asphalt road with grade crossing
      3. Paint and detail track
      4. Build an operating derail
      5. Detail a signal
      6. Signs along the tracks
      7. Model weed-grown track
      8. Add junk between yard tracks

    IV. Scenery
      1. Use forced perspective
      2. Weeds from fake fur
      3. Make realistic trees
      4. Plant a soybean field
      5. Add cattails to a water scene
      6. Build and install board fences
      7. Rural wire fences
      8. Chain link fences
      9. Communication poles

    V. Locomotives and Freight Cars
      1. Diesel number boards
      2. Renumber locomotives and cars
      3. Freight car markings
      4. Chalk marks on freight cars
      5. Galvanized boxcar roofs
      6. Model an open boxcar
      7. Weather models with chalk
      8. Weather freight car trucks
      9. Add rust with oil paint
      10. Weather a flatcar deck
      11. Realistic hopper loads

    These ideas are from the imagination of Mr. Wilson and several other model railroaders, some of which are very well known. The book is well laid out and written in a manner that easily conveys the projects.

    One sound precaution is to check copyright on images you reproduce, understanding when it is acceptable to reproduce items yet not distribute them.

    The author even points you to online modeling sources Ė very useful!

    While I will not recount each idea in this book, I will highlight a few that are particularly impressive. Many tips may seem obvious yet are frequently overlooked, i.e., adding fire hydrants to sidewalk scenes, drivers in vehicles. He lists the source of many models used in the details such as Blair Line; Walthers; Bar Mills, et al. Several tips are to use everyday items for advertising, such as using matchbooks to duplicate signs.

    One very important technique that is addressed is how to renumber locomotives and cars. Adding weeds to track is a good idea, too. Ever wanted to put a convincing busy interior into a building quick and easy? This shows you how!
    Plenty - 250 in fact! All in full color, too. Each part starts with a primary photo of the finished scene. Multiple in-progress images guide the reader through the process visually. These photos are also useful as they portray inspiration extracurricular to the described subject.
    I appreciate books like these. Often the subjects are articles gleaned from the host magazine yet that is fine with me. Donít get me wrong, I am a magazine subscriber and hold onto them like treasure just to reference past layouts and articles like these. (Several years ago I donated 65 years of subscriptions to local libraries, and still have probably 25 years taking up shelf space!) Which is why I am a fan of this book and those of the genre: the articles are all together in an easily accessed format without culling through advertising; I can find what I want without trying to remember which issue the subject is published in.

    The wealth of ideas is well worth the price of this title. These ideas are appropriate for beginners and experienced model railroaders. Many have good crossover potential for any modeling genre. I recommend this compilation and look forward to using many of the ideas within.

    Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on RailRoadModeling.

Highs: The book is well laid out and written in a manner that easily conveys the projects with many photos, all in full color. Many have good crossover potential for any modeling genre.
Verdict: These ideas are appropriate for beginners and experienced model railroaders. Many have good crossover potential for any modeling genre.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9780890248195
  Suggested Retail: $19.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 06, 2013

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


Awesome reading! Tons of great ideas in that list. -Sean
AUG 06, 2013 - 02:43 PM

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