Layout Design Journal (LDJ)

The premier publication of the Layout Design SIG is the Layout Design Journal.


LDJ-64 Second Quarter 2019 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Award-winning exhibition-style mini-layout mixes fine modeling with animation. Real-life railroader’s Cajon Pass Mountain Challenge layout design explores ‘50s and ‘60s themes and concepts. Designing layouts with a plan for layout capacity based on prototype experience and concepts. Switching Challenge: Port of New York Jersey City passenger and freight rail-marine terminal features CNJ and LV operations. LDSIG News and Announcements, including activities at SLC NMRA 2019.

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LDJ-63 First Quarter 2019 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Stepping out of the Sandbox: model railroading as art. O Scale scenes inspired by Edward Hopper paintings. Multi-deck layout retrospective and lessons learned for large HO proto-freelance layout. Rethinking successful San Francisco State Belt HO layout in half, and double, the space. Portable banner helps tell Fn3 layout story. More design lessons from museum dioramas. LDSIG News and Announcements, including activities at SLC NMRA 2019.

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LDJ-62 Third Quarter 2018 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Switching challenge 10X11 HO layout features urban switching and RDCs on the Esquimalt & Nanaimo. Bonus-room HO multideck layout modeling White Mountain, NH logging. Moving and rebuilding a large HO Midwest-themed sectional layout. Conceptual design for N scale multideck Northern Pacific in Montana in 1949. Ideas from Kansas City 2018 Tours. LDSIG News and Announcements.

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LDJ-61 Second Quarter 2018 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Switching challenge 10X11 HO layout previews future large home layout featuring Chicago, Burlington & Quincy switching in 1966. Western Pacific prototype-based San Jose, CA N-scale sectional switching layout update. Detailed design story of N-scale Central New Jersey Newark layout featuring innovative techniques, lighting, and construction. Learning layout scenery perspectives from museum diorama masters. Movable benchwork ideas for gates and elevators from Orlando 2017. LDSIG News and Announcements.

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LDJ-60 First Quarter 2017 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00)  Don Mitchell’s design for an Sn3 Denver South Park, & Pacific layout in a challenging garret space. Wind River Canyon Layout Design Element in N scale. Two multideck 16’X22’ Mountain Challenge articles: HO East Broad Top and Pennsy; Southern Pacific’s 1950s Cuesta Grade in N scale. Three Progressive Rail branches in 10’X11’ Switching Challenge space. LDSIG news and announcements.

