Alasdair’s layout

“Hi Al,

thank you for all your advice as to my layout lighting and all those who wrote in.

I appreciate it very much.

Hope you enjoy the pics.


Alasdair Macdougall”

Great to see some pics where all the tips have been put to good use!

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And seeing as everybody else is having all the fun, why not join them? The Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

59 Responses to Alasdair’s layout

  1. PETER BENSON says:

    Thanks for the great photos what a lovely layout,welldone.

  2. Done a good job there with the lighting Alastdair

  3. Toni says:

    I have a suggestion regarding the height of the layout. I noticed that there is a gap from the top of the layout to the bottom of the background images.

    I would recommend that the layout be raised to meet with the bottom of the background or reposition the background lower to mate with the layout’s top.

  4. Ray Appenzeller says:

    Awesome layout, great attention to details!

  5. Glenn Roach says:

    I commend you on a great looking layout. But I agree with Toni about the background picture. It looks like to me that it is glued to the wall. If the layout can be moved enough for U to get closer to it would be easier to make an attempt to remove it to reapply it in the new position.
    I would suggest another round of night time shots in a low light affect that would let the lighting stand out a little bit more. Again it is only a suggestion from me to you.

  6. Roland Burch says:

    Great layout and lighting. I ready like the detail on the buildings.

  7. Chris says:

    Awesome layouthe attention to detail, love t

  8. Ian says:

    a very compact layout not an easy job getting to every place to put the lighting in. the light setup is great not to much and not to bright. i love it .need a video of the trains going from afternoon to dusk.

  9. Rob McCrain says:

    Very nice and charming layout, Alasdair. I light the lighting.

  10. Cameron Davies says:

    Great lighting. I think it really sets off the layout. If you get a chance to post any replies if you could please let me know what brand the yard lights are are that would be greatly appreciated.



  11. Tom says:


    You have a great layout there. My hat off to you.
    Enjoy … the lighting and detail are superb.

    Thanks Al for sharing.



  12. Tom says:

    I was just in the process of starting to build my 3′ x 6′ N scale model railroad.
    My wife decided she did not want it in the room that was decided upon. So I changed the room and the size and it is going to now be 2′ x 9′ Made ony minor variations to the plan. It will work. Cna’t wait to get started. Your tips and railroad pictures and videos has helped me a great deal in my design. Ooopppps! Now my wife tells me she wants us to move to a +55 planned community. Since I am 70 years of age and wil not have to do any outside work. Only one floor of living. I am holding on the RR until we move. Then I will probably modify the RR again … and have enough time to build it. All I want to do is get the RR built.

    There is a reason for all this delay. Patience is a virtue … I will be patient … but when I get started no rest for the weary.

    Thank you!



    PS: I have had all my products for this RR for two years.

  13. aLex says:

    Great layout! The lighting looks great, as far as cameras can capture it. The pic’s are fantastic. They showed some track detail that I’ve been having some problems with, thank you.
    Oops on the backdrop, but hay, things happen. The roof lines line up, and at first glance it all works. I couldn’t tell untill I read the other responces.
    Good Work and keep it up.

  14. Excellent layout and the detail is fantastic. I am still in the planning stage so mine will be awhile before I have any pictures to share

  15. david says:

    what a great layout, well done ,

  16. Ken Thomas says:

    excellent layout, very busy, and the lighting is good, I am at the moment building an 8ft x 2ft exhibition layout an I’m at the moment just started work on the river bed can any of you knowlegable people out there give me advice on how to achieve a good looking river, thanks! in anticipation.

  17. Peter Jones says:

    Great layout Alasdair, super detailing and great lighting, thanks for sharing, Pete

  18. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hi Al,
    I’ve recently seen many readers inquiring about creating water/rivers. I thought I would therefore offer my knowledge and experience in having done this on my current and previous layouts with satisfying realistic results.

