Welcome to Model Railroad Academy


Welcome rail enthusiasts! My name is Douglas Hodgdon and along with Steve Doyle, we’re developing educational and thought-provoking material for the NEW Model Railroad Academy – a website dedicated entirely to educating you in the art of model railroad craftsmanship through video and online tutorials.

We want to develop – and encourage – a conversation that grows along with the website and we’re looking for your input regarding all topics and scales. We’re excited about the possibilities of helping the novice all the way through to the expert and will be producing helpful information and tutorials on model building, layout design, engineering, and theatrics.

As for myself, I’ve been in the business of designing and building scale model railroads as Douglas Designs for almost fifty years now, and have been published in Great Model Railroads, Model Railroader, and Railroad Model Craftsman. I think I can truthfully say that I’ve pretty much done it all in all scales and have had many customers who became great friends. And, I’ve done extensive railfanning across the US to see how the real railroads were built and operate.


I’m particularly fond of the US Southwest. I model in S scale and my layout depicts the Southern Pacific Railway serving southern California produce warehouses. It’s a 2’ by 18’ Proto64 switching layout with a single staging track, and is switched using a waybill system. I’ve had lots of fun designing, building, and operating it. Included here are some recent photos. There still is much detail work to be done of course. I’ve recently installed 6000 LEDs worth of lighting strips for my overhead lighting. In the future I hope to include some more detail photos of my layout.


Make sure to keep an eye out for more blogs by me and my fellow contributors in the coming weeks. We’re looking forward to getting to know this lively community of enthusiasts – feel free to leave comments on the pages so we can get the conversation started.

– Doug

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12 Responses to “Welcome to Model Railroad Academy”

  1. Carl Barna

    Hello -- I've been giving some thought to S scale modeling. Why did you choose S scale? Do you have a track plan for your layout/ I too am interested in the SW and the SP and ATSF in CA.

  2. Gerald Cole

    I am disappointed . I viewed the short video with Allen and David Barrow on modules. I expected a longer version if I joined as a Premier Member. It did say learn more. I interpreted hat to mean more about David's modules, but can't find anything more except finished layout tours. gerry

  3. John Frankforther

    I just ran across this site the other day and thought I'd stop in and see what it is about. I am starting a layout in S gauge and it's nice to see others do more than hang the trains on a wall or in a display case. I'm a member of another online train group that model mostly HO. I hope I can find information on getting my American flyer up and running for my friends, family and I to enjoy. I will be running DCC with the newer engines using NEC controllers. This will be a hands on layout as I have plans for a coal loading and rotary dumper on the layout along with switching options and other activities. This will be a 15x24 layout with the possibility of a second level. Thanks for having another place to learn about model railroading.

  4. James

    Excellent photography/videos and commentary. Clear and well presented. Friendly while still professional. But one gripe: Weeks ago I signed up and paid for membership, yet I keep getting intrusive pop-ups urging me to join and become a member. This annoying spam/junk promotion is a disservice and detracts from the presentations..

  5. Robert Brents

    I'm intrigued by your 2' x 18' switching layout. I'd like to see the track plan, as that's about all the space I have for an S scale layout. I'm enjoying the MRA and expect to learn a lot. Thanks for your endeavor!

  6. John

    I model SP in HO. Your switcher is beautifully finished. Where did you get the Pyle National Ash Cans?

  7. Joseph Haley

    Doug You look like a 1st class modeler to me. I have a half built a switching layout in my 20' shed. 'The O&I, or 'Outbackaninashed'. Square cornered U and threw the wall into an 8'x10' extention room for a storage yard and return. 5 blk DC for now, but am enamored with sound and may figure out to switch to DCC. Have several sound engines that I run on our club layout.

  8. Rick

    Always looking for new ideas and techniques. Looking forward to your offerings. Have a second Web page www.mvmrc.ca

  9. Edwin

    I joined a couple of weeks ago and am really enjoying the how to videos,. the layout tours are great too. I'm looking foreward to more.

  10. Ronald Gallant

    Looking forward