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LDJ-59 Second Quarter 2016 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00)  Three 16’X22’ Mountain Challenge articles: HO Northern Pacific focused on 1953 passenger schedules and informed by John Armstrong design principles; three HO multi-deck track plans for Norfolk & Western 1970s Pocahontas Division with intermediate climbing decks; N scale Burlington Northern Crawford Hill. New Switching Operation Design Challenge in spare bedroom. Benchwork ideas from LDSIG tour. NMRA Standards Dept. request for LDSIG comments. LDSIG news and announcements.
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LDJ-58 First Quarter 2016 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00)  Going vertical in 13'; X 13' provides more towns to switch in an HO multi-deck layout set in 1944 in eastern Washington and built in a room constructed inside a garage. Mountain Challenge entry: coal-hauling mountain mushroom-style multi-deck in S scale plus ideas on supporting upper decks. Steps in designing a sectional N scale switching layout of the Western Pacific’s San Jose branch in the 1960s based on prototype documents. Unique railcar storage idea keeps cars and paperwork together, secure, and accessible. LDSIG Board of Directors election and Indianapolis NMRA 2016 plans.
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LDJ-57 Fourth Quarter 2015 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00)  Adapting and building a classic 1950s John Armstrong track plan as a mountain shortline; also, Armstrong plan in multiple incarnations. New Mexico standard gauge logging with ATSF interchange layout design in a bonus room: mushroom and single-deck versions (and modern rebirth as hands-on education). Using prototype documents to create Layout Design Elements: combining scaling with selective revisions on the former RF&P. Three agriculture-oriented upper Midwest N scale spare-room-sized layouts set in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘90s. Finding space for operator needs – tour photos. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-56 Third Quarter 2015 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00)  Designing for Passenger and Freight Interchange between the Yosemite Valley and Southern Pacific. HO yard evolves from simple stub-end staging to full active operating element. Track plan for a real-life Pulp Mill as HO Layout Design element. Model bulk-commodity industries more realistically through planning for room to roll. Car pullers and railcar movers on the prototype and model. Panel: “What would you do differently?” – freelance vs. prototype; benchwork and aisles; track elevations; making changes, and more. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-55 Second Quarter 2015 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Former interurbans create city belt freight line in Sacramento, CA -- Sacramento Northern, Central California Traction, Western Pacific on a sectional 11’X24’ layout set in 1947-1953. “Dimensionless sketching” helps in planning a Great Northern branch junction yard based on the prototype. Midland Continental (North Dakota) shortline HO layout for spare room with Northern Pacific, SOO Line, and Milwaukee connections. Designing a freelanced yard based on best practices. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-54 First Quarter 2015 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Layout designs based on a single industry. Paper mill variations in small switching layouts in HO and N designed around hollow-core interior doors and other pre-fab benchwork. Modeling steel mills in 32 square feet with dense HO and N scale track plans. Real-life single-industry California locations in compact HO and N track plans: cement plant, auto factories … and one brewery. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-53 Fourth Quarter 2014 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Looking forward to new mistakes in designing a large coal-hauling HO railroad in. The Calabash Terminal Railroad: S scale switching layout in 10’ X 12’. Lighting and benchwork ideas from LDSIG tours. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-52 Third Quarter 2014 (full-color, 40 pages $12.00) Designing a narrow gauge Canadian railway for operation in On30 –- multiple versions to achieve the Gs&Ds. Let's railroad like it's 1999!; Northern California Union Pacific layout in HO focused on large industries for realism and ops potential. A theatrical approach to backdrops; using fabric for backdrops and valences has many advantages. HO switching layout variations in 2' X 9': three different approaches. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-51 Summer 2013 (44 pages $8.00) Amargosa Railroad Rathole Sub: freelanced urban So. California HO switching layout on hollow core doors. Seven compact rail-marine shelf- and island layouts in N and HO. Lessons learned from ten years on the multi-deck St. Paul Division, including curved-frog turnouts, staging variety, aisle considerations, and benchwork. "Nose-to-Nose" staging offers space-savings and flexibility. 32-Square-Foot Design Challenge, Part 3 – three N scale island layouts featuring mountain mainlines, copper, and coal. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-50 Spring 2013 (36 pages $8.00) Southern Pacific’s Santa Barbara Subdivision multideck HO in a garage. Thin Walls: a new structural support approach minimizes multideck benchwork footprint. Layout design considerations for realistic aisle-side waybill boxes. 32-Square-Foot Design Challenge, Part 2: seven interesting island- and lobe-style layouts in HO and N, including coal-themed and industrial railroads. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-49 Winter 2013 (44 pages $8.00) Northern Pacific St. Paul Division; HO plan inspired by Armstrong principles and the Givens &'Druthers process. The Chicago & Mackinac, Part 2; efficient garage-sized design using "partial mushroom" construction. The Calamity & Uproar; garage-sized design to create train-handling challenges. 32-Square-Foot Design Challenge, Part 1; five interesting smaller shelf-style layouts in HO, N, and TTn3. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-48 Fall 2012 (36 pages $8.00) Layout Design for “Slow Ops”; considerations for aisles, fascia, controls, and more. The Chicago & Mackinac, Part 1: proto-freelance multi-pass HO Michigan bridge line in 30'X40'. Layout Design SIG at 30 – Personal Reflections by Founder Doug Gurin. Feeders for “Doorminoes”: tips for wiring hollow core door benchwork. Controls & Human Factors Ideas from SIG Tours. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-47 Summer 2012 (44 pages $8.00) Planning the Newcastle-Fassifern Railway; Australian prototype from LDEs in a mid-sized room. Improving a Classic John Armstrong Plan in 4' X 8' in N Scale. The Continuous Model Railroad: more railroad than your room can hold. Proto-Freelance Midwest New York Central Layout – HO 10' X 13' inspired by published plans and defined by key industries. Weighing the Scales: Experienced multi-scale modelers discuss pros and cons. Benchwork and Fascia Ideas from LDSIG Tours. LDSIG reports and activities.
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LDJ-46 Spring 2012 (36 pages $8.00) Three Crossings at Newburgh, Ohio, HO sections in a spare bedroom. Small and Portable: Baltimore's Wicomico St. on the B&O, HO movable sections. Designing a Busy Chicago Passenger Terminal, HO sectional multi-deck 29' X 36' overall. Planning for Signals, Part 3: "classic" and on-line references. Oakland, California's Howard Terminal in N scale on a hollow core door and as a shelf layout. LDSIG reports and activities. And more!
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LDJ-45 Winter 2012 (44 pages $8.00) Terminal and switching layout focus: Breaking Marley’s Chains – On2 to S for Canadian National branch terminal; SP on a Shelf, Houston's Clinton Branch. Heavy Switching Design Challenge: The Copper Belt Railroad in N Scale; Kansas City Southern in Neosho, Mo., 1956; The Pittsburgh Transfer Railway; Johnstown and Union City, a mushroom design in N Scale; The Terminal Dock Railroad, freelanced Northeastern Rail-Marine; Electrasteel Corporation. Gooseneck, Bottoms and Bluffs, Kansas City HO multi-deck. LDSIG reports and activities. And more!
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LDJ-44 Fall 2011 (36 pages $8.00) Sectional, modular and portable layout focus: HO Sections Designed to Move – and Do!; HO/HOn3 FREMO Modules for Home and Road; Trenance: Compact OO English Terminus Display Layout; N Scale Free-mo Modules as Layout Design Elements. What would you do differently?: Tips and experience from five successful layout builders. LDSIG activities reports and upcoming meetings. And more!

