Bern’s layout

“This project started in July 2014 and at last I think I have sorted out the track as I want it, now the big task is to fill in the scenery.

Because of the spacing between the tracks, organised that way to get the longest running time, I am limited to what I can fit in so decided against buildings, choosing to give a more country look. Trees have been bought on price at an average of £2 for 3, given the quantity I needed to give a “woodland look”.

Most of the grass area is made up with sawdust dyed with green food dye, it does lose its colour, so I am now going over it again adding commercially bought scatter of different colours which seems to be working.

The outside running track is fitted with crossovers giving four circuits of the board to return to the starting point, at an average speed this takes 2.25 minutes. With planning and quite a bit of luck I have run three trains at one time but a watchful eye is needed to avoid a crash at the crossovers. With this in mind I fitted three sets of points allowing to change between tracks.

There are five sidings for passenger trains and seven sidings for freight all installed on two 8 x 4 foot boards fitted together in an “L” shape.

One of the next things, do I ballast the tracks ? As you can see there is a lot of it, around 90 metres, and I am a little concerned that I will end up with something totally immovable.

Living in rural France, near Mont St Michel, I have been unable to find anyone interested in model trains, the shops that do have any trains are very expensive and extremely small amounts of stock and tell me no one had been interested for the past 12 years. Is there anyone out there near me ?







Just loved the busyness of Bern’s layout. I think it’s superb.

Ebay still going strong: It’s here. Have a look.



45 Responses to Bern’s layout

  1. Bern,
    Great layout. Congratulations.
    France is not a great place to buy Model Train equipment as it is not a popular hobby. I stopped buying from shops a long time ago. I get everything online either from Ebay (the german one – or from other online shops (DM-Toys etc…).
    My advise : Google what you are looking for and you’ll find a place where it is cheaper.

  2. Do ballast the track.It add so much more realism…

  3. Hi Bern, A great little layout, and unusual too. Good way of watching the trains go by, and some nice scenic work. Really envy the space in your work room.
    Cheers – Steve R UK.

  4. brilliant

  5. Bern you have built a great layout with the facilities that you have in France its very difficult , like as been suggested better buying on line , a lot of Uk and Australian modellers use Hattons of Liverpool here in the UK and they export at reasonable prices , as for ballasting ..its a rotten job (Ia always reckon ) but well worth it when done properly ..Dave

  6. Nicely done… Do you have Sedum Plants in France? We have them here in the states and I take the fall flower, dry them, and finish with Woodland Scenics earth and fine grass products. Many comments on this site say my trees look real…Because they are. I have 3 plants in the yard and they yield about 30-40 trees per year of various sizes. Mix them in with the store bought trees.

  7. WOW…all that in just 6 months.
    That’s alot accomplished.
    I spent 6 mos. on a mountain range.

  8. I would say make sure you have done lots of running before you balast the track to make sure it runs well and you dont have to make any changes. Then ballast the track. Also there is nothing saying the the balast has to be heavily glued down unless the layout is designed to be portable. much of my layout stil has loose ballast. It makes changing things much easier, in fact I never glue ballast at turn outs beacause they require maintenance and sometimes even replacement. Kevin

  9. Dear Bern,
    As stated earlier Google online model train shops. There are many in Germany and they do have a good discount. Modelbahn Lippe is one of them. I get a lot of trains in India from him.

  10. Great looking layout. What gauge is it ‘N’??
    Always enjoy pictures and video when posted.. Get great ideas.
    Don’t have a layout up at present, but have a collection of
    ‘HO’ that was up 8′ x 12′ and had to be moved. Hoping to put
    things together soon. Wish everyone would state their gauge
    when posting.. Looking good Bern, keep it up…

  11. Dear Bern,
    I observed 2 things. One that your trains are British. Are they OO?. The shop that I have stated is more of HO. That should not be a problem as it would run on the same tracks.
    As far as the diamond crossover, why don’t you make a flyover such that there are no accidents. The long length can easily accommodate a slope.

  12. if you or folks you know have flower gardens chances are the are plants you can dry that will give the effect of trees.
    I am not familiar with the types of flowers that grow in France therefore I can’t suggest which ones to use.

