Urban Modeler’s SIG

IRT-3rdAveEl-8thSt View-Steam-Elec-Horse.jpg (257485 bytes)
Scene at 3rd Ave. and 8th St., New York City
Here we have a plethora of history in this downtown shot: 

a.  Steam drawn EL train at the station (check out that ornamental iron roof ridge, also known as a roof tree.)

b. Horse car to the 10th St. Ferry in the lower left corner.

c. Electric streetcar under the EL. The car was called a “half-open” or “metropolitan” type car. (info courtesy of Steve Myers)

d.  A billboard at the upper left with a bunch of hot gals advertising a show called Gay Paris!

e.  Zoom into the sign on the barbershop at the lower left!  Shave = 10 cents.  
 Haircut = 15 cents.  ONLY proving that old adage AND song when you knock on someone’s door, “shave-and-a-haircut, two-bits” (25¢) was a truthful statement.  Also you got a shampoo for 15 cents!

f. Notice the man in white in the center, alongside the streetcar under the EL.  He’s a street sweeper and his job was to sweep up trash and horse droppings from the city’s street. He was known unofficially as a “white wing.”  (info courtesy of Steve Myers)   Info/Archive: Dave Keller LIRR Historian

            UMSIG Yahoo Group

Last Update: 11/16/2012     

   Along the Line - Conrail's New Jersey Division: Part One

I model the railroad scene of northern New Jersey in a space 24x40. Included are the operations Conrail; NJ Transit; Amtrak; and regional New York, Susquehanna & Western (successor to shortline Rahway Valley).  Matt Snell

Additional installment articles are on the railroad.net site.

John Martin's Westside Branch, Jersey City, NJ.
John Martin of Red Bank, NJ  has created a model railroad based on an actual urban branchline in Jersey City, NJ. The Westside Branch, is a 5x16 HO scale, 1970 era Penn Central line operated prototypically using a conductor, engineer and dispatcher.
John Martin 2004


 FOS Scale Limited Kits





Sylvan Scale Models

Nick Kalis' Urban Details Review
As my layout comes close to completion, some finishing touches are in order. With scratchbuilt structures and kit bashed/scratchbuilt combos, details are important when modeling urban areas. I just purchased and painted two neat items which I commend to our readers. Both items were purchased off the shelf at my local hobby shop -- Granddads of Virginia.
First, I heartily recommend the one-piece HO scale loading dock sold by FOS Scale Limited. I think we can look forward to a great many neat products from this firm. FOS's Loading Dock #C34 is a one piece resin casting that retailed at Granddads for $7.79. To see this product visit www.foslimited.com or email them at foslimited@aol.com. Their street address is P.O. Box 6 Mamaroneck, NY 10543. Before painting, I washed this item with water and liquid dish washing detergent to remove any parting chemicals. The loading dock served well to detail and otherwise plan scratchbuilt warehouse that is on my layout. I did not glue the loading dock on in order to give myself the flexibility to move it elsewhere.
Another great item I painted was a one-piece chimney by Sylvan Scale Models. This is their HO scale HO-112 Victorian Smokestack. Sylvan is at 32229 Sylvan Road, R.R. #2 Parkhill, Ontario N0M 2KO. Granddads retailed this item at $13.49. While the chimney is labeled Victorian I thought it fine for this side of the pond and for a building that was still standing in the 1960s. This chimney was easy to build and served as a neat contrast to the round chimneys that mark some of my other structures.
Both items required no assembly so they are quick fixes to your need for interesting urban detail.     Nick Kalis

Spectrum Cityscenes Variety Store Item #88004 to
build an HO warehouse known as Carbona Products Co

