Roger’s 11 x 2.5 mtrs layout

“Hi Al.

I have been into modelling all my life, in fact since my dad bought himself a Triang train set for my Christmas present back in the 50s.

For the past 25 years I have been building live steam models including four 5″ gauge locos, a 7.1/4″ Adams 415 class, three traction engines, two of which are half size and am now starting a 7.1/4″ gauge Black Five.

In between the muck, grime and steam oil I have picked up again on my 00 gauge railway which I gave up some seven years ago so all my stuff is quite old in fact going back some 25 years I suppose.

I laid all the track but had problems with steam locos and inclines whereas the diesels did not flinch. As I prefer steam I decided to put everything on the flat and make things go either under or over the baseboard so as time goes on there will be canals and locks, as my partner is from North Wales I thought a slate quarry may spark some interest in the direction of 00 gauge. Anyway it is early days yet having only been working on the track when I felt like it over the past year.

The blue bridge is to carry the electricity power cable from the only wall socket in the vicinity and so avoiding trailing extension leads to trip up on. It is scratch built out of aluminium angle and the bottom of plastic trays that you buy plants in here in Brittany, I believe they call them godetts. I need to put on some cross members to keep it in shape.

The station building is made out of parts of a French made roundhouse. I cut the window frames out and built plywood walls to support them. The roof is thin ply covered in corrugated paper that I found in a local craft shop.

There are lights inside which I made with grain of wheat bulbs, there will be a restaurant at one side and a dance hall at the other.

The wall lights came from Ebay China as did the bulbs and loads of other stuff like the transformers Dangerous Dave demonstrated recently except mine were only £3.44. I bought a few to power the various lighting circuits that will be in the layout eventually. I even bought a multimeter to measure things electrical from Ebay China. I think the post girl suspects that I am drug running with all the little Chinese plastic bags she keeps delivering.

The bridge by the station is scratch built. The DIY shops over here sell quite a good range of aluminium and plastic extrusions to make such things quite easily. The girder work is aluminium tile trim, the stuff you put on corners of walls when you tile the bathroom under duress with the little lady stood behind with a 12 bore.

The embankment I got from this site when I first got back into 00 gauge. I still have the coping’s to put on but the lights and belisha beacons are working, also more drug running from Ebay China. I have a wood burning fire and get loads of bark from the logs which I am going to use for rock faces etc.

I will send more info as time goes on but as I said we had a rather large house fire last November and the artisans are due to start work soon so I will be following them about to make sure they do what I want not what they want. The roofer came this morning with a ladder which he put against the wall outside. He then came inside the house and went upstairs to measure up. He then came down, went outside, took his ladder back to his van then left. Not too sure why he needed the ladder.

Thanks for putting me in touch with Bern Robins at Trans Le Forest. We chat on the phone regularly and we have been to each others houses. He enjoyed the 6″ Little Samson steam up and I let him drive it.



A huge thanks to Roger. As you all know, I love seeing a layout take shape – and it just goes to show how a little planning can go a long way. Can’t wait until Roger’s next installment.

That’s all this time folks – don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get started and bring your own layout to life.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here – and still going strong.


Steve’s 5 x 7 N scale


I always enjoy your posts – learning quite a bit from more experienced model railroaders. Over the years, I’ve started and stopped several layouts. After our kids grew up, I decided it was time to build a layout to completion in one of the spare bedrooms.

I started building the benchwork in 2014 (after finishing the “Enterprise 1799” sailing ship I had received for Christmas.) It has taken about 2-1/2 years to get to this point, and will probably take another year or two to complete. The majority of the work on the layout has been done during the dreary Midwest winter months – spending the rest of the year flying RC planes & helicopters.

The Ohio Western & Lima Shortline (OWLS) layout is in N Scale and designed to fit into a spare bedroom with about 2-1/2 feet walk-around space – so it came out to 5’ x 7’. It is loosely (OK, very loosely) modelled after my hometown, and set in the late 1940s to early 1950s. Choosing this period allowed me to use early diesel powered and steam powered locomotives.

The layout is centered around the logging industry feeding the large demand for post-WWII housing, in the western Appalachian Mountain area. It is built on insulation foam sheets with plaster cloth covering. The sub-roadbed and risers were also cut from foam sheets on a table saw.

The layout itself is a folded dog bone with sorting/ interchange yard and rises to pass by the small town of “Mt. Healthy.” The main line runs by the logging camp, down to the sawmill and back up to a siding, feeding the lumber yard and a brickyard (also used in many post-war houses in the area.)

The track is Peco Code 55, with Peco Code 55 Electro-rail turnouts. Power to the rails is DCC supplied by a LENZ 100 system.

The turnout frogs and reverse loop section are powered by TAM Valley frog juicers, and turnouts thrown by under-the-table mounted servos controlled by ANE Smart Switches. Using the under-table mounts made it easier to connect the turnout throws at the different elevations – you just make the guide tubes and connecting wires longer.

There are four control panels located around the layout, each controlling a portion of the track with overlapping sections controlled from multiple panels. All wiring (about 1500 feet), electrical switches and panel LEDs were purchased from a Midwest electronics supply company.

