Bob’s latest layout

“Hello Al,

Last week a neighbor came over and I showed him around my train layout. He said ” I didn’t know you played around with toy trains”. I told him that if model trains were good enough for Frank Sinatra,Tommy Dorsey,Rod Stewart,Jay Leno,Tom Hanks, etc., they were good enough for me. His only comment was” I didn’t know Sinatra played with toy trains!”. Oh well….

Anyway, I have attached some shots of My Last Layout. About 1/3 of the layout is in final form and the rest I have just sitting on the base. I still move things around a bit. On this layout I painted the top half of the walls flat black and then bought a cheap piece of cotton drop cloth, cut it in half, stapled it to the wall and painted it blue. It kind of draws your attention directly to the layout. I laid this one out in vignettes that allow me to get a little creative, avoid everything being in the same period and style and provide me with places to put more stuff.

I am pleased with the mine operation. I wasn’t sure how it would look with the structure above and the actual mine below but I like the way it turned out. I built the ore boat and ore tipple out of my usual bunch of sticks and wood scrap but no matter how I tried I could not build an acceptable tug boat from scratch. I finally bought a boat kit and made a tug boat out of it. The tires on the hull are rubber washers, most of the superstructure are bits and pieces from my junk box. The main cabin is a cut-down toilet paper cardboard roll, the door is a piece of tongue depressor (my favorite) with a grommet for the porthole.

I wanted to try lighting my structures so I bought a string of LED Christmas lights and use them to light the building interiors. They look good in the dark but it was kind of a pain to wire all the buildings. After seeing what the talented Dave has done with his lighting I have decided to add some street lights to my town. Got the lights but haven’t put them in yet. Speaking of buildings, can you see anything familiar about a couple of the houses in my town (hint-they are made from paper)? I removed the gable on one of them and covered the roof to look like cedar shake and on the larger house I added wood trim to the doors & windows and added wood trim to the outside corners as well. I have also added signs to my businesses named for my family members. Unfortunately, with 6 brothers and sisters and 10 grandchildren I have more names than buildings and some of these folks get a little testy if they don’t see their name on something.

I still have not added the water to my waterfront, just painted the base blue for now. Same with ballasting the track. I always do that last after I finally decide where all my structures will be placed. You must be careful to not glue down your structures so that they block your track when it comes time to ballast. I learned this the hard way. Just an idle thought, the more I see the track without ballast the more normal it looks …..hummm!

Most of the structures are now scratch built and I buy a few damaged ones on the internet and fix them up and/or use the parts to build other things. The more I build the better I seem to get at it. For example, I got a building front, cut it in half and used the bottom to build a store and the top to build a fire station. Hands still shake a little at the most inopportune times. Seems mostly when I’m trying to glue something.


Impressive stuff Bob! I always look forward to your mails.

And don’t forget the ‘ebay cheat sheet‘ if Bob’s inspired you to add to your layout.



36 Responses to Bob’s latest layout

  1. Bob, the mind boggles , not only able to dream up all the plans but having the skill to make them come to life, reall this makes me aware that my efforts are miniscule ( at the moment)
    Look forward to seeing your layout in the future.
    Believe me when I say all the very best and as they say “keep on keeping on”
    Jayne n Bernard

  2. Hi Bob,
    I’m impressed with your layout. Could you please tell me where you got the GULF decals.

  3. TRUELY envious. I’ve been building my frame for 3 months!! I build it, not satisfied, make changes, rebuild, over and over again. I cannot stick to the plans because I update to keep the layout current and keep make changes!!

  4. That is a very nice layout Bob

  5. love the pictures, especially the waterfall, keep em comin’

  6. Very creative and very impressive! I have never seen a mine done the way you did it. I like it. As to the “hands shaking”, I think it is normal, mine do it everytime I am doing something that requires alot of concemtration.
    All the best.

  7. I can’t imagine making anything from scratch. You guys just blow me away!
    Your layout is very impressive as is, I hope to see some pics when it’s complete. Except I don’t think you or some of the other guys will ever think your layouts are complete. Please consider every thing I say a compliment, as I am so impressed with your work!!

  8. This is an absolutely stunning layout Bob. It really shows your fertile imagination at work. I really like your waterfront vignette. It is really well thought out. I may have to borrow some of your ideas for my own layout.

    I would like to make one humble suggestion. So close to shore, harbor water is never that bright blue color unless you are in Hawaii or the Bahamas. Even there, owing to the accumulation of underwater plant growth, the ocean takes on the color of the vegetation below. The illusion of green water is further enhanced because the water near the shore is always more shallow, and therefore more clear allowing the color of the vegetation below to show through. Only out in the deep water does the ocean take on a blue color. Even that color is not the water itself, but the reflection of the sky. A simple way to recall this is to remember that our Navy is manned by “blue water sailors”. They go out into the deeps where the water is blue while the Coast Guard stays in the green.


  9. `nice work you have done there BOB

  10. Love your layout mate it looks great, the 2 boats are great. Can you tell me where I may be able to buy flashing signs for shops. in HO

  11. it looks good

  12. Great layout. I like how you did your water and the dock.keep up the good work.

  13. Nice Layout. Im 36 years old building my first O gauge lay out. Lot’s of people tell me I should not be playing with toy trains! To me it is more then trains its a life style. I live for this stuff. I come home from a hard day at work and fire up my big boy and Im in my owen world. Love what you do! And your hand will build the things you love. Model RR is great and keeps the mind sharp with creativeness.

