Caroline’s layout

“Hi Al,

I’ve enjoyed receiving all the e-mails of other members railway layouts, the hints and tips I’ve picked up have been really useful.

The layout I’m creating is for my 13 year old son, though I started it when he was 10!

My husband helped make the baseboard for it, but that’s as far as his creative skills went, the rest has been designed and constructed by myself aided by a list of what my son wanted to be included in the layout. Namely, a viaduct, a modern suspension bridge, as many tunnels as we could fit in, a girder bridge, a level crossing, farm houses and most importantly all the coal mine buildings which his Grandparents had bought him one Christmas.

During construction, I found Lego had is uses, it came in very handy in supporting the track in places!

The viaduct was made from scratch from Wills plastic sheets, it has a plywood core and the plastic sheets were stuck to the plywood.

There are two tunnels and an incline, on which I have tested all engines and they all manage the slope easily pulling both wagons and coaches.

The tunnels were covered with ‘Modroc’ and the rocky sides were made with plaster of paris rock and strata moulds which I’m really pleased with.

The station and platform are both Metcalfe card models, as are the farm houses. The little signal box was a free Metcalfe model that came with a magazine.

It is still work in progress, but at least the end is now in sight.


I think Caroline has done an excellent job for her son. Three years in the making too! If there’s one thing this site demonstrates, is that layouts take forever, and they are never finished…

Don’t forget to check out the latest ebay cheat sheet.



70 Responses to Caroline’s layout

  1. Well done Caroline,
    I’m sure your son will enjoy his layout.

  2. Nice work you have done there Caroline

  3. This hobby needs more ladies like Caroline.

  4. Great work Caroline. The use of Lego is very clever. Hope to see it again when it’s running…

  5. Caroline, your a great mom.

  6. Hello Caroline,
    Your Son is very luckly to have a talented Mother.
    You did a great layout.

  7. Well done Caroline, the world needs more mums like you. May I ask where you got the modern suspension bridge from or did you make it.

  8. Nice job, I love the creative use of legos :)

  9. Good job. Can you tell me the dimensions, please?

    Have a nice day.

  10. Just lovely and well done. I wonder how many manufacturers realise when one parent or a single parent is having to turn his or her hand to creating something for the children!

    I am more into 5″ gauge now but I still keep a keen interest in the model side and what is going on.
    You would not believe the impact that the current super detailed 00 4mm scale models are having on the bigger sisters.
    We now have a to scale 57xx pannier with everything working comming into the laser cut and lost wax produced parts model list.

    David. who worked in Exeter for many years.

  11. Caroline you have done a great job, I’m sure your son will have hours of pleasure operating his railway. Lego was an inspiration for the elevated track..You are very talented

  12. Great stuff Caroline,
    I am really envious of the great job you have done with your curved viaduct.

  13. Thanks everyone, I’ve really enjoyed creating it for him. He’s already been running his engines around the track, He thinks it’s great being able to have three engines running at the same time, each on their own loop!

  14. Caroline: Very nice Glen Finnan Viaduct (Hogwarts Express for you Harry Potter fans) is that scratch built or one of the Kibri kits?

  15. Sweet, Caroline (apologies to Neil Diamond).
    Legos; what a great idea. Once again, we all
    learn from each other.

  16. Well done. My 6 yr old step son liked the Legos

  17. I am nominating Caroline for Mom or the year – your son is a very lucky young man.

  18. I like how that elevated track looked. Did you use tunnel entrances to make the arches? Came out really looking great.

  19. Great job!!!

  20. Happy to see another female train designer on here. I’m almost finished with a 4×4 foot layout for my grandson. It served as a practice layout before I get started on the “real” one in the shop. It will be 4×12 feet and will be a rural setting. It took me almost two years to finish the small one so no telling how long the next one will be! Good job, Caroline!

