A smart way to develop your railroad

A simple but brilliant idea!

“Hi Al, when building a layout one often ends up with empty spaces earmarked for future development, but a bit bare-looking on the boards.

I overcome this problem by giving the area a rough undercoat, a little scatter material ( tea leaves or coffee grounds) and place some construction equipment on it.

When the area is ready for development or building, the contractor’s equipment can be moved elsewhere. I was so pleased with this effect I actually left one construction diorama as a feature on my Baobab Junction layout. Here are some pictures to illustrate what I mean if you would like to share them. They all have an African theme, but that can be changed to suit the railway.


Another thank you to Duncan – a superb way to develop your layout.

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PS Please do let us all know your thoughts and comments below!

18 Responses to A smart way to develop your railroad

  1. Tom Oliver says:

    Great job Duncan! (Looks better than some of my finished scenery!)

  2. Bob O says:

    Nice touch and great idea!!!

  3. the under-the-house railway is fantastic and certainly a labour of love and dedication. My mind turned to emergency events and being trapped down under the floor !!! I hope he has made provisions eg what if his wife collapsed across his exit,pray it never happens… A very impressive layout..Roy

  4. Stemar says:

    What a great way to make temporary use of space, that you’ve not yet decided what you wish to build on it or if in fact the track will be moved into this area and somewhere else will need to use your construction items while you make up your mind or complete your actual layout. So thank you for the overall concept, for such great us of unfinished space….. Stemar!

  5. Tom says:

    With what it adds: I think I would leave at least one area of my raillroad as an area of under contruction at all time: surely adds realism to the areas.
    Great job!

    I’ll have to start drinking more coffee. Have some areas I need to cover at this time. Is going to solve my problem areas NOW!

    Thanks Duncan and Al for sharing!!!

    regards tom

  6. Robert in Oregon says:

    Great idea! Your specific landscape choices don’t EXACTLY translate to my area, however. We don’t have very many giant Madagascar Baobab trees in Oregon. (Maybe I’ll substitute Douglas Fir).


  7. Ralph says:

    I will need a lot of construction sites for mine at the moment but what a great idea. I particularly like your story to explain all the mix of locos and stock.
    I wonder how I can explain the profusion of British mainline locos and American companies all operating standard gauge trains in a remote region of Australia.

  8. Toni says:

    For Ralph,

    I understand that at one time Australia did import a few American and British made locos in the early days of your beautiful country. To explain the reasons for them being on your lay out is, “your railways system was able to purchase the engines at a good price and wanted to use the money they saved but putting the money towards better track material, while the other railways systems upgraded to more modern power.”


    I hope that you would not mind it much if I was to add your idea to my layout. It would make an interesting way to explain a layout that is under the process of being built from the ground up in stages, or one area at a time.

  9. Murray says:

    I like the idea. Looks just like Christchurch New Zealand at present

  10. paul Otway says:

    Very clever Duncan, your railway looks so real.

  11. R.L.Klaus says:

    I like it. Great idea for those under construction areas.

  12. Steve says:

    These pictures of thr mining area are fantastic I am trying to make a lumber area with mills and trucks this has geven me some ideas thanks

  13. George Ross says:


    Thanks DUNCAN. And thanks AL for Posting.

  14. Dave B says:

    Love that it’s ‘mucky & weedy’ and therefore realistic [my thing ].

    Crikey, do Baobab trees really get THAT BIG ? & Where’s the wildlife ? bound to be a stray something, somewhere ??

    Nice. DaveB

  15. John Marshall says:

    Great way to show the work day lighting a older tunnel that may have been below or very close to modern clearances. Very innovative approach.

  16. Randy B La Salle says:

    Great layout would love to see more.

  17. Peter Warren says:

    I don’t collect railway gear or do railway layouts,,, but with the number of ideas that come through this Site have proved very beneficial, some of the things I thought were too hard to do or even impossible have been made so much easier. I basically do scenes to complement a photo shoot with my mining and construction model. I thank everyone on this Site for giving me the ideas..

    W. Australia

  18. Yale S says:

    I am rebuilding my layout. The finished dimensions of this attic installation will be 4′ x 12′ (n scale). As always there are a lot of great ideas and pictures. Sometimes I feel on overload. Too many ideas and not enough space (or time). I would really like to see and get ideas for control panels or command centers. I am still on the fence about switching from DC to DCC. This has a great bearing on the wiring of my layout.

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