  13. Great work, Bern. I would agree that the internet would be your best source of “stuff”. Ballasting your track would look so much better. To avoid the track being “set in concrete”, first lay your ballast (take great care with the points) then soak the ballast with 50/50 water and alcohol before applying white glue and water mixed (again 50/50 seems good) once dry it will be quite firm but, should you need to move anything, soak with plain warm water and the glue will dissolve.

  14. Hi Bern, great layout and agree that you should ballast! I’m also in France, but fortunately on the Swiss border near Geneva. I have 3 very good model shops near me just over the border in Switzerland, nothing in France! The Swiss are very much into model railways with several clubs nearby and also regular modellers markets. I use eBay and online shops a lot, as Swiss supplies are expensive, but convenient when wanting something in a hurry. I also restock when visiting the UK. Good luck, Colin.

  15. A suggestion for natural plants for trees, try ‘Spirea Anthony Waterer’, a small shrub that produces an abundance of flowers that make great trees with added scatter. Other varieties of Spirea are also good. Sorry I do not know a common name for the shrub.
    Many people also use large Sedum but they tend to look like the trees that grow native to Aus. with flat tops & long trunks.

  16. Bern, yes do ballast the track, I agree it will enhance the layout tremendously. Your layout looks amazing even without any buildings. I am amazed how much can be accomplished in such a small space. Great job.

  17. like the large busy lay out

  18. Sorry Gent’s, the layout is OO gauge. I have already found Hatton’s where I bought 90% of the stock but didn’t mention it as I was not sure of the rules on advertising ! You have to watch postage charges to France, some can be silly.
    Thanks for the comments

  19. Bern,
    Wonderful layout. Running time and how to expand it within a relatively small space (4′ x 8′) has been my challenge. Might you send a track layout diagram to share?

  20. Bern,
    Beautiful job you’ve done there. As far as ballasting goes it will make it look even better. Spraying with diluted white glue with a bit of dish washing detergent
    added to it helps it to lay out nicely. As the gentleman has stated above , it can always be reconstituted with warm water if the need arises. Perhaps a few very small sheds, or piles of track supplies and a few road vehicles etc. would fill in the tiny empty spots. Fine job sir!

  21. only six months for all that! Great size layout. Keep on it Bern, looking very good. Pete, Calif.

  22. Hi Bern.That is a nice layout. I noticed you don’t have telephone poles. I make my own and you maybe interested in building some.I did 16 poles and total cost was 49 cents. Don’t know how to do it.But if you can get my email address I can send a picture of my pole’s and a how to make them. Talk to Justin about my email address as I don’t have a problem others having it if it pertains to model train.

  23. oops I said Justin.Sorry Al brain fart.I mean Al lol oh I just got another one.Al has the golden key and im sure you can go and look it up. Sorry Al

  24. Like the look of your layout, mine is still in its infancy and I have the same problem as yourself in finding a local supplier residing in Spain. Though my layout will be in English ´N´that is 2mm or 1:148 it will offer me a 12ft x 8ft oval with a few branch lines for fun. I would advise that you cetainly ballast you track it f laid properly will improve the quality of running and sound improvement. I do not know if you are aware of other ballasting methods other than loose chippings but unless your track is firmly fixed already with track pin you could also consider as being quicker. I have also one further suggestion as money and time allows is for you to add more trees to your wooded areas as they look a little sparse at the moment.


  25. Fantastic, great job.

  26. Good job, but too flat, needs ballasting, weathering, and more plants. It’s a nice train board. Kids would love it.

  27. What a beautiful layout. Nice and clean and very interesting to look at. My layout is 17 feet by 7 feet and has lots of detail like yours. G

  28. What a beautiful clean layout Bern. Lots of detail and very easy to look at. My layout is 17 feet by 7 feet and I have lots of detail just like yours. Keep up the good work and I hope you don’t tear it down to change anything, it’s perfect just the way it is. Great work Bern.

  29. HI BERN,
    Gongratulations,great layout.You are too fast!! a fantastic layout in just 6 months.
    If you ballast your track it would look much better!!!
    keep railroading!!!