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LDJ-43 Summer 2011 (44 pages $8.00) Designing a “Three-way” LDE on the BN; Lessons Learned: The Delaware & Susquehanna; Three stories on lightweight benchwork ideas from Gatorfoam™ and Luan; Planning for Signals, Part 2; Signal Repeaters; LDSIG Election and Activities

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LDJ-42 Spring 2011 (36 pages $8.00) Designing the California, Oregon & Western; Thoughts on Multi-Pass Design; 90 Feet more Mainline on the Idaho-Montana Railway & Navigation (UP); Design Challenge -- Road Warrior Revisited: B&O’s 26th St. NYC Yard, Central California Traction in Stockton and Lodi, SAL, ACL, A&W in North Carolina, 1925, Timetable & Train Order “Trainer” Layout; Design Considerations for Prototype-action Couplers; Upcoming LDSIG Activities

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LDJ-41 Winter 2011 (44 pgs $8.00) The Ultimate 4X8? RGS in HOn3; Garage Bay Passenger Ops Design Challenge: Calif. Bayside Commute and Reading Lines in Philadelphia; Modeling a Mile (5 track plans); Planning for Signals, Part 1: Prototype Practices; Design Ideas from Milwaukee 2010; Support Column Ideas; Reports on SIG meetings and activities

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LDJ-40 Fall 2010 (36 pgs $8.00) LDE Research: South Fork "Shaysquatch"; Layout Design for the Massack Timber and Lumber Co.; Layout Design Step-by-Step; Sectional Benchwork Ideas: "Doorminoes" and "Frank-n-Modules"; Design Ideas from Hartford 2009 and Tulsa 2009; Editorial: "Make only New Mistakes"; LDSIG Meetings and Activities

LDJ-39 November 2008 (68 pgs $8.00) Richard Benjamin's PRR Beford Division Mushroom 1982 - 1987, Arne Warf, Cheap Control Panel, Cement Quay, Union Pacific's Cascade Division in N scale, Portraying the Right-of-Way on Neal Schorr's Middle Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, The Next Generation of Layout Designer, The Bellinadrop - A New Paradigm in Turnback Loops, Some Thoughts on the V&O Story - More than Good Enough, How to Think About Layout Shelf Width, Book Review: Exhibit Labels, Electric Wires, President's Comments, Anaheim Impressions - NMRA Convention 2008, Upcoming LDSIG Events

