4×8 HO scale train layout

Mark’s been in touch with his 4×8 HO scale train layout:

“Dear Alistair,

I love getting your emails and seeing what everyone is doing with their train layouts.

I’ve been waiting quite some time to send this in to you since I keep wanting to get further along before I do but I’ve realized I may never get there as I am always thinking of something I want to add or change.

Anyway, I started into trains as a young boy. My dad had bought me (or him) a Lionel train when I was only a few years old.

When I got old enough that I could afford to buy some things with my allowance, I bought an HO scale train and built my own 4×8 train layout, eventually adding on to that. I worked on that and ran it all through high school and college.

Once out in the working world, and living on my own, the trains sat in boxes waiting for the day when I build another train layout. Although there were occasional purchases of model train magazines to revive my interest, between work, family and life, it just never happened.

Until Covid came. Trapped at home, when not working, I decided to build a diorama for a Walther’s contest. Although I didn’t win anything, I certainly enjoyed it and decided it was time for another layout. I put up a 4×8 HO scale layout in the middle of my home office and went to it.

The story for this 4×8 layout is that it is modeled on the fictional town of Black Swamp in Northwest Ohio, between Toledo and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

This area originally was the black swamp until it was drained in the late 19th century and became very fertile, level farmland. So I have modeled 2 loops with some industrial sidings.

The inner loop is serviced by Detroit, Toledo and Ironton which takes products from Black Swamp up to Toledo and beyond. The outer loop has a 4-6-0 steam locomotive with passenger cars that is run by an area fan club.

Along with the pictures of my HO scale I have sent you, I have sent you pictures of the railroad pass from my first layout. It was western themed. Nobody ever talks about these anymore, but back when I was young (I’m 76 now) trading passes with other model railroaders was another enjoyable aspect of this hobby.

Keep up the great work.


model railroad double loop

 HO scale train layout

4x8 HO scale train layout

model railroad street night time

4x8 HO scale train layout

model railroad sidings freight

4×8 HO scale train layout:

4x8 HO scale train layout

model railroad curve

4x8 HO scale train layout

model train street

 4x8 HO scale train layout

model train night scene

4x8 HO scale train layout

model train pool bar

4x8 HO scale train layout

 model railroad sidings track

model train card pass

model train card pass

A huge big thank you to Mark for sharing his 4×8 HO scale train layout.

It’s another fine example of how this hobby finds its way back, after decades of ‘rest’.

And who else remembers the cards? Please do leave a comment below if you do.

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.

model train answers

17 Responses to 4×8 HO scale train layout

  1. santafedan says:

    Mark, I too, remember the passes. I collected a few. I never made any to hand out.

  2. Stephen Hill says:

    Mark , very nice layout , great job . Covid has done more for model railroading than anything .. glad you rekindled your desire. Your layout looks fun and well thought , i especially like the monster tractor with the monster wheels

  3. Brian Olson says:

    Lots of ideas inside 32 square feet!

  4. Robert Brady says:

    4×8 is never enough.Expantion is always in the back of your mind. redo is common place, bigger is better.
    The Critic

  5. Rich B. says:

    I like it, appears to be a loft enterprise (out of way and handy) and works without mountains and ridges. Nothing too overdone but appears completed. Enough track and crossovers to keep things of interest, very good.

    Rich, Regards

  6. Don says:

    nice layout & all the details are awesome

  7. Rob McCrain says:

    Mark, I like your layout. It has everything a layout needs, some running room, some industries, and good scenery. Nicely done. Rob

  8. George Zaky says:

    Very well done layout. You packed in a lot of scenes without it looking packed. If you analyze this -no fiddle yards, no mountains, no bridges, and no seascapes- and you kept to the KISS principal. What you have is a sweet and very interesting layout. I in no means infer ANY criticism but want to emphasize that sometimes less is more and if some beginners need a direction then they should go no further than to copy & study your plan.
    Big Al
    Hope you have a good day- Dankjewe ( Dutch )

  9. Brian Messenger says:

    Mark, I have always liked layouts that have buildings with lights in them. Makes for excellent night photos. Well done.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy in Knysna RSA.

  10. Wes Eakin says:

    Great layout Mark! Thanks for sharing. Like the details you’ve included.
    Yes! Have many vintage railroad passes.
    Still trade with other collectors.
    Will post a very unusual one if I can figure out how to send to Al.
    All the best from the Bluegrass State!

  11. Steve Ruple says:

    Awesome layout Mark with lots of great scenery, well planed and only on a 4×8 layout. Great job !!!!!!!

  12. Ben From Chicago, IL says:

    Mark, I really like the lighted oil well scene, so cool! You really have a nice layout!

  13. John Philip Ruetz says:

    Nice clean layout . I know space is short, but born in the Black Swamp area and raised on a farm there, it would have been nice to show an area of the mostly flat farm land. Never the less, you did a great job. I hope to leave the mountains and hills and move back there some day.

  14. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Nice layout. A handy size, there is enough here to keep interest for a long time, thinking of all the detail that can be added including sound systems, lights, background scenery, etc.
    I was always interested in passes. I made a pass for my railroads as well. Sure would be fun to see that catch on again and have a nice way to trade passes.

  15. william j plmer says:

    excellent love the pass

  16. Larry Johnson says:

    I never get tired of looking at layout pictures on Alistair’s website. Thank you Al!
    My ~33 year old Abington & Crane RR has been featured twice. Maybe I’ll snap some new pictures to send in. To ALL…keep up the great work!!!

  17. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice. ive seen the passes, never got one.

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