What were the worst issues in the last 40 years?

Instead of listing specific issues I tried to get an idea specifically what it was that would make me think an issue was just not interesting.

1. A worthless 4 x 8 track plan inserted just to pad out the issue.

In several issues (at least three issues) that had NO interesting articles you could find a 4 x 8 track plan. Is it written somewhere that MR needs to publish a 4 x 8 foot track plan every year?

2. A (Stupid) Railroad You Can Model article.

The typical example is the Yancy RR described in the August 1974 issue. “You can model every track switch (both of them) on the prototype” And this is GOOD because …????

WHO wants to model a railroad that has virtually no traffic, no scenery and no significant history?

What I want are ideas on how to convey that I’m running the Santa Fe on 10 feet of bookshelf space. I want railroads pulling ore out of the mountains, lumber from the hills, or moving tonnage over the Rockies – NOT shipments of dog food.

In fact, the August 1979 issue is choice for WORST August issue. It has EIGHT articles about the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad, a stupid railroad nobody would want to model.

I’ll pay $1 to anyone who can prove to me they actually devoted an entire layout to the pathetic FJ&G RR.

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 1

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 2

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 3

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 4

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 5

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 5½

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 6

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 7

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 8

40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 9

6 Responses to “40 Years of August in Model Railroader – Part 7”

  1. Rhett Says:

    While I agree that eight articles on one railroad is a bit too many, I actually found some pretty neat ideas in the August ’79 issue. I hung onto the issue because of the photos in the FJ&G article and the Modeling Ideas article.

    Given MR’s current trend of putting the prototype info in Trains and the modeling info in MR, I was pleased to see all of the info in the main FJ&G article.

    The enginehouse, depot and tool bin articles hardly warrant space in the table of contents, but at least they include dimensioned drawings of each structure.

    The FJ&G flanger article is also applicable for D&H modelers and does a good job of explaining how the flanger works. The boxcar article is cut out of my issue, so someone else must have found it useful…

    The model railroad trackplan is nearly worthless. However, I always learn something from looking at prototype track arrangements, so even this article isn’t a total loss.

    I realize that you can’t keep your opinions and preferences out of the rating system, but I think the most recent MR August issue is far worse than the ’79 issue.

  2. Dave Says:


  3. Dave Says:

    I agree about the 4×8 plans… the thing that MR seems to miss (or they know it & don’t care) is that, after someone puts all that time & money into building one of these projects, what they’re left with is a crappy oval that’s boring to run.
    It’s all part of Russ Larson’s legacy, which transformed MR from a magazine that focused on what you can build to a mag focused on what you can buy.
    And i think it’s very bad for the health of the hobby: kids don’t want to have to buy a DCC decoder just to run their train!

  4. Daniel Swearingen Says:

    Hi Dave,

    OMG! You are quite right — someone (several someones!) actually modelled the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad!? Argh.

    Ok, I stand corrected.


  5. Craig V Says:

    I have to disagree about the Yancey RR article. As a kid for some reason that little railroad fascinated me…the ultimate underdog I guess. Where I think your wheels left the rails was in stating “no scenery”. Have you ever been to that neck o’ the woods? It’s incredible.

  6. Daniel Swearingen Says:

    Hi Craig,

    The photos MR chose to use in their Yancy RR article did not do the local scenery justice. As a kid growing up in northern California and only having that article to go by, I just could not get it why the Yancy RR might be attractive.

    I think we’re actually making *my* point which is that the Yancy RR article is an example of MR starting to not deliver good content.