More pics of Robert’s layout

“Hello Al,

First off I want to let you know how overwhelmed I was at the response to my layout. My children and grandchildren think my ‘toy’ trains are pretty but having a group of real model train guys let me know that they think my layout is pretty good really made my day and my week and probably my year as well. Thanks to all for you comments and suggestions.

Secondly, it’s funny how one always needs more room for a layout. I decided to expand my layout by using my 12 x 12 storage shed in the back yard. I added insulation, OSB walls, ran electric and added an a/c/ unit through the wall. I use a little electric heater in the winter. I decided to use a shelf type layout with a duck under at about 54” so I didn’t have to crawl. My train room also included a small space to work. I also wanted to use as much as possible from my 1st layout. On my first layout I used a plywood sheet covered with pink foam insulation. The track was glued down (with white glue). On this layout I used an OSB base covered with sound board and the track was tacked with track nails. Some new things I tried:

1. I tried my hand at scratch building some items.
2. Built using different levels to add interest.
3. Added a water feature. Didn’t do too good on the waves part.
4. Built my scenery with screen, cardboard strips, balled-up newspaper and foam all covered with plaster cloth or plaster or drywall compound or tinfoil. I wanted to experiment to test what worked best for me.
5. Built some trees with kits(didn’t work out too well) and also weeds painted green.
6. Got some latex and built some molds …. A fun project. Also bought some rubber rock molds as well.
7. Added people into my vignettes. My wife’s idea. She was right, they really make the scene come alive.
8. Used a turntable with an auto reverser and a switch to run the turntable backwards and forwards. Figured out later that I could have used a switch instead of the Auto Reverser and saved a lot of money.

A couple of things I learned on the way:

1. Never put your turnouts at the beginning or end of a curve. Always start them on a straight piece of track.
They always caused a derailment.
2. Duckunders are the easiest. I first tried a lift out…kind of a pain with the off and on thing and my alignment always needed a little adjustment. Then I got cute and built an elevator thing using a car antenna hung from the ceiling and the bridge riding between two metal tracks. The next try was a lift-up thing mounted on a furniture hinge. Too bad I didn’t take some pictures of these failures on my part. Most were good for a few laughs.
3. I really don’t like working with a magnifier mounted on my head and besides, my hands shake at the most inopportune times. Can’t imagine how anybody works with N or Z scale. I stand in awe of these folks.
4. Always add the background (if desired) before you build the layout.

I added many more little vignettes to this layout but I don’t have pictures because at this point I decided to get out of HO and go into something bigger. I decided on On30 which is O scale with the train’s running on HO track.
This began another journey …FYI, I was now 68 at this time.


They are stunning Bob! A big thank you. Please do keep ’em coming!

Don’t forget the latest ebay cheat sheet – it’s here.



47 Responses to More pics of Robert’s layout

  1. Very nice indeed. I particularly like the rock formation with the white lighthouse. Did you use real rocks? Thank you!
    Kind regards,

  2. Very good choice Bob.On30 gives you the size advantages of O scale but the layout space of HO. Tell us more about that turntable, did you make it yourself, or was it an off the shelf product?

  3. Nice job you have done there Robert , well done

  4. Beautiful my friend; be proud of what your imagination and hands have created.

  5. Where did you get the crane shown in pic #4 ? I have been looking for something just like that. Also need some bulldozers HO scale if you know where I could find them. Thx.
    Rick. Alberta Canada

  6. I am in awe of (a) the space, (b) the tidiness (*doffs hat*) but above all (c) the attention to detail that goes into each little vignette.

    Plus, the article that goes with this post really does offer some great advice an an insight into how this hobby can go from fooling around with a few bits of track to an out-and-out obsession!

    I, too want to know more about the turntable, as I’m currently musing on adapting the Dapol kit (you know, the cheapo one!) by using Z gauge bogies and track to beef up the mechanism. I like the bridge, because it fits the layout, but I don’t like the plastic on plastic wheels…

    So, any guidance on building turntables would be great!

  7. I must be reading your mind since much of the ideas in my head and on paper are strikingly similar. I am 67 and rebuilding from scratch because I lost everything during hurricane Sandy.

  8. WOW!!, Love the pics. Beautiful background in that first pic!! Good job wit the layout, Keep up the good work!! And Simon was correct your imagination and hands have created a masterpiece!

  9. Bob,
    The wall background mountain scenery is just spectacular. I love it. Is it a painting or from a photograph?
    All the rest is truly beautiful and done so well. My hat’s off to you for a wonderful job………We’re so envious……Norman

  10. very nice indeed bob, a great creation.

  11. Bob: Nicely done. Can’t wait to see your fully-sceniced pics when you get that far. Also, have you thought about re-cycling your less expensive (Life-Like,Tyco) HO standard gauge rolling stock by “Kitbashing” it into an On30 piece? I have found this a great way to save money. At the same time it will create an hierloom piece with bragging rights built in. Ie… “Grampa built this.” just a thought from a fellow “Youngster”…. Deano

  12. Thanks for sharing your experiment escapades and the things you learned. A wonderful layout. I hope we will see more pictures in the future.

  13. Very nice pix, and particularly appreciate your “lessons learned” section. Thanks and keep up the good work!!!

  14. Would like to see more pictures, wish I could that organized.
    With my work space.

  15. Awesome ! I am a N Scale guy in Hawaii, shaky hands are problematic
    But not insurmountable… When I make a little more progress, I may
    Send you all some pics..

  16. Good work Robert! Don’t forget to send us photo updates as you make changes.

  17. Nice layout, be proud of what your hands and imagination can do

  18. great pictures very good handy work very realistic just love it.


