How To Model Railroad Operations John Armstrong’s Aksarben Road audio recordings and online extras

John Armstrong’s Aksarben Road audio recordings and online extras

By Angela Cotey | November 20, 2014

| Last updated on November 20, 2020

Listen to the original 1981 John Armstrong audio recording and see his maps and track diagram from the Aksarben Road O scale layout

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Model Railroader readers first encountered a track plan designed by John Armstrong in 1952. John became popular, and dozens of his designs were published in magazines and books, earning him the title “dean of track planners.” He died in 2004.

John’s style was fully “out of the box” for the time. You might wonder if John had ever met a curved line he didn’t like.

John offered track-planning services commercially to model railroaders. For a fee, a hobbyist would tell John how much space he had and what kind of railroad he wanted, and after a series of back-and-forth correspondence, John would present his plan. John also gave his clients an audio tape on which John described the railroad and its operations in detail.

In 1981, H. Denny Taylor commissioned John to draw a plan for Denny’s vision of the Aksarben Railroad, an O scale line that ran between the fork of two Santa Fe Ry. routes in the southern Rockies. Two years ago Denny showed us these plans.

The concept was quite clever: a flood took out part of the Santa Fe fork, forcing Santa Fe trains to cross the curvy Aksarben to reach their destinations. Denny built and operated the layout as designed, although he didn’t finish its scenery before moving to another home.

Check out the O scale Aksarben Road/ATSF Wishbone Division track plan and listen to the complete and unedited recordings below. You can can also see John Armstong’s original map and track profile



    • Part 1: John Armstong’s recording about the Aksarben Road/ATSF Wishbone Division





3 thoughts on “John Armstrong’s Aksarben Road audio recordings and online extras

  1. To the editors: Some confusion may arise from the mistaken (in my view) use of the phrase "out of the box" when one means the equally idiomatic "outside the box." Out of the box implies "unmodified" or possibly "conventional", whereas "outside the box" implies outside usual thought or custom. Sorry about the nit pick. John Armstong will be remembered by me as an originator of unusual but helpful solutions to model railroad planning (outside the box).

  2. Great track plan and explanation of its operation. Makes me want to go back and review some of Armstrong's other plans.

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