Jim’s layout

“Hello from Buffalo New York, from across the GREAT BIG POND.

I thought I would give an update on the new layout currently under construction.

However, before I get to the update I want to share something. Back on October 13 I lost a friend of over 30 years.

His name was George Schewnk. George was a good friend and a model railroader. He had “O” gauge Lionel trains and accessories. He really enjoyed playing with his trains, and what a collection he had. I will miss my friend very much. He leaves behind his wife Darlene and a son Garret. Garret is also involved with model railroading in “N” gauge. I can remember one night George called me with a problem with Garrets Peco switches. So over I went and between my experience with them and George being frustrated they worked perfectly. What a good time for both of us. Rest in Peace my friend.

And now on to the update! I have included some pictures regarding the Construction of this massive layout. Now keep in mind this layout is a backward “7” of sorts. The total layout in size is a little over 105 square feet total. Not impressive by some layouts but keep in mind the drawing that I sent originally. Here is what the layout will look like:

There have been some upgrades to the layout not shown on the drawing above. There has been a small yard added to the area of the container terminal, a lake added to where the mountain is located and have added several extra turnouts for a total of 21, all controlled by Tortoise Machines. The DOUBLE CROSS OVER was not working correctly so it was replaced with a new turnout configuration.

The next few pictures show the table completed, the track laid in the first stage minus the road bed.

And now for the bridge. This bridge is 5 feet in length which leads to the reverse loop that is in the rear of the layout.

The next pictures show the Transfer Table deck is in place and the 3 Maintenance Buildings are now set in place. The actual moving table needs some repairs to it, so it is presently on my work bench.

The mountain is starting to take shape. I have installed the cardboard webbing so far and in a couple of days I will place the screen material before I place the plaster cloth

As you can see the Mountain is quite large. I added an access portal that is not shown here on the inside of the mountain from underneath just in case there a train mishap. I am crossing my fingers that will not happen, but as we all know from Newtons Law, “what can go wrong will go wrong” or something like that. There are three entrance/exit portals for the mountain and two of them are visible here the third one is on the other side. I marked them all with arrows on the picture.

So far the following have been completed: TRACK AND ROADBED (minus the ballast) TRANSFER TABLE, CONTAINER TERMINAL, most of the switch machines have been installed and the MOUTAIN is starting to take shape.
It is taking much longer to complete this layout than I wanted. With the old layout I had numerous issues with trains not running correctly, jumping the track, stuck in the tunnel of the old mountain so with the miserable experience from the past, I did decide to take my time, test the engines on the layout to make sure there is no issues ( and knock on wood so far so good ).

I will post more in the coming weeks leading up to my summer away from the house at my summer house and NO I am not taking the layout with me.



Starr Point Railroad”

“Hi Alistair,

Having been a follower of your site for some time and enjoyed and appreciated the content and comment, I feel obliged to make a contribution.

The pictorial content is somewhat, significantly different from that which you normally publish.

Please note that I will not feel in the slightest offended if you feel that you cannot use the attached material.

The attached photographs depict the external views of my shed, called the Railroad Tavern.

It is a retreat in which I can quietly indulge in my three ‘S’ pastimes. Steam engines(the North American variety), Springsteen (Bruce of that ilk) and Single Malt Whisky (in moderation of course).

Regards the station name plates, some artistic license and some tongue in cheek improvisation has been applied. Humour, colour and places actually visited being the criteria.

It is not a hobby if there is no degree of fun associated. I have even had T-shirts printed with the Railroad Tavern logo for family members.

As explained to any visitor to the premises, the KGB are still looking for the one purloined in St Petersburg.

And of course, Castletown never actually existed but was part of a film set. However being a life long John Wayne affectionado, it was essential that it be included.

The other station name plates are self explanatory.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me. Perhaps one day, once I have tidied it up, I can send photos of the interior.

Hoping that your response is favourable



That’s all for today. Please keep ’em coming.

And keep your eye’s peeled for Jim’s updates – they are stunning. Just goes to show all railroads are ugly ducklings.