    To Ken Thomas: (and others wanting tips on creating rivers…)

    The general steps to creating “a good looking river” involves:
    > create your river banks and bed using any of various materials like plywood, extruded pink/blue home insulating foam sheets, plaster gauze sheets…or combinations of such items.
    > use acrylic paints of the color appropriate to the river bed you’re modeling to set the color depth of the water. E.g., use deep greens for deep water, lighter greens with brown for muddy waters, and shades of beige for sand and silt… Colors should be darkest at the center of the river and gradually lightening toward the shore/riverbanks.
    > then add river rocks (gravel and talus size) along the shoreline and thinning out toward the deeper waters. Glue in place with diluted white glue and allow to dry overnight.
    > add any larger rocks along the banks areas if desired and glue as done with the sandy/muddy rocks above.
    > add any other things you might want in the shallower areas like plant growth or drift wood… and glue also and allow to dry throughly.
    > now you can add the water to the otherwise finished dry river. I would recommend using “Realistic Water” by Woodland Scenics. Follow the directions on the product. When that has dried you can then apply “Water Effects” by Woodland Scenics if you want to create waves or rapids. This is a white substance of a cream-like consistency. Apply the “Water Effects” with a brush and stiple it with the brush edge in a downward motion to create waves and/or rapids. The product dries clear like the “Realistic Water” product. If you want rapids/white water, just stiple on some white paint by dry brushing the crests of the waves or rolling waters.


  19. Stuart says:

    it certainly look very effective. well done

  20. THOMAS says:


  21. Pete says:

    Great looking layout, however needs fencing around the track to complete it, British railway law, looks very obvious in the town area. Sorry, my only criticism. Great layout and lighting effects.

  22. Ken Thomas says:

    Thanks Arnie, for the information on modelling water, much appreciated.

  23. jim morris says:


  24. George Funderburk says:

    I live in central Texas USA and I have been to many large cities and seen some very large rail yards. My question is. Why does a model layout have to be so crowed. It seem to me that more open, finer details,more realism.
    George in Texas

  25. Doug T of Townsville Australia says:

    good work – if it makes you happy – then it is successful Always appreciate the tips and information on this site – it is the best

  26. Les Peeney says:

    Hello, Does anyone know where I can get 1/87 scale vehicles at a reasonable price? The only ones that I can find are too expensive and the Match Box type are not all at the same scale. I would appreciate any help I can get. thanks Les

  27. Carl Halgren says:

    If you live in the U.S.A., take note. I have seen ads in Model Railroader magazine – there are 50+ communities in Pennsylvania, Florida, and other places. Now there is no need to build your own layout – just bring your trains to the club layout. You might also look for model railroad clubs near 50+ communities. Just a thought.

    Train On,
    Carl in Kansas

  28. Ron Montgomery says:

    I am very very impressed . Great
    layout nice attention to… well everything.

  29. Jim says:

    Great job. Some nice detail too. We all try to get as much as possible on our layouts but we just can’t stop. Oh well. BTW, maybe you can simply add a thin block or stone wall where the white selvage is showing. Just a suggestion. Again great job.

  30. Pastor Harry C Wigmore III says:

    great site, love the lighting looks like home, this is one best layouts I seen sent, you are a hall of fame for sure. Also thank you for send these model trains emails.
    When I was a young boy, we had an O’gauge train set that was handed down from my Dad;s dad; but when I got older my baby brother stuck the train table out on the curb for the trash man to pick up. I could hurt him really bad because it belong to me. So that ended my train enjoying, that collection had two engines and about twenty cars with many buildings and bridges. Now at my age it is not going to happen. The closest to modeling that I have done is I built a North Carolina Highway Patrol car 1/24 scale. Used a Lindburg model kit. Maybe in the next life I will have a train set!

  31. don Conti says:

    It is beautiful, but must take so much time one would not have a life. I always dreamed of an airport layout that worked. Hamburg Germany did it with the Wonderland airport. Look it up. That’s what 5 million will do and German engineering.