  30. WOW!!! What more needs to be said? Terrific layout,Bern.

  31. Great Layout! Bern S. Portland, Oregon, US

  32. Hi Bern – I love the layout. It is always hard to put HO scale in such a small space and still have it look realistic. Love how you accomplished this.

    I was just near Mont St. Michel twice in the last year… would have loved to see this in person. I am just starting my layout (Marklin HO) but will likely be a tad bit larger, and multi-levels. Always enjoy seeing these layouts – esp. w/ European trains! :) keep it up.

  33. Great job Bern, You have a super run of track thanks for sharing

  34. very nice railway

  35. Very Nice Layout! Looks Great.. Now is the time to use it. Make sure everything works perfectly before ballasting. Many like ballast but you decide.It will take some time to do and material. Make sure you are satisfied with the layout.
    Enjoy !

  36. Love you layout, it looks fantastic. Here in Canada, I am modelling HO scale and have a very large U shape layout in my basement. One complete section of the layout is rail yard. I love the rail yard probably more than the rest of the layout. That is where the action is I guess as the towns and villages are fairly quiet. Always busy o the farm to though. Keep up the great work and run the trains. I do most of my purchasing on E-Bay but our loonie is taking a big hit and right now with the huge exchange rate, it is not worth while at the moment. In my little townie do have at least one small hobby shop here.

  37. Bern
    If you are a little tentative about ballasting, have a look on You Tube. There are plenty of helpful videos explaining what to do. As for buying train stuff EBay is a great source & you can buy from anywhere in the world.

  38. Good layout. Focuses more on the tracks and rolling stock.
    Have you tried shopping on ebay. You get some good bargains sometimes.

  39. Regarding ballast I was at a pet shop recently (USA) and saw reptile sand dyed varios colors for 10 lb bag only $15.00. much cheaper than model shop ballast

  40. You have to provide a plan. I tried to draw it from the pictures, and I’m missing a few connections. Thank you.

  41. A very beautiful and well built layout. I noticed a lot of attention to detail was applied. I wish you continued success in your layout. I know I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA, but I have noticed and been to many sites in GB, Germany and Switzerland that are model railroad enthusiasts. Google them, I am sure you will find many additional items at your convenience to purchase. There are many fine items I have seen on sale in GB and Germany for railroading people. Please do not stop and keep us updated on your layout time to time. Very nice and interesting to say the least. Regards, Ray Appenzeller

  42. I don’t like spending too much money on trees, etc., and have found two kinds I can fashion myself.
    (1) I grow ‘Astilbe’ (also referred to as false Spirea) in the garden. Google can show you a picture of ‘Astilbe’. Let the plant go dormant in the fall (the flower part will have fallen off), and cut off the tops with a pruner. Since the tops are brown, paint or spray them in the desired green. Trim the foliage to a good shape, touch up the trunk with a bit of color, and you have a good facsimile of a lodge-pole pine for that mountain scenery.
    (2) Along the lake shore at our vacation cottage grow some weeds with woody stems. In the fall after the small leaves have fallen off, I select those stalks which look most like tree trunks and branches. The stems (trunks) are brownish and need little touch-up, and only some greenish or yellow/orangy foliage needs to be added to create a natural no-two-alike tree.
    Try making some, and you will save some money.
    Herb — Long Island NY

  43. Sparse Trees ! ! You are correct, I have just added some more and it looks much better, Thanks
    I don’t have a track plan but did use AnyRail to give me a start off and filled in from there.
    If it helps, I use Hornby 100 rail with double 2nd & 3rd degree curves, straight and flexi rail. The two four foot ends, working from the outside in I used:
    Track 1: 3rd, 3rd, short straight, 3rd, 3rd.
    Track 2: 2nd, 2nd, short straight, 2nd, 2nd.
    Track 3: 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd.
    Track 4: 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd.
    Making sure the carriages pass before fixing, it’s tight but it worked.
    Thanks for the comments

  44. Very nice layout, Bern, as said above a track plan will very much appreciated, as it is an inspiration to attempt.
    Regards Peter.

  45. Fantastic job in a 4X8 sheets. Any chance you have the plans and a material list? Would l like to build this in HO scale here in the USA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>