ABOUT US and Policies Page

Our janitor, office manager, kit designer, ad planner and kit packer, Merle Rice, relaxed a few years back running his friend’s steam loco model. Bill Pepper, road foreman,  is supervising the novice engineer.

                                               Welcome, we’re glad you stopped in.  



Model Railroad Warehouse is a manufacturer and distributor of Prototype Specific Products ™ model railroad kits and parts made in USA. We’ve been in this business since 1965.  Products we make are in the Cannonball Car Shops, Cannonball LTD Series, Cannonball Signature Series and Hometown brands.  We ship worldwide to model railroaders and model rail/ hobby shops. Our products are designed for the serious hobbiest – or to create serious modelers. Our warehouse (not open to the public) is located at 235 N. Main Street, Roanoke, Indiana [mailing address of PO Box 411, Roanoke, IN  46783]. Our own products are manufactured locally except the etched brass parts made in California with our tooling. Due to our small size, and the nature of kit design and manufacturing work, we cannot be continually available on the telephone so we have “a system.”  We strive to keep this website up to date (each page has current update info) and we read our emails daily (mrrwarehouse (at) yahoo.com) and reply promptly. We post vacation shutdowns on our homepage.




We have been in this business since 1965. Boss Merle (that’s me) holds an engineering degree from Rose- Hulman but moved on to the “high paying” world of college and high school teaching for 37 years.  To afford teaching and model railroading (NMRA life member, joined in 1955), I started a hobby shop in Ft Wayne in the 1960s and was soon manufacturing kits (engineers aren’t happy any other way, I guess). We purchased Red Ball in 1975 and recently sold that pioneering line after having designed and produced over three hundred different additional kits. My wife, Bea, managed the business days and I was on the night shift. Our son managed our painting and pad printing during the early days of that craft in the US. He has been an Industrial Engineer at the neighboring GM pickup truck plant for nearly two decades now. We had as many as eight employees simultaneously making railroad kits here during many of those years, but I am now trying to do all their jobs while designing new kits and their tooling.  My fun seems to have been designing things others said couldn’t be done because they can’t be- with the way things had always been made.  The challenge is to create fun (not frustration) for you. We try harder.  Here’s additional historic and personal info and pictures that were posted on our website over the years.  You’ll see some other folks who have been on our team in recent years too.






ORDERING, PRIVACY and SECURITY INFORMATION – CONDENSED                                         EFFECTIVE March 1, 2016

SHIPPING by UPS or Priority Mail insured and HANDLING (Paypal or Bank Card processing) fees are charged at our cost.  US Orders at this time typically are charged 3% with $8 minimum shipping ($5 for light flat objects sent first class). Shipping costs have recently risen dramatically.   Foreign typically charged about 5% with $18 minimum (Canada $12) shipping.  Foreign shipment is only by postal carrier, uninsured. We advise tracking numbers on foreign orders routinely; and upon request on US orders. Foreign orders should remit by Paypal.

WARRANTY and SHIPPING DAMAGE  Hold the item or damaged package for instructions from us. Unauthorized returns may be subject to 15% restocking fee.  Note the invoice number in your initial communication. All items are subject to manufacturer’s warranty.  All sales are final.

ORDERING  you may order items on our SHOWROOM PAGES by

  1. Mail with check, money order or credit card info. We do not keep credit cards on file. Returned check (for any reason) fee is $30. We do not ship COD, check must cover shipping. MODEL RAILROAD WAREHOUSE, PO Box 411, Roanoke, IN 46783.          FOREIGN:   International postal money orders in US funds.
  2. Internet shopping cart. Cart will charge full retail. Any promotional discount will be refunded by Paypal when shipped. The shopping cart charges for shipping may be excessive (we will refund any overpayment by Paypal) or insufficient (for heavy or distant shipments—we will send a paypal request for additional payment).   (This option is not available for Yardsale items)   FOREIGN: Preferred method
  3. E Mail order. We will email Paypal request for payment.   FOREIGN: Preferred method
  4. FOREIGN: Normally unacceptable-e mail communicate first

ORDERING YARDSALE ITEMS- instructions are posted at top of HO Locomotive page of Yardsale.

We hold shipment 2 weeks on orders paid by check. Though YOU may often know your check is cleared, we can’t see your electronic banking statement and WE don’t know.

