A few weeks ago, I attended a model railroad show in Van Wert. It was very nicely done with lots of vendors, plenty of parking and well organized. One of the many nice things that the organizers did was to have a table of “freebies” where folks put old magazines and such that they were no longer interested in. I picked up a few copies of MODEL RAILROAD NEWS which I had not previously read but just for kicks, I also grabbed a few very old MODEL RAILROADER magazines. Since progress on the layout isn’t all that visible right now, I thought I’d share a few things with you from these old goodies.
The four magazines that I got were from 1960 – 1966… more than fifty years ago and my, how times in model railroading have changed! While all four covers were in color, the first thing that stands out is that the rest of the magazines were in black & white with just a little color thrown in for accent. One of the issues did have a color gatefold which was no doubt revolutionary at the time but the four-color product that we take for granted was nowhere to be seen.
The next thing that jumped out at me was the number of articles dealing with scratchbuilding. Each of the four magazines had a couple of articles with drawings of items built pretty much from scratch… and mostly from wood as well. There wasn’t much mention of plastic in any of them. I continue to marvel at the efforts and craftsmanship that these “old timers” put into their models. None of them had any of the “modern conveniences” that we have today like pre-formed plastic shapes, laser cut parts or 3D printing yet their end products are outstanding. And none of the work was done with the assistance of CAD drawings of any kind!
I do want to look a little more in depth at some other things that pop out but I’ll close with this one… cover price of the October, 1966, issue of MODEL RAILROADER was a whopping 50¢ and subscription rates were $6, $11 & $15 for one, two & three year subscriptions! I realize that things were different back then with average family income being about $4,925 but it is still sometimes hard to believe how much things have changed in some 50+ years.