Joe’s layout

I normally steer away from the folk that type in CAPS, but thought I’d make an exception in Joe’s case. What a layout:



(Images are clickable)

Hi Al.

I been messing with making traffic street lights from junk.I installed the green,yellow,and red leds.Ive made a post to hang 3 sets for a 3 way traffic light.

The one on the left is a UK traffic light.notice the len’s.made them realistic as possible.not happy with one of the paint job’s and will do again.made from an old credit card,tube plastic coffee stir stick for the len’s , and a black tie wrap large.I made the post from the same tube plastic coffee stir stick.I added more wires inside to be able to wire up 3 sets of traffic lights.

With all the wires inside it becomes very stiff.When you go to drill any holes in the tube sticks make sure to shove something lesser the size to be able to drill a perfect hole for the wireing.

For the horizontal post I drilled a hole big anough to slip the cross post into it and instant glue solid.The wireing held it there.In the second photo with the post the leds aren’t in it to give you the idea how it goes.


Thanks to Joe and Kim.

And if you find Joe inspiring, what’s stopping you? Here’s how to start.

Anyhow, that’s all folks. Please keep ’em coming. And if you’re heading off to ebay, have a look at the latest ‘ebay cheat sheet‘ to bag yourself a deal.



100 Responses to Joe’s layout

  1. Joe, you have captured the water with the ‘Marion’ going to sea, perfectly. I am not a lover of water on model railways but you have impressed me with this one. Well done.
    Barry, UK

  2. Joe that is top work and i would like to know how you go the water around the boat to go like that it’s to class. I wish you and your family all the best. Keep up the good work my friend.

  3. Joe, What fantastic detail in the buildings and water craft and the water itself. I cannot comment on the railway as we cannot see much of it, but it’s half as good as the scenery then that too is great!!!

  4. Hi Joe, I think your layout is brilliant and the detail is excellent. Well done mate!

  5. Joe, absolutely fantastic. I wish I was half as good as you are. All the best.

  6. Joe – you know all you need to know about how to build a great layout!

  7. the scenery is outstanding i know i will never match it.would love to see more on the track and trainsi really dont know where you find the time i only have 2 grand children and i am always on the run keep up the great work. the how to on the traffic lights has been put in my libary for the future havnt got round to lights at all on my layout yet.

  8. Fantastic. Looks so real. Beautiful job well done.

  9. Joe: Fantastic! The water effects, in particular, are extremely well done.Great job!

  10. Best one I’ve see. Great job. Wish I could be that talented.

  11. Joe That is some of the best water scenery i have seen in a very long time.

  12. Love the detail you put into it. The water was perfect how did you manage to get the water to break perfectly over the Marion? I would love to see more pics of the lay out. Keep up the wonderful work.

  13. Joe, I would rate your work as “expert craftmansip” you are truly an insperation to all who want to build a layout and are on in years, your commitment to occupation, in the face of health problems, is also an encouragement to others. God bless you and keep up the excelent work.
    I admire your talant .

  14. joe – i don’t think u need 2 learn any more to build a great layout. i can’t seem 2 get my layout anywhere near what u have. u done a fantastic job, just keep up the good work. i learn from people like u, thanks!!!!!!!!!

  15. Joe. Thank you for you service. And thank you for sharing your outstanding layout.

  16. Joe, Your layout is absolutely beautiful. I thought I was pretty good at water techniques but nothing compared to you. You don’t need to learn anything, I think you already have more than enough skills to make your scenes look real. Enjoy your RR. Barry from Minnesota

  17. You have a GREAT GREAT layout…

  18. A trait of a great man is humility – wow . your layout is an inspiration well done Joe – God bless you

  19. I think Joe has underestimated his ability to model, this is great modeling Joe keep it up.


  20. Dear Sir,
    I am thinking of doing a layout, but , this is the 1st time of doneing this sort of thing,.
    Please could you tell me how to put a river into the layout, and what is that you used,?.
    Also I am not very good on the computer,so please understand.
    Thank You,

  21. Whoa!!! That is an amazing layout! The detail is incredible! Congrats!


  22. Joe, your layout is fantastic,if you think you need to know more, I wish I could do half as well,send more track pics,and keep up the great work.God bless.

