Bob’s layout

“Hello Al,

I have been enjoying your site for some time now and thought I would try and contribute something.

I never had a train set as a child but I had always admired watching them. After I retired I decided to spend my children’s inheritance on building and running a model train layout. I built my first layout when I was 65 (HO w/DCC and sound) in the corner of our spare bedroom. It was 8 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide. I found most of my information on the internet as there is no hobby shop within 150 miles of my home. I built everything using purchased kits so I could get a feel of what was available. Got to say, I was not impressed with today’s kits as I remember building model airplanes,boats and rockets as a kid and remember the quality and instructions as quite a bit better. I have attached some pictures of my first layout. I dismantled it, expanded it and moved it into my workshop in the back yard after a couple of years and I will be glad to send you some pictures of that updated layout if you wish.


Great layout, Bob, but I know what everyone will say: “Yes, we want to see the pictures of the updates!”

Very latest ebay ‘cheat sheet’ is here.



53 Responses to Bob’s layout

  1. Awesome layout. I have been looking for a coal mine operation like yours. As well, the storage tanks in the photos. Where did you get these? Thanks

  2. Sorry, I am looking for O gauge. I am sure this is why I can’t find them as our choices are limited in comparison to HO. Thank you

  3. If this was your first layout Bob the 2nd one must be very good , yes think we all would like to see it ….Dave

  4. Bob you may have found some of the building kits that were not ver good. I builded a layout about 3 years ago. I found that Branchline and Blairline have some good kits. they are laser cut kits and the price is a little high but I foune they were worth every penny

  5. YES, please let’s see the new bigger version. Most impressive pics above. i like how you managed to get the different heights into your layout.

  6. This is very inspirational for me. I lost all my Ho and N scale equipment as a result of hurricane Sandy. Time to rebuild. At age 67 I can relate to Bob. Good job Bob. Can’t wait to see the update,

  7. Nice Layout and the mural “back drop” is a great fit!!

  8. NICE, NICE, NICE work Bob, thanks for the pics

  9. Great compact layout with some nice touches.

  10. Pictures of all these layouts are great, but I would also like to see track plans too, even if just a sketch. I like to see how he managed this in 8 by 2 1/2 feet.

  11. Nice! Just goes to show you don’t have to have a large space to have a great looking layout. I would really like to see pictures of the new one.

  12. Great layout and I was impressed by the wall mural backgrounds; did you paint them yourself or buy them; if so through what source.

  13. I appreciate contributors taking the time to photograph and post pictuers of their layouts. However, it would help us get more information from photos if the photos included a layout diagram no matter how simple the layout design.

  14. Very nice Bob.May i ask are you canadian.I love the back drops ya have.My layout is at a stand stiff right now.Been to busy building stuff for the layout but havent placed anything.Going to be nice haveing more room for your layout.I been working on building workable cranes.will be made from metal wire and should be able to run on 2 to lift up and down and one to turn 360.Hopefuly it will be able to lift a engine off a track and shift it and set it down.It will either operate with a mini hand controler like you get from a rc toy.or switches.I just built a very realistic metal microwave tower.Like you see out there.And going to take the same concept and make crane’s.thanks for the pictures and love the layout.

  15. An excellent layout. I look forward to seeing the pictures of the expansion.

  16. What an impressive layout!

    I appreciate looking at the wonderful work many model railroaders have

    built. The layouts are very inspiring and have given my son and I l lot of ideas.

    When we get started it will be a “learn as we go”.

    It has been amazing to see how much he has learned because of this hobby.

    He is in third grade and tested at a 6th grade level in a recent school exam, He had some difficulties in Kindergarden. My wife is on board

    Best of luck on your lay out and keep the pictures coming!!!!1

  17. Great layout—-love the detail. Here I was so proud of my layout efforts and when I see great layouts like these, I realize what a rookie I am. Love the pictures.

  18. Bob, you are an artist. Love the coloring and design.
    Paco Gayon

  19. Some where in here is that saying, “Don’t mess with us old guys”. We have been watching you young guys and learning, age does have its benefits. Great job. I watch this site for everything and then change ever thing when I see something I like better. Six months and I yet ran a train on the track. It is like playing pool, ever shot is different. Thanks to all for their input.

  20. Hello All,
    I will try to answer your questions as best I can. First of all, I noticed that my pictures were a bit fuzzy. I guess I sized them too small. I will try a larger size the next time.

    Actually Robert, I started into model Railroading after Hurricane Katrina. We lived about 22 feet above the 100 year high flood mark. This info required for homeowners insurance. The water went over the top of our house. Sure wish we had flood insurance!

    To William Schart , I copied the track plan from the April 2008 issue of Model Railroader which featured Tom Miller’s Meramec Valley Railroad. The original plan was 94″ x 28″.

    No Rod, I didn’t paint them (I’m not any good at murals). I bought this one a the Backdrop Warehouse on the internet.

