8×10 HO scale train layouts

Gary’s been in touch – he’s added to the 8×10 HO scale train layouts on the blog.

But first, some news about the future of the blog.

Some of you may have noticed there have been quite a few re-posts recently.

There’s a reason for this: Sales of the Beginner’s Guide and the printable buildings have been really slow this year, and it’s these sales that fund the advertising for the blog.

So I’ve placed less ads. This means fewer new people find it, so there are fewer submissions.

But the trouble is, now the sales aren’t even covering the cost of the package I use to send my emails.

It may mean, in the future, I only send to those lovely folk who support the blog, month after month.

Who are these people? The folk that took the membership option after buying the Beginner’s Guide.

But I really hope it doesn’t come to that – that’s why I’m running another silly sale – but this time with a difference.

There are no new printable buildings this year, but there is a PDF of 142 track plans, for just $19.

I’ve bundled it with the Beginner’s Guide too, so it really is good value.

To those who have already bought the Beginner’s Guide (numerous times!) thank you so much, and I hope this is a good reason to buy it again.

And if you’re feeling really kind, please take the membership option, even if you only stay for a month or so.

I’d really like to keep this show on the road, but I can’t get myself into the mess I did in 2019. I thought then I’d have to hang my boots up, but you lovely lot rallied and saved the day.

I’m a bit wiser now, and I’ll do all I can to keep it going, because just like you, I love seeing what lands in my inbox each morning.

You can grab the PDF of 142 track plans, and the Beginner’s Guide here, and you’ll be directly supporting the blog.

Now back to Gary:


I’m back with another update for my Mount Thornton National Railway Park and I have proof that model railroading is a living, breathing endeavor.

I am so grateful for your part in connecting the model railroad community and giving all of us the opportunity to share and relish in our accomplishments.

My layout is a maximum track activity based on a national park theme, with lots of options for continuously running trains.

8x10 HO scale train layouts

I hope to share some updates in this edition as well as a few lucky decisions that I wish I could say were well thought out engineering efforts.

My 8×10 layout takes up most of my garage, but is hoisted to the ceiling for the car to fit below. Because I have an electric garage door opener, the layout is “notched” in order that it misses the garage door motor when raised.

This turned out to be my first lucky decision in that the notch allows me to reach the center of my layout, even with the control panel in place. This would have been a huge problem otherwise.

model train control panel

The next lucky decision was born out of necessity. I intended to utilize newspaper wads as support for the plaster cloth for my earth structures or mounds. However, we don’t read the newspaper anymore so very little left over newsprint, even though you will see a little newsprint inside the mountain.

The lucky break was that this work was being done around the Christmas holidays so I had an adequate supply of used gift wrapping paper. This worked out really well since newspaper gets soggy and collapses while the gift wrap holds up well and doesn’t collapse when wet. Lots of buried wrapping paper below the plaster cloth.

The next idea wasn’t one of luck, but rather a real simple solution for tunnel access. It was simply a piece of light plywood with all the paper wads, plaster cloth, joint compound and foliage attached. It simply just lifts out if access is necessary.

8x10 HO scale train layouts

 model train access

8x10 HO scale train layouts

In previous submittals I shared some highlights of additions to the layout. This past year has been exceptionally meaningful as you will see with the following examples.

To start the past year, my wife and I celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary as the kids and grandkids surprised us with a visit to home. Total miles traveled for the group were in excess of 10,300 miles since they all came to Ohio from Nebraska (5) or Montana(4).

Naturally this event had to become part of the layout and is symbolized by the red convertible which is a story in itself.

My wife and I were both freshmen at The Ohio State University and met at a sorority/fraternity function where the guys picked up the gals from their sorority house. Luckily I had my mom’s brand new red convertible for this endeavor.

My dad had purchased this new car for my mom as a way (I’m guessing), to make her feel young again with both of her boys in college. However, my mom had her feet operated upon and she had casts on both feet and could not drive. My brother and I suggested that we should keep the car active by taking it to school for spring quarter– and our dad agreed.

So with the top down, I pulled up in front of the sorority house and the young ladies came streaming out the door. This one cute little blond spotted the red convertible and hopped in alongside me and the rest is history.

It was love at first sight; me for, the cute blond; for her, the red car. I eventually won her over and we got married the day after my graduation, in the church next to my fraternity house, and the reception was at the fraternity house. That was now 61 years ago.

We went on our honeymoon to the Pacific Northwest which allowed me to “research” the mountains that I could use 60 years later for my national park theme.

Now “we” are part of the layout, right next to the historical engine display.

 HO scale car

My oldest daughter had her Leanne’s Lookout enhanced with more hikers making it to the destination and enjoying the view.

8x10 HO scale train layouts

Next, a new bridge now connects granddaughter Mackenzie’s Mound from the Mackenzie Yard area, making it easier to access the view from the mound.

