Discussing Model Train Layout Design on Tony’s AM Railroad

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Tony Koester’s HO scale model of Allegheny Midland Railroad still stands to this day as one of the most ambitious model railroad layouts the world has ever seen. This proto-freelanced extension of the Nickel Plate Road took more than two decades to complete and features remarkable feats of model engineering.

From its scratch-built structures and mountain landscapes to the wonderfully realistic sounds and scenery, everything on Tony’s expert model train layout design makes it a feast for the eyes and the ears. To get a sense of the inspiration and model train layout design considerations that went into building this masterpiece, host Allen Keller sat down with Tony to pick his brain and hear his thoughts on freelance railroading.

Using a benchmark in model train layout design

According to Allen, Tony Koester is one of the pioneers of freelance railroading, which refers to the act of building a model train layout design largely without the use of a prototype. Tony, however, would prefer to call himself a proto-freelancer, meaning he does actually use a prototype, but only as a benchmark for how he wants the model train layout design to roughly look and not as an exact copy. He goes into detail about what this means going into the planning of a model train layout design, and how having a benchmark affects your thought process.

Later in the segment, Allen asks Tony what he thinks about using black and white paint in a model train layout design, to which Tony responds by saying it should never be done. He explains how toning down your structures and track elements can help to avoid unwanted stark contrast, and then recommends alternative colors that he likes to utilize on his model train layout design, and particularly for the mountain scenery of his recreation of the Allegheny Midland. Find out what else these two pioneers of the field talked about and discover all kinds of valuable insight on model train layout design!