News & Reviews News Meet Larry Puckett

Meet Larry Puckett

By Larry Puckett | June 2, 2024

Do something; even if it’s wrong, you’ll learn from it

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

What was your first train set (or locomotive)?

man wearing black shirt in front of model train layout
Larry Puckett has authored books, a DCC column, and many articles for Model Railroader.

My big present for Christmas 1958 was a Lionel train set pulled by a Santa Fe F3a. It spent most of the time under my bed in an old suitcase. My brother and I would set it up and run trains in circles until we got bored and then back into the suitcase it went. It disappeared at some point during my teens when slot cars and girls became a more important focus of my spare time. Then when my son was about 3 years old, my brother gave him his old HO scale set, which piqued my latent interest. One day in 1981, as I was looking for more track and cars at a local hobby shop, I picked up a copy of Model Railroader and have been hooked ever since.

Describe your model railroading philosophy in 6 words.

Do something, even if it’s wrong you’ll learn from it. I know too many armchair modelers who would rather watch videos or read magazines and never get around to actual modeling. It really helps to try out new methods just to get a feel for the process and learn new methods.

three hobby books on white background
Books written by the author. Larry Puckett photo

What has been your biggest modeling success?

Probably writing about the hobby. I have been a contributing editor and/or writer for Model Railroading, Railroad Model Craftsman, and currently Model Railroader, where I wrote the “DCC Corner” column from 2015 to 2020. I have written four books —Practical Guide To DCC, Wiring Your Model Railroad, Wiring Projects for Your Model Railroad, and DCC Projects and Applications Vol. 4 — and around 350 magazine articles since 1990.

Plus, I have a YouTube channel “Model Railroading With the DCC Guy,” where I have produced more than 350 videos on everything from layout design and construction to DCC, and on building my Piedmont Southern model railroad.

What was your biggest modeling mistake?

Waiting too long to get started on my current Piedmont Southern layout. Although I had developed track plans for the layout well in advance, after I retired, I waited four years before beginning construction of benchwork and laying track. Granted, some of that time was involved in finishing off the train room after we moved to Asheville, N.C., in 2010, but I let other distractions get in the way. As the late Allen McClelland pointed out on several occasions, building a large model railroad involves a lot of planning and time management, often more than most folks realize, and I lost several years with that delay.

What’s your least favorite modeling task?

Ballasting track. I find it to be a mind-numbing chore that I constantly put off. I think Cody Grivno is the only person I know who seems to enjoy doing it.

What project(s) have you been working on recently?

model railroad helix made from wood
Larry added a helix to his layout in 2023. He documented it in a multi-part series on his YouTube channel. Larry Puckett photo

Last year I completed a six-part YouTube video series on constructing a large helix to carry trains between my hidden staging yard and the main level of the layout. Recently I did another video series on adding the “bridge” between the top of the helix and the end of the layout. So, I can now bring trains out of staging. However, I still have to complete a 4-foot-long plate girder bridge to allow those trains access to the main yard and the rest of the layout. That’ll be my next big project in 2024, followed by a second helix, and that will complete the track work for the layout.

What advice would you give to a new hobbyist?

Don’t get hung up with planning and other delays, waiting for a place and time to build your dream layout. You are better off to just find a small layout or even a module plan and get it built. That will allow you to develop the skills you will need one day for that dream layout.

So many people tell me they just don’t have room for a layout in their apartment or parent’s house. However, you can learn a lot from building a small 2’ x 4’ switching layout or even a diorama. John Allen began his model railroading with a 3’-7” x 6’-8” version of the Gorre & Daphetid, which he went on to incorporate into the much larger and more famous version of his layout. Model Railroader regularly publishes plans for compact layouts that can get you started and also help you stay excited about trying out the latest methods on your test bed.

You must login to submit a comment