Building What's in a Photo

From Model Railroader Magazine
Item #12833

Have you ever seen a layout, structure or scene in a book or online that you've wanted to re-create? Building What's in a Photo will help you with just that by showcasing models from the most talented builders.

This book will help you go from "I could never build that" to "Wow, I built that!"

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Building What’s in a Photo takes you from an interesting prototype photo all the way through to a finished project. We’ve gathered some of model railroading’s most talented builders to share their models and the images that inspired them. Perhaps some of these photos will inspire you to model these scenes, or to find your own projects sparked by photos you’ve found!

You’ll get a variety of projects, including:

  • Prolific author Bernard Kempinski shows you how to research Civil War-era railroads.
  • Contributing Model Railroader editor Lou Sassi turns photos he took “just in case” into a memorial to a landmark he passed on his way to work.
  • Model where rail meets water with expert Paul J. Dolkos.
  • Pop-up railcar scrapping, by M.R. Snell.
  • And many more!

There are projects for every skill level, from re-creating a busy Long Island Rail Road junction using off-the-shelf kits to tips on scratchbuilding a steam locomotive from brass.

Author: From Model Railroader Magazine
Size: 8.25 x 10.75
Pages: 144
Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Building a wooden arched truss bridge
Bernard Kempinski

Chapter 2: Build an interlocking scene
John F. Ciesla

Chapter 3: Saving Peerless Tanning
Lou Sassi

Chapter 4: Modeling where rail meets water
Paul J. Dolkos

Chapter 5: Modeling an old station
Alex Belida

Chapter 6: Backdrops bring a snowy scene to life
Mark Dance

Chapter 7: Pop-up railcar scrapping
M.R. Snell

Chapter 8: Filling in the background
Dominic Bourgeois

Chapter 9: Building an offline customer
James McNab

Chapter 10: Diamonds in the tracks
Todd Hermann

Chapter 11: Building from inside out
Ron Hoess

Chapter 12: Building Fisherman’s Wharf
Harvey Simon

Chapter 13: Scratchbuilding a brass locomotive
Andrew Dodge

Chapter 14: Engine no. 18 in Kingfield
Lou Sassi


Most model railroaders as well as prototype railfans are seen with cameras hanging around their necks, or their I-phone at the ready when they’re watching prototype trains or visiting someone else’s model train layout. It’s just natural to want to capture the look and feel of trains wherever they appear. It could be for further study, just natural duplication of the rail scene, sharing our photos with others or some other reason.

In this new 144-page softbound book, you’ll get a good fix on the fascinating world of how photography and railroads come together to bring us a richer understanding of our hobby. The book is based on a long-running feature in Classic Trains by Jerry Pinkepank. The volume features 14 chapters, each a treasure of model and prototype photos, all in full color. Chapter 1 tells how to construct a wooden arch truss bridge based on a prototype of a United States Military Railroad in Virginia. Interlocking scenes are always fascinating for modelers to re-create, and Chapter Two provides numerous prototype and model photos, materials list, a detailed explanation of the prototype photos, and more. Peerless Tanning Company in Johnstown, New York is the focus of the third chapter where Lou Sassi details an interesting story about this old structure and then explains how he built an HO model of it.

Modeling Where Rails Meet Water is a interesting topic discussed in Chapter Four with solid prototype and model photos on these land-to-water transfer structures, along with notes on building a barge. Modeling an Old Station is the topic of discussion in Chapter Five, and a very snowy scene is modeled realistically in Chapter Six, along with tips on painting backdrops. Constructing a popup railcar scrapping yard is the focus of Chapter Seven, and Chapter Eight is filled with constructing background structures (based on prototype photos).

The last chapters deal with Off-Line Rail Customer Facilities, re-creating the Lehigh & New England’s Catasauqua, Pennsylvania rail scene, Building a Budd Company Auto Parts Plant, Building Fisherman’s Wharf in HO scale, Building a Brass Locomotive and a short but colorful feature on Locomotive #18 of the Sandy River Railroad.

This book is based on an interesting concept, and will no doubt add interest for anyone contemplating building a model railroad or those who just want to soak up the book’s valuable model and prototype information and photographs.

--Don Heimburger, Heimburger House Publishing Co. 

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