    I’m American Kim from Pelahatchie Mississippi at the present time. We don’t have a stop light yet but we do have a 4 way stop in the middle of town.

    I will work on sending pictures of the expanded HO layout. Thanks for the input.


  21. i really love ur backdrops….were did u get them Bob?

  22. Very, very impressive! Can’t believe it’s a first layout! I’ll be 72 next month and hope to start a new layout after about 25 years of waiting for retirement, with all rolling stock, buildings, etc safely stored. I can’t afford to retire so I’m still waiting – but will start in the next few weeks, in a new garage recently built, in the odd spare moments that I can find.

  23. You have a lot going on here but I’m really impressed with how you divided and allocated spatial juxtaposition of all the scene elements. Very nice work indeed! You could have easily had a mish-mash of parts and pieces!

  24. great layout nice theme love the bridges kept it simple so it looks but alot of decated work in the building well done nice to see a overall view of the layout

  25. Hi Bob, Thanks for this, is that a Camelback locomotive? Who makes them?
    Hurry up and send the next batch of pictures in. I have an interest in Canadian railways. D/

  26. if you take the time you can work out the track plan

  27. Bob I think your lay out is great. If this is you first I can’t wait to see your 2nd.Best to you.

  28. Great job …. bring on the other pictures.

    Tom N

    Keep on Training


  30. Yes Duncan,that’s a Camemback. I bought it on Ebay (where I get most of my stuff) although I also use the ‘HO Yard Sale’, a Yahoo Group. Anyway, I had my Loco’s installed with Sound Decoders and capacitive power assist’s. The extra capacitors were needed to allow the small Loco’s (also had 0-6-0 tank switchers) to go over the turnouts without stalling. I use Peco insulfrog turnouts and flextrack.
    To get the sound decoders installed I had to have the speakers placed into separate cars that I coupled to the Loco’s. Although the Tank Switcher didn’t need a coal tender, it looked O.K. to me. Today, only a few years later, they now have micro decoders and speakers that can be installed into these small Loco’s. FYI, it’s not cheap to have these decoders installed. My advise, buy them with the decoders (with sound if desired) already installed. Bob

  31. That coal mine building is the same as I have in my layout. Mine was purchased about 30+ years ago…..No idea where….

  32. You sure crowded a lot of industries into a limited space. It looks great and your next layout will be even better. A great effort without a hobby shop near you. Don Wick West Bend, WI USA

  33. Thoughtfully laid out and given attention to details. Great effort given the constraints. All the best for your new layout, which I am sure will be a cracker as you have the experience now.

  34. Really nice layout. Cannot concur with the comment about Branchline structure kits. Am on my third one and I find them to be very detailed with all the parts fitting together properly as you would expect with a laser cut kit. Also have had some very positive experience with kits by a small firm named Creative Laser Designs which you could also consider.

    Bill Markey, Pleasant Valley NY USA

  35. Great 1st layout, like to see what your 2nd will be like

  36. A great looking layout

  37. Hi Bop
    i started my layout just like You in my living room gone now in to my work shop and expanded to 21 by 6 feet and i am 70 years old
    grate pictures peter

  38. Looks really great for a small area to work in.
    What REALLY draws My attention is your Background Scenery!
    Was it bought and from whom? Or did you have it painted by someone?
    Keep up the work and keep spending your children’s inheritance : : : told ours the same, and Now They Know I am serious! : – )

  39. Good work and shows what a great resource the net is!

  40. Excellent layout bob. Can you give us some info on the updates. I am the same as you, although I built a layout for my nephew in my early days. I am no sixty, divorced and having my second childhood, so I have now start to build a layout for myself, although due to lack of space it is only 6ft by 4ft. I will send some pictures.

    Les, Hereford. UK

  41. merveilleux, f,licitation, la disposition est superbe.


  42. love the pics. will someone please tell me how to get my ho pics. on here

  43. Very nice.

  44. How about someone sending in a layout for O gauge. There are several of us who are interested in this. PLEASE!!!!! Mike

  45. You did a really great job for a first layout.

    Ron B. from Maine USA

  46. It’s amazing how creative we can get when there is nowhere to acquire what we need or want. Great job!

  47. hi great layout started mine about 12 years ago still not finished the track but there’s no rush like the back ground just a quick question my layout will have 14 lines and i won’t to run this in dcc what is best way forward any idea’s.
    cheers ian

  48. Bob,
    This is a very impressive layout !! It reflects alot of hard work and great planning !
    Thank you for sharing your passion .

  49. Love the backdrop. May be the best I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty including my own. Could you give us some more information about this master piece. Thanks, big D

  50. Al, anyone who e-mails you have anything to do itch “0 ” gauge ? Can you put something together.


  51. Thats a nice layout……

  52. Bob,
    In picture #5 you have those storage tanks. Did you build them from scratch or where they from a kit and if so where did you purchase them from.

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