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.

  • 16 Videos

    Vol. 05: Don Cassler's M&K Divison of the B&O

    The M&K Division of B&O Railroad is a spectacular model created by Don Cassler and fellow builders, Bill Hanley and Mark Vinski. Don welcomes Allen into his home to unveil the fruits of a 20-year project. The trio’s layout is based on collective memories of cherished train-watching locales, and was specifically designed to suit the space of Don’s basement.


    The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) is the oldest railway in the United States. Don’s scale model represents the West Virginia portion of this legendary railroad, where towering mountain grades are common and helper engines contribute additional power to inch winding trains of 50 cars up the steep gradients. 20 years of hard work put in by Don, Bill and Mark is without a doubt on full display, and it’s an understatement to call the incredible M&K a true masterpiece.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 06: Dick Elwell's Hoosac Valley Railroad

    Dick Elwell's Hoosac Valley is a bridge route that interchanges with the Boston & Albany, the Delaware & Hudson, the New Haven and the New York Central. The HO railroad features magnificent New England scenery with lots of rivers and forested mountains. Dick will show you his method for making super-detailed foreground trees. That skill at detailing carries over to the layout's many mini-scenes. These are life-like vignettes that tell a story of a slower era. You'll be inspired as Dick recounts some of his early pitfalls as a beginner in 1959. And you'll enjoy knowing that this layout evolved from an idea on a piece of paper into a Great Model Railroad.

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 07: Harry Clark's Indian Creek Valley Railroad

    Harry Clark’s Indian Creek Valley is one of the most incredibly built model railroads you’ll ever see. Nearly everything on the layout is scratch built, including thousands of trees. Harry worked in carpentry for more than 50 years, during which time he developed many unique modeling techniques. The Indian Creek Valley Railroad operates in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and depicts the lumber business of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Harry knows wood well and loved modeling the production chain from forest to mill. As you will quickly learn, the layout scenery bears exceptional detail and Harry continues to strive for more. Come along as we take a tour of Harry’s wooded Pennsylvania paradise!

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 08: Granite Mountain Railway

    Doug Geiger’s Granite Mountain Railway is a huge layout forced to fit into a tiny space. The room in which the railroad resides is a mere 43 by 23 feet. To deal with this lack of space, Geiger made the tracks of his model run along three tiers. The operation and production of such a massive layout created unique challenges. Luckily, Geiger has two groups of friends who help him with construction and operation.


    When observing a layout, viewers look down on it from an outsider’s perspective. But what if they found themselves inside the layout, spectating through the eyes of a passenger inside the trains? That is Doug’s goal—to make his model railroad operations as realistic and prototypical as possible. Join us as we take a ground-level tour of Doug Geiger’s Granite Mountain, then listen in as he and host Allen Keller discuss their favorite aspects of model railroading.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 09: Rick Rideout's L&N Henderson Subdivision

    Rick Rideout’s L&N Henderson Subdivision is a 35x70-foot model railroad layout that resides in an awe-inspiring custom-built basement. Rideout scaled down the 146-mile subdivision to an 8-scale mile HO layout. His obsession with the L&N is deeply rooted and so strong that he built his house along a former L&N line.


    In his exclusive behind-the-scenes series, Rideout takes us down the tracks of his magnificent L&N subdivision. He explains the impetus for its existence, which stemmed from a lifelong love affair with these stories tracks, and talks in-depth with Allen Keller about his model’s origins, construction and operations. Rideout views modeling railroads as a challenging and rewarding art form that allows him to express himself as well as his rail fandom.


    One third of Rideout’s L&N layout is scenic. Its focal point is a spectacularly designed bridge that spans the Ohio River between Evansville, IN and Henderson, KY. The bridge runs 23 feet and rides out to Louisville and Nashville. Rideout utilizes mass-produced items that cannot be found in stores, in addition to advanced electronics controlled by computer software, which handle the centralized traffic control machine and signals. Rick Rideout’s ambitious scale model of the L&N Henderson Subdivision is truly a wonder to behold, and Allen was thrilled to get a backstage look. Join him, won’t you?

