William’s HO layout

“I started the Valley Stream Railroad in the summer of 2003. The scale is HO, the time period would be between 1900-1910, it’s late fall and winter is just around the corner in New England. I have been a train buff for as long back as I can remember and a modeler most of my life.

The layout is in a small bedroom, around the room single track with several sidings and a couple of passing’s. All the locomotives are steam with sound. A couple of friends helped me with the bench work and the wiring. The bench work was built 2′ x 4′ sections with 2 x 2 legs, 1/2” plywood on the top, and topped off with a cut up 4 x 8 sheet of 4 inch thick foam.

The foam was excellent when it comes to scenery and it diminishes any sound along with the road bed. The Valley Stream is my own private railroad name as I did not want to follow any prototype railroad. Free lance is very satisfying for me.

Scenery is what I love to do thus the simple loop around for the railroad. Most of the building are kits or were “kit bashed”. Since space was limited the large building against the back drop were cut down the center and spliced end to end. Most of the structures I was building before I started the layout.

There was no great track layout just my own sketches and drawings. I just knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted it to look like. The track is code 70 for a more realistic look for the steam power. The rocks were pebbles from the road., the winter trees were made from twigs in the yard along with the use of. a glue pot then spray painted (time and patience on the trees).

Since the base board was 4″ foam planting all the trees was easy. I used sifted real dirt with white glue for some scenes, Woodland Scenics material,the snow piles are crushed white foam, lots of cellu clay (papier mache) mixed with water vermiculite (mineral) for the ground and embankments. The back drop I painted using spray paint and the effect was just what I wanted……………..cold and cloudy.

A friend of mine mention the layout to the local news paper and they came over to see it and take pictures. On December 26, 2010 the layout and I were on the front page of Sundays paper. The railroad was also filmed and put on the local news. Needless to say it’s been fun to have that to share with others.

The railroad will probably never be entirely finished as the details seem to be endless. Hope you enjoy the photos.


A huge thanks to William for sharing these pics. We’ve had a nice run of scenery pics over the last few days. Let’s keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to start tinkering on your own layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.


More from Lawrence on HO layout

Lawrence has kindly sent in a video of his layout – if you missed his post last time, it’s here.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

“Hello Alistair,

This e-mail is as much a thank you to you and to the folks who contribute to your blog as it is an opportunity to share some information about my layout.

I started this layout when I retired and unlike many of the folks who contribute here, I did not have a layout as a young man. Growing up in a NYC apartment, well , there was just so much room.

A friend of mine retired a few years back and starting sending me e-mails of a layout he had started. I was intrigued. But, I found the idea of doing a layout on my own and being an electrician, a carpenter, a modeler, an artist etc. to be overwhelming. But with my friend’s encouragement and with all the wonderful information I was able to gather from the contributors on your blog, I forged ahead.

It did not take long for me to realize that it was really the scenery I enjoyed that is, creating the scene, building the buildings, laying out the street grid etc. Hence, my “railroad” itself is a humble trolley oval.

I learned that many modelers attempt to recreate their childhood home. Being no different, I created a New York City neighborhood circa 1950’s I thank the good people of Pittsburgh for allowing me to use their downtown as my backdrop. But then again, imagination is what model railroading is all about. I have attached photos. I hope you will enjoy them.


I loved Jame’s narrative – it just goes to show the important thing is having fun. Yo don’t have to run trains to enjoy yourself.

A huge thanks to Lawrence and James.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your own layout.

That’s all for today, folks.




Lawrence’s HO layout


Thanks for all the emails that you have been sending, and all the people that have sent to you, they are inspiration and helpful.

I finished the overhead system and got hooked. When I was in Denver in the early 70’s I went into a town north east into the mountains. I remember this town with one paved road into the town with a paved road through the center of town.

The rest of the roads out of the town were dirt roads. Just east of Denver I saw farm land. So that was my initial idea to work on. And I decided on the 1950’s time period, steam engines.

I started with only one engine that I have had for 20 years (Christmas tree track) being converted to DCC by the local shop. Also a few OLD rolling stock and a couple of plasticville houses. I have one working DCC engine (new) at the present.

By watching your emails, lots and lots of utube shows, and the train store in the local city I started putting things together. I started a couple of months back and decided on HO gauge. Built the tables to be U shaped around the furnace in the basement.

The legs of the U are 4×8 tables and the base of the U is 2×8 connection. I put one-inch insulation foam on the top for sound insulation. Then on top of that is a layer of Perma-Mold for most of the layout as I progressed.

The trains will be steam only with one being passenger and one being freight. I have a very simple layout. Two separate loops that both traverse the town, mountains and farm lands. Wired separately from beyond the DCC controller with switches on each table so I can shut one track off at a time.

I started by laying down the track and testing. I had gone on the web and I read that the minimum radius of the track should be 15 inches. But then I found out for steam engines the minimum radius should be 19 inches. Rip the curves up and relay to the new radius. Then cut out my concept of the lake, rivers, and runs from the foam.

Deciding where I wanted the mountains I built them up with the same foam and plasta-molded to cover them. I am from New England and I loved the covered bridges so I just had to have one of them. Also went on the web and actually found ONE tunnel that had an open side. The top pieces of the tunnel can lift off and the side girders can be slid out to gain access to the tunnel if needed.

Ninety nine present of the stuff is scratch built. The log cabins are dowels from Lowe’s and notched the same as a real cabin. The town buildings should look familiar to you Al, as I downloaded them from your stuff.

I started building the town buildings with balsa wood but now rebuilding with Styrene so I can install the styrene windows and doors. And also prep for lights (lights (and people) LONG time in the future). I do have three plasticville building I put together and five that came from my Christmas setup. Giving a modern (for the time) of an old town with newer buildings.

The early corn field, early wheat field, and the three types of fields are all Woodland Scenic products. The displayed 200 trees are from a Utube using bamboo skewers, furnace filter material, green paint, hair spray, and two types of Woodland Scenic grass. I expect I will be making another 300 trees yet. The country stone wall is made with Talus and Elmer’s glue. The town stone fence is ballast and glue. The large field fence is made from balsa wood, the corn field and farm ones from tooth picks, and the cow field is barbed wire.

I put a bunch of the basics in place to give me a concept of What and Where. I have started with the farms and working toward the mountains and the town. A lot of the little details will come with time. All the water effects will come later also.

So I have started on a project that will keep me busy for quite a while in the future. And thanks again for all your emails and all the other people out there that send the good information on what they have done.


Next, Dangerous Dave has been in touch again with another vid – how he find the time is beyond me!

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thanks to Dave and Lawrence. It’s really nice to read that the posts are inspiring some of you to get going on your own layout. And knowing that they are helpful makes it all worthwhile.

The Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to take the plunge.

That’s all for today, folks.