Another layout installment from Cameron

Hall of Fame member, Cameron, has been beavering away on his new layout again.

(If you missed his previous installment, it’s here.)

“Dear Al,

More as promised.

Lanarth – Part 8 Electrics

Scale 1:76. 00
Track Peco HO Code 100
Location – British, Southern Railway, Western Region

With the bulk of the structures done and the track down it was time to turn my attention to the electrics. As with rest of the layout I thought I might try and build this from scratch as well.

One of the members of our local club provided me with a simple circuit diagram for a controller and a capacitor discharge unit. I did not know a lot about building circuits so took the diagram to the local electronics shop to get the correct parts then assembled them as per the diagrams. Through good luck more than good management the circuits all worked well. One advantage of doing this myself was that I was able to combine several electronic circuits onto one board.

The final board has the following:

– A speed controller for the track power
– A capacitor discharge unit for powering the points
– A bridge rectifier to convert AC power to DC
– 12 volt power for the layout lighting

All this is supplied by one 16 volt AC power pack that came of an old laptop. The total cost was less than $40 AUS and I suspect that if I had bought the parts online it would have been even cheaper.

The points are Peco Electrofrog. The point motors are Peco as well with switches to control the frog polarity. Electric frog points are important on a small shunting layout like this as the locomotive needed is quite short and generally moving at slow speeds through the points. Regular points like Peco Set Track have a small sections of plastic rail in the middle of the frog that interrupt the power to the locomotive as it runs through. This is not normally an issue with larger locomotives moving at speed but will cause a smaller locomotive travelling slowly to stall.


I do like Cameron’s posts – it’s wonderful to see his approach, and the layout coming to life. I particularly liked the way he took his circuit diagram to the electronics shop – genius!

That’s all this time folks. Please do keep ’em coming, it’s a joy to see what pops up in my inbox.

And if you want to take the plunge with the Beginner’s Guide, it’s here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.


Dave’s latest layout video

“Hi Alister

Here is the second half of my village, again I have mounted the buildings onto a balsa deck so it can be worked on as and when is necessary, I have also installed lighting into the pub and fire station, so the village can be in illumination.

I have made my own street lamps from the stem of a cotton wool bud, a screw cap and an LED with a resistor so that I can run the village on 12 volts with the main feed being used to connect the village electrics which is on to a 5mm self adhesive copper tape, which is hidden beneath the village mounted onto balsa boards. The boards are 3″ wide and 1/16″ thick, which provides an excellent kerb depth from the road.

Once installed I will get a few pictures to you if the one half of the village as well. Then it’s onto the other side, so more to follow.

I would value again as I asked the other day when I sent you the first lot of photos your reader opinion please.


“Hi Al . just dowloaded a new video showing a few changes again , and adding ballast , then painting the tracks and the ballast , and to finish off adding grass and underbrush ….

Something to watch anyway with this cold snowy weather we are having


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.


I know you only post photos and videos of layouts but I could not resist sending you a photo I recently took at the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA.

I send it because so many of the modelers I have seen on your web site over the years craft wonderful layouts through mountainous territory. So I though this photograph of an actual railroad cut through the mountains might inspire someone! I can send you a jpg file if you are interested!

This is an antique Albumen print entitled “The Royal Gorge, Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River, Colorado” which was taken around 1880 by William Henry Jackson, an American landscape photographer who lived from 1843 to 1942.

After working for the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories as a landscape photographer, Jackson moves to Colorado where he was commissioned by railroad companies to produce promotional images such as this one for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.

For what it’s worth!



Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts”

A big thanks to Andy, John and Dave.

That’s all for this missive – please do keep ’em coming.

Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to take the plunge and get going.




Brian’s HO shelf layout

“Hi Al,

Here’s how I started my new layout.

I put this together starting in May 2016, of my “layout” to present time.

Building a double deck U shaped point to point shelf Layout in HO scale – 3 foot narrow gauge – Hon3

This is where it all started in May 2016 in a standard car garage of 20ft x 10ft. I had to put in a drywall 6ft in from the garage door for a storeroom accessed from the front. This left an area of 14ft x 10ft for my layout. Train room is accessed from a door in the right hand side back in the first photo. Curtains were replaced with horizontal blinds. At the window will be my work desk with a view out to the Knysna lagoon. Not sure how much work will get done with a view like that.