And if you want to start yours, you can take the plunge here.



54 Responses to Jim’s layout

  1. if you keep any polystyrene blocks – as used in packing items like TVs, washing machines, etc. – and invest in a Polystyrene cutter, you can shape mountains and landscapes very easy and light-weighted, covering them with mod-rock to round things off.

  2. Hi Tom,
    Great Shed, I also have a large shed which houses my railroad and my Three ‘S’s.
    Happily for me, it’s the first and the last of your three…..two times.
    PS. Better not go back to St Petersburg.

  3. I do not recall the problem as Newton’s Law but as the Peter Principal.

  4. Ho Tom,
    we all need a retreat, mine’s the garage. I love the British Railways
    ‘Totem’ signs. Cheers, mine’ a Guinness!!

  5. Not Newton’s Law but Murrphy’s law !

  6. Thanks Jim/Tom for sharing pics and humor.
    The quote, to me, smacks of “Murphy’s Law”.



  8. Jim, having recently retired I have a retreat (a little workshop attached to my garage not as good looking as Tom’s), over 40 years collection of rolling stock, plenty Peco flexible tracks, accessories, switches/points, even polystyrene blocks, practical experience of “Murphy’s Law”, etc. but no plan that I have been satisfied with or shall I say no plan that has been satisfied with me. Your plan seems to be something I could live with adding very few alterations. Do your square dimension blocks refer to 1′ sections? If so the 99 square foot plus peripheral area leaves a lot of space for future expansion of the railroad. Do you have a better detailed plan I can read and refer to? What you have constructed so far looks pretty impressive to me even in its early stages of development. The accompanying photos gives one a pretty good idea of what the final product will look like. My nemesis will be wiring but apparently DCC is for us dumb folks. Pity as when I started collecting locos DCC was not on the cards yet. Darn and now I have to trade or convert.

  9. Is Jim’s layout HO or N? I can’t tell for sure from the photos. Any chance he has a clearer drawing of the layout, or perhaps a track plan to offer? I really like how much he has going on in a relatively small layout! Great food for thought for my N-scale plan that is taking shape.

  10. Jim ;
    My condolences on the loss of your friend George. Seems that we lose friends faster than we can make them.
    Your off to good start with the layout.

    I have two sheds out back, They mysteriously keep filling up with “stuff”
    In fact the whole yard keeps filling up.
    I need to think about this over a bit of Tullamore Dew.

  11. For those of us who also conduct our ‘ferroequinology’ in a SHED as Tom does – consider looking up John Williamson’s song “All Australian Boys Need a Shed”. It provides the ‘raison d’etre’ for many of us. I’m raising my grog to Tom’s layout, in his shed.

  12. Hi Tom

    Just thought u might like to know that there is a small town near Sunderland in the UK called Castletown as well as on the Isle of Man and one in Ireland.

    Really like the station plaques and your retreat


  13. Hi Jim sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

  14. Hi

    If you would put additional cross strips on your mountain, 2 layers of the plaster cloth will work fine. No need for screening.
    Keep up the good work.
    As a last note, I believe in O’Doules postulate, which states that Murphy was an optimist!

  15. Do you or any of your friends have any pictures of the Western Maryland roundhouse and/or yard in its heyday? I am planning a diorama in the near future!


    Mike Luhouse

  16. Great photos – my condolences to the loss of your long-time friend! It’s always difficult to loose someone that you loved and respected, and someone that thought you were important!
    A question for all you railroad hobbyists – how do you access the table surfaces over an area that is wider than your arm’s length?

  17. To Mike Luhouse,

    Try the Fall 2012 edition of Classic Trains. There is an aerial photographs of the WM roundhouse at Hagerstown, Md. If you have any difficulty please leave a reply.

  18. Hello! Nice photo of your layout. I have a question to this site’s manager. I have a vision problem and have requested several times to have the ability to enlarge photographs when selected. The enlargement capability was here for a while but has since disappeared. Is there anyway this capability be a standard procedure in the future of all photographs sent? Thank you for your assistance and keep up the good work of delivering these layouts!

