Train layouts

Popular model train layouts

This page should give you some train layout ideas.

(HO scale train layouts are here.)

Boyd shows what a little planning can do:

Boyd’s model train hobby

Jeff’s done a terrific job on his HO layout:

Jeff’s HO scale 8×15 layout

There’s something about Leo’s layout that catches the eye:

Leo treats us to more pics of his HO scale layout.

Just love what Bill has done here:

Bill’s model railroad train layout

John’s been kind enough to send in quite a few posts now:

John’s HO scale coal mine layout

How to build a HO scale model railroad

There are hundreds of ‘how to’ posts on the blog, just like Paul’s:

Paul’s 8×12 HO scale layout

Tom’s N scale has bags of character:

Tom’s N scale 3×5 layout

Brent’s model railroad is is really taking shape:

Brent’s HO scale

How to create scenery for your model train layout

John’s scenery is stunning – have a look at the detail:

How to add grass to your layout

Another Brent sent in this stunner of a layout:

Brent’s 4×8 HO scale model railroad

Dave’s HO scale really is stunning:

Dave’s stunning HO scale model railroad

Cal also sent in his track plan for his 4×8 HO scale:

4×8 HO train layout

Rob shows us how to make a model railroad backdrop for your train layout:

Rob’s Model railroad backdrop.

How to make 5×10 N scale model railroad

And just to keep it balanced, here’s some stunning N scale train layouts too:

Bob’s stunning N scale layout

Small N scale layouts

Have a look at what Lewis has packed in to his train layout:

Lewis’s N scale 3×6

I really enjoy the lumber railroads -have a look at Jim’s:

Jim’s HO scale lumber model railroad

Paul’s latest project – he’s done some very clever scenery work on his layout:

Paul’s latest layout project

Brian’s scenery really is a joy to see:

Brian’s water scene

Have a look at Charles’s wonderful layout scratch builds:

Charles’s scratch builds a coal dump pit

John’s engine shed video has helped a lot of folk with the print out scenery:

Fred’s tips and John’s engine shed ‘how to’. (the vid is at the bottom.)

Here’s what model railroading is all about:

An amazing layout – but the back story behind it is heart warming.

Frank only sent in small pics, but wow, what a layout:

Frank’s layout has to be seen to be believed.

Frank then gave us an update with bigger pics:

More from Frank

The thing I love most about the site is the tips:

More stuff that perhaps you wouldn’t think of.

Barry was one of the first to be featured on the site, and it’s easy to see why…

Just love Barry’s work. It has bags of character.

This one speaks for itself:

Eighty years old and one of the best layouts I’ve laid eyes on. Really.

Take a look at the Gavin’s landscaping:

A beautiful rural themed layout.

There are pages and pages of tips on the site:

More useful and money saving ideas.

Well, you get the idea. There are hundreds and hundreds of posts on the site – but the only way to see them all is to hop on to the newsletter

Adding sound to your layout… with your phone?

DCC wiring

Wiring is easy when you’re an electrician.

A few more N scale layouts.

Nich’s N scale door layout

Michael’s N scale on a door

Peter’s N Gauge

More model train tips

Model skills aren’t just for layouts

Take a look at Brian’s layout

Robert’s saw mill layout

Just a wonderful layout

Tony’s toothpick bridge

Malcom’s N Gauge

Patrick’s layout

Alan’s layout

Planning a model railroad

Scott’s HO DCC layout.

Joe’s HO sawmill layout update.

Or perhaps you are just after track plans?

Here’s what a model railroad project can look like:

1. Gary starts with track work
2. Gary adds a layout signal yard
3. Gary hits a problem (it’s in the middle of this post).
4. Gary adds an engine yard
5. Gary’s Switch yard
6. Gary adds buildings to his yard.
7. Gary’s layout power problem.
8. Gary adds to the train track on his layout
9. Gary says thanks for all your help! (It’s in the middle of this one.)
10. Gary sorts his block work
11. Gary’s engine yard
12. Gary’s locomotive engines
13. Gary’s comissary yard
14. Gary’s train layout update

Or some people just prefer to jump in feet first, like Wayne:

1. Wayne’s very first post on his HO layout 8×15 is here.
2. Wayne’s HO layout update
3. Wayne’s third HO layout update.
4. HO scale layout update number 4
5. Wayne’s 5th update on his HO layout 8×15
6. Wayne’s 6th HO scale update

There are hundreds and hundreds of model train layout posts on the site – this page is just a handful.

But don’t forget, the only way you can see them all is by jumping on the newsletter.

What’s more, you’ll get some sound advice sent to your inbox every morning. Advice like this:

Common model railroad mistakes:

1. Building a complicated analogue train layout. It’s really worth the time to get your head around DCC. It’s easier and you’ll have a lot more fun with your model trains.

2. Making the curves too tight, or not making the baseboard big enough. Derailments are soul destroying, and there’s nothing worse than a train track that doesn’t run flawlessly, or a track that won’t run a new larger locomotives when you add to your fleet.

3. The train rack being right on the edge of the baseboard. Trains have a habit of jumping off the edge when they derail. And adding scenery like mountains and tunnels when your track is rightup against the side is impossible.