Nick Kalis' Carbona Products Co.
I am using the Spectrum Cityscenes Variety Store Item #88004 to build an HO warehouse known as Carbona Products Co. at 30-50 Greenpoint Avenue, Long Island City. Carbona is a cleaning product. Carbona appears in a track map that pertains to the early 1960s, the era I model. The area that Carbona is in is more particularly known as
Blissville. To fit my layout I needed to reduce each wall in size. I also bricked in many of the windows of the back of the structure. I noticed that bricking in window openings was common in industrial and warehouse districts in an effort to reduce crime.I used Tamiya's
180ml spray can of Fine Surface Primer to prime the structure. The brick work was finished with what I had left over of a 100 ml spray can of Tamiya Dark Earth (RAF) AS-22. To hide the commercial windows, I knocked out the frames and am covering the openings with what we called as kids cinder block. I modified by sanding a sheet of Sylvan rought cut blocks. I then painted the blocks with a 50/50 mixture of concrete and white paints. My original Carbona Products was warped when it came in too close contact with a spotlight. I hope visitors to my layout will have some positive comments regarding my new model. I should add that this kit includes sidewalks and a Microscale Decal  Package. The kit also comes with thorough instructions. Nick Kalis 2004

Jonathan Jones'

Latest Photos!!

Jenkin's Valves


Street Crossing Action


  Basics of Building Plastic Structures
by Richard Schumacher and Venita Lake
photos by
Richard Schumacher

Originally presented as a clinic at the Long Beach NMRA National Convention. "Plastic structures offer a wide variety of building styles at very affordable prices, and they continue to improve in quality and detail..."



1. Ron Parisi
2. Phil Chiavett
3. Jonathan Jones
4. Severna Park Model Railroad Club
Visit the Club
5. Bill Denton
  Kingsbury Branch
6. Jim Senese  
Kansas City Terminal Railroad
7. Robert Smaus
Southern Pacific
8. John Nehrich 
Rensselaer Model Railroad Society Heritage Center 
9. George Sellios 
The Franklin & South Manchester Railroad
1o. Earl Smallshaw
Michael Tylick   Welcome to the Division Office
12. Art Fahie  Niagara & Pearl Creek Railroad Co.
13. Mike Palmiter 

14. Linda Sands
15. Howard R. Lloyd Jr.
Arvern Bay Terminal RR
16. John Pryke
17. Vic Smith
18. Iain Rice


Photo: Joseph Testagrose




The “rathole” was the oldest switching district in Los Angeles, full of narrow passages and curving brick buildings. It fed into the Cornfield/Bullring yards and then into Taylor, before heading out of town past oil wells to the citrus town of Arroyo, modeled after the real town of Fillmore. The garage-sized layout was featured in the March, 1999 MR and Fillmore appeared in the December, 1998 and January, 1999 RMC.




Robert Smaus'
Southern Pacific






The Kingsbury branch was once the mainline of the Chicago and Pacific Railroad. Commuter trains even ran on the line between Chicago and Evanston before sevice was discontinued about 1917.

The C&P was built in the 1870's and headed northwest from near downtown Chicago to a spot just north of North Ave before turning due west to Elgin. It became a branch line around 1973 when the bridge to Union Station was removed.


Bill Denton's


"... Mike Palmiter has created an HO scale model of the railroads into downtown Chicago that is as close to exact scale as nearly any HO layout. With 20 x 52-foot layout space, he has done the job without having to reduce the length of the line or the height of the structures to a noticeable degree. This is really only half of Mike’s layout, however. The other half is downtown New York City, of course, and you’ll see it in the November issue. There’s an index of all the prototype-based model railroads and articles on modeling the city that have appeared in “The Journal” on our website at www.railmodeljournal.com "



by Mike Palmiter



     The Franklin and South Manchester RR is located in the heart of the Fine Scale Miniatures factory on the second floor of a building in downtown Peabody Square, Peabody Massachusetts. The 23ft by 42ft HO scale layout began in April 1985 and is the work of George Sellios.  Photo: Frank Bernard


The Franklin & South Manchester Railroad

is a creation of George Sellios


      On August 10th, I joined a group of seven other modeler railroad operators from Dallas-Fort Worth in a trip to Claremore, Oklahoma, to operate on Jim Senese's great Kansas City Terminal Railroad. This railroad takes up the second floor of a large 1920's-build farmhouse, and features five yards and numerous industries. Each two-person crew assumes the identity and personality of one of the railroads, and each crew switches cars and pulls and spots industries, then tries to make it across the terminal dodging the other transfer crews to deliver cars to the connecting railroads.



