Mike’s railroad

“Dear Al,

I have been enjoying your emails and website and thought I would send you a plan (attached) and some photos (to follow) of my 2×8 Kansas City Time Saver layout that I have recently completed. As I am sending this through my iPad the photos my be in a few installments. I used Bachmann EZ Track for this layout as it was my first and I went digital with a NCE Power Cab system so that I could have it as a stand alone layout or as a module (I am currently working on two other layouts, a 9×5 and a 6×4, that will link with this eventually).

Hope you like it.


Wow! A superb layout. And thanks to Mike for sending in all those pics – I love the start to finish story pictures tell.

Thanks also for the comments on the new ‘shak’. Have a look – it’s below. My boy had a lot of fun doing that one. He likes painting ’em, I like sticking ’em together.

Oh – and don’t forget the ‘ebay cheat sheet‘. I’m proud of that one. Hope it saves you a few dollars.

Keep ’em rolling in.



29 Responses to Mike’s railroad

  1. Great looking railroad.

  2. I hope to see your two other layouts linked to this one. Nice clean layout. JMB

  3. What a masterful job! You’re obviously not a newbie at this hobby.

    Your layout will forever silence the Timesaver nay-sayers. And your use of E-Z Track and the way you applied the ballast could make the Bachmann Hall of Fame.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

  4. Wonderful yard in a concise size. Detailing is very good. (1) Looks like HO — What scale is it? (2) About how many man hours of fun have you invested so far? (3) Noticed the castors — Is that for storage between “play times” or another reason?

  5. I like the modular approach that the use of CAD facilitates. Have you found Bachman’s software easy to work changes in elevation combined with multilevel tracks? I am planning to have an HO subway running under the perimeter of one table and an ~1FT above level “mountainntrail” in N. I also have a Marklin Z that is very nice and I will have to use somewere. very tall mountain I guess.

  6. Mike, very nice. gives me ideas for my yard when I get to it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I and others have looking at it. great work.

  7. as i have very little space,i am now inspirered!!(i can’t spell ).
    i’m having all kinda thoughts! thanx,jb

  8. Thank you all for your kind comments and I would once again like to thank Al for hosting the site and sending out the updates. I do not know the character limit on this so I will answer you questions with seperate posts. @ Frank: The scale is HO. To be honest I have not kept an exact track of the man hours. I spent a few hours every day for about a month to get it mostly done (around 100-150hrs I guess) and then I have been tinkering and adding buildings and lights etc (around another 20hrs or so) but as you would know no layout is ever really finished. The castors are for “location flexability” (not only day to day but I am in the military and move a bit) 😉 but they are also height adjustable as the Time Saver is very sensitive to level so I need to be able to adjust the legs so that all the rolling stock doesn’t just roll, pardon the pun, to one end.

  9. @ Alex: CAD is great and allows you to visualise the layout before you start. I do not use Bachmann’s software. I use AnyRail. I have found it to be the most easy to use and includes many other track types apart from just Bachmann E-Z Track. To be honest I have not dabbled in multi level yet. The software does facilitate it but I have not used it so cannot comment. Your plan to use multiple scales on your mountain to give a sense of distance sounds awesome and will be great to see when its done. For those of you who are interested I will send the CAD file to Al to make available if possible. I got the track plan for the Time Saver out of ‘E-Z Model Railroads: The E-Z Track Planning Guide & Layout Book’ By Chris Lane with H. Lee Riley then modified it on the CAD. The main changes I made were the addition of the main line and I put 2.25in straight sections in the ‘S’ curves to minimise car offsets that can cause uncoupling and/or derailments.

  10. i like it, its very simple but looks very real, a great design along the edge of our sheds and still get the car in and around thats what i am doing at my place. thanks for the ideas.

  11. Very nice Mike, you have done a good job, very realistic!

  12. Very nice Mike. Please tell us about the details… are you running DCC, remote control, or rail power? How do you handle coupling/uncoupling? I’d also be interested in your buildings. Where did you get them? Kit of scratch? And what industries do they represent? Are they protypical of the KC area indicated in the map? Com’on, ya got our attention so let’s have the rest.


