4×8 HO scale: Rich’s

Rich has sent in this fab 4×8 HO scale:

“Here is a little background on this project.

One of the more unexpected things to happen to me has been the amount of interest shown in my 4×8 HO scale project.

This was originally started as an answer to a negative comment on cheap 4 x 8 layouts with sectional track.

I was in between railroads at the time with no room for anything larger than this. What started out as a crude drawing quickly turned into something more than what usually comes to mind when the terms cheap, 4 x 8 and sectional track are mentioned.

To be honest, I decided that I would go as far as the budget allowed while using items not in high regard today with some modelers.

The goal was to come up with something that might interest even the more advanced modelers.

The original budget was set at $500 including lumber but will likely total out at around $600 after trees and some misc. items are added in.

A first for me was that I started documenting the build with digital photos from the start to its current status.

My previous layouts were only documented with one or two photos.

I have found that the best thing about this project is that I have been able to use my photos to teach and show others how I did things.

This has made me happy and while I could go on working on this layout the time has come to go on to bigger and better things.

A couple of small things will be done to get it ready for the charity sale it was promised to.

In its place will be my 3rd Division project, a monster of a railroad that has been in the planning stages for several years.


HO scale 4x8

HO scale 4x8

HO scale 4x8

HO scale 4x8

HO scale 4x8

HO scale 4x8

A big thanks to Rich for sharing his 4×8 HO scale.

Next, Dave has been back in touch:

“Hi Al,

All the very best for Easter… It is very cold up here so what better than to spend a bit of time indoors up in the loft and run a few trains, have used the mini camera as well as my Panasonic, showing a few different trains running…



Now on to Wayne, who is still working on his layout at quite a pace:

“I have the mountains almost ready for some wire and plaster.

Now if honest Doug my geolegest critic could tell what he feels I am doing wrong, I will take it under consideration.

I don’t think my spelling is too bad, but I am losing some words due to parkinson.

Now if honest Doug could toss me some quick tips that would be good.

Oh yes Robert Brady it looks like the goverment has instaled the underground mine/base, but you didn’t hear that from me.

At night when everyone is sleeping I work on the small things that I can do quitely, like the cattle loading ramp that will go with the old barn.

Remember old man Johnson has to sell most of his cattle

Thank you all,

the old biker, Wayne”

4x8 HO scale track work

4x8 HO scale building up mountains

4x8 HO scale railway sidings

railway sidings

(Wayne’s last post is here if you want to catch up.)

That’s all for today folks.

A big thanks to Rich and Wayne.

After all these years it’s still fabulous to see your work in progress and wonderful creations.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you join in the fun, 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

37 Responses to 4×8 HO scale: Rich’s

  1. don’t let the naysayers get to you…………….they are jeolous………….it is your lay out………………………….

  2. paul says:

    hi Dave love the loft layout the video was great and attention to detail was impressive i must admit im somewhat jealous of how much room you have

  3. Peter Briggs says:

    Dave, your track is so authentic the bench mark ofr others to reach. Looking at all these fabulous layouts, I seem to recollect many years ago a train maker that had tablets that were put in the funnel and i believe an electric element cuased it to smoke. What we need today is some whizz kid to take one of those vaping cigarette substitute machines and convert it into a smoker unit for steam trains. Its just about all thats missing from these authentic layouts we all enjoy to watch. Tahnk you all and espically Alastair for hosting it all

  4. Robert Brady says:

    Rich; Just wondering, What happens during a derailment in one of your tunnels ? How do you re-rail ? Are they accessible or is it GAME OVER ?

    Now about budget, Ah HA ! Not wanting to but 2 out of 9 of my Locomotives were 500.00.Not to mention landscape and buildings. Better get ur wallet back out Rich !

  5. Greg Schaefer says:

    Rich, I hope you raise a million dollars (pounds kruegerands, rupees) for charity. But if that doesn’t work out, remember that John Allen’s first layout was a 4 by 6. He incorporated that into his new large layout. Just saying.

  6. Rod Mackay says:

    Rich, that’s beautiful, well done. Dave, loved the long-shot in the night scene, very nicely judged lighting.

  7. Dave love the loft layout, your track is so authentic!
    You give us all a reason to live in these chaotic times!
    Roll on freedom!!!

  8. Paul C says:

    Nice layout. Incorporated a lot into a small space. No wasted space.. Gives me some ideas to compact my railroad, except most of my engines are 2-8-8-2’d and 2-6-6-2’s. Really need wider turns.