  23. Fantastic layout Joe the water effects are about the best I have seen. Enjoyed the whoe thing thanks. Pete the mackem

  24. Well, done, Joe. Your response to your cancer will make military and civilians stand up with pride. Your an example to us all!

  25. Fantastic layout Joe the water effects are about the best I have seen. Enjoyed the whole thing. Thanks, Pete the mackem.

  26. I only hope to last that long. This is a fantastic layout looks so real. Thanks for the tips. My prayers to you and keep building. Great job. Thanks Al for the post.

  27. Well done Joe , looks very profeessional

  28. Very impressive, especially the water scenes.

  29. Joe, I really enjoyed looking at photo’s of your layout you shared with us. Thanks for taking the time to let look.

  30. Excellent detail.

  31. I have not commented before while I have appreciated the craftsmanship and imagination that have gone into many layouts. This one however, is truly outstanding. As a builder of navy dioramas I am struck by the many transitions the waterfront goes through in inches and capture of the water especially. Bob, Canada

  32. Fantastic,I’m 81 & a Korean war vet, I hope my layout turns out half as good. Kimo

  33. Joe, WOW what great scenery. the dockside looks great. All those grand kids must love it.

  34. What can I say, that everyone has already said better. I am very impress.

  35. Hi Joe, My uncle Johnnie was also 101st and in Korea, Germany and Vietnam. I was moved about your condition and had to comment. I think your railroad is beautiful, your attention to details is Great. I like the signal lights also. We are trying to create a 9 track overhead bridge for our clubs,( layout. Any suggestions on how to to this?? The span is 22 inches. Thanks Joe and Kim.

  36. Hi Joe,
    You are truly an inspiration to us all! I am a US Army retired Master Sergeant and constructing a mid-sized O gauge model railroad. Your scenery is outstanding and your water scenes sometime appears to be in motion. I only hope that the scenery I create will be half as dynamic as your scenery. Thank you submitting these photos, and God Bless you.

  37. Hi Joe

    Your lay out is really inspirational especially the use of water.

  38. Brill layout Joe just one thing wrong you left out how you got the expertise to model such great water scene’s, could you please show more of this fantastic layout .What is the scale please

  39. I too have been a loyal member of viewing all of the great layouts, plans and info that Al keeps sending us all (thanks Al) and like some others here this is my first time responding.
    I too am a vet (submarines in the 60’s & 70’s) and want to thank all vets for their service – My Dad did Germany in WWII.
    Great layout – Since I too have had bladder cancer and retired because of it you have inspired me to “kick-it-in” and “Git-er-done” Thanks and may the Force be with you!

  40. Joe my father was Thomas Payne 101 allso ww2 and thank u for ur service Sir. the layout u have done is extrordinary u have called on ur life experiances i see it in ur work u have taken details that u have seen in ur life time and trans formed them in detail is there a way we could talk u into sharing ur crafting details with all as i can see i am not even going mention my details u r one of the best builders i have had the pleasure to view i hope u will take pics of the layout in tottal and then sections and tell us how u were able to produce such reality and share with us ur building techneeks ys my spelling is horable i am disabled myself now and am about to start my train set again i have been going do this for years but 7 days a week as iron worker no time i hope to hear from u about building a world of reality
    Sincerly Joe Payne

  41. Joe, “wish you knew more”???? That looks great as it is.

  42. Absolutely STUNNING!!!!! This is a work of great detail. I wish I could do half was well. Looking at the river scene and the water!! OMG. Phenomenal. I wish I knew you and where you live. I would love to take lessons from you. Also, thank you so much for your service. People like you make life possible for people like me.

    As for the signal lights, What bad paint job? I certainly dont see one. Great patients to work with such tiny things.

  43. Hi Joe, Your layout is quite impressive. I really do like your attention to detail and how you done the water scenes with the boats and wharfs. Excellent job, you inspired me to try that on my layout. Thank you once again for sharing. Ray A.