The town structures are Woodland Scenic Town and Factory, and houses scratch-built from Scale Model Plans, Tichy Train windows & doors and RS Laser strip shingles. For the town buildings, the signs and storefront windows are ink jet printed decals – many copied from original artwork of those particular businesses.

The logging camp is a JV Models wood kit, complete with dining hall, bunk house, company store and engine/ car service shed. Lighting for the businesses and houses are SMD LEDs powered by a separate 12 volt power supply. Most of the ground cover and foliage -currently being installed- is Woodland Scenic.

Sub Road Bed: All made from pink, ridged insulation foam. The risers and sub-road bed were cut and formed on a table saw.

Roadbed & track: Peco Code 55 flex track & Peco Code 55 turnouts.

Buildings placed: Mountains & terrain are formed with rigid foam, carved and covered with plaster cloth

Logging cars were from N Scale Kits with MicroTrains couplers & trucks

Looking south on “Main Street”. Engine servicing shed is visible in the background. Woodland Scenics Town & Factory buildings. “Hilltop Glass” is scratch built from Scale Model Plans.

Close up showing pharmacy & local theater house

Looks like the local theater is showing “101 Dalmatians” and “Bambi” this week!

Looking east off of “Main Street” showing the local hardware store

Looks like the small town warranted a new United States Post Office branch!

JV Models logging camp loading logs (albeit too large- have to get smaller ones) for the lumber mill.

Lumber mill with stacks of cut lumber. Low spot in foreground will be a pond for receiving logs before cutting into lumber.

Interchange and lumber mill sidings

Brick Company (left) and lumber yard (right).

Dusk is falling on the town, so house porch lights are on.

Main Control Panel. Red buttons control turnouts, yellow LEDs show turnouts that are “open”. Red and green LEDs show which tracks are powered. Bottom 3 switches control building, street and house lights.

Starting to add foliage, trees & ground cover. Most rocks & outcroppings are castings, with some hand carved rock faces.



My word – what a write up. Really enjoyed reading this one, seeing a layout step by step really adds life to it, especially when the pictures show it taking shape too.

A huge thanks to Steve. And don’t forget, you’re only a one step away from creating your own masterpiece: The Beginner’s Guide is here.

That’s all this time, folks. Please do keep ’em coming.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here


JD’s first railroad layout

“Hi Al,

I was at the Scottish Model Rail exhibition in Glasgow last week and I took these photographs of an amazing exhibit.

They are of a model of the Forth Rail Bridge in ‘T’ scale, I have never seen so much accurate detail on a model before. The guy must have lots of skill and patience.

The thing is, I can see the bridge from my house, it’s about 5 miles away as the crow flies. He even got the detail of the hotel my wife and I had our wedding reception in many years ago…

I only hope you can share this on the site, if only for the sheer skill and detail.


“Hi Alister.

I’ve been dreaming of a layout since my dad bought me 2 n scale sets 49 years ago. Here’s my first n scale modded layout I’m working on. I wanted a small layout So I went looking on the web and found a printout for a door top that had a turn table, round house, a bit of yard, and was.

I had a Arnold turnable and 6 stall round house for years and was looking for a nice layout to base around them. Now it was time to re educate myself on the world of model railroading. What type of track. DCC or DC. types of turnouts and controls. Etc. So I decided to go old school with DC control. I did a mockup and was not pleased with traffic logic nor the amount of spurs.

I also was thinking modular. So I created a two way main line for expansion when I turn 102, and use them as spurs until then. My idea is to build it as a portable unit with a lid for storage and transport. Sort of an over sized suitcase. One thing I thought about is scenery.

I kept the KISS acronym in mind and decided on a engine maintenance theme. So no hills rivers and tunnels. I have not forgotten DCC. The track electrical will be wired for DC and have wiring for DCC for future upgrading. I’m looking at Turtle and NEC switch controls as they can be used both systems. I’ll be building a switch/ traffic control board and hope to make it detachable. I’m sure I can find a place on the lid to have a storage pocket for it.

Attached is the original plan and a pic of the current mockup. I’m sure things will change as I learn more and problems crop up.

Any input will be considered.



“Hi Al ,

I started model trains when I was a teen and over the years I made several attempts to build a layout, however there was always something that came along to prevent it from happening. Now that I am
75 and fully retired ,I have finally got something going.

Your e-mails are awesome. So much information and a huge help and big money saving ideas. I love your e-mails and everyday I look forward to receiving them.

I have attached a few pictures . My layout is called Cedar Junction, The theme is western mining and lumber operations in Colorado and California in the late 1800 s to early 1900s. Take a look . I have been working on it for about 4 months now. My mainline and all sidings are operational.

Your web site has helped me so much. I did not realize what it takes to build a model train layout.


A huge thanks to JD, Eric and Eddie for today’s missive.

I did enjoy reading JD’s words: it’s really nice to read the site is helping folk turn their daydreams and thoughts in to a real layout. Sounds corny, I know, but it makes it all worthwhile.

That’s all this time folks – and please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to make your layout happen.

Keep ’em coming.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here