  32. Darrel Green says:

    Very nice work Alasdair,
    I like it all. I my opinion, your backdrop is fine. It actually looks like it was placed like that for a reason. If you add some type of retaining wall over the unprinted lower half, it would give the area a 3D affect. Blending the backdrop and layout together. The image on your backdrop would then appear to be a shelf, giving you nice depth for that section. No need to tear up your layout. You did a wonderful job!
    Darrel G

  33. Cary says:

    A lot of great detail and lots going on in the layout. Very nice and thanks for sharing. Cary in KY

  34. vincent michalski says:

    Beautiful layout. DO you have a video of the trains running?

  35. Stephen says:

    This is a pure wonder… all of these emails have truly inspired me with mu own layout. I recently moved and my train is in storage.

  36. Bruce says:

    To Les. For scale cars, Google and EBay “1/87 diecast cars”. Or type “diecast cars 1/87” and simply search for HO diecast cars. There are many sources at various prices. Attend a train show and look for items others no longer need.
    Hope you have the success you want.

  37. Art Bearden says:

    Mr. Alasdair.
    That is some great picture you sent in to Mr. Al they have great color in them and great thought in building your big/little town.
    Art in Florida

  38. Gene says:

    Way to busy for me….a lot of nice stuff…a lot!!

  39. Brad says:

    RE 1/87 vehicles-I forgot to add ROCO(do a search on Ebay) if you are looking for military vehicles.Unless you are an extremely talented modeler,I would avoid resin kits that require more than 1 color (say a checker cab,woody wagons)

  40. Peter Modrow says:

    Nice work.
    How did you do the lights? What tips did others give you?

  41. Peter Modrow says:

    Nice work.
    How did you do the lighting?
    What tips did you use?

  42. ROBERT K SCHWORM says:

    For lighting buildings, I way a method of using coat hanger wire with a loop at the top to hold a LED, and a circle on the bottom to attach a screw. This wire was placed up thru the benchwork, and up into the building structure precisely where the light was to be. If there is a fault with the LED, simply unscrew the rod and lower it down to service. no need to be moving buildings or scenery around.

    Be sure you have a “service loop”of wire at the bottom to be able to lower the assembly down. Also leave service loops of wire around and do not “stretch your wiring tight.

  43. Rambo says:

    Thank You for the pictures Very nice with the lights.

  44. Iwan says:

    That’s a fabulous layout!

  45. John Seale says:

    I like the continuous running…

  46. Kenneth Hamilton says:

    Does anyone have “0 gauge ” layouts?

  47. Erick says:

    Looks good, I am going to do some my layout this way.

  48. peter a pearson says:

    I loved the photos it gave me some ideas

  49. Rube Simon says:

    So nice!

  50. JUON S says:

    i didn’t notice any wiring on the power line structures. how about using fishing line? otherwise, i’m very impressed.

  51. Peter Scott says:

    Good Morning
    Does any one have a N Gauge layout double tracks and with a harbor spur they will share
    I find all the photos seen of members build is so impressive and learning from the best is the best way

  52. Will in NM says:

    Nice job Alisdair. I really like all the lighting effects you’ve added. My one suggestion would be to take the photos from a lower vantage point so that the foreground and backdrop are more at eye level if you want to convey a greater sense of realism.

  53. Nice layout the lights look great

  54. Vinnie from the Island of Staten says:

    A very nice layout I guess. I think it would be a very nice compliment to the fotoes of the layout if they also submitted a sketch / schematic of the entire layout.

  55. William Orton says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how the backdrop makes a layout look so much bigger. The balance of lighting is outstanding. Great work.

  56. Clark Corn says:


  57. william j plmer says:

    love the lights

  58. Mike Gibbons says:

    Thanks for lay out pics, Great job on the layout and lighting

    How big is the layout?

  59. Mike Gibbons says:

    One more question

    How do you reach back corner with your train board up against the wall?

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