  44. Joe,
    absolutely brilliant! I’m planning a N scale layout with a waterfront and I’m saving these pictures for reference.You are truly an inspiration.Thank you for your service and for the great pics.
    God bless
    Joe from Ohio

  45. Joe,
    Would like to now the size of your layout. I am impressed with the detail you put into yours. Nice job. I am planning to start my new layout in the fall, once I get the room ready. I goes to prove that this hobby does in deed have no age boundries.
    Jim from Bufalo NY

  46. 88 !! He’s fantastic. I’m 20 years his junior and supposedly fit but he’s just become one of my all time heros. The water is superb but there again so is everything else. Well done.

  47. What a brilliant model, keep the photies coming Joe.

  48. Joe, well done. Perfect

  49. First thought on seeing the water, it looks cold! That’s a very nice layout, how about a video?

  50. Thank’s Peter Evnagel .Update on the signal light’s.I scrapped the plastic tub coffee stir stick.Im using aluminum tubeing instead.I have a final one done and will send in a picture to Al.


  52. The detail was wonderful and the water looks great, a very good layout, well presented and obviously done with a great deal of care. Well done

  53. This is a superb effort. Especially the water effect and the position of the boats and trawlers on the water. The signals a – good idea. Overall the layout is fantastic.

  54. Joe:
    Your work on the waterway, and extreme attention to detail is nothing short of astounding!!! Your ship heading out to sea, the bow cutting the water, and the wake it generates is an incredible piece of modeling. I firmly believe that water adds a stunning effect on a layout. If I were 1/10th as good as you, I would model San Francisco Bay.
    I, for one, would listen at rapt attention if you would be so kind as to offer a tutorial on how you achieved your water effects. You truly have a work of art.
    Thanks to you Al for bringing all of these wonderful layouts to us all.
    Joe K

  55. WOW! A true work of art my friend. Only can dream of having a layout like this. Such detail. The tracks look like ones close to home as you can see them being worn down looking instead of sticking out like just laid in place. Awesome roundabout and shop area! Love the water effects. Building look so realistic! Thank You for sharing! Have a ton of fun with this layout.

  56. So glad you ignored the caps . What great detail really well done Joe great water.
    keep up the good work . We have just had Anzac Day here in Australia and can only echo the many sentiments honoring your sacrifice and that of the countless thousands of your era who were called to serve. Thank you for the modelling but most of all Thank you for your service. God Bless

  57. Great looking layout.
    Captured the atmosphere well.
    Loved the ships, were they scratch built or kits, seems a shortage of ships to model for port layouts in the UK.
    Don’t know about you wanting to know more, you cold teach us a thing or two, with the quality of your build.
    Love to see it live in your garage.
    x Paul x

  58. Joe, Thank you so much for serving our great country and for these fine pics. I am only 65 years old and if I can do half as good a job on my layout as you have, I would be so pleased. Great job!

  59. Absolutely stunning beyond all expectations….love the water it is fantastic…..I wish you and family all the best. Please lets see more? Ian

  60. Joe First of all Thank You for your service, I was in the Marines in Vietnam spent two tours as a Machine Gunner, then got out and join the US Navy Seabees reserve retired as a Chief Petty Officer, our layout is perfect,your water scenes is above excellent.I have done the same thing you did I retired from the Santa Fe Railroad as a welder. This is my first layout and I have learn alot from the computor and great people like you. Thank You for showing your pictures. May God Bless you and your family

  61. stunning does not begin to describe joes layout .thank you joe for the inspiration not just on my layout but in dealing with my own disability all the best joe you are a true scholar of life

  62. joe double blessings

  63. Joe Particularly like the roundhouse I’ve just built one for my N gauge layout
    Regards Andy

  64. I don’t write comments very often but I just felt t had to say Thank you for your service .. I too am a vet but only 8 years in the USAF.. I think your model train layout is exceptional and I hope my train layout is half as good.. Your attention to detail is remarkable.. Unbelievably realistic.. Keep up the excellent work..

  65. One of the best detail layouts posted.

  66. Joe your layout I think is awesome! I like the boats in with the train layout!

  67. Thank you for your service! I too served in the 101st AB for many years and went on to retire at 24 years. WWII vets are truly dynamic and have the best stories ever! Yet still find the time to do model railroading at 88 years of age. We (VFW) have helped veterans in our community to build models of all kinds only to inspire and keep them mobile and of course the camaraderie and friendships are very valuable to all of us. Keep up the great work, your layout is marvelous!