  21. Well Caroline, I can see you’re quite the artistic Mom. I’m very impressed with your layout. I can see the use of Lego supports for the elevated track is quite innovational. Lucky son and I as well as all that have seen your layout are looking forward to see it running.
    Sincerely, Norm

  22. I initially thought it looked like cake icing, but I was soon put right and it has turned out really lovely. I really like your bridge. Very different for a nice change. You keep going as I am sure you will make another for yourself. Good for you Girl. Great work.

  23. Great work, Caroline! What scale are you working in? My layout ( also a work in progress) is s scale since I’ m using the American Flyer set my father gave me when I was about 5 years old.
    I go to the NASG conventions every year and get a lot of attention since it’s pretty unusual to find a woman there because she, herself, is the railroader!
    Remarkable women, that’s us! Keep up the good work!

  24. Hello Caroline,
    You do nice work. What size is the baseboard of your layout? In the near future I plan on starting a layout from scratch and I am limited in space. Is your son helping with the construction?


    John Walker

  25. I sure enjoyed looking at your creation.

  26. You know Caroline, this young man will, at some time in his life, look back and think he has the greatest Mom the world has ever known. This is an outstanding layout. Very good work. Keep it up, as you have learned, a layout is never finished. I don’t mean to sound snobbish, but I do so admire you for what you are doing. He is a very lucky lad.

  27. Excellent!!

  28. sweet layout for the boy. good job and keep building…it’s never done!

  29. Wow!
    That is some effort, congratulations

  30. Looks like a lot of fun!
    Fun is what it’s all about.
    Happy Railroading!

  31. nice layout hope your son enjoys every minute of play

  32. Caroline, nice job. I like how you constructed the cliffs on the left side of your layout. I am having a difficult time figuring out how to make similar cliffs in a tight area like what you seem to have had. Suggestions would be helpful.

  33. Caroline,

    I look at the model railroad you are building for your son … and I see; trial and error; success; devotion; and of course that one thing that sets Mom above all the rest is that unconditional love that is shown in this project.

    My Mom has passed away and I miss her but I have her fond memory of her unconditional love in my heart. I just hope those two men in your life know and appreciate what they truly have. Especially your son.

    May all that you wish for be the least that you receive.

    Caroline take a bow!! you deserve it.

    warm regards,


    PS: cannot wait to see the next update!

  34. Fantastic job Caroline, well done for the detail and the effort you have put in. Keep up the good work and please keep us updated on progress.
    Regards, Les.

  35. and the extraordinary quality of this layout comes as a surprise to some?

    well, of course she’s a great mom!

    you mean to tell me there’s another kind?

  36. Well done Caroline, love it and I am sure your son will as well. I agree, layouts are never done. I am on my third layout in as many years and will be making my fourth one next fall, this time I think a large hollow square. It is one I ave never had yet. Love your layout Caroline.

  37. Caroline, I think everyone on here would like to borrow you for a while. I know I would. Love the Cable Stay Bridge. It is my favorite type of bridge to build. I must have 8 or 9 by now. Currently working on the St Johns (a suspension) bridge in Portland, Oregon. HO scale and the Coos Bay Bridge (it is on highway 101 Oregon coast). It will be over six (6′) feet long if I ever get it finished. I can not wait to see more photos of your “sons” layout. You can never have to many tunnels & bridges. Again great work. Keep them coming. Hat

  38. Nice job Caroline.

  39. Great job your son will get alot of pleasure from it. The bridges and tunnnels look great .

  40. Caroline,
    Thanks for the photo of your suspension bridge.
    I’m going to try and make a similar one.

  41. Hats off to Caroline, great layout, a job well done!

  42. it looks real neat, your son is very lucky.

  43. Well Done Caroline,

    It’s really good when we see that this hobby isn’t just interestting to males, but also Females, as there is a large number of women also interested in building and running a layout, be it for their children as in your case, or their own interest doesn’t matter. Because you enjoy it just as much as the males do in the end.

    I bet your son and you have had some great times while building your layout and running trains. Also I bet your husband has also tried to join in when you and your son are running tains, if not it wont be very long before he does, I assure you. Anyway congratulation and welcome to a very rewarding hobby.

    Steve, Downunder.

