Alan’s layout

“Hi Al,

I love looking at all your subscribers tips & layouts, so I thought it was time I showed mine. Like a lot of modellers, I hark back to what I remember as a young teenager, going to school by train and hanging around loco sheds.

Located in a converted garage 17’x 7′ 6″ which has been doubled glazed and insulated my layout is based on a fictitious town called Bryncoch which means red hill in English. Actually it’s the name of the village I lived in as a child.

Inside the tunnel is a point & one track holds an auto train & the other an ex GWR diesel railcar, neither has to turn to run back. I try to make as much as I can, finding the most mundane objects are so expensive. it will never be finished, as I find running the trains less interesting than making things. I hope you get these 3 e mails ok and
If you require any more info or pics please let me know.

Bye for now


“Try this out for corrugated roofing…

Buy some nylon hair combs with narrow spaces between the teeth. You’ll want combs with fairly stiff teeth, and you may have to experiment and perhaps cut them shorter than “as purchased” to get the correct stiffness. Forcefully drag the comb’s teeth over heavyweight aluminum sheet placed on a somewhat soft base. You’ll end up with embossed corrugations in the aluminum sheet resembling HO scale corrugated sheet metal. If you use lightweight kitchen aluminum foil, the piece you produce may be a bit delicate and may tear when dragging the comb over it, so use heavier household or commercial grade aluminum foil to get the results you want. Once you have the look you want, you’ll most likely need to air brush the pieces various colors to remove the polished aluminum surface and to give the look you want. The finished pieces can then be glued to what ever structure you have and carefully formed over many angled or curved surfaces.

Hope this works for you.



Thanks to Dave and Alan.

Inspired? You could do worse than this.

Please keep ’em coming.



(There are hundreds and hundreds of posts to enjoy and learn from – but the only way you’ll get to see them all is by being on the newsletter).

32 Responses to Alan’s layout

  1. My word – please tell me that’s actual water, and not something faked!

    These kinds of pictures put me to shame and inspire me in equal measures!

  2. hi al your ideas are wonderful I enjoyed looking at your layout thank you…..

  3. DonJ says:

    That is so simple and easy. Why did I not do it before this. THANKS

  4. seth kansas usa says:

    It that a train refueling in the lake?

  5. Mike Schaefer says:

    The tip on using a comb on aluminum foil is similar to my trick. On cuts through rock faces, after you plaster the surface and while it is wet, take a serrated steak knife and run it vertically up the surface. The resulting effect are what’s left of the bore holes from the dynamiting.
    Related to the above, if you are going to have vertical rock faces with some clinging greenery, apply the greenery before you install the rock in its position.
    Thanks for your help.

  6. Martin Wood says:

    I love the layout, all small town looking with a lovely canal (like its colour). Only one criticism, it all looks a bit ‘clean’. Now that is something most of us are guilty with our layouts. When you have created a nice layout, it feels scary to weather it!

  7. `Nice layout you have put together there Alan , and a very good idea from Dave

  8. Tom Strangeway says:

    What a realistic looking canal. the water is the exact colour of most canals. i love it. Excellent.

  9. Cord says:

    Beautiful layout, Alan, but isn’t ‘Bryncoch’ Welsh?

  10. MEL says:

    I WISH I could create a water effect that looks that good! Nice work.

  11. chris says:

    love the layout, is that real water in the canal?, great tip for the corrugated roof

  12. John says:

    Please, Please, tell us how you achieved the superb water effect…it really looks like it was poured from a bucket of canal water. Was it real?

  13. Larry says:

    I miss the ability to enlarge the images, and some of the detail cannot be seen. The layout is so impressive, I really want to see the small detail.

  14. Douglas of Cornwall says:

    Al, with you on the Kindles, what a waste of a good book. Have to admit though that you do have a point about the type size! What a pity as I quite enjoy being a Luddite when it comes to new fangled gizmos like Kindle!! Cheers, Douglas

  15. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    Very good layout and the water looks so real. Keep up the good work.

  16. kenn says:

    Nice water effect.

  17. David C. Scott says:

    I loved it and thank you for sending me the e-mails.
    Yes the electronic books have several good features as do computer drawings and of course typing into the computer oh the days of typex.
    Still missing the days of living and working in Exeter…The White Heart, The Prospect down by the river. and Double Locks if you are ever visiting Exeter drive out to this pub.
    Best wishes

  18. Pete says:

    I have always embraced worthwhile new gadgets. My personal favorite is the Kindle Fire HD 7 inch tablet. For the money this is a great electronic reader and a small tablet that does a yeoman job. I have books in my library that were published in the late 1800’s. They are now fragile and the paper is beginning to decomp. I have found the same titles that have been “saved” electronically and they are readable forever. I’m not a tree hugger, but if we don’t kill trees for paper maybe we can keep the price of lumber from increasing due to the scarcity of wood. If you haven’t tried an e-reader, give it a toss before you condemn it.
    PS I handed down my keyboard Kindle 2 to my grandson. He loves it and has become a voracious reader.

  19. Lee Barry/ CEO L"Z"PMRR says:

    I too can’t get over the realistic looking water. Please let us in on your secret to doing this. I have “poured” water for other layouts but noting compared to this. This changes the way we in the model railroading hobby would look at “fake” water again. Good work on your layout. Keep up the good work.

  20. paul Otway says:

    great railway

  21. D.B. Lewis says:

    Alan, It looks like “Toyland.” I really like the Fantasia effect as an artistic alternative to obsessive realism. Well done.

  22. Rick in pittsburgh pa says:

    You’ve captured the perfect color of the Monongahela River that flows into Pittsburgh. Fantastic work on the entire layout.

  23. THOMAS says:


  24. Ralph Berry says:

    Marvelous layout Alan, I particularly like the canal basin with its busy barge traffic. Remember seeing a Railway Modeler magazine years ago showing how to have a moving barge with real water. It sounded a bit messy at the time but it would be a knock out feature.

    Thanks for the tip Dave, I am off to try it out straight away. In Australia we have miles (kilometers) of corrugated iron to model, now where did I leave that comb?

    You have to love portable readers of all sorts, Plane delayed , never mind load up your store of electronic railway magazines and relax. Points frozen? train delayed? load up and read, even makes you feel warm.

  25. dan o wiseman says:

    very nice lay out like it allot, like that it will never be finished I agree its al ways a work in progress, as dave is starting over after 3 years, but i disagree with building if better that running the trains , I am a train runner mostly building is down the list, thanks dan o

  26. John says:

    Alan PLEASE make a video of your layout for us all to see like Northern Dave does.
    JohnE UK

  27. Jon Stetz says:

    Interesting layout and theme. Not many have waterfronts like this one, canal and the locks. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Bob says:

    Hi Alan
    I’ve just read your post and enjoyed your pictures. Is it possible to show a video of the layout.? Also what is the width of your boards. I have a workshop of similar size and have been working on and off a layout for such a long time I wondered if might part with a diagram of yours. Excellent layout.


    wear is the trains.

  30. Halo says:

    WOW !! THIS IS THE SITE I BEEN NEEDING FOR YEARS ! Thanks everyone, as it gets closers to Christmas I will be back with a good list.

  31. Keith says:

    I like a plan for a 8 x4 if possible I new to this hobby thank

  32. i neve 4 sheet of coal ballast light rock and 4 sheet of coal ballast rock dark and 4 sheet ballast grave rock how much is going to cost me please let me know i got to get the money and i neve the address so i can you the money

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