16×16 HO scale layout

Bob’s been in touch with his 16×16 HO scale layout.

I loved his pics, but his back story is even better:

“Al…I hope you are doing well and are taking care of yourself because you are very important to all of us.

It has been a while since I sent you anything, but I know how much you enjoy a good backstory.

In my original submission to your blog, I described my current N scale layout.

In the narrative I mentioned that because of a move, I had to leave behind an HO scale layout that filled the better part of a 400 square foot room over our garage.

I had to leave the layout behind, but as it turned out, it actually sold the house. The family who bought our old house had a ten-year-old son who was crazy about trains.

During the negotiations, his parents sent us a note with a picture of their son in a train engineer’s costume asking if we would please sell them our house.

How could we possibly refuse a request like that? So…a deal was made.

There was actually a clause in the sales contract stipulating that I would show the father and son how to operate all the trains before the deal was finalized. Our real estate agent said she had never seen anything like this before.

So…we moved into our new house, and because of limited space, I built the N scale layout you have so kindly showcased on your blog.

A few months ago, my son and I were talking about model railroading (one of our favorite topics) and I casually mentioned that I regretted not taking in photographs of my old layout before we moved.

Father’s Day was right around the corner and my son’s gift to me was Dad’s Train Book.

Without my knowledge, my son had taken all these photographs before we moved and he had forgotten about them until our conversation.

Best Father’s Day gift ever!

So…I thought I would share them with you.

I constructed the old layout on a custom-built 16 x 16 L-shaped table.

I have included a schematic of the layout that I believe to be fairly accurate (I had to replicate it from memory since the original drawings were lost).

The track plan consisted of four closed loops with several turnouts, sidings, and a roundhouse (the turntable actually worked…some of the time).

The outside loop encircled the entire layout and was elevated two inches.

I used Atlas Code 83 flex track and Atlas 83 remote switches.

The layout included a tunnel, trestle bridges, a replica of the Bietschtal Valley Bridge, a haunted house, and a castle.

If you recall, these were all elements in my N scale layout. There was also a river with a waterfall. The structures were a mix of pre-built, kit, and scratch-built.

My favorite locomotives were a Sante Fe Blue Goose, a Union Pacific Challenger, and a Burligton Zephyr. I also ran a Rio Grande Southern Railcar on the smallest closed loop.

16x16 HO scale layout

16x16 HO scale layout warehouse

16x16 HO scale layout funeral home

16x16 HO scale layout  warehouse

16x16 HO scale layout  warehouse

HO scale building supplies

16x16 HO scale layout coal mine

model train trestle bridge

model train crossing trestle bridge

HO scale store

HO scale bank

HO scale coal hopper

HO scale steam train

model railroad mill

HO scale passenger platform

HO scale castle

model train turntable

model railroad roundhouse

HO scale turntable

model train locomotive crossing bridge

model train

outdoor model train

outdoor model train

The last photographs are of a locomotive I constructed for a simple garden railroad that I ran in the backyard of our old house.

The idea for the locomotive was not mine. I was inspired by a photograph I saw in an old model railroad magazine. Unfortunately, I no longer have the magazine so I can’t give proper credit to the person who built the original model.

As I recall, the frogs were my wife’s idea (we had lots of frogs in our backyard). The model now sits in a place of honor in my home office/library.

The ten-year-old boy who so desperately wanted my HO layout is now nineteen and I often wonder if he still enjoys model railroading. Alas, I suspect he is more interested in young ladies. Oh well…just wait until he is eighty.

I am so grateful to my son for preserving these memories for me and I hope you enjoy them.

Until next time…

Bob fromTexas”

A huge big thankyou to Bob, not just for sharing these pics of his fine 16×16 HO scale layout, but for sharing the story behind it all. Wonderful! I really did find it heartwarming.

This hobby really does involve all the family at some stage and make memories.

Please do leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

33 Responses to 16×16 HO scale layout

  1. Don Bowles says:

    love the old passenger train, the whole layout is awesome & the casket building with the hurst is great.

  2. Bob says:

    A truly great story…..and not too bad a RR!

  3. Ellis James English says:

    love the story, wow!! thanks for sharing.

  4. Stephen Hill says:

    Too cool your son made the photo album. Great display , awesome that you were able to pass it on to the young boy and his family … that will be part of that boys life forever. What a great story , what a great layout , dry nicely done . Hope your next project brings the same joy .
    It really is a nice display .

  5. Gary Pierce says:

    That has to be the best story I have heard in a long time! Very heart warming! Trains are good for us all they bring a lot of people together and create a lot of memories! I have a 36× 4 N scale layout and I have had nothing but fun ever since! Thank You for sharing

  6. DJfromNJ says:

    Great layout and an even greater back story!

