Al’s stunning HO logging railroad layout

“Attached are some photos of my 4′ x 8′ layout for you to post if you desire. I am 73 years old and retired from a career in commercial fire protection.

My layout is set in the northwest United States in the early 1940’s. The buildings are all wooden kits with the exception of the saw mill and power house which are plastic.

I have two DCC steam engines with sound, a 3 truck shay and a 0-6-0 tank engine. All of the buildings are lighted and I am going to install some street lights in the near future. The mountains are made of rigid foam which was shaped with a wood burning tool, knife and rasp.

I enjoy your posts and have gotten many good ideas from them.


Lacey, Washington”

HO cross track

HO rock face

HO tmber yard

HO timber yard

HO sidings

HO forest

HO girder bridge

HO water tower

HO girder bridge

HO tunnel

“Hi AL.

I read your email every time I get one. I enjoy them so very much. I’m not exactly a newbie as I have made at least 10 layouts since I bought my first train set as an adult in December 1963 for my two sons, then ages 3 & 4. I have made or helped make layouts in O gauge, HO gauge and N gauge and have had fun with all of them. I’m current in HO gauge and probably remain there for the rest of my life.

I don’t know what category in which to put this, but I’m a number cruncher in real life (accountant) and here are formulas for calculating speed of HO/OO gauge trains.

actual feet/time in seconds * 59.386 will give scale mph

actual meters/time in seconds *313.493 will give kph

I will derive the formulas for O gauge and N gauge in the near future.

Lester in Georgia, USA”

“Beware of paralysis by analysis. It’s easy to use up too much time planning so that you don’t get on with construction.

Make a start and then you can make corrections as you go. (Some baic plan is of course required.)


And lastly, something from Hall of Fame member, Dangerous Dave. He’s been playing with his new camera gimble again:

“Hi Al , just a short video I have made this weekend using my phone , with the settings changed to 60 fps , came out a lot better , its not model railway , but some of the real thing , up on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thanks to Dave, Desmond, Lester and Al.

I do love the layouts with a theme, for me, they stand out a mile and I thought Al has done a cracking job.

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

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you’re inspired by Al.



28 Responses to Al’s stunning HO logging railroad layout

  1. steve says:

    excellent job , al

  2. Brian Messenger says:

    Lacey, love the detail around your layout. Looks natural.

  3. Brian moretti says:

    Just a note , the track would look just so much better if you air brush the rail

  4. Colin says:

    Nice layout. I also like the number of trees within the forest areas. Really starting to look as dense as a real forest would be. It also has the effect of creating smaller panoramas within the layout all with their own character. One of the best layouts so far. Well done.

  5. Jack Bury says:

    Al, you’ve done a great job with your layout. Love the details. True to your theme and time period.

  6. NJ Mark says:

    Beautiful scenery! This stuff inspires me. Cheers! NJ Mark

  7. Ralph Samples says:

    Al, very nice log operation. And I have never seen a siding on a bridge before. Does the siding have a purpose (real or imagined) other than to park one car or engine on the bridge?

    Ralph in Eureka, MO, USA

  8. Appookta says:

    At 74, I’m still contemplating my first RR setup. I have an N-gauge Bachmann kit and am at the planning stage. I’ve calculated that 100′ oaks would be about 6″ tall. Is this possible? That seems incredibly large for N-scale. Would someone either confirm this or correct me? That’ll let me know if I’m in the right direction. And maybe tell me if modeling trees are just made as impressions and not to full size. Thanks ahead of time.

  9. Don Jennings says:

    Al I went on the site LAYOUT and could not find anything about your layout. Please direct to where it is. A layout sketch of your layout with the good pictures would help identify the pictures with where the pictures are on the layout. How about a nice sketch Please. donj

  10. Brian says:

    Looks like you have a lot going on in a 4 x 8 space.
    Please post a track plan so we can get a perspective on the photos.
    Always been intrigued by the logging theme.
    Were you inspired by a prototype?