BACK ORDERS for items in our shopping cart are rare and brief IF YOU CHECK THE MONTHLY STATUS UPDATE PAGE linked at the top of each showroom page for outages etc. We strive to keep all shopping cart items in stock or in transit for prompt filling of orders. Items which are not expected to arrive for shipment within a month are posted in our WHAT’S NEW, OUT and WEB SPECIALS page (updated monthly), Orders for them are accepted as requests for Back Order status. Orders for unreleased items are accepted as RESERVATIONS with indefinite delivery dates.

RESERVATIONS for unreleased items should be made with an individual email for each different item (in any quantity). Use subject line RESERVATION FOR ________ naming the item and scale. Give your name and address, phone, quantity wanted and, if possible, assistance you can render. If you change email address please resubmit as will communicate by email regarding reservations. As possible production looms we will request confirmation by email and may then request deposits on certain items.

COMMUNICATION AND COMPLAINTS should be emailed to us @ mrrwarehouse (at) yahoo.com for prompt attention. Please include appropriate identification of yourself, the product, the invoice #, your address, dates, method of payment and the problem. We cannot search files without this and without your email address.  If requesting a phone reply in US, please indicate WHEN you can be reached. Please do not phone our contracted order taker, you’ll delay response. We read & respond to our emails daily (weekdays) normally.

PRIVACY and SECURITY   We do not retain credit card information in physical or electronic form after filling your order unless so instructed by you. The padlock emblem on our shopping cart indicates its security. Do not email credit card information.  We do not maintain e mail address lists EXCEPT those who request specific services such as notification of events or pre-reservations on unreleased products. Only these requested specific messages are sent. We do NOT send general advertising (“Spam”) email and we do not share or sell email lists with those who do.   We do NOT send emails with attached files unless we advise the specific file’s purpose and content. NEVER open files from anyone (even good friends) which arrive with no message (only the attached file) without first confirming the sender did in fact send the file. WE will not open files from your address either-unless you advise a purpose and content.

DEALER TERMS are found at the bottom of this section above OUR HISTORY.

CATALOGS-CONTACTING US-OUR PHYSICAL LOCATION  We are  at 235 Main Street, Roanoke, IN 46783 with additional nearby storage, production and packaging locations. These facilities are not open to the public. We may be reached @ mrrwarehouse(at)yahoo.com for prompt response to questions or phone replies (advise your availability at number given). We do not accept phone calls due to the nature of kit planning, production and packaging—with no “front office staff.”  Our order taker is contracted [and paid] to take orders –your calls are not “free.”  SSAAE sent to MRRW at PO Box 411, Roanoke, IN 46783 will receive prompt hand written responses or printed lists of our INTERURBAN kits, or LTD brass sides & SIGNATURE SERIES kits as specified. We cannot provide other print “free catalogs”—a copy of this website would cost as much as a Chinese import but you are welcome to download and print it for personal reference. Contents are ©.

WARRANTIES-ALL PURCHASES ARE FINAL.  Products are honestly represented and cannot be shipped for “approval shopping.”  All products we distribute (Those not on YARDSALE page) are warranted by their respective manufacturers. Do not return complete kits. Communicate with the manufacturer and return defective parts to the kit maker if and when instructed to do. Defective Cannonball, HOMETOEWN, LTD Series or SIGNATURE Series product PARTS should be returned for replacement after first contacting us (the manufacturer) with explanation of the problem. Construction errors and half built kits cannot be covered by any manufacturer warranties. New products on YARDSALE page are sold “as is” and may not be warranted by manufacturer. Used “Bargain basement” items on YARDSALE page are sold “as is.” DISCOLORATION OF BRASS PARTS FROM AIR EXPOSURE IS NOT A DEFECT.  DISFIGURATION OF BRASS PARTS BY COINSUMER  HANDLING CREATES DEFECTIVENESS AND IS NOT COVERED BY MANUFACTURER’s WARRANTY.


