This book is primarily intended for Iain Rice’s US readership, but still has much to offer British modellers. Shelf layouts for model railroads contains a number of schemes designed for both HO and N scale following US prototype practice. A most useful book, with some great ideas for unobtrusive wall-mounted layouts. The most valuable part covers baseboard design, as Iain steps away from the conventional 2″ x 1″ framing approach in favour of commercially available shelf bracket systems.
The book’s American orientation is evident not only in the terminology but in the sheer scale of several of the projects, which are considerably larger than most common British layouts. The “shelf” here is not just a short piece of layout 12-18 inches wide and around six feet long, but a selection of room-sized projects in which the shelf in question is simply a layout structure attached permanently to the wall, rather than standing on legs.
The opening chapters explore a number of Iain’s design preferences. Regular readers of Iain’s work will be familiar with these already. Most of Iain’s designs are intended for a more-or-less eye-level view and he explores how this can be achieved within the boundaries of a commercial shelving system. He explores the need for for adequate lighting, the approach to backscenes and how to design for operational interest. The remaining chapters cover actual layout schemes, and there is a good selection of medium to large model railroads to suit a wide range of tastes.
British readers will also notice that Iain’s regular prose style, which is usually enlivened by his dry humour, has been curtailed somewhat in favour of a more utilitarian presentation. In my view this is a loss, and the Americans might enjoy his UK style if editors would permit.