  9. Rich… I recognize the track plan for your layout. It dates from Railroad Model Craftsman in the 1950’s although the original was much smaller than you your 4×8. Come to think of it, John Allen’s original Gorre And Daphetid (which has also been copied in 4×8) was smaller than 4×6 by a little bit. Cracking good job on the Crooked Creek Line!
    When I was first looking at your pictures, I thought I was looking at a different layout. Much looked like the Rockridge layout from Model Railroader in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. That is another good plan. It was when I saw the control panel that I started asking myself “Where have I seen that trackplan before?”. Well played indeed!

  10. Rich, your layout address a major problem with today’s model RR’g – high cost. I complained to MRRR magazine awhile back that the layout articles featured full basement layouts costing 10s pf thousands of dollars, only affordable by rich retirees with large homves. Nice to look at but easy for the younger generation who have no discretionary income and no retirement plans to dismiss. If that’s the future focus our hobby is doomed. I longed for the old 4 x6 project layouts featured in the December issues each year back in the late 50′ early 60’s. Glad to see you’re doing that!

  11. Richard says:

    GREAT JOB!! What was your minimum radius? It looks like 15 inch. What was your ruling grade? The change in elevation is remarkable. I have dismantled my 4 x 8 based on the MR Reid Gap and would like to rebuild with more than a 5 inch elevation change.

  12. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!

  13. Choochoo52 says:

    The important thing is the trains run on the track and put a smile on your face. Great job!

  14. Rich,
    That’s a LOT of RR in a small space. Great job.

  15. Calvin says:

    I loved the video and photos! I hope to start on my layout later this year and plan to document it with photos.

  16. Bob Sanders in Indy says:

    I agree with Greg Schaefer about John Allens first layout. Modeling the Empire Builder and East Glacier Village has been my passion for over 30 years. Since I first took that Amtrak ride to there. After several rebuilds, my layout is still only 10 by 13 with a dogleg walk in. Get Shrigley’s Spearment Done.

  17. Warren C Gobin says:

    Dave you play great music at the club, keep up the great work.

  18. Peter Farrington says:

    Many thanks Al, for your daily pieces of what is generally wisdom and helpful, some of the queries can tax the brains of us senior members of this esteemed club called Model Railway Enthusiasts, but even those can be entertaining.

    Dave, you can always cheer us up with your video’s, especially when our own layouts are proving troublesome and now the weather is turning I can’t get out to install more point motors & get them wired up. Never mind, it means I can carry on building more wagons.

  19. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Rich great looking layout , don’t bother with Brady!! I bet he dosent have a layout!!

  20. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Rich…..impressive mountain scenery.

  21. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    Rich: Great job and yes as John Reynolds mentioned, that track plan was featured in the June or July1959 Railroad Model Craftsman by a doctor, it was on the front cover. I have built that same layout in N scale 16.5″ wide by 33 1/2″ long. If you can access that article, it was a very fun interesting read, as he takes you through a day’s operation.
    Keep on doin’ Wayne, your railroad is taking shape and you are enjoying it.
    And as mentioned I always enjoy Dave’s benchmark operation, lots to learn from him.
    Be well and safe everyone.
    Dick from Hardin Mt USA

  22. Thanks all for comments , and Peter there is a smoke generator you can buy for model Loco`s , its a Seuthe Generator ….I fitted 2 of mine with them , but only lasted about 3 months , its a while since so maybe they have improved since ..just google Seuthe Generator for Model Trains ..and you will see what I am talking about …Dangerous dave

  23. George Bartholomew says:

    You mention a charity sale. I would like to buy it.

  24. Rich Cee says:

    Hello Everyone! As some have noticed the track plan was based on the 1950’s vintage RMC article. It was converted to sectional track and only uses six turnouts. This was only one way I held down costs. Another was when I found most of the brand new track and used structures at a flea market. As I inventoried my trains I found that there were items that I had no intention of using on my 3rd division project. It didn’t bother me to earmark some of them to this layout since this was to be an economical project and was to be given away. While it is getting harder to find train equipment at low prices it can be done. The steam locomotives were bought as kits so I traded my time for the low price. Not only did I get enjoyment out of building them I was able to save money over the ready to run versions that are often not available. Most of the structures were found already built by a previous owner with glue splotches and not painted. Repairing them was more fun because I had to use my imagination in their restoration. Again, my time being used in exchange for the lower cost. The two biggest expenses were the lumber and the turnout motors. I felt that clear pine and Tortoise brand switch motors would add to the durability and reliable operation that the price was worth the cost. Derailments are not a problem as there is plenty of access from below the layout and two re-railers inside the tunnels. That is one benefit of an open framework design. Another is the fact that I was able to use the entire plywood sheet by making the frame measurements of 52″ by 96″. This allows the placement of the branch line loops without having steep vertical walls separating the tracks. One of the most difficult things for me was to find ways to make a small layout look larger than it really is. The N scale mine was a start but dividing both sides into several smaller mini scenes seem to of accomplished my goal. This concept will be used on my next railroad because I really liked how it worked. Going back to working on planning my 3rd division project. I just wish it could be done as inexpensively as this 4 x 8 was.
    Rich Cee