  19. Hi Jim, a very interesting and appealing track plan; very creative use of track under- and overpasses. It seems to provide a seemingly endless combination of train routing possibilities. I would love to see a larger view of the track plan. The small image makes it very difficult to discern points where tracks appear to meet/join or just pass near each other.


  20. Hi Tom,
    Very nice idea of a shed/Railroad Tavern. The signs are creative and amusing. By the way, am I to understand this is a life-size shed? The image looks like a very fnely detailed model.



  22. I wonder what the problem was with the ‘double crossover’? Very easy to get a short through a scissors arrangement like that, particularly with live frog points. I had to make a set last year, and had to treat the flat crossing in the middle as four separate sections electrically.

  23. Tom,
    I want to visit “The Railroad Tavern” and I don’t even like whisky! Well done, it’s excellent!

  24. This looks so good I would love to see it for real I know it will not happen but one can always hope

  25. brill

  26. I am glad to see that we have given credit to Mr. Murphy and his law. There is a corollary called Mrs. Murphy’s law which states that “It always breaks when he is out of town!”

    As for the Peter Principal, it states that “A worker is promoted until he reaches his level of incompetency!” Anyone who has ever worked for the owner’s son knows it well.


  27. Castletown does exist as I live in a town with that name

  28. Tom & Jim: Keep up the good work! I have a layout I am working on. Hopefully, I will save some energy to draw a track plan. This is my fifth layout. I have been in the hobby for about 60 years. It is a great way to relax and enjoy (most of the time!). Be good and keep busy. It is a super hobby!!!!!!!!
    Will be happy to try and answer any questions.

  29. Jim’s layout – impressive but how do you reach anything on this layout. I will be having my grandson working with me and just need some tips as to wall clearances if using 4 x 8 sheets.

  30. What a great layout it does offer questions about mine but it’s going to look great keep me posted on al your jobs and I Wil let know when he build will start

  31. This is a great site to keep in touch with some very clever railway modelers,,but all have experienced frustration giving rise to a few LAWS but in Liverpool the law that if it can happen it will happen is called ` SOD`s LAW“ and is it true??

  32. Very nice layout

  33. awesome layout thanks for sharing it with us!
    Chris Minor

  34. Al, am working on an n scale layout with my -8 year old grandson, what a way to bond. i have found that using pine bark nuggets as slate rock banks looks very realistic, you can square the edges with a bandsaw or equivilant to make
    them fit together, and you can spray paint them with red oxide primer or leave them natural, either way looks great. also they can be used on any scale. hope this helps others who are wondering about cuts through mountains. Bob

  35. Al , I currently have an 8 by 6 foot HO scale layout with a mountain covering 1/5 of the layout. Its still a work in progress. I find that just old around the house materials like old water bottles make great grain elevators and silos plus i use glue, sand, and brown/gray spray paint to make a rather old and rundown/rustic look to my branch lines. And i just wanted to say thanks for keeping use all updated on all the latest stuff thanks.

  36. I am new to trains. I am working on an 8×10 table. To get to the middle I left a 2 ft, by 4 ft space open. I can crawl up to the middle of the layout. I also have 2 ft or more on all 4 sides. thanks for the info and pictures

  37. I love your photos! I really like model trains but I am very lousy at building them. Love watching everyone’s layouts. Keep up the great work and postings!

  38. Greetings, Very nice layout. Thanks for sharing same. I am currently in the attic of my house adding a sub floor above the air conditioning duct work. Plan on an L shaped layout with mountains,etc. in “N” gauge. I am also involved in Civil War activities of which I plan on incorporating into my system. Keep up the good work and hope to be more inter active in the future as a new member.

    (Mike Fuzzy) Sitton

  39. looks good, post more pix when you can

  40. It isn’t Newtons Law (gravity) or the Peter principle (you only rise to the level of your incompetence). It is Murphy’s law (whatever can go wrong will go wrong). I haven’t started with the hobby yet although I did buy my daughter her first train set. I will give it to her over the holidays. You guys are terrific. I only hope my stuff comes out half as good as yours. Keep this stuff coming, I need the inspiration. Thanks.