  • 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.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 11: Allen McClelland's Virginian & Ohio

    Take a ride with us along the rails of Allen McClelland’s famous HO scale Virginian and Ohio. The Virginian and Ohio, or V&O for short, has taken on a lore among modelers as a prototype to be emulated, and is oft referred to as the complete model railroad. Every minute detail on McClelland’s spectacular layout contributes to the whole, and each of its impressive features stands out without overshadowing the others. The coal haul and bridge route of the V&O spans a 32x32 foot space of open-grid benchwork and hand-laid track.



    McClelland is renowned for pushing the boundaries of modeling, and he’s responsible for many innovative approaches utilized throughout the industry. For McClelland, prototypes can provide a solution to all modeling problems. As he tells Allen Keller, the V&O’s name combines McClelland’s home state of Ohio and his railfanning mecca in West Virginia and Virginia. Come along as we take a closer look at all that makes the V&O a masterpiece!

  • 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.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 19: Coal Belt Railroad

    Bill Henderson’s HO scale Coal Belt Railroad is a freelance version of several eastern railroads such as the Redding and the Delaware and Hudson. It features many lifelike camelback locomotives, which are known for having their cabs over the boilers so a larger firebox can be used.


    Bill is a longtime railfan and student of railroad history, and often quotes classic model railroading masters such as Paul Larson, John Page, and Frank Ellison. To pay tribute to these and other masters, Bill names passenger cars and towns in their honor.


    Bill uses very few commercial products to make his inexpensive, natural and impressible inventive scenery. The Coal Belt, which spans 8x20 feet of a storage building at Bill’s Alabama home, represents eastern Pennsylvania in 1910. Ride the rails with us as we go behind the scenes of Bill Henderson’s remarkable creation!

  • 11 Videos

    Vol. 20: Brandywine & Benedictine Railroad

    Norm Stenzel’s Brandywine & Benedictine Railroad is a freelance railroad that exhibits the history of this magnificent line from its maiden coal tows in 1898 to its heyday in the mid-1950s.


    The B&B hauls coal through Virginia and West Virginia along an exquisite route made possible by Norm’s careful study of topography. This is a railroad that, if we didn’t know better, could have actually existed. Norm paid special attention to incorporating era-appropriate scenery, and the time and place are impeccably depicted. It’s the perfect blend of operation, scenery, and detail - nothing stands out to detract attention from the trains.


    Nicknamed the Mason Dixon Line, the B&B runs north and south from Winston Salem, NC to Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a mountain railroad with a maximum grade of 2.7%, which means she requires helpers to make it out of Salem, VA!

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 21: Ron Kuykendall’s Five Great Model Railroads

    Ron Kyukendall is a master modeler and the proud operator of five incredible model railroad layouts. In this series, Ron introduces us to each of the great railroads that have demanded decades of his commitment to the craft. Three of his layouts are HO standard gauge, one is HON3 and the fifth is SN3.


    Ron has managed to accomplish so much on so many layouts after nearly six decades in the hobby, and he’s never afraid to test out new approaches to modeling. Two of his railroads are quite large, while the other three are small diorama types. Because each railroad is shelved, there’s space for them all in his layout room.


    Ron loves to prototype exact rolling stock, structures and locomotives. His extensive rail fan photo collection allows him to model precisely, as to him model building is the glue that holds the hobby together. His kits are built from his pictures and drawings without any reference to instructions. He calls this his favorite part of the hobby!

  • 12 Videos

    Vol. 22: Roger Russell's 3 Narrow Gauge Railroads

    Modeler Roger Russell does narrow gauge modeling in a big way, the proud owner of three masterful layouts in different scales: the SN-3 Denver Rio Grande and Southern, the ON-3 Colorado and Southern, and the 3/8th-inch scale Russell Creek Lumber Company. His early exposure to Colorado narrow gauge influenced his modeling, and has helped him win best of show awards and countless first place prizes over the years.

     

    Roger builds quickly, and believes in combining scales for the right look. The SN-3 Denver Rio Grande and Southern, which was the first of his three layouts, is also his favorite due to fond memories of breathtaking Colorado scenery. The 12x28 SN-3 layout features equipment from the merging of the D&RG West and the Rio Grande Southern in the 30s and 40s.

     

    In the room next door we’ll discover the ON-3 Colorado and Southern, which is another 12x28 master class in narrow gauge modeling. Roger’s ON-3 operates between Durango and Ridgeway Colorado. Every component, including more than 2,500 trees, is either kitbashed or scratch-built. The tour of the DRG&S starts in Ridgeway where the west and southern Rio Grande interchange.