  11. Warren Ferguson says:

    Al, you’ve done a beautiful job on your logging operation layout. How about some night shots?
    Dave, as always, great job! Love the stations and moors.

  12. bob says:

    Dangerous Dave,
    Loved your field trip into the country. It is like a fairytale and looks just like your model railroad. I live in Canada so nothing looks like you describe. I also would like you the see the art deco station in Chicago.

  13. JACK WINDT says:


  14. Eric Rayner says:

    Nice work Al. Ignore the ones that want every rivet in place, everything coated in rust and grunge, if you are happy then that is all that matters as it is our hobby for ourselves to enjoy. We try to encourage others to get started and interest them in the hobby by Alastair showing our efforts in this blog, can almost guarantee someone will ask for a track plan too as they can’t think a layout up for themselves.
    Enjoy your modelling Al.
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  15. Carl in Kansas says:

    Is a 100-foot tall oak tree 6″ tall? Sounds about right to me, but I am not sure. If you have a 60-foot long passenger car and a 40-foot long freight car, then couple them together and measure them, and see if they are about 6 inches long.

    Still in training,
    Carl in Kansas.

  16. Carl in Kansas says:

    An oak tree 100-feet tall is about 7 1/2 inches tall.

    100 feet = 1200 inches.
    N scale is 1:160.
    1200 inches divided by 160 = 7.5 inches.

    A 6″ tree in N scale = 80 foot tall tree.

    Keep on training,
    Carl in Kansas

  17. don kadunc says:

    Do they have regular steam service in England and Europe, or is this an excursion train? We lost out steam decades ago.

  18. Suggestion: I wouldn’t be so precise in the length of a tree for N gauge. Trees grow to many heights in real life and should not all be the same height on a model railroad. Match the trees to an N gauge car to get a general size for trees to build or purchase.

  19. Mal says:

    N gauge = 2mm to the foot hence 100’ tall oaks is 100 x 2 = 200mm
    200mm /25 = 8 inches.
    Yep that’s how big a 100’ tall oak would be in N gauge.
    It never ceases to amaze me how much compression our minds eye imposes on the layouts. Real trees are huge!

    Fancy a giant redwood at 300’ high?
    Two foot tall in N gauge!!!! It would just look sooooooo wrong whilst being correct.

    It’s all to do with the perspective. The horizontal is so compressed on a layout that the true vertical extent also needs to be limited to prevent an odd looking result.

    Might be better to think of 30 to 40 foot tall mature trees to get a better appearance. N-gauge is 60 to 80 my tall. I.e. 2.5 to 3.5 inches.


  20. Shawn says:

    Al I like the layout. Very nice. Great attension to detail and keeping it period correct. Great job.

  21. Mike says:

    Al, this is a great layout. I love all the setting and the detail you have put in it. Super job. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Allan Jelinek says:

    Very nice job. I’m thinking about getting into HO Scale because I no longer have the space for “O” Gauge in our townhouse. Very cool

  23. Thomas Murphy says:

    Oh boy, Al ~ what a remarkable job that you pulled off with your lay-out. The detail is fantastic, it really shows your dedication and talent for creating a real-life scenery setting. Thank you, so much, for sharing your impressive work.
    Regards, Tom (USA)

  24. Johnny says:

    Looks real good, keep up the fun.

  25. Kenneth W. Hall Jr says:

    Love it. This would be great in my layout. Awesome job.

  26. Ian McDonald says:

    great pictures. the detail is very good.sawmill detail really made me interested.
    the video Dave is outstanding. thanks for sharing.

  27. Bob Davidson says:

    Good job building a remarkable R R scene!

  28. dangerous daveErmnie has done a nice jhob says:

    The video showing the North Yorkshire Moors Railway , has a regular service which runs from March through to November , then the odd Santa specials over the Xmas period …Dangerous Dave

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