First photo is the garage from the entrance.

Second photo shows the drywall. Needs a rhino board covering on this side.

The decision had to be made that there would be no connection between the upper deck and the lower deck with a difference of 15 inches between the two levels. A gradient between the two leves would be too steep and take up a lot of real estate (space) and a helix to connect the two levels is out of the question. (it would take up an area of 16 square feet minium).

Next was to figure out a workable height of the lower level from the floor, now 47 inches. (made my previous layout too low and was not happy with it at 40 inches) The upper level is now at 62 inches which is just below my eye level. My eye level is at 67 inches.

In the photos below, I had to make sure that there was enough packing space as well as book shelves under the layout for other “model stuff”. I put the top shelf in before the start. (The highest one)

Once the shelves were fixed in place, I drilled holes in the cross braces for the buss wires. At this stage I felt that I had to put the facia boards on to get a feel of how the layout would look. The blue light at the top back is for night time operation when the main lights are switched off.

A panoramic photo of the layout prior to putting strip lights under and behind the facia boards. In the photo below, my Red Hook Warf kits will be placed in the new bigger harbour area on the lower left level.

I put LED strip lights in place right around the layout. The top levels have lights behind the valances attached the top shelves. (Photo below) The clear rubber tubing split lengthwise was put under each valance as a protection against banging my head against the lower edge of the Masonite.

Once all the buss wires were in place and connected to both levels, the plug in points (3 sets of twin express Net) was inserted into the facia in appropriate places. These are for my Lenz DCC system. I have three controllers (throttles) and can be plugged in any of the plug in points around the layout. Although they are all on the front of the lower level facia board, the upper level is operated from all of them. The lower level boards are two foot wide and the upper level boards are 1 foot wide. All have a layer of 3 mm cork over 12mm plywood.

When the decision was made to not connect the two levels as the upper level was going to be a logging operation whereby logs would be cut and loaded on the left side (camp 4) and the taken around to the right hand side of the layout to the yard. There the log train would be sorted and then taken to the sawmill. (This section is still under construction) The photos below show how the track was marked and laid out according to the track plan to ensure clearances were maintained. The Spar tree for loading the logs can be seen in the foreground.

Plaster covered polystyrene was used to form a background hill and was painted a tan colour. Woodland scenics ground foam was added and glued down.

Ground cover (sifted builders sand) was added as a test to see if it gave me the right effect that I was wanting to achieve. I was happy with this and carried on doing the rest of the logging area knowing that a lot of it will be covered with all sorts of debris such as grass, bushes, wood shavings and sawdust.

In the photo above left, a tall pine tree was added to partially hide the shelf bracket holding the shelf above. Right picture has more ground cover and trees added. All the smaller trees are from Woodland scenics and the tall pine trees are from Grand Central Gems. Another tall pine tree was used to hide the line of light reflected on the wall at the far end created by the upper light strip.

As a rough ground cover mainly under the trees in the background, I used a chopped up mixture of four different colours of Lichen from Preiser, different shades of glade grass and placed quite a few tree stumps from various suppliers around the area.

Next came the necessary facilities such as water, oil and sand for the locomotives. On this logging level, I run 2 three truck Shays, 2 Heislers and occasionally a 2-6-6-2 logging locomotive. In the photo below right, I like to have trees in the foreground, as in real life you have to look through the trees to see what is behind them. The coach behind the trees belongs to the Cascade Creek Lumber Co and is used to bring the loggers up to the camp for a day’s work.

A few photos taken around the logging area.

This is as far as I have got on the layout as far as scenery is concerned. This leg of the layout is now fully operational and needs the finishing touches such as figures, clouds on the background and tall weeds around the trees. The foreground has a steam donkey for loading and pulling logs in.

A lot of work still to be done before I get to the lower level. 9 months work from start to its current state.



A huge thank you to Brian – hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Amazing stuff.

You can see more of Brian’s posts in the Hall of Fame.

That’s all this time folks – Beginner’s Guide is here if Brian has got you chomping at the bit.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still updated daily.