Jim Senese's
Kansas City Terminal Railroad

      The Rensselaer Model Railroad Society is recreating historically accurate scenes of upstate New York and Vermont, strung along the mainline
of the fictitious New England Berkshire & Western. We feel that the layout has historical relevance to the non-modeling community, too.


River Street, Troy, NY


troy-grand-sassi.jpg (99145 bytes)
            Photo: Lou Sassi photo



Rensselaer Model Railroad Society's Railroad Heritage Center 


       The Severna Park Model Railroad Club has constructed a railroad named The Chesapeake and Allegheny Railroad. It portrays Maryland in Miniature and its logo states "C&A, FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE BAY". The track plan may be viewed as a folded dog-bone with a stub end terminal, a division point and a mountain branch line.

Our club building was once the Severna Park railroad station (until the early 1960's). The old railbed has been converted into the very popular B&A (Baltimore and Annapolis) bike path.

Copyright Model Railroader Magazine 1975


The Severna Park
Model Railroad Club


An HO Scale Freelance Shortline - Brooklyn, New York 1955




The Gowanus & Maspeth Terminal Railroad

        My name is Matt Gidley and I recently visited Chicago. While there I ventured over to the Science and Industry museum to see the newly constructed model train layout.  I had heard that it was big  - and that it had many large structures, but I still wasn't prepared for the mammoth scale of the downtown Chicago part of the layout.    While the layout is a far cry from a "craftsman" layout and lacks the detail and interest of many smaller more detailed layouts, the buildings were great in and of themselves. 


Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

R21/22's at Ditmars Blvd

A train of R21/R22's are platformed at the terminal station in the east pocket. Note subway entrances at street level. HO scale modelS by Frank Gatazka.
Photograph copyright (c) 1998 by Frank Gatazka.

Joseph Frank's


It's 1944 and this Eastern urban short line is helping in the war effort.  Model Railroader - March 2000

Also featured in Model Railroader - April 1991 Page 96-101 - "The Arvern Bay Terminal RR"  an around-the-wall layout based on a fictitious short line owned by the CNJ that operated in the Jersey City area. There is a fine scratch built carfloat facility complete with carfloat and one of the New York City Harbor style 2 track carfloat bridges.  Commentary: Bill Russell

NMRA Bulletin April 1994, Volume 60, No. 8, Issue 639 on page 22 HO scale Arvern Bay
     Copyright Model Railroader Magazine 2000
   Terminal Railroad is set during WW II.


The HO scale Arvern Bay Terminal RR
by Howard R. Lloyd Jr.

Urban scenery on the Lansing
Model Railroad Club layout



   NYCity Diorama


HO Traction modeling as represented in the Town & Country Traction Company in Gotham City



Madawaska Falls



by Philippe Coquet, Paris, France (August 14, 2002)
Edited by Craig S. O'Connell / S Scale Model Railroading Homepage 




Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


Fabulous Pictures of Urban large city diorama modeling: www.baining.de


Urban Modeler’s News Historical Archives


Issue 1 June 1998
Issue 2 July 1998
Issue 3 August 1998
Issue 4 September 1998
Issue 5 October 1998

Issue 6 November 1998
Issue 7 December 1998
Issue 8 January 1999
Issue 9 February 1999


This photo was taken while I was following an "Acela Regional" (that is AEM-7 and Amfleet cars) out of Sunnyside Yard. The location is the old "F" tower which you can see to the right of the last car. "F" Tower's functions have been taken over by PSCC (Penn Station Control Center). Both trains are sitting on Sub 2. My train has just come under the Line 2 and Line 4 overhead bridge. We are waiting for PSCC to give us the signal to enter Penn Station through Line 2 under the East River. My train makes this move five days a week.
It looks like the cab you used is an F-40 or SDP-40. Neither engine would make it through the tunnels due to the third rail clearances.  Steve Kay Engineer