LDJ-38 August 2008 (52 pgs $5.00) Vertical Musings, The Case for Unbuilt Designs, The Evolution of a Layout Design, Three Layout Design Elements for a High Self Layout, Mark Dance's N scale Columbia & Western Mushroom, An Inverted Mushroom from Germany, Make Your Own Vertical Staging Traverser, Ideas for How to Extend Your Layout Horzontally by Going Vertical, A Set of Stacked Remote New York Harbor Yards, Mechnaized Lift-Up Device, Bay Area Meet 2008 Report, Bruce Metcalf Honored, LDSIG News

LDJ-37 January 2007 (52 pgs $5.00) Housatonic Evolution, Evolution of Manual Turnout Controls, Change on the Pennsylvania Southern, Layout Lessons Learned, Lessons from a Pennsy Layout, Prototype or Freelance?, Battery Powered Radio Controlled Locomotives, Bicycle Wheel Reverser, Google SketchUp!, Researching Rail Industries, Detroit Convention photos.

LDJ-36 August 2007 (52 pgs $5.00) Shelf layout design for Indiana freelanced shortline, preview of Mindheim's CSX East Rail (GMR 2007), freelanced WWII C&O branch, LDE: Chemical Plant, Creating a sense of race: "Jim Crow" era layout design; 1970s FEC Brevard Division, Signaling design considerations.

LDJ-35 December 2006 (56 pgs $5.00) Layouts from the 2006 NMRA Convention, Design Enhancement Ideas and Observations from 2006 SIG layout tour, Mine Run Shifters, Coal Tipple Yards and Track Plans, Kaymoor Coal Mine, Planning the Midland Pacific, Theatrical Layout Design.

LDJ-34 May 2006 (32 pgs $5.00) Brian Good's Layout Design Challenge, West Chemical LDE, Prototype Based Layout Design & Operation on John Breau's Great Northern Railway, Creating Stairwells for Passenger Station Platforms, Modeling PRR's Chesapeake Region.

LDJ-33 December 2005 (32 pgs $5.00) Rock Work for Wind River Canyon, N Scale Layout Design Challenge Results with plans by David Voorhees, Paul Miklos, John Young and Robert N. Reid, The New N Scale Hannibal Subdivision.

LDJ-32  April 2005 (32 pgs $5.00) On the Streets of San Francisco with the Ocean Shore Railroad, Big Changes at the Chicago Champaign & Southern, Kirkwood Junction Layout Design Element (LDE), LDSIG Tour Layouts at CL2005, Bay Area LDSIG OpSIG Regional Meet.

LDJ-31 December 2004 (36 pgs $5.00) The Akron Triangle; HO Scale Chicago Burlington " Quincy; History of the K-Line; N Scale Burlington Northern Santa Fe; N Scale Layout Design Challenge; Innovation, Change and Philosophy; The LDSIG Layout Tour at PSX2004; The Lifetime Layout.

LDJ-30 June 2004 (32 pgs $5.00) Bay Area Layout Design Challenge: The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad; Layout Design Challenge Results: Midwestern Branchline, Point to Point with Interchange, Norfolk and Western, Garage Layout in its Own Room; Refining the Wyoming Rail Link; 2004 Bay Area Meet.

LDJ-29 January 2004 (44 pgs $5.00) Design Lessons Learned From Maple Leaf 2003 Layout Tours; Layout Design Challenge: 2 Car Garage; Another Angle on an Urban Switching Layout; Big CNW Power in a Small Space; The Wyoming Rail Link; The Chicago, Champaign and Southern.

LDJ-28 Spring 2003 (32 pgs $5.00) Linking Unconnected Decks with Operations and Staging; Northern Pacific Grays Harbor Branch; 2003 National and Regional Conventions.

