Kalmbach Media has released a new book by Tony Koester (many will realize this is an approximately annual event), this one packed with interesting and useful insights about layouts. The cover is shown below. You can purchase it at many hobby shops, and I certainly advocate supporting your own local shop, but purchasing it direct from Kalmbach makes more money for them (that’s what I did). Notice I don’t mention on-line sellers like Amazon, who take quite a slice of the revenue. Your call, of course.
The book is the standard Kalmbach soft-bound format, 112 pages, 8.5 x 11-inch size, priced at their usual $21.99. Sadly, it was manufactured in China, even though there are superb and competitive printers in the American Midwest. As usual, photographs are beautifully reproduced throughout. Numerous images depict Tony’s own Nickel Plate and Allegheny Midland layouts, so will be familiar scenery to many.
The book started out as an effort to comb through and compile some of the more interesting columns that Tony has written in his ongoing “Trains of Thought” series in Model Railroader, now approaching 35 years worth (!).
But as Tony notes in his Introduction, he soon went beyond that, and took several of the themes he recognizes in the columns, and made a chapter out of each. Below is the Contents page; you can click on the image to enlarge it if you like.
You can see the themes clearly in the Chapter titles. Nearly all do relate to layouts as such, but go farther, to what a layout represents, and how it can have both more realistic looks and operation.
As always, the author writes clear and interesting text, and has chosen excellent illustrations, if perhaps a few too many of the most familiar layouts. The points are made repeatedly, that modelers can and should learn from the prototype, and adapt what they learn to recreate those lessons in model form. This is an ongoing theme from Koester, but one which certainly bears emphasis once again.
I really enjoyed both browsing and close reading of this book. The layout of the book allows for generous sizes of most photos, and often of equal importance, without too much cropping of the model scenes. I reproduce below just one example of a double-page spread, in an effort to convey how attractive a book it is.
As with any book by Tony Koester, this one is not just informative and educational, but is pleasant and interesting to read. Almost any of us will learn or re-learn a few lessons, and if you have, or are building, a layout, you will recognize how practical and sensible the commentary is. I recommend it highly.