  41. First of all. I am retired and not an expert in building trains. Can someone tell me what and where are the insulated track connectors used. I am fixing to start putting the switches in and just don’t know much about wiring a railroad. I already have plenty books on the subject. My railroad is a project I started. 25 years ago. 5’x9′. I now have found the time to try to complete it. Have not finished the mountain which covers 20%.

  42. Very nice and highly detailed layout Jim! I am in the process of introducing my 13-year old grandson Micah to the joy of model railroading.
    I had a fairly large 3-set of HO trains that was built on a 8′ X 12′ “L” back in ’78 when my kids were young. So I’m passing them on to Micah.
    I started with a slightly smaller 8×8 “L” The layout will be fairly basic to start and we’ll build on it each year. After the initial construction, we rolled out olive green paint leaving patches of the particle board material showing through for a more realistic ground appearance.
    Then as we develop the layout and scenery, we’ll paint in roads and add landscaping. If I can figure out how to post pics here, I’ll add updates as we go.
    Happy railroading and Happy New Year!

  43. It’s tough losing a friend, especially one who shares your interest. Sorry for your loss.

  44. I’m getting older and into G gauge now. I have a single garage wash bay full of around the wall layout just about finished. It is a coal and logging road called the Yellow Pine Railroad. I have a saw mill and pond along with a coal tipple loading site. I have many construction pictures and will try to get some posted. My main problem is my garage is not heated so limits my train running in the winter here in Berlin, Pennsylvania, so just started a layout G gauge switching yard and repair shop in our partially empty basement.

  45. Been following for several years, D&WRR has been in mothballs,a 4X8 . I love to see all the contributions, but as of now I am still planning. Want to get my RR back in running order, and I am intimidated by all the wonderful layouts, but we enjoyed the Danville & Western,and that’s all that matters. We rent a cottage in North Conway ,NH that has a mainline right in our back yard from the Conway Senic RR. We can walk over to the main train station, and yard,and often do, I do drag the Mrs. Over there, she enjoys the walks also, where you can hobnob with
    Working Locos, all Diesel up close,and nobody seems to mind. Well keep the great layouts coming,May when I get the D&W RR up and running again I will be able to submit some photos. Till then,” Happy Railroading ”


  46. nice layouts keep up the good work.

  47. nice layouts keep up the good work. Gator.

  48. Seeing some of these wonderful layouts. It gives a idiot like me some hope.

  49. What perfect timing for me. I’m finishing up construction of my “downsized” 3/2 home in SC. I’ve toyed with several idea’s for a train shed and this really gives me some excellent points to work with. The shed is a prefab 12×20 foot 2 story structure. The 1st floor will include my existing L shaped 9′ by 6′ long by 3′-4′ deep sections. I’ll add to this over time. Upstairs will be some workrooms for assembly, painting, detailing, etc. This area will be for use of myself and for friends and fellow club members. They can work on projects and then store entire projects in “personal” cabinets. Hopefully this will complete in about 6 months

  50. Nice layout coming on there ,sorry about the loss of your friend.

  51. Nice layout! I am very sorry about your friend!!! I will pray that you will get over this sad time in your life.

  52. an addition to Murphy’s law .. : Its easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission” . So just do what it is you think needs doing and if its wrong , then get forgiveness. At work 2 weeks ago the boss was gone and I saw something that I wanted to do . As he wasn’t there to get his permission I just went ahead and did it . Later I told him what I had done and why . He said “OK it needed done and you took care of a problem before it became a bigger one . “

  53. Really enjoying the e-mails you send to me.
    Sorry about your friend but as we get older it is something we must expect. I have lost my 3 closest best friends in the last 48 months. I just have to suck it up. I am a walking basket case as I nearly got killed twice as a Police Officer in Metro Toronto.
    Keep up with your tips and stuff.


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