  68. Hi Joe,
    Outstanding attention to detail! Fantastic!

  69. Well done Joe
    Just goes to prove (yet again) “old age and cunning always beats youth and enthusiasm”
    Again, great work

  70. I’m only 70, and after seeing Joe’s layout I can hardly wait until I’m 88.

  71. first off thank you for your service to our nation Joe. What an awesome layout I am 67 years old and I only hope to be able to do half that will as I’ve built my first layout since I was 12 years old. I only hope that I can come forth with half the talent that you have when I build mine awesome job I love the water and all the detail in the rest of your scenes. I do have one question how big is your layout Joe?

  72. Joe, you can be proud of that layout. The water is excellent (I can hear the seagulls saying “Mine! Mine!”), and you have a lot of things happening there to keep anyone’s interest. Just don’t forget all the fun you can have running the trains. Keep it going, and all the best to you.

  73. Joe: Thx for your service. Once a soldier-always a soldier. Do it right the first time etc. Your display is quite different than any I’ve seen before. Your depiction of the waters actions is “Right-On” Your era reflects your age and period shown thereon. Thx much for sharing-I’d surely like to reflect my growing up in Annapolis, Md and the Chesapeake Bay area on my layout,but the wife says I cannot take up the whole garage with my hobbies. I know I’m not the ONLY guy like this :>} I’ll continue to grow a foot at a time. Spent 30 yrs Air Force and Army-1st trains from Nuremburg, Ger “Union Pacific 4-6-2”. Keep up the good work and sharing. Harold Jr.

  74. Joe, If you feel you need to get better at our hobby, from your photos, I have a long, long ,long way to go. Great work and thanks for sharing.


  75. That is quite an amazing layout Joe. I’m very impressed and a bit jealous of it! Thank you for your service!

  76. Joe,

    Your layout is a true inspiration. The water effects are something to try to match, and the details elsewhere are impressive. You have probably forgotten more than some of us know. Well done. Would love to see more

  77. Truly a remarkable job, Joe. The layout is outstanding. Good luck, keep the model railroad going and also, thanks for your Service. Jim

  78. Joe First, thank you for you’re military service. Most impressed with the water effects. Can you share a tutorial on how you create the water effects of movement. Terry in California

  79. Hi Joe, you said you wished you knew more, sorry mate there is no more you obviously have the lot already but don’t know it, brilliant!!.
    Sid, UK

  80. Very nice. How do you do the ripples in the water?

  81. Joe, thank you for your service ! I was also with the 101st. ABN from 1968 thru 1969 at Ft Campbell KY. and in Viet Nam in 68 & 69. I really like the water front you created on your layout. AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY ! Les (Zips) Peeney

  82. Many modelers in the 1950-1960 in the US Services stationed in Germany brought European Train sets back. Like Maerklin, Fleischmann bought in the
    PX’ses. and modeled Euro Layouts. I am a native Swiss and modeled Swiss
    and German Landscape, in honor of my Grandfather which was a train engineer
    on the Swiss railroad System SBB-CFF and admired by me!!
    I have now about 20 different trains on 2x8ft. layouts and about 10 of very expensive SBB-CFF Vitrine models, like HAG and the famous Fulgurex.
    3x Krokodiles and some models that he was working on. He was engineer on the famous old Gotthard Line in the 1930ties from Basel to
    My dream is to be as accurate as possible in buildings. and landscape.
    But……… they are very hard to find and too expensive. Like Faller and Vollmer
    in Germany. some City buildings cost from $50-80 some Swiss Chalets $35.
    A Mountain tram as much as $150. Naturally on fixed SS income ( I am going
    on to 83) I cannot afford these. I am going every week to Goodwill in search
    of Swiss chalet musicboxes, mostly about $10 but not quite the right HO size.
    but who cares? I am the modeler and thats OK for me.
    My question: Does anyone know a cheaper Chinese or US website? most of today’s horrible train articles are made in China or Kroatia ( i dont buy running stuff, just landscaping) but way cheaper but very accurate.
    I have placed my layouts on Facebook (edfurst)months ago including a US theme layout the 3rd 4×8 but I dont know if they are still active??
    Any answers are apprecited. Thank you.
    PS. I believe that the Swiss railroads is the greatest railroad country in the world. mindbogling mountain scenery
    Very expensive German makes:Maerklin, Fleischmann, Roco, Brawa, Vollmer or Faller.