LDJ-27 Autumn 2002 (28 pgs $5.00) Garage location focus: Design principles for layouts in garages; "Bay Window" on the Bear Creek & South Jackson; Optional approaches to increase garage layout design flexibility; Multi-level layout design: a call for input; Multi-level benchwork; Book report: "Model Railroad Track and Layout;" Product overview: Central Valley switch kits; New track planning tools; One great idea: circuit box placement.

LDJ-26  Spring 2001 (44 pgs $5.00) Terminal, industrial, and urban railroading focus: Ventura County Railway, a shortline with big time connections (includes trackplans in HO and N); Dave and Linda Sand's Cedar River Terminal, an industrial railroad designed for operations; Proto-freelanced Reading Harbor Terminal shares a home office. Track / Industry Maps (e.g. CLIC/SPINS/ZTS) as track planning tools; Modeling ideas from ZTS; Large industry modeling via SPINS; Using SPINS to design coking plant LDE. Readers' letters: Published trackplan accuracy concerns; SP in Oregon feedback; Horizons; Mountain railroading; Hand-lay staging?; Prototype vs. freelance; San Jose ideas.

LDJ-25  Winter 2001 (44 pgs $5.00) Mountain railroading focus: SIG feedback refines '30s-era Southern Pacific Natron (OR) Cutoff; Gurin on modeling mountain railroading; Mountain curve superelevation; Grade profile design. Backdrop innovation: the concept of no horizon. Modelgenic features of 1990s freight yard. Ergonomics ideas from US Navy documents. Design lessons from San Jose 2000 NMRA Convention and Train Show. San Jose lessons revise one member's design assumptions. Editorial: Prototype and freelance -- a palette, not a dichotomy. SIG activities at San Jose.

LDJ-24  Spring 2000 (36 pgs $5.00) Lifetime Conrail in NJ layout planned before the space. Bedroom-sized multideck Reading branch layout. Prototype Layout Design Elements (LDEs) inspire 1910s Michigan copper hauler. Wisconsin paper mill as LDE or small shelf switching layout. Conceptual layout design with building block "flashcards". Observations on modeling industries - scenery, rolling stock, procedures. Are lower backdrop heights unrealistic? Hand lay staging turnouts? Operator templates and other aisle planning tips. Book review: Iain Rice's Small, Smart, and Practical Track Plans. Reader's letters: Aisle width planning; LIRR layout concerns.

LDJ-23  Winter 2000 (44 pgs $5.00) McLaughlin on using the prototype as a "reality" check for a modern shortline layout, the Arkansas Midland in HO in 200 sq. ft. 2-foot aisles: questioning the conventional wisdom. Replicating LIRR freight scenes and jobs. Design insights from operations on an O/On3 proto-freelanced layout. Koester replaces AM with multi-deck NKP layout. Design lessons learned from NMRA Northstar '99: innovative multi-decks; moveable benchwork; multi-aisle scenery; backdrop techniques; highway crossing ideas; visitor orientation; ergonomics of layout height; pre-wiring for signals; sectional benchwork; layout lighting; more. Upcoming activities at San Jose '00. Reader's letters: Follow-ups on Auto Plant LDE; fabric valances; foam benchwork.

LDJ-22  Winter 1999 (44 pgs $5.00) California auto plant as a Layout Design Element: design and operation. Belt Lines and Terminal Railroads: Update on Flagg's New Jersey Jct.; Info sources for Belt Line modeling; reprint of Armstrong on Belt Lines. Gurin on orientation within scenes. Layout space: "Do-it-yourself" outbuilding for a WP layout; Basement designed to fit a PRR track plan; Inheriting an outbuilding. Vision and modeling. Design possibilities with operating drawbridge. Layout design for signals. Space-saving upper-deck benchwork. Reader's letters: Layout analysis pro and con; Lighting costs; Comments on reliability; more.

LDJ-21  Fall 1998 (44 pgs $5.00) Multi-deck design for a freelanced Chicago belt line RR in a garage. Layout planning through analysis. Update on Schafer's Illinois & St. Louis -- thoughts on plausible freelancing. Gurin on layout orientation ideas: mileposts; "smile"posts; and naming. Open questions on orientation. Domino designs sampler. Observations on design and reliability. Duck-under handrails. Bob Schleicher honored at KC convention. Online layout design editorial and websites. Letters: Brewery information; Orientation; Sharp curve benefits; Nicollet Ave.; more.

