Allen Keller: Great Model Railroads

Follow along as industry pioneer Allen Keller takes you to some of the greatest railroads around the world! Ride the rails with Allen Keller as he visits some of the best builders and their railroads. Hear from experts as they share their modeling tips and helpful hints with Allen Keller as part of his Great Model Railroads series!

  • 15 Videos

    Vol. 02: Franklin & South Manchester - Part 1

    The Franklin & South Manchester, one of the greatest model railroads ever built, is the creation of professional model builder George Sellios. Because of George's talents you'll see something new each time you watch this fabulous program. You'll tour the layout behind a Mogul powered passenger and a Mountain powered freight, from one end of the 22 x 7 foot layout to the other. Although the F&SM is HO scale, George Sellios, the owner of Fine Scale Miniatures, has created a railroad that exists as surely as Chicago or New York did in the 1930s. See Part 2 here.

  • 7 Videos

    Vol. 10: The N Scale Cumberland Valley System

    The Cumberland Valley System of Bill and Wayne Reid is undoubtedly the most famous N scale layout ever built. The Reid brothers have taken a 22X40 foot area and built a railroad that not only looks fabulous but runs with the reliability of the larger scales. You'll learn some of their methods for obtaining this level of performance. Bill and Wayne have designed the layout so the scenery dominates the trains thus creating a feeling of distance. They'll show you tips for tracklaying, rock carving, and kitbashing structures.

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 13: Gil Freitag's Stony Creek & Western

    The Stony Creek & Western is the work of master structure builder, Gil Freitag. Gil has won many, many NMRA National Contests for his scratch-built creations, and you'll learn some of his successful techniques. His Santa Fe and Denver & Rio Grande Western trains operate over and through beautifully colored Colorado scenery. Gil will show you how to build your own electro-magnetic uncoupling ramps, and how to make scenic landforms using sand instead of plaster.

  • 12 Videos

    Vol. 14: Allegheny Midland Railroad

    Join us as we take a trip through the high mountain rails of West Virginia to explore Tony Koester’s unique model of Allegheny Midland Railroad. Tony’s scale model still stands as one of the most ambitious model railroads the world has ever seen. Follow along and learn about methods of modifying common plastic kits into one-of-a-kind structures and much more!

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 15: The Yosemite Valley

    The Yosemite Valley of Jack Burgess is as close as you can get to having a time machine that will transport you back to August of 1939. Jack is a stickler for historical accuracy not only as it relates to railroad equipment, but to life in general. Everything on this multi-level HO layout--the signs, the structures, the people and the automobiles--is stamped with authenticity. With this detailed knowledge, his structures and rolling stock are scratchbuilt to exact dimensions. The YV duplicates the passenger, logging and mining operations that made the railroad possible. The California Golden Hills are Jack's specialty and he'll show you how he gets the right look for his scenery. The Yosemite Valley is a Great Model Railroad because of Jack's unswerving devotion to accuracy and high modeling standards.

  • 16 Videos

    Vol. 17: Cat Mountain & Santa Fe

    David Barrow's Cat Mountain & Santa Fe represents the embodiment of 25 years of planning and designing the ultimate linear walk-around trackplan. The HO scale Cat Mountain gives operators the feeling of actually traveling with their trains because the construction of the room and layout block everything but only a small part of the railroad at a time. The CM&SF is a Great Model Railroad because David's expertise as an architect has given him the freedom to incessantly refine his ideas of the perfect railroad trackplan.

  • 13 Videos

    Vol. 24: George Sellios' Franklin & South Manchester - Part 2

    Host Allen Keller visits the fabulous Franklin & South Manchester Railroad of George Sellios for a second time. Now, George has more than doubled the size of the layout with the addition of Dovertown and Bedford Falls. See the major advancements in this Part 2 Series. Join us, won’t you! See Part 1 here.

  • 11 Videos

    Vol. 26: Carrabasset & Dead River Railway

    Follow along as we adventure through the rails of Bob Hayden’s Carrabasset and Dead River Railway. In this series, you will learn how to rejuvenate scenery, use building mock-ups for planning, weather with chalk and much more while getting a close-up look at Bob’s master craftsmanship and scenery techniques.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 27: Utah Colorado Western

    Lee Nicholas' Utah Colorado Western is a bridge route running from Denver to Salt Lake City in the 1960s. This HO scale railroad features fine running first generation diesels and gorgeous rocky mountain scenery with hand painted backdrops. This creates the feeling the UCW has real work to do.
    Both Lee and the UCW are famous for operation. Lee is one of the co-founders of the operation group, Pro-Rail. Because of that interest in operation every locomotive and car must run extremely well or be replaced. Lee wants nothing on the layout that is not up to his high standards. The UCW is a Great Model Railroad because Lee and his friends have used their talents and ideas to continually improve everything on the layout.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 29: Argentine Division of the Santa Fe Railway

    The elements of bustling industrial railroads combined with the urban American scenery of the 1950s were captured to create Chuck Hitchcock’s Argentine Division of Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. In this series, Chuck will tell you all about urban modeling, passenger train operation and much more! Follow along and learn why the Argentine Division is a railfan’s dream.