Model Railroad Warehouse products are warranted against defects or part shortages. No product suitability is warranted or implied. Warranty is void on any product one year after its discontinuance. Warranty is void on any MRRW product sold or resold by others in a “non-brick & mortar” environment such as on- line auction or “train show.” Revision of a product does not obligate MRRW to the change for any product previously packaged or sold. We reserve the right to require a dated hobby store receipt or invoice indicating the sku of any product on which adjustment is requested. We reserve the right to charge a shipping/handling charge for lost/missing parts. Parts damaged by the modeler during construction or handling are not considered defective.

Products manufactured by others and sold by MRRW through our “show room pages” are warranted by their manufacturer and adjustments should be requested from the manufacturer. Products sold by us through our “YARDSALE” may be covered by their manufacturer’s warranty as well. We do not imply they are warranted –though they are new merchandise –as most are out of production.


HOMETOWN Bristol Series products may be suited for construction by children 12 yrs or older. All other MRRW products are intended for adult hobbiest use only with experience using hand tools and requiring safety precautions.


PROMOTIONAL PRICE, PRE RELEASEDE PRICES and HOLDS Promotional sale prices apply ONLY to orders placed and paid during the posted sale. Pre-release reservations “lock in” the price posted when product was reserved for the quantity reserved if payment is received within 30 days of notification. We cannot be responsible for failure of notification delivery or non-acceptance of (expired?) credit cards.  RERESERVE items when changing email addresses (our filing system for reservation is based on email address). Mail reservations should include SSAE for notification as well as   credit card information. YARDSALE Items will be held 7 days for payment after notification of availability. Regular prices are subject to change without advance notice and posted price applies at time order is placed and paid.

SHIPPING DAMAGE or LOSS.  Uninsured shipments (including most foreign orders) are shipped at customer’s risk. We ONLY SHIP INSURED to USA addresses unless specifically requested otherwise. In case of damage, DO NOT RETURN, keep complete package and contents for carrier’s instructions and or inspection. Notify the carrier and mail or email us so a claim can be initiated- then await instructions.  We average less than one damaged or lost shipment a year and the average would have been much lower than that except for GE steeple cabs disappearing in Chicago region mailings when the kit was released. (Rumor has it the result was unemployment).

BACK ORDERS  for out of stock are scarce at MRRW. Items on our pages are “IN STOCK, IN TRANSIT or, if not, they’re noted IN THE LINKED UPDATE PAGE”  We  strive to maintain stock OR POST AVAILABILITY DATA ON THE PAGE UPDATES. When we do note an “Item to follow” we do not charge a second shipping fee.

CHECKS in US funds on US Banks: Orders placed with personal checks will be held for 2 weeks pending check clearance.  There will be a $30 charge for checks that do not clear for any reason.

FOREIGN  orders may be paid by Paypal or international money order in US funds. There will be a service fee of $3.00 minimum for international Visa or Master card orders. Do NOT email credit card information. Handling charges – see USA information. WE SUGGEST USING THE SHOPPING CART or HAVING US SEND PAYPAL REQUEST FOR PAYMENT for most economical and prompt fulfillment of your order. Use of shopping cart may result in request for additional shipping charge or a refund of excessive charge.  Click Here for more details

SHIPMENT in USA is made by insured UPS on heavier or more costly orders. First Class, Parcel or Priority mail as appropriate on others.  We refund any savings on shipping and handling (via Paypal) on website shopping cart orders. TYPICAL  Minimum charge is $15 UPS’  $9.00 mail. Decals or small parts may be mailed first class uninsured for $5.00. Canada: we  use postal delivery uninsured for the same $9 and $5 minimum charge. Foreign we ship by postal package or air priority mail. Minimum charge is typically $17 though some items can be shipped letter class. Shipment charge is PER SHIPMENT. Our shopping cart charges flat fees based on order size and we refund possible savings. Additional charge may be needed to cover shipping charge. A Paypal email request will be made if needed.  HANDLING CHARGES for orders paid by check are typically zero; Fair and minimal  based on the calls (typically $1.50), Card processors charges and excess Packing costs to service your particular order.     Click here  for more details

RESERVATIONS for unreleased products may be made by email to sales (a) mttwarehouse.com with subject line “RESERVATION FOR item name or number.” Give shipping address in message and quantity wanted. We will confirm   by email when product appears ready to produce or tool. We will email paypal request for payment (with instructions-you don’t need an account) when ready to ship. RFR items should be similarly reserved. If you send check or money order it will be cashed with understanding it is a firm order for shipment upon availability.  (Likewise, shopping cart orders are charged when placed). There will be a $5.00 cancellation fee for refunds after 30 days unless we cancel the potential product. Special terms apply on Grand River products. Please see special FROG reservation system page. Click here for other reserving methods &  information