  83. Sorry for my english, my native language is Schwitzerduetsch, Swiss german

  84. phenomenal layout and a great inspiration to us all
    love it.
    keep well

  85. Joe
    You sir are a marvelous model maker, forget the railroad and just do the waterways they are absolutely fantastic. keep up the great works and all the very best from the UK.
    BTW I am a great fan of Lionel trains but all of my locos (13) and MOW (4) are Legacy controlled and I am slightly younger than you (71)


  86. Joe, first thanks for your service. Truly a fantastic looking layout. Ya gotta love the “back in the day” era. And the water feature is quite remarkable. You are truly an inspiration to us all.

    Jim AZ

  87. Joe,
    Thank you for your service and dedication. Your layout is awesome. Thanks for sharing.
    Ish from Kansas

  88. Outstanding job!!!! Truly the work of a Screaming Eagle! keep showing us how, and thank you forever for your service.

  89. Wow what nice comments! Joe I lost my best friend in Vietnam, his name was Joe. AT 73 ex Navy and on my 3rd layout I am so amazed at your work. I to thank you for your service and wish you many more years of great work. God Bless you and your family. Your a true American.

  90. Joe,
    First thank you for your service you surely are one of the greatest generation. My son is now in the 101st airborne. Your layout looks fantastic keep up the good work. Stay healthy and enjoy your layout.

  91. Joe, excellent modeling. Your water effects are amazing. I am envious of your skills.


  92. Hi Joe , that is a spectacular ho layout , I have made 4 ho layouts in my life and always enjoyed turntables , yours is excellent . Thanks for your service to our country and thank you for your inspiration to build my 5th .

  93. Joe,

    Are you kidding, you have a GREAT LAYOUT. The detail is Awesome. love the boat scenes you have created. Are the boat names for someone close to your heart?

    Cary B USA

  94. I would love to see “bird’s eye views” of the layouts you post here.
    Not that the pictures are not good. Just seeing an overall view would be helpful in seeing how the layout is situated and I think inspiring for those of us putting our layouts together.

  95. Al–I”m getting a little sick and tired (and overly jealous) of the fine pictures and articles submitted by your readers. Their examples are excellent but having been in the train modeling mode for some 60 years I know from personal experience that for every great idea or layout plan there have been some huge mistakes made and a lot of redo’s necessary.
    How about calling for articles and pictures of some of the failures that “looked good on paper but not in real life.” For example, I model the SP railroad in the American west and especially the articulated units of the Coast and Shasta Daylight units.
    After creating the layout , laying down the track etc., I found all was for naught because a two or three car articulated set will NOT run on an 18 inch radius, breaks apart on the curves and it’s hell to put them back together again. As a result I now have a complete unopened box of expensive brand new cars that I can look at—but not see in action! Stupid me–should have read the specs more carefully..
    I’m thinking your readers may have some similar stories they’d like to share. In the meantime, congratulations to all for being in the model railroad business and sharing your success’ with the rest of us.

  96. Joe, Thank You for. your Service! You have created a wonderful layout, and I think it’s just fantastic. I love everything about it, especially the roundhouse and turntable, and,of course, the water effects! Thank you for sharing. God Bless and keep you!

  97. Joe, Thank You for. your Service! You have created a wonderful layout, and I think it’s just fantastic. I love everything about it, especially the roundhouse and turntable, and,of course, the water effects! I’m 76, a retired electrical engineer, and sometimes modeler. I will never achieve what you have done. Your work is truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing. God Bless and keep you! Warren in Alabama

  98. Joe absolutely stunning, one of the best layout I have seen. Thank you for sharing it made my day. Leo Ketchum Oklahoma.

  99. Joe, thank you for your service and all the other vets who responded. Your work puts me to work harder. If I can do only half as well I would be happy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  100. Yeah, it was the boats and the water they were plowing thru…..sooooo excellent!

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