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 31: Grosser's Nostalgia Trip By Ray & Renee Grosser

    Allen Keller has videotaped literally hundreds of layouts over the last three decades with all kinds of model train lighting techniques, but never before has he ever been able to shoot one in natural sunlight just like the prototypes! Join him as he visits Ray and Renee Grosser’s “Nostalgia Trip” HO layout that recreates the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Sainte Marie railroad , better known by its monicker - the Soo Line. Usually stored away in a convention hall and only appearing only at train shows, Allen persuaded the Grossers’ to allow him to shoot in brilliant sunshine, adding to the cinematic realism that most layouts aim for but can never achieve.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 38: Bluff City Southern Part 1

    Allen Keller’s Bluff City Southern is set in the area around Memphis of 1950 when cotton was king. He models 5 railroads- Illinois Central, Frisco, L&N, Missouri Pacific and Southern-that helped make the city a major distribution center for the Mid-South. The HO scale BCS is filled with deep scenes that are highly detailed. Allen tries to embellish the interesting qualities of a scene while de-emphasizing the dull parts. The railroad and its scenes are a way for Allen to re-capture his childhood in Memphis of the 1950s. He’s captured the look of hot, vast fields, slower paced rural living, poor but proud sharecroppers, and magnificent mansions of the antebellum South.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 39: George Sellios' Franklin & South Manchester - Part 3

    George Sellios is the creator of the legendary HO scale layout of the Franklin & South Manchester Railroad set in 1935. George began construction on the layout in back in 1984. His model is now considered to be the most highly detailed layout ever built. Since the beginning of construction, many changes have been made to the layout. Allen and George take a look at the newly completed areas of the layout.

  • 12 Videos

    Vol. 42: Bruce Carpenter's Burlington Northern Santa Fe

    Bruce Carpenter's Burlington Northern Santa Fe is big-time modern railroading on a grand scale. Bruce and his operating crew run up to 50 trains per operating session. In those trains they move between 800 and 900 cars across the railroad. This prototype inspired bridge route allows for maximum traffic density between Chicago and Stronghurst, Illinois. You’ll also learn how to improve the operation of your diesels, add inexpensive details to your locomotives, and weather your engines with an airbrush.

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 53: Conrail New Jersey Division

    The Conrail New Jersey Division is based on lines discovered and explored when Mat Snell was a young railfan. Discover the look and the gritty feel of the areas around Newark, the Northeast Corridor, the chemical plants and the high speed commuter lines. In addition to Conrail you’ll see trains from Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Susquehanna, all following the Northeast Operating Rules that the railroads of New Jersey use. The layout is controlled by signals and dispatchers and runs with different schedules for day and night.

  • 11 Videos

    Vol. 57: Jim Hertzog's Reading

    Watch as Allen Keller and Jim Hertzog explore the Reading Railroad in this 11-part video series. This series takes you on a behind the scenes tour of the Reading layout and an inside look at the operations. Jim also demonstrates several step-by-step tutorials on scenery and weathering. So be sure to follow along for model railroading inspiration and techniques to improve your own layout.

  • 11 Videos

    Vol. 63: Mike Burgett's Chesapeake & Ohio

    Mike Burgett’s Chesapeake & Ohio runs along the James River Valley in Virginia in 1965. This HO double deck railroad was built with the prototype always as a guide. The layout is a coal hauling line yet it has no coal mines. Mike’s knowledge of the placement and operation of signals has been applied to this layout and has kept the whole system relatively simple yet prototypical. The layout features a 600 foot mainline in a 24x36 foot basement with two decks. It’s based on stories and research that he has gathered from current and retired railroaders and supports his belief that the prototype has the answers for model railroads. The layout is a time machine for Mike and his friends when they run eight to 10 trains during their operating sessions.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 66: Penn Valley Railroad

    The Penn Valley Railroad runs from Allentown to Erie, Pennsylvania in 1957 and hauls a lot of coal and auto parts. It interchanges with the New York Central, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Lehigh Valley Railroad and a branchline called the East Eiser & Rocky Bottom. All of this action is contained in a 36 x 46 foot basement. While this is David's fourth railroad, it represents the fulfillment of the layout he envisioned when he started, and reminds him of his childhood in the 1950s. The automatic block signal system took a full year to install. David started the Penn Valley in 2001 and finished it in 2003 with the help of 6 friends. It's a point to point walk-in style layout that offers operators the feeling of actually traveling.