DEALER Terms  are linked this page. We do not sell to “drop shipper” internet order taking “dealers” or “travelling road show” operators. Brick and mortar firms listing our product on their website are welcome.  B&M dealers who sell at local train shows and advertising custom builders are also welcome. We expect our dealers to show and sell our products and not be “order takers”:  for sales we have already created.  Dealers may order using the retail shopping cart AFTER ESTABLISHING DEALER RELATIONSHIP WITH FIRST ORDER as explained in DEALER INFO. Your Dealer discount will be refunded by Paypal. There will be a service fee of 3% ($3.00 min) for US dealer order payments by Paypal , Visa or Master cards.   Your website and/or listing in consumer magazine dealer directories or other satisfactory evidence of your serving the public as a model retailer/source is a must. We reserve the right to refuse dealership courtesy for any cause. Dealer’s images stressing “low price discounting” are not acceptable. We provide quality products for serious adult model railroaders and expect that image in their representation.  Foreign Dealers Click here

DOORPRIZES For many years we provided door prizes and even got a thank you letter of appreciation once.  If your NMRA group or active club actually advertise or will distribute our ads, please write. If your club has folks buying our products, please have them write a note with your form letter requesting door prizes.

SECURITY  Our website shopping cart operates through the secure Paypal system and displays the padlock emblem. We do not maintain a file of credit card information with the exception of pre-release mail or phone orders with credit card payment. Card info is kept with reservation in a secure (not accessible by computer) file. Do not open email files purported to be sent by us UNLESS we advise they are coming by identifying file name.

SPAM  The ONLY mass e-mailings we make are to those who have reserved specific  unreleased products. These mailings will contain information related to the reserved product and utilize blind copy technology so your address is not sent to other recipients.

CONFIDENTIALITY We do not sell, share, rent or exchange email address lists, mailing lists or customer lists. Links on our website are only posted as references to established websites. References to other sources’, email addresses etc., when given, will use (at) rather than @ to prevent spammers automated use of the addresses. This even applies to our own address. You are welcome to email us at  mrrwarehouse(at)yahoo.com.


Brick and Mortar model railroad shops may establish dealer relationship with Model RR Warehouse by submitting either

   1) Government business license and photo of store front or

   2) Copies of current yellow pages listing/ads or

   3) Copies of dealer directory ads in commercial or NMRA consumer model magazines  or

   4) Website

For our consideration and acceptance. Indiana dealers also submit sales tax exemption form.

AND a purchase order with company check for $100 or more (net) of merchandise eligible for dealer discount in addition to any single items ordered with msrp of $100 or more. Credit references unnecessary as we do not extend open accounts.  If one year lapses since your last order, we may require re-establishment. There is no minimum order after initial order, however consistently small orders may be cause for termination. [Packaging and handling costs for a $25 order are equal those for a $100 order]. No dealer can stock everything, but a dealer who doesn’t stock representative  product to expose it to the consumer is not creating sales.

Custom Builders may  establish  dealer status in the same manner with the additional option  e) Copies of classified ads in commercial consumer model magazines.

SHIPPING by UPS or Priority Mail insured and HANDLING (Paypal or Bank Card processing) fees are charged at net.

WARRANTY and SHIPPING DAMAGE  Hold the item or damaged package for instructions from us. Note the invoice number in your initial communication. All items are subject to manufacturer’s warranty.  All sales are final.

RESTRICTIONS and TERMINATION OF DEALER STATUS  All products which we distribute are made in USA (except Oregon Rail Signal Bridges- China), intended for serious model builders, and of the highest quality. Parts (but not kits) with 772.2 prefix are not typically packaged for dealer display and MAY be private labelled by dealers. Dealer status may be terminated in the event the product lines we supply are represented in a less than professional manner unsuited to a QUALITY image.

ORDERING Established dealers may order by

   1) Mail with check, money order or credit card info. We do not keep credit cards on file. Returned check (for any reason) fee is $30 and dealer status review. We do not ship COD, check must cover shipping. Over-payment will be credited. We hold shipment 2 weeks on orders paid by check.

