Tye adds a building to his layout


So, yes, it is scratch built. I sat down and drew the front of the building. Trying to stay within the 1950/1960 time period. The structure is balsa wood. I want to stay true to realism and add as many features as I can to make it look as realistic as possible. I added personal touches naming buildings after my family. HO scale is fun I can’t imagine trying to recreate N scale. I use as many recycled products as possible which is the fun of construction and creation.

I have a strong building/construction background as I grew up with a father who is a building contractor. Though I work in the oilfield now I find that the layout is a big stress reliever.

I continuously read all your emails for tips and find lots of useful information. In fact the coffee ground ballist came from your site. Awesome tip. I color it and use it in lots of different ways.

Technology is awesome so yes I cheat a little and use the computer for signs and logos and different things to give my layout realistic features as well.

The TEXACO gas station is next on the agenda.

I’ll be sharing progression photos from time to time. Hope to see them on the site.

Thank you,








“Hi there,

Enjoying the tips.

Here’s a cheap way of illuminating insides of buildings.

A set of 80 bulb Christmas tree lights uses 3v bulbs.

Disconnected from mains Cut into sets of 6, for 18v or 4 for 12v supply.

Only needs two end wires connected to suitable low voltage supply.

Picture shows interior of Bachmann village hall with 6 lights.



Big thanks to Tye and David. Please do keep ’em coming.

And the Ebay cheat sheet showing no signs of slowing down. It’s here.



15 Responses to Tye adds a building to his layout

  1. If you use 5 or 6 lamps for 12V the light will be dimmer but the bulbs will last far longer. Also, the dimmer lights give a very pleasant, natural look.

  2. I use 12v grain of wheat bulbs on my layout but at 5 or 6 volts. It gives me a better light for the 1940s era. As said above, the lower voltage makes for a longer bulb life. Brian, Cape Town, South Africa

  3. Very impressed with Tye’s buildings, built with Balsa Wood. Could I have the scale to work on for the HO scale. I have the old Tri-Ang train set given to me on my 12th birthday and would love to start building it up for my Grandkids.
    The tips from all is fantastic and will help to get me started shortly. The EBay Cheat Sheets or similar is it available in Cape Town South Africa? Joe

  4. I love these tips about Christmas tree lights as they are always failing & I have to throw them out.
    I have a question for all your experts – but I particularly like Tye’s work. How do you obtain a good road surface?
    Paul (Reading, England)

  5. I use a power tech plus transformer to supply power for my lights.


  6. Tye, well done with your scratch building. I liked your roof detail, we often over look that stuff (I think because we dont spend much time flying around in helicopters!).
    I also got a giggle over the attitude of your middle fuel bowser. :-)
    Have fun
    Pete from West Ozz.

  7. I don’t even work and still can’t find the time to start my N gauge layout?? Too many other “toys” in my hooch!! Well, at least I got the table built…..for now.

  8. Awwe, the Golden Key must work, You are still there…tips are great, and the pix make it real… thanks for everything Al… you are a delight to follow everyday…

  9. Love the detail on the gas station…


  11. great tips. love the detail. i use the full amount of xmas lights leave what i dont use on my layout under it so i find my gear and replace lights when they go. keep on the tracks.

  12. That is awesome Tye, love the detailed scratch building. Love the gas pumps,excellent work. Thanks for sharing. David, thanks for the tips on the lights, not there yet, but someday my buildings will be lite. Working on a huge Diamond Mine kit now from Wathers. Working in HO scale as well.

  13. Good idea for the lights. I have a silly question.
    If you take the xmas lights as mentioned, you cut off 4 to get 12volts, the one end (2 wires ) gets connected to the power sorce what happens to the other end after the 4th light? do the 2 wires on the end get joined?

  14. Good detail on the garage forecourt.
    Agree that you use more bulbs and have the lights dimmer.
    For Paul about road surfaces, try using old emery cloth or sand papers colored grey/black or alternatively if you save your tea from used tea bags, dry it thoroughly and then mix with dark grey watercolor paint. Allow to dry again thoroughly and this may take a couple of days but you must keep separating the accumulations or knots. Then paint 50/50 PVA and water over the previously painted road surface and sprinkle the coloured tea over the road. When dry lightly nbrush off or use a small vacuum cleaner with a cloth over the nozzle. and Wallah there you should have it.

  15. Are they LED christmas lights or regular incandescent christmas lights?

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