  25. Rich Cee says:

    Richard, the minimum radius is 15″ with the branch line set at about a 5% grade. It was designed to reliably operate 4-5 car trains of 40′ cars and a small steamer or four axle diesel.

  26. Paul DeGrey says:

    Rich I love the amount of detail you and operating potential you put into a small (4X8) space. Excellant layout on a reasonable budget most of us can achieve.

  27. It boggles my mind to think what Dangerous Dan would do with talent, time and money. LOL

  28. Does your layout put a smile on your face? Do you enjoy it? If so it’s done right as those are the only things important.

  29. Kenneth R Fox says:

    Like Robert Brady mentioned, I do hope that you have a lot of access hatches in case of derailments. Mountains are nice on a layout, but just not too many, more mountains than railroad that you can’t enjoy watching. Oh well, your layout. Have fun.

  30. Mrs R C Morris says:

    dave how big is your layout

  31. Rich B. says:

    Commercials getting too interesting lately, look at those and get back to railroading eventually. Seeing right off a modified “cookie-cutter”, most excellent. The mentioned cheap track is not very cheap. Recently saw a “redi-track” or such thing here that really looked good. All that was added was additional sides ballast that matched color and grade… actually looked superior. Did see some weathered rolling stock recently that I’d be ashamed to even throw in trash, am not pointing fingers and not to reiterate/wear out- “it is what it is”.

    Dave’s layout is professional as always, expect nothing less. See what you’ve done DD, lol.

    The Old Biker seems to be having a good time and also does good work. Doesn’t care if ever finishes and every session having its own start and completion as I see it.

    Regarding, R

  32. DavidMichael Caldwell says:

    Hello everyone….ive been with this group for nearly 2 years, and I have posted photos of my benchwork just once, and really loved hearing the comments and feedback. However, we have a few on here that have NO CLUE, on how to correctively give Constructive Feedback. This is an awesome hobby and unfortunately an expensive one at that. Not everyone here is a “Millionaire “, so please keep that in mind when you want to open your “flap” to say something derogatory about someone’s layout. Also, it’s THEIR layout, THEIR wallet, and THEIR imagination. We are not here to tell someone, “they were wrong for doing this or that”, or anything else that is derogatory. This is their vision and their layout. If you don’t like it, then dint say anything at all. Everyone has feelings, and NOBODY enjoys hearing derogatory comments about their projects. This is a hobby, and the cool thing about it, is that there are many ways to do the same thing and Constructive Feedback, (done in a proper way) is always good to hear. Always keep in mind, the person’s feelings when you leave Feedback.

    I could say alot more on this topic, but I will rest for now.

  33. Richard Mason says:

    I started my railway with Lionel at the age 8. I got additions on birthdays and Christmas. By the time I was 15 my dad got transferred any I had to pack all my trains cut my layout up to go in the moving van . I reworked the layout to meet the space at the new house. My layout was then 20×16 three levels my layout continued to grow and evolve until I went university so my layout most ly sat for three years.We moved again and my trains all went into storage for 7 years.. I sold everything the year I got married as could no longer pay for the storage. I go about $5,000gfo everything. If I had to start to day to build the same layout with Lionel trains it would probably cost 15,000 to 20,000 to complete. The cost of even doing a N scale layout is getting expensive.

  34. John V. says:

    Great job on scenery, very realistic.

  35. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice. each layout is a showing of the person who built it.

  36. william janmes palmer says:


  37. Jim Robinson says:

    Rich, the first photo in this post got a “Wow!” from me. Excellent rock/mountain work aside, you’ve done a masterful job of using a small area to display a wide variety of scenic terrain, and have done so without giving the appearance of a cramped or crowded layout. In my opinion, for what it’s worth, I’m impressed.

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