  14. Truly amazing!!!

  15. Lotsa fun! I especially like the Indian camp. That’s a nice touch and brings back childhood memories. Keep on ‘roading! michael

  16. I love the Indian Village!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Great Layout thanks for sharing the ideas!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. well done bob, what a layout,youv done a great layout so far

  18. Bob well done

  19. Well Frank, the Gulf signs are not decals. I find all my signs, posters,shop window pictures on the internet. I do a search for ‘pictures of’ and put in what I am looking for. For example – Oil Company Signs or Bait Shops. I then copy them into my word processor or my picture edit program to size them and then print them on my HP printer.

    Thanks for the water tip Tom. I did a search and you are correct, most of the bay water looks more grey or dirty brown.

    Don’t know about flashing signs Dave as I don’t have any. Seen them though.

  20. For Bob: When people ask you why you play with toy trains. Tell them that you don’t play with trains; “Because our railways work by the laws of physics, You’re studying and observing physics on a miniature scale.

    By the way, I really like how you did your waterfront and mine areas. An interesting way how your created them. and the wooden bridge across the ravine, all I can say is wow.

    For James Vanholt and anyone else, when people tell you that you should not be playing with toy trains. Tell them what I told Bob; “Because our railways work by the laws of physics, You’re studying and observing physics on a miniature scale.”


  22. I like the layouts that’s everybody dose but how do I upload pictures .

  23. Bob
    Thats a great job i realy am not game to put pictures of my layout up everyone i see is so good one day ill get the courage

  24. Great stuff, Bob. Thank you for the inspiration….
    BTW, add Neil Young to the list of model railroad celebrities :)

  25. You should join in a tournament initial with the greatest blogs on the internet. I will recommend this web internet site!

  26. I think the lower level of your mine operation is an EXCELLENT idea and VERY cool.

  27. O yes I too have seen the articles in Model Railroader magazine showing and telling about Rod Stewarts’ layout. Wouldn’t have thought he would do that. Anytime that his songs come on the radio I always say Model Railroadin’ Rod !!! And with respect to the late great Frank Sinatra in regards to your layout, “You did it your way!”
    PS : to all of those of you out there if you donot have a copy of the Model Railroad mags. with the Rod Stewart layout in them, it is too late, Kalmbach sold out a few years back. The only two ways of gettin one is : A) seeing if someone like my self has a few never looked at copies to sell, mine aren’t for sell or B) go to your local library and see if they have a copy you can look at, the photos themselves are amazing but the story about it will make you wonder, surely this is not the same “Maggie May” Rod. I’ll keep the rest of the story for you to look for yourselves.

  28. Oh, I forgot, excellent job,If anyone says anything about you water or other modeling, just tell them “That’s the way I saw it” !!! Wanta see pictures of my Z scale layout, go to Z Central Station and look for gallery, click it on and look for LZPMRR. I don’t relly care what anyone thinks about it, I have been offered good money to sell it and the man that built it for me told me to go to the model railroad and train shows and see the layouts people want to sell and the price they want for ’em then compare it to yours, as he said it is museum quality. Not bragging about it but look at the pictures then come see it for real, I don’t hide it like a lot people do theirs, anyone is welcomed to view and run it as long they let me know in advance, I’ll also show you the “Rod Stewart” model railroader mag, only please have clean hands. I’ve got over $16,000 invested in my Z scale stuff. Ya’ll come!!!

  29. Great job Bob. Beautiful detail with great craftmanship, shaking hands or not!(I believe it’s something we all have to go through.)
    I have to respectfully disagree with the “un-ballasted” look. Without the ballast it looks like a “Model Train Layout”. It’s odd what a few grains of sand can do to a layout.
    Keep the pics coming.

    Bob in Ga

  30. I really like your layout especially free style. Your
    Creativity I think is Greta on. I’m under construction myself with AF S
    Gauge it fun but challenging to do. You gave me
    a good idea with the water front for my addition
    I will be adding.
    To Bob Miller you can get the gulf decals
    On ebay

  31. Where did the bear go?

  32. well done bob. we are about to put a mine in our layout so it was good t o see yours. very nicely done

  33. You can help me anytime. Am a novice and just getting started on a 16 foot by 8 and an 6 by 3 rail yard love all the ideas and tips posted by Alistair Lee land those that post , your help is fantastic and I hope that in a few months I will be able to share my project with all of you. Keep up the good hints and design. Much appreciated.

  34. Truly Amazing Layout.
    Especially liked the Store and the Fire Station the Fire Engine is First Rate.
    The Indian Village Nice Touch.
    Well Done more pictures very soon PLEASE!

  35. PS: The scratch built bridge is FANTASTIC…………
    Someday hope to have one on my layout……….

  36. Ballast might look good to some but may not be practical in dusty/humid conditions like mine – requires much vacuuming and to me is just waste of $ – I use instead a sandy type paint – looks like ballast & good enough for “My railroad” anyway

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