About The Builder

James McNab is an award-winning producer and video editor with more than 700 production credits to his name.

His approach to designing, building, and operating layouts has been documented numerous times in the hobby press, including articles in Model Railroader, Model Railroad Planning, and Great Model Railroads. He serves as a Contributing Editor for Trains.com Video, producing and hosting The Hills Line with James McNab.

James lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife and son, where they’re restoring a classic American Foursquare home.


Modeling Modern Clearance Markers
Model Railroader – June 2022

Building an Offline Customer
Building What’s in a Photo – Kalmbach Media

Demolition to Discovery
Model Railroad Planning 2022

Rebuilding the Hills Line
Kalmbach Media

5 Tips for Trouble-Free Turnouts
Model Railroader – August 2020

The Hills Line with James McNab
Model Railroader Video Plus

Planning Tip: Fascia Signs
Model Railroad Planning 2020

Tips from the Masters – Contributor
Time-Saving Techniques for Building Model Railroads – Kalmbach Media

MRVP Layout Visit: James McNab’s Iowa Interstate Grimes Line in HO scale
Model Railroader Video Plus

Large Industries in Limited Space
Model Railroader – December 2016
Reprinted in Build Big and Small Industries for your Model Railroad

Patching Freight Cars with Paint Pens
25 Freight Car Projects – Kalmbach Books

From Hidden Staging to Visible Yard
Model Railroad Planning 2016

Less is More on a Modern Branch Line
Great Model Railroads 2015

Choosing the Right Place at the Right Time
Model Railroad Planning 2014

Locking Up Your Layout
Model Railroad Hobbyist – December 2013

Endless Horizons on The Grimes Line
The Missing Conversation #6 – OST Publications

Use Layered Foliage to Enhance Your Scenery
Model Railroader – October 2013
Reprinted in Model Railroader’s Best of Scenery