  7. craig a loughery says:

    Has anybody pics of a mining operation for iron ore, with a headframe for underground mining? Am Replicating a local operation in Northern Minnesota, with Iron Range RR setup …

  8. Robert Brady says:

    Great layout and an even greater back story! but if you don’t mind Too much brush, trees and shrubbery. thin it out.
    The Critic

  9. Brian Olson says:

    Obviously well planned out, and more obviously executed. Really like this!

  10. Rob McCrain says:

    The idea that a layout could pass from one family to another in the sale of a house is a good one. It does make me wonder about my layout and what will eventually happen to it. What a wonderful layout work of art and the story is wonderful too. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Rob McCrain

  11. Stephen K says:

    The layout is very cool. There is much detail that makes it more interesting. Very realistic. I love the garden engine with the frogs. Well done!

  12. Eric Kiehl says:

    Bob, very stunning, what a wonderful layout. Love the structures with lots of trees. The casket company is my highlight. Thank you for sharing, loved the story.

    Eric the firefighter (retired now) St. Louis area.

  13. Tony, Kitty Hawk NC says:

    Thanks for sharing the great layout and great story!

  14. JC Nelson says:

    Great back story of the layout and the fact that you were able to pass the fun of model railroading on to others.
    Plus it shows you raised your son right if he was considerate enough of your feelings that he took the photos and created a memory book for you. Way to go Dad!

  15. Peter from Michigan says:

    An interesting comment Rob poses,
    “The idea that a layout could pass from one family to another in the sale of a house is a good one. It does make me wonder about my layout and what will eventually happen to it.”
    Something each of us must consider after many years of love of the train.

  16. michael says:

    thank you for including the track plan!

  17. John Whittington says:

    Heart warming story about your son and his gift to you. And the selling of your home with the buyer and his son was touching. Kudos to you all!
    The layout was one of the best I’ve seen

  18. Paul Plovick says:

    The scenic details are so good, I’m archiving this one to enjoy looking at it repeatedly again in the future. I have two beautiful N scale layouts myself that are top notch and I really appreciate one like yours done this well. This reminds me of the quality of the famous HO modeler in the 50’s & 60’s, John Allen, & believe me, that’s a complement!!! Great job!!!!

  19. Jim AZ says:

    Nice layout. I’m always interested in scenery with buildings and infrastructure as well as backdrops and rock faces and mountains. You’ve nailed the street scenes. Are there any background scenes?

    Jim AZ

  20. Robert J "Bob" Hutchens says:

    Thank goodness for Photography. Your son was very much involved, appearantly in more ways than one, of preserving this very nice layout. You must be very proud of him, and your amazing layout. Bob H Southern Indy

  21. TJK says:

    The bottom line of this story is……..
    “The Good Son”……..nice gift.

  22. Roger says:

    Can you fill in any information on the castle?

  23. robert dale tiemann says:

    nice story. soggy bottom rr. funny. maybe ill do a muppet themed layout, think itll work.

  24. Frederic Lucas says:


    The castle is in Austria. Privately owned, I think.

  25. george zaky says:

    Missed 2 days of Alastair- couldnt let this one go though!
    Bob from Texas
    Wow! Love what you did, love what what your son did, and Love the frogs.
    Yeah! what to do with the layout of the century when its time?

  26. Brian Rockey says:

    Wonderful Soggy Bottom Railroad loco and frog crew.
    Best to all.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  27. Chris Sylvester says:

    Great job on the lay out and the back story is even better! Thank you for sharing the story and the pics !

  28. Larry Shamer says:

    Train layout that I’m seeing you build is magnificent. The video is a little fast but you can pause a lot. Just wish there was a commentator to explain what you’re doing during each step.

  29. Robert says:

    for instance Wallys warehouse, how do you drive in or out of the area. Great layout but you have to come up with ways and means in and out not rail locked.I like the thought though.
    The Critic

  30. Ralph Flannigan says:

    one of the best layouts I’ve seen on this site, makes me want to rebuild mine, see a lot of great ideas I can use, great job

  31. Steve Ruple says:

    What an awesome model railroad, I would of had a hard time giving up that layout, as for the 10 year old boy, I can see why he fell in love with the layout, I would have also fell in love with too. I’m sure the young boy had many hours of fun running that layout.

  32. Sam says:

    Great backstory aside, according to your drawing of the track plan, I see no way for trains on the outer loop to change tracks to the inner or any other loop.


  33. robert dale tiemann says:

    really nice layout.like the bridges. i really like the old trains and the castles.

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