  • 13 Videos

    Vol. 23: Lou Sassi’s Western Hoosic Division

    Lou Sassi’s Western Hoosic Division model railroad, which runs between Adam’s, MA and Bennington, VT, is an imaginary mine that Lou invented and is operated by the Austin and Maine with an interchange for the runner.

     

    Lou’s 25x22 HO layout features some of the most remarkable scenery you’ll see anywhere in the world. Lou and a circle of friends called the Tree Group have specialized in making trees and ground cover, and in the process they’ve developed revolutionary and effective techniques that advanced the art of scene building for model railroaders everywhere.

     

    Lou is a lifelong New Englander with a special fondness for the area. 20 years in the making, this spectacular division is a unique and breathtaking homage. It was modeled after 1950s New England because he grew up in that time and area, and always enjoyed the small towns with their rolling hills.

  • 14 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.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 25: New England, Berkshire & Western

    This series holds a special place in Allen’s heart, made in tribute to the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society on the club’s 50th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the New England, Berkshire & Western model railroad. This is the fourth iteration of the remarkable HO layout, built by students and friends.


    John Nehrich has been a part of Rensselaer since 1968, and always had a dream to build a model true to the original concept, although the layout has been refined over the years.


    The NEB&W is in the basement of this hall at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Some aspects have changed dramatically since Allen first saw it in 1987, with most of the layout being rebuilt at least twice. But the continuity of the Rensselaer and the layout has remained if not improved.


    Each of the club’s 40 members is almost required to be a stickler for accuracy of rolling stock, structures, and scenery, so you’re guaranteed to enjoy the precision of this HO layout. The layout itself is L-girder with hand-laid track and a minimum radius of 48 inches. Allen’s visit to the NEB&W will include a number of trains, so you’ll get a comprehensive feel for the railroad and its traffic. Enjoy the journey!

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 25: The Rensselaer Model

    This 10-part series with Allen Kelle highlights The New England Berkshire & Western Railroad. The series celebrates the accomplishments of the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society. Allen Keller begins the series right outside Davidson Hall where the magic happens. Although the layout has endured many changes, the layout has remained located in the basement of the same building.

  • 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.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 28: The Canandaigua Southern

    The Canandaigua Southern model railroad is a masterpiece by one of our hobby’s most prestigious riders, railfans, and modelers. John Armstrong is the layout’s president, the hobby’s premiere track planner, as well as the creator of countless ideas and important inventions that we take for granted. His O scale Canandaigua Southern has inspired modelers everywhere to take the plunge on their first layout.


    First breaking ground in 1950, the Canandaigua Southern has been under construction in some way or another ever since. Each of John’s remarkable structures is highly detailed and captivating, and his large scratch built locomotives are something to behold.


    The Canandaigua Southern is a 1960’s regional carrier with a lot of bridge traffic, and a point-to-point route that fills a 24x34-foot wood base. Both ends, Canandaigua and Pittsburgh, are represented by hidden loops in the center of the room; the top layered curve is actually a reverted loop!

  • 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.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 30: Monroe Stewart's Hooch Junction

    Welcome to Monroe Stewart’s gorgeous Hooch Junction, an N scale model railroad featuring CSX and Norfolk Southern trains. Although the layout has about 2,000 feet of track, its scenery is not crowded, utilizing space remarkably. Hooch Junction is set in present day, with urban renewal ever apparent throughout this spectacular layout.


    Monroe is a master model railroader who has built six outstanding layouts. The Hooch Junction is his second N scale effort, around which he designed his house. He now redesigns the layout to fit with his interests of trains and boats, with a focus on the relationship between shipping and railroads inspired in Monroe by going to school in Hampton, Virginia, in the Tidewater area.


    The Hooch Junction fills a 20x40-foot space, with a minimum radius of 15 inches and a ruling grade of 2.5%. The Hooch Junction contains two separate main lines—Norfolk and Western (now Norfolk Southern) in gray and the CSX in yellow. During this series, we will follow two trains down the tracks, beginning with the Norfolk Southern at the Hooch Junction Engine Facility.

  • 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.