  14. @Done, OK, OK, OK. :-) I am using a NCE Power Cab for control. I was discussing control with my local train store and their advice was that if I was thinking about DCC then I should do it from the get go as the wiring in particular is simpler as you do not necessarily have to worry about block control etc. They recommended the NCE system as it is easy to setup and can expand easily as you add more modules to your layout. This has born true in my experience. I have found it very easy to use as a DCC beginner and it is relatively intuitive as my needs expand with bigger layouts and programming CVs etc. I have another Power Cab setup on my Hornby 6×4 layout and a NCE SB3A on my 9×5 as I needed extra amperage.
    Coupling/Uncoupling. This is handled with E-Z Mate No. 78999 Magnets with Brakemen. The magnets are hidden under the roadbed. During operating sessions the Brakemen mark the magnet locations. Cars remain coupled as they are pulled across the magnet locations. When the cars are pushed slightly towards one another, the magnet moves the metal air hoses out, separating the couplers. Cars can now be pushed, ensuring that the couplers meet in the ‘open’ position with the unsprung part of the couplers together, with the locomotive/train to their final location. When the locomotive/train pulls forwards the uncoupled car will remain in place.
    Buildings. I lived in Leavenworth KS, about 40min from Kansas City, for two years (incidently this is where I got into the hobby) and I like to model prototypes from around where I have lived. (Although the Hornby layout was built for the kids to run Thomas Trains) The signal tower is Atlas’ HO Signal Tower Kit that I built as was although I painted the stairs a wood colour. I then ballasted over the base to integrate it onto the layout. The signal tower is prototypically correct for the US but there is not one in the prototype yard and was included to add interest to the layout. The freight sheds are from a Wathers’ Cornerstone Series kit called Clayton County Lumber. I airbrushed this kit prior to building it to get the look I wanted. These sheds represent the freight sheds that you see in the left of the prototype photo down to their curved appearance.
    Hope this answers your questions. Let me know if you have any others.

  15. Great job!

  16. Excellent job, nice detail. A little less ballast inside the tracks and more tie exposure. Otherwise scenery detail is awesome!!! Great job!!!

  17. i think it looks great Hope you show how you tied into bigger layout you have inspired me to build a bigger yard now with that same kind of idea thanks for sharing

  18. This design was made to be a puzzle, not an operating switching yard. It is a surprise that Bachman published it in their newest book. It may look nice, but try to use it. No real railroad would build such an atrocity. It is a time waster. Play tic-tac-toe instead.

  19. I have been a train fan for years, but work all the time. I really enjoy this site. This is a good ideal!!! This makes us guys who don’t have time stay interested. Keep up the work!!!

  20. Mike,

    Contrary to John Sprague’s comment about it being a puzzle – A layout like this can be just a fun layout to run switching moves. Very similar to RR’s that are located within a large industrial complex, ie – The Niagara Junction RR that serviced the many plants and industries in the Niagara Falls, NY area of which I am familiar having grown up there. That being said, I would make 1 minor change/addition to the layout as you have it presented and that would be to extend the track at switch KS-7 by at least 1 straight section to allow for setting out at least 1 car at that point. Include enough length to get your uncoupler magnet in there to clear the switch travel.

  21. @mike SWEET SWEET SWEET JOB!!!!!!!!!!! @ALEX Rosental….I. think you and I could get along really well!!! I LOVE YOUR COMMENT!!!!! I have all 3 myself…..HO,N & Z scale. I can’t make up my mind what I like the best. I love nscale cause you can set up anywheres. Z scale is endless but cost a lot !!!!! The HO takes up to much room. The nscale locos and rolling stock look more realistic to me! But I will buy all there til the day I die. Which maybe Monday cause I just got that new autorack STEEL graffiti 5 car set and didnt tell the women I had to pay list price. Lol I had to share that with everybody….cause I’m sure I’m not the first and won’t be the last! Everybody enjoy!!!!!!!!!!


  23. Great, I have being using E-Z track from the word go. It started with a Bachman train set my wife gave me for Xmas 4 years ago. Everyone told me I shouldn’t have used…cos doesn’t look authentic. Well Mike has proven the nay Sayers wrong. Good job Mike!

  24. Wow, this is great and I agree with one of the other responses – inspiring!

    Now I think that I can possibly do this with all the trains I have had since I was 8 (that was a long time ago!) and others that I have picked up about 30 yrs ago not to mention the ones more recently inherited from my dad 11 yrs ago.

    But I’m curious about the “software”? Seems also a mention about CAD? not aware of that and might be something I could interest my boys in since they are extremely into computers.

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. This is a beautiful Time Saver layout. Long ago the railroad club I was in built the Time Saver modular layout. So kids could earn their Engineer certificate, at the yearly train show. This layout concept has introduced many a boy and girl to this. WORLDS GREATEST HOBBY.

  26. John Allen was the man who designed the ‘Timesaver’ layout over 50 years ago. I first saw it at a Pacific Coast Region (NMRA) convention as a contest. There was a nice article in Model Railroader magazine I believe in the 50s or 60s. At one convention two timesavers were connected so contestants could interchange cars with each other. great fun if you like to switch!

  27. A very nice layout indeed, I have just finished designing my proposed layout in O scale using Lionel Fastrack system and using SCARM to design it all. My Engine “Shed Arrives in April so I guess I will be busy from then on in will send in some picks
    Well done all of you from the UK you have all given me a lot of inspiration
    Can someone tell me how to post pics please?

  28. I like to run trains, not get tangled up in a maze of switches that go nowhere. Or is going to be part of something bigger? I would hope so.

  29. The timesaver layout by Mike is just what I have been looking for. I plan on a shelf type layout for point to point operation. The shared pictures of layout progress are awesome and have given me many ideas. Thanks to Mike and Al for sharing.

    Cary B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>