4. Not building your tunnels so you can get inside them. It’s no fun fishing out derailments and cleaning the track when you can can’t get to where you need to.

5. Not being able to reach (comfortably) every square inch of your layout. This is why some layouts have holes in the middle.

6. Making the baseboard too high. Sure, it makes wiring underneath your layout easier, but it also make things harder to reach (see above) and harder for the grandkids to enjoy your model railroad.

7. Making your baseboard too low. You’ll get constant backache and wish you’d never started the hobby.

The above mistakes are the ones that appear time and time again on the blog. There are hundreds more to look out for, but these are the ones you can easily plan for.

If you are just easing yourself back into model trains, perhaps some of the best advice is from Hall of Fame member, Rob, who says:

“If you are thinking about a model train layout with a few trains running around, but you don’t know where to start, buy a train set with a controller and a simple train.

They come with a little track. It will be enough to form a loop usually, although it may be small.

Set it up on the floor or a table (like I did) and enjoy it. See what you think. When you are ready to try something more permanent, get a small sheet of plywood.

You can get half a sheet or a quarter sheet at your local home store or lumber yard (if they still have any lumber yards) and mount the track on it.

Maybe get a turnout/point or two and some additional track, Just enjoy it and decide if it is for you. It is a learning thing.

You will start learning immediately on the table and then more on the plywood. Mostly enjoy it.

Just remember, Farland started on a table top and then as a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of plywood on 2×4 legs. That original sheet is buried under it somewhere.

Always run for a while when new track is installed to make sure there are no rough areas. Many things can cause problems.

Remember it is all a learning experience and the more you learn the more fun it can be. Don’t get discouraged. If you want to do something and you are not sure how, search for it on YouTube or ask someone you respect. They will be very happy to help you over a rough spot, I promise.


Rob’s right, and the great thing about this blog is you have an army of helpful folk to ask whatever you want.

So jump on the newsletter and get the fastrack back into model trains.

Don’t just take my word for it though. If you’re still not sure you are in the right place, here’s what others say:

“I have been reading your emails the past 3 or 4 years, and regret I didn’t know of them 14 years ago when I started the train hobby at age 63.



I am a man ol very few words, but it has been YOUR words of encouragement that brought me back into model railroading after a thirty seven year hiatis. T

The hobby has come a long way in those thirty seven years and without your wonderful site I would still be struggling along. It is folks like yourself that have promoted this hobby into the world’s greatest hobby. Without the tips and support most of us might have given up long ago. I sincerely wish to thank you for all you have done. Please keep up the wonderful help you have given to model railroading.


“Hey Al haven’t been here for a very long but you have a really cool site just knew at building myself a couple boards and you really have some good tips here nice to meet you and thank you very much God bless.


“Hi Al:

Your blog has been a joy since I first happened upon it a few years ago when I dipped back into model trains with Lionel.

Then you helped me through the transition to HO and more real estate. Now finally settling into n scale, countless hours of fun. Keep up the great work, your advice and suggestions make this the greatest hobby of all. C

Cheers from Michigan across the pond.



Thank you sir and keep up the great newsletter.


“Hi Al,

Thank you for such a lovely newsletter. It’s always a treat to click through your post of everyone’s amazing work” – Chris

“Thanks, Al, for posting your daily photos, videos and stories. Although I have no model layout of my own, I Iove to see the ingenuity and attention to detail of your many respondents. I also really enjoy the occasional postings like the one of unique locomotives and rolling stock.

Keep up the good work!!


“Thank you so much for all you are doing for us to keep us informed. The e mails are great and I also thank those for submitting what they arfe doing. Please keep it up for I look forward to this e mail daily.


“Hello Alastair;

I have been watching your interesting E-Mails for almost 2 years now. Very good to see how others work and to learn some new tricks


You get the idea. If it’s been a few years since you’ve been anywhere near a model train, you are in the right place.

Just jump on the newsletter here and join in the fun.

It’ all about making that all important start, like Gerry has with his HO scale.

Or perhaps you are just after HO scale train layouts?

Still not sure?

Are you sure you want to miss out on advice like Mal’s for your layout?

How to stop trains derailing on your layout

Mal’s train derailment post #1

Mal’s Mal’s train derailment post #2

I think Mal’s post on trains derailing was so popular because of the start:

“Following on from the first article which discussed the importance of track gauge and the correct relationship of the wheels to the track gauge.

One of the questions that arose was ‘If my train will go round many times without de-railing why does it then suddenly de-rail? And how can I stop derailments like this?’

That is a really good question and of course it is undoubtedly the thing that frustrates us modellers the most.

Just when you think everything is OK the train then seems to randomly jump off the track for no reason! We have all been there!”

I think Mal struck a chord that all of us can relate to.

And if that’s you too, why not jump on the newsletter right now?

Or perhaps you just want to add some buildings to your train layout without it breaking the bank? Try these printable buildings.



PS I forgot to mention the comments on the blog – they are always full of hidden gems when it comes to advice.

Have a look at Gary’s HO track layout and you’ll see what I mean.