  44. Caroline what is the size of your layout I don’t have much room yours looks like a 2×4 foot

  45. This a labour of love which I am sure your son will appreciate and develop on in future. Surely, a stupendous effort.

  46. Caroline,
    What a lovely layout – the sequence of photos as you have gone through the construction is great. The suspension bridge is very reminiscent of the Marine Lake bridge in Southport where I live so I wondered if you had based yours on it.

    I bet your son loves it – even if some of his Lego has gone missing!!


  47. What a wonderful layout. There are some clever ideas used there Caroline and the track looks like it would make some interesting running.

  48. Well done, it’s really taking shape and looks great, can’t wait to see the next instalments

  49. The above have said all that I would like to say, except: what a truly great Mum you are and I second the vote for Mum of The Year. Where do I put my mark?

  50. Creative, excellent, and a Super Mom is doing it. My hat is off for you Caroline!

  51. Fine job Caroline. I really like the viaduct and the suspension bridge.

  52. Great job,well done. This hobby sure could gain a lot with more talented ladies like you.

  53. Hello everyone, thanks for all your kind comments.

    I’ll try to answer as many of your questions as I can.

    The size of the layout is 8 foot x 4 foot.

    The scale is HO/OO.

    The curved viaduct has been completely built from scratch with plastic card and plywood. I first made a plywood core; like a box, but with only three sides. I made each individual arch and glued it to the plywood core. The arches have been cut from plastic card sheets, the edges of the arches have been finished off by placing individual bricks around the edge to give it a neat look, complete with a keystone at the top of each one!

    The curved cliff face was made first by covering the roof of the tunnel with scrunched up newspaper balls, then covering with strips of modroc and letting the strips fall vertically over the edge of the tunnel roof to create the sides and give a base for the plaster cast ‘rocks’. I put plenty of modroc on the sides to give a firm base and used ‘strata stone’ mold for the cliff faces.

    The next time we have the engines running I’ll take some pictures.

  54. Great work,and skill Caroline,well done,I hope you son is pleased. Mike

  55. He’s 13? Better hurry Caroline, any day now he’ll discover girls. LOL

  56. Well done Caroline. Just goes to show how innovative we modellers are, Landscaper. electrician, builder, architect, painter, etc . Al’s right, they are never finished – I’ve been working on my (show piece) since 1996 and I’m still working on, even it on show days – sort of a ‘how to…’ if you know what I mean. Must post more pics whwen you are closer to finish????

    Will post pics of my 8 x 4 ft (2400 x 1300mm) most of which is made up of household/backyard rubbish – saves the coin

    Again – well done Wayne

  57. Great ideas here, especially the use of Legos for hidden track supports.

  58. Well done Caroline a very nice circuit but are you sure this is for you son and not you all that love put in to it i think it might be for you too and what a good hobby it is


  60. I love the dual split levels. It is giving me ideas! :) Thank you.

  61. Hi Caroline,
    You did a great job on the model railroad and I hope your son always remembers that as I do of my father making a layout for me each year. Hopefully, he will continue that hobby throughout his life as I have. The wood laser cut buildings are fun to put together and I light them up. He would love it very much I am sure. Dave O.
    P.S. Best of luck to a good boy who has a super Mom.

  62. Great job I hope my turns out as good as yours !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. Damn nice layout Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  64. Very creative and very well done…

  65. Well done Caroline, first class, its nice to see the ladies coming into our hobby,
    I wish l could get my wife interested,

  66. All model rail road children deserve a mum like you. Brilliant!


  67. I’m so glad I’m not the only girl on here …

  68. Love the layout. It’s a passion, and I’m sure your son will enjoy for many many years to come.

  69. So nice to see that this hobby is not the sole purvue of the males among us! Good job Caroline. You are a good role model for the fairer sex.

  70. Caroline FANTASTIC getting involved with that build! Not many mums would get the chance to do that let alone have complete control over the whole operation! Hopefully u would of passed on some multi-tasking skills to your son coz we know us men are tarnished with being monosyllabic! Lol!
    Such a good bonding times 4u both to.

    JohnE UK

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