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 32: The Model Railroad Club of Union, NJ

    The Model Railroad Club of Union, New Jersey traces its origins to 1949, in the basement of Paul Malorey’s home, where the Hudson Delaware & Ohio ran for 23 years. Paul is a hobby pioneer who’s written numerous model railroad books and more than 300 modeling articles. The design of the Club’s layout has remained faithful to Paul’s original concept, with its non-linear track plan and heavy emphasis on operation. The Club gathers for operating sessions each Tuesday evening.


    In this series, Allen meets with Scott Dunlap, the Vice President of the Model Railroad Club, on the anniversary of the 50th anniversary of the club. Scott says they’d been planning to triple the size of the layout, with the goal of expanding even further beyond that. The Club’s building contains an office, workshop, and a new N scale layout. The HO layout occupies an area of 40x40 feet. We start the tour in Gilberton, following the trains of the HD&O, the Trenton Northern Electric, and the Rahway River Railroad.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 33: The Denver, Front Range and Western

    In this series we take an in-depth tour of Doug Tagsold’s HO scale Denver, Front Range & Western. The DFR&W model railroad layout features trains from the Rio Grande, Sante Fe, and the Burlington Northern, and is set in the spectacular scenery of the Colorado Rockies, where Doug fell in love with big-time mountain railroading.


    Doug was so inspired by the rails in the Rockies that when he got home from his trip, he tore down his old layout and started on this double decker. The line duplicates the Rio Grande Main from Denver to Grand Junction, and the Rio Grande and Santa Fe joint line from Denver to Pueblo. Allen Keller calls this layout one of the most dramatic models he’s ever filmed.


    Doug’s goal with this layout was to try to recapture the drama he witnessed when he saw Rio Grande trains running through the front range of the Rocky Mountains. The layout’s double-deck spans only only 25 by 40 feet of Doug’s basement.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 34: Gary Hoover's Missouri, Kansas & Quincy

    In our latest backstage tour, Allen Keller joins master modeler Gary Hoover to view his layout of the Missouri, Kansas and Quincy. Hoover is a longtime railfan, so he wanted to build an HO scale model railroad that’s as fun to operate and photograph as it is to view in full size.


    Hoover’s dream to create the ultimate railfanning experience has made the Missouri, Kansas and Quincy one of the most photogenic layouts Allen has ever seen. It’s clear that Hoover’s skills have continued to improve since he first started his layout in 1985. This modern HO railroad runs from the Chicago area to California, consisting of the Northern and Central divisions. This vast span covers an array of scenes, including standalone modules. Motive power from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which has taken over the MK&Q, plus Rio Grande and a few Southern Pacific units can be seen on the layout.


    Hoover’s layout takes up almost every inch of his 24x64 foot basement. Its minimum radius is 30 inches. The track is code 100. All visible turnouts are manually operated, and the layout has staging yards hidden under Sedalia and Castle Gate. We’ll begin our operations outside of Chicago at Oak Grove.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 35: Jim Providenza’s Santa Cruz Northern

    Jim Providenza's HO scale Santa Cruz Northern model railroad is an operation-oriented layout set in the early 1970s. Jim made this double decker so he could railfan his favorite spots in California. The Santa Cruz Northern is a bankrupt, down-on-its-luck carrier owned by the Santa Fe and the Western Pacific.


    This model becomes a real railroad set in an actual time period with all of the economic and political facts of life. The Santa Cruz Northern runs through the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean on a route laid out by the former South Pacific Coast railroad. Why is operation so important to Jim? Most importantly, it gives him a chance to be with his friends and work closely with something he has carefully created.


    The Santa Cruz Northern shares a space with the family vehicle, its double-deck setup occupying about 18x22 feet of the Providenzas' two-car garage. Allen's behind-the-scenes tour of the Santa Cruz Northern begins on the lower level at San Jose, California.

  • 14 Videos

    Vol. 36: John Gray's Union Pacific Cheyenne Division

    John Gray’s Union Pacific Cheyenne Division model railroad captures the vast, open spaces of Wyoming. His HO layout was designed to showcase the immensity of America’s West with broad curves and scenic sweeping vistas. The Union Pacific is a great place for John to display his huge collection of brass locomotives and cars. He believes it’s important to get them out of the box and run them both for his enjoyment and the history they impart to others.


    Although John Gray is a railroad executive, he shuns the modern scene in favor of the late 1930s through the early 1960s. A variety of operating equipment can be seen on the layout, which is to John’s liking. He sees the layout as a way to recreate historical scenes and activities that he saw or wishes he had seen.


