5×9 HO scale layout

Manny has been in touch with his 5×9 HO scale layout:

“Hi Al

My name is Manny Papagolos. I’m from NH, USA.

I have been following your posts for a few years and I finally found the time to send some photos and a video of my HO layout.

It’s 5ft X 9ft. with the ability to be split in two separate halves 4 1/2ft X 5ft for ease of moving, double figure 8 running through a narrow river gorge with a lot of bridges to get the trains through the mountains, built from an Atlas track book copyright 1958,1971 2nd edition “railroads you can build” I’m sure there will be a few people that recognize it (Granite Gorge & Northern).

I started it in the late 70s and I am still working on it. It’s very enjoyable and inspiring to see what others are doing on their layouts. I would like to thank you and all the others that post for giving us all great ideas and tips.

My layout started out as a DC system and has since been changed to DCC NCE 5 amp booster with a wireless control system.

I do not run it as a prototypical railroad. I just enjoy working on it and running it in the winter as I am retired now and have the time and space. So the nice thing about building the layout was that the book gave you cookbook directions so it took out the guesswork engineering to get you started.

As I said, I started in the 70s when my children were young. I now have grandchildren so we do get a lot of enjoyment out of it. One of the drawbacks is it was built with all pieces of Atlas track, I wished I had used flex track to have less joints.

It has a plywood base with a cork road bed. The mountain is made with a cardboard framework with household screening and joint compound. It has access at the rear.

I have placed the layout on 6 caster wheels with a large shelf underneath for storage. The wheels make it easy to move it around to get access to the other two sides.

As one can see I still have more work to do.


HO scale layout 5x9

HO scale freight curve

HO scale freight bridge

HO scale curve

HO scale coal bunker

HO scale building

HO scale track scenery

HO scale 9x5 track plan loop with bridge

5x9 HO scale train layout

5x9 HO scale layout

HO scale bridge scene

HO scale coal bunker freight

HO scale figure of 8

HO scale scenery

5x9 HO scale layout

(Here’s the ‘larger’ version on youtube.)

I really enjoyed Manny’s video – it’s a joy to see trains running at slow steady speeds.

A big thanks to Manny for sharing his 5×9 HO scale layout.

I think it has bags of charm – it’s another simple layout that looks great. You can really tell Manny has enjoyed every second of it.

Please do leave a comment below – I’d love to hear what you think of this figure of eight.

That’s all for today folks but please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, just like Manny, 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.

26 Responses to 5×9 HO scale layout

  1. Brian Olson says:

    Love the detail in the small scenes. They make a big difference.

  2. Stephen Hill says:

    Manny , very cool display . I especially enjoyed the old caboose homestead with the laundry and police. Reminds me of folks I used to know . Great job ! Nicely done

  3. Bill in Virginia says:

    Manny that is a great layout you have. Love the details you put into. That really brings it to life.

  4. Mike Mihich says:

    Very nice. Good job. Lots of detail. Very realistic. The switch panel is very interesting. Would like to know how that is done

  5. george zaky says:

    Thanks for sharing your labor of love. Keep up the fine work, fix/replace what is annoying, and we hope to see future additions. NCE, 5 amps- Nice.
    If it wasnt for trains I’d be bored to tears in retirement. Nothing better to keep those brain cells working and keeping out of your wifes hair. LOL.
    Big Al- thanks.

  6. Ruben Simon says:

    Noticed the police cars more than once. They can really add a story to any scene they’re placed in! The whole layout is so real. Just wonderful.

  7. Ted Martin says:

    Beautiful! With all the track, switches and track crossings it must be great fun to operate. What a pleasure to see.

  8. Donald D Strohl says:

    The layout is the Best I have seen. Great project!!!

  9. Butch Thornton says:

    How do the two halves join.and are they easily separated without destroying the scenery ? I am planning on building a similar table but not sure how.

  10. Daniel says:

    Looks fantastic! I’ve seen many of those scenes driving through northern New England !

  11. robert dale tiemann says:

    i like the mix of newer and older cars, etc. very nice.

  12. Manny Papagolos says:

    I’d like to say thanks to every one for there comments. To answer Mike’s question about the switch panel. It’s push button momentary switches hard wired with 22ga.
    wire to Atlas switch machines. they work just fine. Butch asked how the two halves are joined. Two door hinges one each side were the two halves come together. You just pull the pins out and disconnect the track, bridges and any wiring, (yes it’s not easy but I have only moved it 4 times in 40 years.) you do have to repair any scenery that get damaged

  13. Ward Gravel says:

    Your bridges intrigue me. Are you near Bedford?

  14. Malcolm says:

    Very nicely done. Lots of detail, really visible in HO scale. It’s a lot easier to do DCC in the larger scales, too, just because there is so much room in the locomotives for decoders, speakers, etc. .

  15. Ed Horst says:

    Enjoyed seeing your labor of love for railroad..
    since retiring I need to get back modeling the once layout I had with oldest daughter at time during the mid 80’s.. right now just happy building models again along with military vehicles.. returning to our youth is enjoyable again

  16. Rich B. says:

    More to this than 1st photo reveals. Each venue really breaks it down into a great, manageable hobby here or something as the sum of its parts.

    Ready to move into that caboose scene, as soon as current tenants are evicted. Probably domestic violence with police intervention.

    Regards, Rich

  17. Don says:

    well made

  18. Bob Weskamp says:

    Thanks for including the track plan layout. It’s not always included, but it is very helpful to understand how your model railway operates. A layout also includes ideas that a rookie in the hobby can use

  19. Mike Tuttle says:

    Really nice detailing on the bridges; tunnels too. Hey Manny; getting much use out that Snow Blowah up there in New Hampshire??

  20. Steve Ruple says:

    Awesome layout Manny, great detail and excellent scenery

  21. John Hesse says:

    Nice layout…..great caboose conversion scene!

  22. Kirk Knutson says:

    Good work, Manny. I look forward to seeing more progress in the future. And thank you very much for including the layout diagram. Without it I could not have figured out what’s going on inside the mountain.

    Kirk in Tacoma

  23. Daniel says:

    Looks fantastic ! What grade did you to climb on that size layout ??

  24. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Adding a background would really add more depth and detail. Great job.

    Jim AZ

  25. Brian Olson says:

    Love the small scenes, especially that caboose!

  26. Bud Backus says:

    Many of todays model railway builders started with those Atlas books. I to have built one of the 4’X8′ layouts from an Atlas Track book “Six HO Railroads you can build, 2nd edition.” I built the “Great Eastern Trunk” for my then 7 year old son. He still runs it today, 39 years later. Those memories, to me, are seen in your railroad. I believe that to be how this hobby will move forward for years to come. Enjoy your fantastic railroad and be the engineer and brakemen many of us have become, both past and future. Also a big thanks to Al for all of his dedication and promotions to a great hobby. Running trains or model railroading.

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