John’s Coal mine layout update

Some of you have told me the links on my emails have stopped working.

It’s a only a small number of you, and the software bods are aware of the problem.

Here’s some of the posts you may have missed:

Bob’s layout progress.

Eric makes a start on his layout.

Now on to John.

I know we are in for a treat when I see his name pop up in my inbox.

And today’s no different.

If you want to get up to speed, here’s John’s wiring update.

Here’s the update before the wiring.

And don’t miss this one.

Now let’s see where he’s up to:

“Hi Alastair,

John From Baltimore here.

I’ve been working on lighting, wiring and overall updates to my layout. The changes are kind of subtle but in there.

I’m still working on some spotlighting of the various places where shadows hit the scenery. The bridges and lighting them has been a real challenge.

My next layout project is replacement of the turn-table at the engine roundhouse with a more prototype in ground one. Of course there’s a wood beam directly where I need to cut into the layout base!

More when I get into that in a few weeks, I’ll try to document the whole thing, wood chips flying and all.

Thanks for all you do for the model railroad community.

John From Baltimore”

coal mine layout

(All images are clickable by the way.)

coal mine railroad

coal mine railway

model railroad coal mine

A huge thanks to John.

It’s so wonderful to see any layout spring to life. And when the fine detailing comes too – well, that’s when the real fun starts.

Can’t wait to see John’s roundhouse.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get off that armchair and have some fun.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Bob’s layout progress

“Below is the approximate Atlas track plan of my layout as of today.

I say approximate because I could not get the Atlas Track Planning Software to accurately display the layout. It is close enough so you can get the idea.

atlas track plan

Here is what it looks like:

atlas model railroad

As the saying goes “A layout is never finished.” After all the expansions, work arounds, and problems, I am having problems just running my trains. So I have decided to scrap it all and start a new layout and this time learn from my mistakes and take my time to do it right.

I am going to start with L-Girder framework approximately 44 inches high with 30 inch joist.

Below is the general scheme for and around the wall layout with a swing bridge approximately where the lift-out is on the current layout. The picture below shows just the perimeter L-Girder framework.

Once it is in place I will plan the trackwork and see what I can fit using minimum of 30” radius curves for the dual main lines.

It will take some time to dismantle the current layout before I can move forward. I started the current layout in January and finished the last addition of the second tunnel and the 3d clouds in October. The fun is in the doing and it is not always running the trains.

Bob, Virginia”

“Hi Al

Like I promised here are some pics of each corner of the layout with “Full Time Jobs”

1st is a resemblance very close to the Tropical Fish Hatchery were I worked in 1971.

2nd is the Shell service station were i pumped gas and then later became one of the day mechanics from 1972 till 1981. Cars in front of station are the ones I have owned over the years.

3rd is Oscar Wilson, they were a lawn mower and bike distributor for parts.

4th is the fire station not exactly the building but you all get the idea. 1981 to present.

I will throw in a few other pics and that will complete the shelf layout that runs around the ceiling.

We will continue with the lower expansion in a few days or so.

Thanks again Al

Eric the firefighter”

If you missed Eric’s first post, it’s here. And apologies, I got it wrong – Eric’s not retired yet. My mistake.

Now on to Dave:

“Hi Al..

Just uploaded this video showing (or trying to show ) the different types of Track and Points.

Also how to fit the Peco side Mounted Points Motors, have shown as best I could, not great at explaining things, but think most will get the Gist of all this…

At the end my conclusion is that using the Peco Electrofrog Points with the side Mounted Points Motor is the easiest and best Path to follow.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A big thanks to Bob, Eric and Dave.

Really do love what Bob wrote:

“The fun is in the doing and it is not always running the trains.”

I couldn’t agree more – if your thing is running trains, then great. If your thing is landscaping, then that’s great too. It really doesn’t matter what your ‘thing’ is – just enjoy it whatever it may be.

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

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is the ‘the’ day – the day you take your first step on your model railway.



Eric makes a start on his layout

“Hello Alastair

Been reading your emails now for a couple years and love the info that you report on. A lot of great railroaders out there.

A little on me, I have been in the fire service for 39 years now and looking to retire at 41 years.

Me and the wife moved to a bigger home a few years ago where I had room for a shelf type layout.

I had finished my basement and had put a room in 16 x 12 for my fire collection and ran the layout 14″ down off the ceiling with 60′ of track that consist of two main lines. I have attached a few photos in its completed stage.

I did add pieces In the corners for a park, construction site and a small little farm house.

The theme of the layout is called my fulltime jobs. Buildings in each one of the corners are places I use to work up to my current job firefighter.

Everything on the layout has something to do with my life. Portal dates, billboards, cemetery and park ect. I am send some pics of each area.

I work part time at a hobby store in St. Charles, Missouri for the past 3 years. After visiting and buying material for the layout they handed me an application. And he I am.

Like all of us we can’t get enough, so I began a lower expansion, I have a few pics and more will follow in the next few days. I have time to move forward quickly due to my fire schedule.

Hope this has a intrest and I thank you and your readers for all that I been helped with from your emails.

Eric the firefighter”

“Hello Al,

All of the very best for 2020. May it be a year that brings you joy and prosperity.

As is my custom, I make a layout update video every year, and on the 4th of January this year, my layout celebrated its 3rd birthday.


Henry van Wyk in Pietermaritzburg, Sunny South Africa”

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thanks to Eric and Henry.

It’s really early days with Hernry’s layout, but that’s why I liked it so much: it’s all about making a start, and he’s made it his own: his theme, his world.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to take that first step towards your own model railroad.