    In this series, Allen Keller interviews the man behind the Union Pacific. John explains to Allen what makes his layout unflinchingly true to the West and how modelers look at most major lines. The Union Pacific is housed in its own 46x26-foot building, with a minimum radius of 34 inches and a spine roadbed. The UP is a double loop with a lower and upper line, and begins and ends on the only town on the layout, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

  • 10 Videos

    Vol. 37: Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum

    The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum is set in the early 50s, where steam, steel and stamina powered the economy. The people around Pittsburgh and Cumberland, MD are hard at work rebuilding post-war prosperity. Soon the country will revel in the Eisenhower years, and it’s a good time to be American.


    This magnificent museum captures that important time and place in its vast historical HO diorama-style layout. It’s been here since 1948, but now the members have their own permanent home to showcase this massive educational project. Two railroads feature in the 10 square miles between Pittsburgh and Cumberland—Baltimore & Ohio and the Mon Valley run parallel throughout most of the layout.


    Allen Keller joins Ray Mueser, President of the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum to learn about its mission and its guiding principle: to showcase this country’s historic areas when trains ruled the land. We make our behind the scenes from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, starting in the great Steel City.

  • 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.

  • 9 Videos

    Vol. 40: The New York, New Haven and Hartford

    Bill Aldrige’s HO-scale New York, New Haven and Hartford model railroad is the result of exhaustive research and outstanding scratch building. Bill fell in love with the real New Haven as a kid, and his devotion continued through his working years as a member of the railroad’s Board of Directors. So it was only natural that the layout with authentic details in his basement would become a museum for his memories of majestic days past, and a place for Bill to house and display his enormous fleet of scratch-built steam engines and passenger cars.


    The NYNH&H layout runs a loop around the edge of Bill’s 50x75-foot basement, designed just so because Bill’s main goal with the layout was reproducing scenes along his beloved New Haven shoreline. He completed it in only three years after the original version was torn down after 20 years. The minimum radius is 50 inches with flex track, and the benchwork is made of 2x4s bolted to the walls. Join us for an in-depth tour around the layout as we begin to make our way out of Providence, Rhode Island.

  • 8 Videos

    Vol. 41: Florida East Coast Key West Extension

    The Florida East Coast and its Key West extension were facing bankruptcy as the depression spread. In January 1930, the road was enjoying just enough tourist attraction and freight traffic to and from Cuba to remain in the black. This HO scale recreation of the FEC was built for Cal Winter by Railserves’ Ross and Gail Allen as homage to that difficult but proud time in rail history.


    The railroad starts in the Everglades, in the southernmost place where fresh water flowed in the Northern Glades. Cars would load up with water daily and head south, where another train would later pick them up.


    This magnificent layout represents the line from Miami to Key West with a staging yard serving as Jacksonville. 33 bridges and lots of water were needed to preserve the memory of the prototype’s engineering marvel. Allen Keller’s wife Janet Keller joins Cal Winter to discuss the railroad, and asks if he’s happy with Railserve’s work. For Cal, it is everything he could have hoped for and much, much more. It is a special layout to him. The tour begins in the upper deck at Key West.

  • 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. 43: New York, New Haven & Hartford

    John Pryke’s New York, New Haven & Hartford model railroad layout follows an important historical line that ran from New York to Boston and is set in 1948. This HO scale railroad features three yards with short running distances between them. Passenger trains play a major role in the operations. Research is part of the fun for John as he works to create the feel of a class 1 operation with heavy running and lots of motive power.


    The line boasts many brass steam engines that John has scratch built, one of which is almost 40 years old and still running. Everything on his layout is nicely weathered to reflect the atmosphere of post-war railroads. When Allen asks John why he decided to create the New Haven model railroad, he learns that the New Haven was the first class 1 steam diesel railroad that John remembers. Everything in New York City was electrified at the time, but electric could never compete with the roaring of a steam engine.


    The New Haven model railroad is built on L girder benchwork with a minimum radius of 36 inches. All track is hand laid with super elevating curves. This island-style HO layout takes up 20 by 30 feet in John’s basement, and gains running distance with a track plan that doubles back on itself, so scenes that are visibly close may represent scenes that are actually many miles apart. Our tour of the New Haven begins in South Boston.

  • 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.