HO scale scenery

Every event wasn’t happy during the year, but it does give us a chance to re-live all the good times.

For my youngest daughter, I created a Memory Meadow as she had to put-down her beloved horse DD as the horse had developed health issues and was in pain. I also added a statue of Image, the horse she grew up with and with whom she won the Hunter/Jumper championship as a teenager at the Ohio State Fair.

8x10 HO scale train layouts

The real highlight of the year was the interaction with my wife and her oncologist/surgeon. As I previously reported, I created Gubbi’s Grove in recognition of their relationship.

HO scale loco

Since we see him every 6 months, he is always interested in the latest update to the national park, so for the next visit, I told him that the park had received a grant to upgrade Gubbi’s Grove. Last October I shared the Phase 1 Tree Planting work that was being done for his grove.

 8x10 HO scale train layouts

Then this past May, in celebration of my wife’s 5 year “cancer free” appointment, I showed him Phase 2 of the grant for the Infrastructure Improvements to Gubbi’s Grove, including a footbridge connecting to a trail above Cookie’s Canyon to Sharon’s Summit. In addition there is a new outdoor classroom with log benches and a new trail to the restroom facilities.

 model train scenery

I must give credit to one of Alastair’s submitters for the toilet paper humor idea, though I suspect the poor hapless chap in the outhouse won’t appreciate the humor. (See Alastair, we really do look at all the pictures)

8x10 HO scale train layouts

That’s all for now. Eventually I will get my cab ride video completed and send on the next update. I am having more fun as life moves forward. Once again, thanks for all you do to keep model railroading alive and well!


That’s all for today folks. A huge big thanks to Gary for sharing. Gary’s previous post is here: National park model railraod.

Please do keep ’em coming.

If you’ve enjoyed today’s posts, and all the others, please help keep this show on the road by grabbing the 142 track plans PDF and the Beginner’s Guide.

And if you really want to make a difference, there’s a membership option after you buy, which is entirely optional.

(Thank you so much to those of you that buy every year, and to the kind folk who are members, without you there wouldn’t be a blog.)



142 track plans PDF

7 Responses to 8×10 HO scale train layouts

  1. Robert Burke says:

    Bob in Aotearoa.

    Gary, that layout is an inspiration to we noobs. Thank you for sharing you great setup. Love the personal and humorous touches; as Alastair says, a layout with a theme adds a great deal extra.

    Here in New Zealand we get the emails in the evening, so I suspect not everyone has seen it yet. Thank you, Alastair, for sharing about the challenges you’re facing with the blog, and I’m sure there will be a positive response. I think I bought the beginner’s guide some time ago, but am happy to do so again, especially with the offer of track plans as I start to lay out my n gauge setup.

    The only problem is that when I click on the link to buy, I get a message :
    “Oops! Website blocked! The requested page is blocked by a web filter. You can submit a request if you believe nothing is inappropriate. Submit a request.”
    Unfortunately, I can’t get any further.

    I’ll investigate from my end, but any helpful thoughts would be appreciated.

  2. Brian Messenger says:

    Gary, very nice background story to a wonderful layout. Look forward to seeing it video of it.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy from Knysna RSA🇿🇦

  3. Steve Ruple says:

    Very nice layout Gary. Al, I hope that things pick up. For the the last two years prices on everything has risen and its making everyone feel the crunch, hopefully things will change in the future. Hopefully you will be able to keep the blog going, GOD BLESS.

  4. Jerry Treich says:

    You have a wonderful layout! The personal touches add so much character and allows for a “story line” that Alistair has mentioned in other contributors’ posts. I particularly like the way you did your control panel! I always thought the straight line / angles format was confusing (for me) but I have never had a chance to actually become accustomed to using one. With your arrangement, you can look over the layout and immediately see what is on your control panel. Nice job!

    Best regards –
    Jerry in Belen, NM USA

  5. Jerry Treich says:

    I can say the I would be willing to pay a subscription fee to keep your blog alive. Considering all of the people who follow and today’s ease of electronic banking, PayPal for example, even if there are processing fees on your end, I would expect a monthly or annual subscription fee could be a pittance, if everyone chipped in.

    I realize that charging a subscription fee probably clashes with your principles. Your blog has always been free, so long as I’ve been associated with it. So, perhaps you’re not inclined to go the subscription route. Maybe you could arrange a two stage membership. Subscribers get full access to the blog. Non-subscribers get wide but not unlimited access. Seems your Golden Key fits with that framework.

    I don’t get to contribute as much as I would like, but there are important personal obligations that take up almost all of my free time. I truly appreciate receiving your messages and the contributors give so many great ideas and inspiration!

    I hope my idea provides you helpful ideas on how to keep blogging forward!

    Best Regards –

    Jerry in Belen, New Mexico USA

  6. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice layout. i like the control board location, ver handy.

  7. william j plmer says:

    love the park

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