  20. wow very nice layout Robert.Love the rock’s.May i ask are you canadian.I see CN train’s thats why i ask.Im canadian.

  21. Great Detail: Great Scenery: Great job!
    Thanks for sharing Robert and Al


    Tom N

    Keep on Training!

  22. very good job better than mine.

  23. Good work and great enthusiasm

  24. Those are real rocks Ron. On this one I tried to use more natural stuff in my scenery. For example, for dirt, I used real dirt.

    I bought the turntable used on eBay Ralph and then I built the structure on top from a picture I saw in one of my railroad magazines. I was not sure what it was used for but I thought it looked neat…

  25. Hi Bop
    again great pictures they give me a lot of good ideas for my layout
    thanks peter

  26. Great photos……………I am designing an “N” gauge railroad now.

  27. That’s a really good idea putting your layout in your storage shed. I have a 12’x12′ one in my backyard too that has been basically empty for years. It might be a good place for my layout though it gets pretty cold and snowy here in Chicago. . I’ll give it some thought. I really love all the videos and pics everyone sends in of their layouts. I’ve been buying up used HO scale rolling stock and I’ve got an HO trainset that I had built back in the late 70’s that I’m dieing to setup again. I want to do it right so watching all these tuturials, videos and photos has really pushed me in the right direction. Hopefully I can get started on it.

  28. Actually Rick, I have forgotten where I got the crane. I think it came in a blister-pack with work type stuff. I am sure I got it on eBay.

    Wish I had more pictures. The only reason I have any at all is that my brother kept asking about my model railroad and I sent him some pictures and saved them on my computer. Every time I built a new layout I sent him more pictures. It never occurred to me that other folks would be interested in my efforts.

    The background is from The Back-Drop Warehouse.

    That’s a good idea Deano, I had not thought about that. I will definitely give it a try.

    No Kim, I am not Canadian. The reason I have some CN rolling stock is that when I first started into model railroading I bought whatever I thought looked good to me. It did not occur to me at the time not to mix stuff from different periods or from different railroads.

  29. Hi Bob! I’m Bob. Nice to meetcha Bob. I think I need to put in my request for a 12′ x 12′ out building. Nice!

  30. neat

  31. Hi Bob, i think you back drop is great been thinking of doing the same now i see it, it has become a must have. Congrats on all the work you make it look so easy. Compliments of the season to you and yours.

  32. Great layout, scenery, figures, …. all good!

  33. super layout, would like to see the whole layout

  34. Great job Bob!
    Goes to show that we’re never to old to learn.
    Please keep the up-dates coming. I believe that we all like to see how a real pro works.
    Thanks! Bob

  35. this looks like a real neat set up you are working with,i am working on my ho set up and what you all are doing with these e-mails realy gives me good ideas .

    John Coffey
    Junction City ,Kansas

  36. Just a question that I’ve struggled with ever since I started railroad modeling. I have always had problems with trying to put human figures or animal figures in the build. They just don’t fit even the most beautiful builds. They have no dynamism unlike an old SD 40 just sitting there. Beautiful! I also build, or rebuild, model airplanes. Rebuild in that I no longer have those I bought in the late 50 s and many of those are again available. I do not put in the pilot, pilots for the same reason. Does anyone have a good answer or have the same issue? Terry

  37. Very nice work…
    The turntable appears to be an Atlas model with a wooden gallows structure built on it (a very popular conversion).
    As to the use of figures, the best recommendation I have seen is to use figures that appear natural in their position. Workmen sitting on a box taking a break is a good example. One of my personal favorites is the scene of a couple of men playing checkers with a dog at their feet.

  38. All you need to do is search ebay for what you want at a reasonable price, remember all things come to he who waits.

  39. send more pic. of set up thanks

  40. Every one, have a very merry Christmas semper fi

  41. Great Layouts:

    I have a American Flyer from 1952, still runs

  42. Bril layout. the waves look realy good. I’m just starting mine at 68 and hope it will be half a good as that.

  43. This is great info. I was debating on whether to use a storage shed or a 17.5 5th wheel. This has made up my mind, I am going with the shed. Wish me luck!!!

  44. Good job

  45. Nice work. Great backdrop. Looks like photo. That’s what I used after trying to paint one for months only to yield to a professional background.

  46. Well Bob I guess all the good things that have been said are really true, Great job. I am 73 and in the last couple of years built a large N scale layout, Just too small. It takes up a whole small bedroom. I moved to my large covered patio where I am building a HO scale, it started as 4×8 but add on`s keep making it even more. I also have a12x12 out building a short distance from the patio. I though about it being a train room but it`s now my train workshop-radio room-wood working shop-etc. Iive in the mountain`s in northern AZ small town no hobby shops. Loved your work and your explanations of your experences. You sound like a guy I would like to know. Tom in Arizona.

  47. Robert I LOVE your layout . My first train was a Lionel also wasnt old enough to play with it in 48 but by 1950 I was on my way to being king of the RR,I was 4 in 51 . I love the 18 hundred era trains. I have been looking for an old steamer with passenger cars so I can start my trains running once again . But $300 is way too much for a $700 social security check to take, that’s the starting price of most I have found on line. I’m 70 now and still in love with the old steam engines. If any one out there has a $25 to 50 engine and coal car let me know . My grand and great grand children love playing with my newer diesel model trains for hours on end but I want the old cone shaped steamer that ran in late 1700 and early 1800s. But just wanted to tell you how much I loved your pictures thanks again for making a crippled old mans day.

Leave a Reply

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