   2) Internet shopping cart. Cart will charge full retail. Discount will be refunded by Paypal when shipped

   3) E Mail order. We will email Paypal request for payment OR phone you for credit card info—your option.

BACK ORDERS for items in our shopping cart are rare and brief IF YOU CHECK THE MONTHLY STATUS UPDATE PAGE . We strive to keep all shopping cart items in stock or in transit for prompt filling of orders.


772.2  Cannonball Car Shops LTD SERIES etched brass parts and kits  and Wabash Valley S  diesel shells  20% discount.

197- CANNONBALL CAR SHOPS styrene kits and HOMETOWN structure kits  40% discount

293-TICHY  HO kits, Lineside Details and  carbuilder detail parts, some O parts    40% discount

20- LaBelle Woodworking  HO kits and parts 30% Discount;  O kits and parts  20% Discount

10- Bethlehem Car Works  HO Kits, Trucks and Parts  40% Discount

538- Oregon Rail Products  Signal kits & parts  40%  Discount

GR  Grand River custom builtups-  20% discount on772.2  kit only

LARGE RUNS OF 772.2 PRODUCT may have negotiated promotional pricing to dealers. “Large” varies in definition depending on the quantity yield per etching sheet but will be a set number (often six) OR multiples of it.

PROMOTIONAL WEBSITE OFFERS and items not included in this list but on our website ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR DEALER DISCOUNT and may be ordered at listed prices.



Model Railroad Warehouse is owned and operated by Merle Rice, a retired college and high school physics instructor and engineer. Merle started this business in 1966 as a retail model railroad shop near (and then moved into) the village of Roanoke, Indiana. (Which has since grown  as result of a new GM pickup truck plant nearby). He began designing and producing the HOMETOWN structure line in the early 1070s and Golden Era freight cars (Berghoff Reefer under Roanoke Shops brand- then Ft Wayne Horse & Mule car, Oyster car and O scale traction and passenger cars) as Wabash Valley  Lines).  Merle developed a precolored styrene brick wall material that was a “breakthrough” in an era when structure kits were of wooden buildings or plastic kits of European masonry design. Hometown made early 20th century town modeling popular. 

When Howell Day offered the Red Ball tooling and brand in 1975, Merle and a silent partner formed Wabash Valley Lines, Inc,  purchased Red Ball and built an additional building. We grew rapidly to eight employees and two shifts, outgrowing our space and purchased a business building in Roanoke. His engineering background was dangerous—he planned on using the hundreds of Red Ball metal molds to make injection molded styrene parts and kits. Commercial molders said it couldn’t be done so Merle and a local mechanic of all trades (Paul Miller)  engineered a way to do it. An injection molding machine was purchased and operated in Miller’s business until he decided to retire. The Roanoke building was enlarged with a machine shop and molding operation (later grown to three injection machines). A second brand name, Cannonball Car Shops, was invented to distinguish the styrene products from the metal and wood Red Ball kits that were still favored by many modelers. This became amusing as we received constant warnings that this new Cannonball outfit was copying our Red Ball line – when they were being made by the same molds in different machines. Some folks were quite sure one line was better detailed than the other too.  (The customer is always right, you know, even the guy who complained Wabash Valley wasn’t near the Wabash River. His letter came while flood waters of the Little Wabash River had our plant surrounded. Our plant was one block from the location of the Roanoke station on the Ft Wayne and Wabash Valley traction line, within whistling distance of the Wabash RR and took employee parties to a Wabash River beach. Well there were a lot of problems with part piracy by folks with rubber mold spin casters in those days so we appreciated the loyal diligence of many. Cannonball soon purchased the Kurtz Kraft PS1 boxcar (and reefer) molds from Rip VanWinkle- Alexander Models. And we had begun developing additional plastic molds in our own machine shop, A serious fire shut down the operation for some time after an operator error with one molding machine and in time the wood and metal kit line was shrunk to a core of unique design kits.  We had begun by doing our own silk screened wood boxcar and reefer sides. It became more economical to subcontract this step to Gene Walp in Pensacola who also did our early PS boxcars (before plastic compatible model paints). This work was brought in-house when we purchased a precision pad printing machine, one of the very first (third, we think) in the American model industry. For many years we also produced New River Models pad printed Stewart locomotive kits.

