Reference pages

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Handout: operating like the prototype

This is a new talk handout, intended to provide citations to many of the printed and on-line resources mentioned in the talk with the same title as this post, along with links to those on-line. Listed below are all the published sources and cited articles from the talk, for those wishing to examine any of them further. 

In the talk, I reviewed some hobby history, and spent time discussing the contributions of Frank Ellison, John Allen, and Allen McClelland to the understanding we have today, of what a layout can be and how it can be operated. As it happens, I have written blog posts over the years about all three of those gentlemen, and links to those posts are included below.

I tried to comment on how and why we see so many truly complete layouts today, like the scene below on John Breau’s Kansas City layout, modeling the Great Northern in eastern Montana (the scene is a local freight, just departing his town of Dutton, Montana). It was not that long ago that very few layouts approached this kind of completeness. Then I commented on what we can do today or try to do, with such layouts.

Here are the references to publications mentioned or shown in the clinic.

Allen, John, Model Railroader appearances: cover, September 1952 and April 1973

Armstrong, John H., The Railroad – What It Is, What It Does (Chapter 8, Railroad Operations), Simmons-Boardman Publishing, Omaha, 1982. [there are several subsequent editions with updates; the original is closest in time to the era I model]

“Boomer Pete,”see under Kalmbach, A.C.

Chubb, Bruce, How to Operate Your Model Railroad, Kalmbach Books, Milwaukee, 1977.

_______, Compendium of Model Railroad Operations, Operations Special Interest Group, Downingtown, PA, 2017.

Coughlin, E.W., Freight Car Distribution and Handling in the United States, Car Service Division, Association of American Railroads, Washington, 1956.

Ellison, Frank, “The Art of Model Railroading, Part 6,” Model Railroader, August 1944, pp. 342–347; reprinted as “All in the cards” in Model Railroader, January 1965, pp. 52–55.

Ellison, Frank, “The Art of Model Railroading,” six-part series n Model Railroader, 1944; reprinted in 1964, August to January 1965.

Ellison, Frank, “Delta Lines,” Model Railroader, November 1955 (contains full track plan).

Kalmbach, A.C. (writing as “Boomer Pete”), “Realistic Operation,” Model Railroader, March 1939, pp. 127–130.

Kalmbach, A.C. (writing as “Boomer Pete”), How to Run a Model Railroad, Kalmbach, Milwaukee, 1944 (revision of earlier book, Operating a Model Railroad, 1942).

Koester, Tony, “In search of the perfect waybill,” Model Railroader, February 2012, p. 82.

Koester, Tony, Realistic Model Railroad Operation, Kalmbach, Waukesha, WI, 2003 (2nd edition, 2013).

Koester, Tony, Allen McClelland and the Virginian & Ohio, Kalmbach Media, Waukesha, WI, 2023.

McClelland, W. Allen, The V&O Story, Carstens Publications, Newton, NJ, 1984.

Palmieri, Michael M., “Frank Ellison and the Delta Lines,”

_______, Railway Accounting Rules, Accounting Division, Association of American Railroads, Washington, 1950. [numerous editions exist; this one suits my era]

Smith, Doug, “The latest word on card operations,” Model Railroader, December 1961, pp. 52–62.

Sprau, David, and Steven King, 19 East, Copy Three, Operations Special Interest Group, WoodDale, IL, 2013, 

Thompson, Anthony, “Prototypical waybills for car card operation,” Railroad Model Craftsman, December 2009, pp. 71–77.  

Thompson, Anthony, “Contents of a Waybill,” The Dispatcher’s Office, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 17–24, April 2010.
[corrected version available at: ]

Thompson, Anthony, “Freight Car Handling and Distribution,” The Dispatcher’s Office, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 28–31, October 2011.
[corrected version available at: ]

Thompson, Tony, “Getting Real: A More Prototypical Waybill for Model Railroads,” Model Railroad Hobbyist, pp. 31–46, May 2012.

Thompson, Anthony, “Progress with Prototypical Waybills for Modelers,” The Dispatcher’s Office, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 26–33, October 2016.
[corrected version available at: ]

Thompson, Tony, ”Getting Real: Operating with Prototypical Waybills,” Model Railroad Hobbyist, January 2018. 

Thompson, Tony, “Thoughts on John Allen, Part 2,” blog post,

Thompson, Tony, “Remembering Allen McClelland,” blog post,

Thompson, Tony, “Frank Ellison: An Appreciation,” blog post, available at: 

Westcott, Linn, Model Railroading with John Allen, Kalmbach Books, Milwaukee, 1981.

Many of the foregoing published articles contain mention of many more sources, for those wishing to pursue some of these topics further. 

Tony Thompson


  1. Is there a link available to the handout?


      Tony Thompson

  2. That seems to just take me to the blog where you talk about the handout. There doesn't seem to be a link to the handout unless I'm missing something...

    1. You are right, the blog post IS the handout. I didn't want to simply summarize the talk, but to provide a list of the many publications cited during the talk, along with a brief commentary at the beginning for those who hadn't seen the talk. If there is something specific you need, please ask.
      Tony Thompson