(Number 20 was an LDN, see LDN page)

LDJ-19  Winter 1998 (52 pgs $5.00) Schafer's Illinois & St. Louis railroad: layout handout and newsletter. Zugelter's Chesapeake & Ohio: design and operations. Constructing a layout room for Fortin's Sierra Western & Santa Fe. Owen, WI on Storzek's Wisconsin Central as a Layout Design Element. Starter layout from a 4X8 sheet. Gurin editorial: "Shakespeare was a prototype freelancer". Fugate on "Using your design". Answers: Portable layout buildings. Letters: Philosophy of design; comments on Model Railroad Planning '98. Kansas City Convention plans. (Issue includes news supplement LDJ-19A).

(Number 18 was an LDN, see LDN page)

LDJ-17  Summer 1997 (36 pgs $5.00) Adapting Armstrong freelance belt line design to a prototype: Flagg's New Jersey Junction. Layout design for helper operations. Follow-up on Helix design issues. Layout lessons learned from John Allen. Portable containers as a space for a layout. Design choices borne out on Fugate's SP Siskiyou line. Proposed vision, mission, and goals for the LDSIG. Letter exchange: freelance vs. prototype layouts.

(Numbers 15-16 were LDNs, see LDN page)

LDJ-14  Spring 1996 (36 pgs $5.00) Randy Anderson's Huntingdon & Broad Top. Track planning for a 12x12 room. Testing design choices at SIG gatherings. The case for long trains. Helix design and alternatives: A Primer, a rebuilt helix, a multi-route helix, stacked staging and a helix, helix feedback. Shallow mini-scenes. Illustrating specific seasons: November; Springtime. Scenic design and modeling principles. Prototype naming and herald design. Commentaries on MRP vs. SIG publications. SIG Annual Report.

(Numbers 8-13 were LDNs, see LDN page)

LDJ-7  June 1992 (80 pgs. $9.00) Freight Yard Design Theme. Benefits and opportunities of freight yards. John Armstrong 1955 MR Reprints - Prototype and Model Yards; 1992 Epilogue. Yard Throats. Five Rules. A Design Primer. Crossovers. Modeling SP, D&H, and BN Yards. Simulating Yard Jobs.

LDJ-6  July 1986 (8 pgs. $1.00) Boston NMRA Convention events. Harvard's world class museum about forest evolution and management, with illustrations.

LDJ-5  March 1986 (52 pgs. $4.00) Modeling site-specific prototype operation. Night operation. Planning the Allegheny Midland's staging. Other fiddle and staging ideas. Layout visits to Atlantic Great Eastern, PRR in Philly, Canadian Northwestern. Modeling mountain railroading: helpers; UP's Sherman Hill; SP's Sacramento Div.; Kettle Canyon Ry. Engine terminal-plus-staging layouts.

LDJ-4  January 1985 (44 pgs. $4.00) Staging track design on many layouts. Analyzing layout handouts. Four innovative staging loop arrangements. Team tracks and engine terminals. Case for large industries. Track planning insights of a pro. Multi-deck and multi-era layouts. Layout designs for TH&B, PRSL, LV, CN, D&RGW, and PRR.

LDJ-3  March 1984 (44 pgs $4.00) Two and three deck layouts. Allegheny Midland staging. Realistic industrial switching. Tehachapi track plan. Visitor analysis of 12+ top layouts. Small space ideas. Roster development.

LDJ-2  March 1983 (44 pgs. $4.00) New England Berkshire & Western handout. Plans of Cat Mountain & SF and the Midwest Railroad Modelers' club. Staging. MR's layout planning contest. Loco roster planning. Walk-in plan review. Modeling urban, big-time railroading.

LDJ-1  September 1982 (22 pgs. $2.00) Armstrong's Canandaigua Southern. Layout Design Discussion Topics. '82 NMRA National Convention. "Prime source modeling".