As Merle continued developing new Red Ball kits they began involving etched brass components. Then new styrene parts. And the distinction between CCS and Red Ball blurred. A second fire at our original building, now storage facility, helped cause the decision to downsize. Wabash Valley  Inc ceased and Merle’s underlying  Model Railroad Warehouse assumed operation. MRRW operated a distributorship of several train lines n a second Roanoke business location since the 1980s. The Roanoke “factory” building was sold, Red Ball’s “heritage line” (kits based on wood and metal) and machines were sold to LaBelle Woodworking. Cannonball adopted the styrene and brass kit line and brass parts line. and operates in the “second” Roanoke (warehouse) location. Our brass etchings are made by a premiere California firm in the business and our styrene is molded by a nearby molding firm that refuses automotive work Plastic molders who accept automotive contracts frequently must “evict” their other customers. Then they are subject to severe big customer pricing pressures – often leading to failure. We chose them as they accepted our desire for quality work at slightly higher prices- and one the mold maker who produced many of our molds was an impressive student of Merle’s at a local college.

The popular HOMETOWEN structure line was “back burnered” for some time as labor costs began forcing unrealistic pricing of our kits. We’ve re-engineered them for printing as Bristol cardstock kits that can accept Tichy windows for dress p. Freestanding as built, they can be “lined” with popular plastic poster board for use in damp environments. Some also use them as plans for scratch building and inexpensive “stand ins.” Our intent was to create structures with character for entry level layouts and backer ground / supper detailing  use on discriminating layouts. These are produced for us by the nearby firm who also contract to take your 800 orders.

A thumbnail history of Red Ball was posted on our website when we announced its sale to LaBelle Woodworking:

Red Ball, head-quartered at Roanoke and Huntington Indiana, since 1976, is packing up to move back out west — to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Negotiations and preparations (in Indiana and Wyoming) have been underway since October 2007.

M. Dale Newton founded the Red Ball kit firm in 1939 and operated it from his printing business in Los Angeles, Ca. He moved to Medford, Oregon, during World War 2 and continued operations there. John Anderson, later a leading force at Kemtron then founder of Cal Scale, milled hundreds of the crisply detailed solid metal Red Ball molds during the post war years. Red Ball was briefly located in Elkhart, Indiana, but returned to Medford prior to its purchase in 1955 by Howell Day. Mr. Day was a pioneer model rail shop proprietor in Dunellen/Piscataway, New Jersey. He had manufactured O scale kits and had introduced an HO PRR K4 kit prior to World War 2 under the “H Owen” brand. The Red Ball line was expanded to include dozens of unique prototype kits, well over 200 bilboard frfrigerator cars and over a hundred wood style boxcars during the New Jersey era. Red Ball was also an early importer of Japanese made brass motive power and specialty cars. Upon his retirement in 1975 the parts and kit line was acquired by Wabash Valley Lines, Inc. and has been operated by Merle Rice’s Model Railroad Warehouse for the past 34 years. Rice added dozens of additional prototype specific kits and engineered the use of most Red Ball molds to produce injection molded styrene parts and kits. During this era, the wood and metal Red Ball line was differentiated from the styrene kits by introduction of the “Cannonball Car Shop” brand for styrene kits and parts. Red Ball, at seventy years old, is one of the handful of remaining pioneer kit makers and has been particularly notable for introducing a wide variety of detailed unique prototype cars and carsides to the hobby. As Red Ball enters its seventy-first year of kitmaking it will be conducted by LaBelle Woodworking Company’s Rick Steele.

Over the years we have exhibited at NMRA National Train Shows in St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati  and Seattle as well as many years the hobby industry show at Chicago (beginning at its beginning in Ford City). Following the Cincy show we donated the historic molds for the Kurtz Kraft PS1 boxcar to the NMRA’s Howell Day Museum.  Why historic? This was THE first injection molded plastic railcar kit.  The Getting to Know Us page includes information that was current at the time of the Seattle convention and pictures taken then  AND photos of some of the folks who have made our quality products possible.  Some “About Us” as posted several years back:


Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

Comments Disabled!

Comments are closed.