Audio Episode

Brought to you by:

Jim Martin: Jim's radio broadcasting career includes both the private sector and the CBC, Canada's national network. During his many years on air he was a reporter, announcer, news director, talk show and news magazine host, and his favorite part, interviewer. For many years he was also the book review and video review editor for Canadian Railway Modeller. More recently he has been writing articles for Railroad Model Craftsman. He also enjoys presenting backdrop painting clinics to local groups and train shows.

Trevor Marshall: Trevor cut his teeth in radio at Standard Broadcast News, a national radio newswire service in Canada. The radio news writing style has served him well in his current profession as a freelance writer for clients in the transportation, life sciences, and government sectors. Trevor's articles for the hobby press have appeared in Model Railroad Planning, Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman and other publications and he regularly presents model and prototype railway clinics on a variety of topics. He finds everything about the hobby interesting, but is particularly interested in the process that goes into a well-thought-out, prototype-based layout.

Chris Abbott is our Technical Director. Jim and Trevor would still be talking to each other without his help.

Otto Vondrak is our Creative Director. That awesome badge and banner on the site? That's his doing.

David Woodhead is our Music Director. If you find yourself humming our theme song, well - you're not alone. Jim and Trevor have had it stuck in their heads for weeks now. Well done, David!

Layout Designs and Big Designs

The Model Railway Show

The Layout Designer’s Layout Designer, The Magic of Scale Model Railroading and The Model Railroad Club of Toronto

Listen Now!

Audio Player not functioning in this browser.

The Layout Designer’s Layout Designer

   Gene Fowler said, “Sit starting at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead”, while William Wordsworth urged us to, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”. They were both referring to the art of writing – but they could have been making observations about the process of designing a model railway.


   A rewarding layout design will render the qualities of model railroading that most engage the hobbyist, and serve as a blueprint for turning those ideas and inspirations into a layout. Conversely, a poor concept will deliver a layout-lifetime worth of disappointment. And the blank canvas – whether on paper or a screen – can be the most intimidating aspect of the hobby. After all, once we know what we want to build, we only need to figure out how to build it.

This is a problem that layout designers have faced since the first time a person looked at a toy train and thought it needed a better place to run than a temporary loop of track set up on the parlor floor.


   There’s always been help. The hobby’s history is filled with notable layout designers – pioneers like Frank Ellison, John Allen, John Armstrong and Allen McClelland. These people, and the layouts they built – radically changed the way hobbyists think about design. But until the early 1980s, layout design evolution occurred on an ad-hoc basis.


   What changed? In 1982, the Layout Design Special Interest Group was created. The LDSIG has helped identify, codify and share best practices for layout designers. Directly and indirectly, it has influenced most of the most highly-regarded layout designers in North America and around the world. And it has grown from one guy with an idea into a not-for-profit, educational organization with a global membership.


   That one guy with an idea is Doug Gurin, the LDSIG’s founder and the person that notable layout designers go to when they need to bounce ideas of someone.


   Doug joins Trevor to describe how he got interested in layout design, why and how the LDSIG was started and the wide range of topics that layout design addresses. He also offers some thoughts on the unchartered territory – the areas in which he thinks the next generation of notable layout designers will make their mark on the hobby.


The Magic of Scale Model Railroading

The National Model Railroad Association has embarked upon an ambitious project to preserve and promote the hobby – and you can help.


   The NMRA is working with the California State Railroad Museum – one of the top attractions in the state – to create and host a long-term exhibit called The Magic of Scale Model Railroading.

As NMRA President Charlie Getz tells Jim, the museum is prepared to donate the space for a minimum of 10 years, making this a remarkable opportunity to showcase the best of this hobby to hundreds of thousands of museum visitors each year. He notes this will also provide a means to exhibit the NMRA’s collection of significant models, layout sections and even entire layouts, making them available for hobbyists to enjoy first-hand. It will tell the story of the history of scale model railroading. And it will put the NMRA on track to create a permanent museum for its collection.

But for this to happen, the NMRA must raise a significant amount of money to create museum-quality signs and display cases. If you want to contribute, you may do so through the NMRA’s donations page. Be sure to select “Magic of Scale Model Gallery” from the choices offered.


   While it’s an ambitious project, Charlie is convinced this is the NMRA’s most significant undertaking in its history.


The Model Railroad Club of Toronto

   On this show, Jim and Trevor note that another notable club layout is being forced out of its home in the name of progress. This time, it’s The Model Railroad Club of Toronto, an O scale club that has been active for three quarters of a century. The club must vacate its premises in the spring of 2013 and is having two last rounds of open houses – in December and February. Toronto is a world-class city with many attractions for the whole family, so if you’re looking for a mid-winter getaway, why not consider a visit and sneak in an hour or two to visit the club?