Design for Urban Layouts

Author: Iain Rice
Manufacturer: Great Northern Books


Building City Scenery for your Model Railroad  Thumbnail of BK01 1 2000 cover
Author: John Pryke
Manufacturer:  Kalmbach
opyright Model Railroader Magazine  

Reviewed by Nicholas Kalis




Urban rail corridor
By Jonathan Jones
This 2 x 10-foot HO shelf layout fits into a Manhattan apartment

May 2001 copyright Model Railroader Magazine



Railroad Model Craftsman, January 1989
Article on pages 56-63 of Philip V. Chiavetta's great HO model of the New York Central's 60th Street yards - complete with a kitbashed Steel Transfer Bridge!

Boston MTA
This project layout, by Harvey J. Simon, appeared in six parts, from the October 1999 through March 2000 issues of MR. Based on Boston’s famed trolley lines, the stories give tips on handlaying track, paving streets with plaster, soldering overhead wire, and much more.

Port of Los Angeles
Featured in four parts from the Dec 1990 to March 1991 issues of MR, this layout was done by Robert Smaus. This simple layout features the Port of Los Angeles, one of the world’s largest and busiest ports. The layout is only 6 feet x 30 inches, yet there is plenty of space for the many people, vehicles, and industries of all kinds common to this port.


           Email Nick Kalis' Urban Writings
41 Hints for Urban Modeling
Building City Scenery for your Model Railroad

Adventures in Urban Model Railroading
Product Review: Walther's Wooden Water Tanks

Anyone working on an urban scene in HO scale can make use of the N-Scale Generator Load sold by Micro Trains Line Co. of 351 Rogue River Parkway, Talent, Oregon 97540-1200. www.micro-trains.com This item number 499 43 901 (see illustration below) described as a electrical generator load comes one to a package. Mine retailed at Granddad's for $3.98. Rather than use it as a load, I used mine to represent a transformer box next to a building. I suppose it might work well as a roof top detail. You might even be able to use several of these on your layout. This plastic casting detail comes unpainted.         

Anyone looking for a neat transformer box for an HO scale layout look no further than the N scale Micro Trains Line Item # 499 43903 Generator Load (one to a package) which retails at Granddad's Hobby Shop for $3.98. It might be easy to overlook this item because of its similarity to Micro Trains Line Generator Load 499 43901. Buy both to add a bit of subtle variety to your layout.   Nicholas Kalis




Sunset West Productions
City Sounds Ambient Sound Effects CD's 

   Modeling Hints: Fabulous Stuff
 Example: Calculating Scale from Photos
                     by Cliff Hutchings

Karl Fasolino photo


Structure Modeling and Finishing:
Modelling, Painting and Placing Urban Structures in Realistic Diorama Settings (Part 1) by
Dan Capuano
Photos: Karl  Fasolino
T2 Decals - Ghost Signs 

Signage21.jpg (294497 bytes)       Signage26.jpg (158596 bytes)

Not too long ago businesses and products were promoted or celebrated by advertisements painted on the sides of buildings. Those that remain today are very faded (which gives them the name of 'Ghost Signs'), but they do give one a glimpse back to some of the products and businesses of a bygone period.

T2 Decals is proud to announce that we now have 35 different sets of Ghost Sign waterslide decals available in both HO AND N Scale. Made from pictures of real signs as they appear today, these pre-weathered decals will add a realistic
effect to your layout.

35 different ghost sign sets with free shipping to the US and Canada
Each set is professionally printed and reasonably priced at $3.99/each. Please ask about custom orders in other scales.

 Email Todd Thornberry at Thorn142002@yahoo.com or call 262-853-0566


More to Come........  11/16/2012