Amsterken gets bigger and better

“Aloha From Hawaii
(The land of little/no model rail)

If you are interested, I have attached some Photos from my modified Carolina & Southern N scale garage layout.

I have been working on it for about a year plus, but not a-lot of time to really devote… Lots of Woodland scenics pre-made trees… Grade may be a bit steep…

Just thought I would share before I start building my structures, adding signal lights etc..

Wouldn’t mind critique… Feel free to post.

Never mind the JR train … 🙂 can show my collection some other time…

Respectfully Yours,
CJ of Honolulu
Colonel, USMCR Retired”

And now for my fave video of the whole year. I love the way Ken has added text to the video, showing how he’s made this wonderful, fun, layout.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

That’s all this time. Please do keep ’em coming.



PS The Beginner’s Guide is here if you can’t bear sitting on the side lines any longer.

53 Responses to Amsterken gets bigger and better

  1. Ken G says:

    Thats a great layout CJ. What are the dimensions?

  2. Nice layout you have done there CJ ,, small can be just as good ….and Ken that sure is some layout you have built there …both very well done

  3. Rob McCrain says:

    Amazing details in Amsterkerken. Extreme realistic creation. Bravo

  4. mark e says:

    Nice job, Colonel! Like you, I don’t have a lot of time to devote, but I have a space about this same size and have have finally deecided to do my first ever layout, also in N-gauge. I live in New Mexico and would like to model after the old Santa Fe Super Chief (rode on it as a kid between CA and Chicago). Your scenery and landscaping are very well done. I’d really be interested in seeing the whole layout plan as it’s hard to see that in your pics. Looking forward to seeing your completed project with buildings, signs, etc. Great job!

    Mark E, TSGT, USAF, Ret

  5. Roland Burch says:

    Great layouts guys.

  6. C.J. May says:

    Thanks all. The layout is about 40 inches wide and maybe 8 feet long…
    I believe the original Kato track plan design was approximately 30″ x 5.5′?

  7. robert coe says:

    a genius

  8. Tom says:

    Nice blend of awesome work and fine detail.
    I really liked the blend of colors with the trees.
    Great job Amsterken!

    best regards,


    P.S. no mountain too high nor a valley too low … as long as the train will go!

  9. Ed Dunaway says:

    Nice detail very Good Layout!

  10. Tom M Jones says:

    Outstanding layout. You’ve given me some ideas towards a layout I have been longing to construct. Hopefully, this spring. Terrific pictures, too.

  11. chris says:

    Very nice layout

  12. Kendall Lupari says:

    Very impressive. Love all the details. We love trains- use to go to a place in Pa. that had rooms filled with running trains and our kids just loved it. That is a great hobby.

  13. Rob Turner says:

    What a brilliant layout! I am absolutely green with envy. I would love to be able to have the time and room to build something like that. Attention to detail is fantastic. Well done!

  14. Toni Olivar says:

    Both layouts are nicely done. CJ’s layout looks to be an Autumn scene while Amterken looks to be of a European city. Don’t they drive in the left side of the road there or have they adopted the American way of driving on the right side? The cruise ship looks like it is a floating city in it’s own right. Either way, both layouts are of fine quality. Keep up the good work fellas.

  15. Chris says:

    Hey CJ great use of space and wonderful detail, keep up the good work. Great job Amsterken! I love the forced perspective with the backdrop and backdrop buildings, the depth you get is incredible. Can’t wait to see more, and thanks I’m gonna be up late because you guys have really inspired me. Everyone keep doing what your doing, we love to see it.

  16. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great layout love seeing how one gets started and then the follow on cant say finished because we are never finished see something we like from these pictures and videos we just got to have one. the video unbelieveable love the supports and what you made things out plenty of tips thanks.

  17. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hey CJ – nice pix showing all the progress you’ve made. Very appealing. Keep up the good work and eager to see the ‘final’ photos and a video at some point.


  18. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hi Ken; that is an amazingly super-detailed layout out. It’s extremely well done; especially impressive knowing so much has been accomplished with ‘trash’ and scraps of all sorts. Waste not, want not! Very creative use of things (e.g., auto parts) that are totally unrelated to model railroading. That’s really thinking outside-the-box. So I think when referring to your source materials it should be called “Treasure Trash”.

    I love that super long suspension bridge spanning the room! How did you construct it?

    Are all the structures kit bashed? Where did you get the backdrop images for your printouts?

    Keep up the great creative energy. Hope to see another video as you add elements and progress.


  19. Ross Johnston says:

    Aloah CJ!! Great scenery on your layout and i liked what i saw. Well done! Carry on!
    To Ken I really liked the way you modelled the whole set up. great stuff. I want to see your layout running so please put a video of that on the site soon.
    Both layouts gave me ideas for when i start building mine in my 20′ x 18′ shed. Cheers Rossco

  20. C.J. May says:

    Mahalo to all!

  21. Amsterken says:

    Thank you so much for the awesome response … Reminds me when the kids come to see the layout and you open the door… Priceless …. Thanks again for all Happy Hollidays…. Amsterken…..

  22. Amsterken says:

    @ Arnie First the bridge was originally The Varazano Bridge in NY city for another layout.. I saw this bridge when I was in Rotterdam , Loved it so I converted it … It just worked out that it was a fit..
    Second.. I say 80% are kit bashed from the original kits. The rest i try to change up somehow…
    Third .. All backdrops are from pics on internet with out that I would have had to go and get them for myself… Besides I am not selling them just cutting them up into small pieces then glue together .. For all you copyright buffs…I don’t just put the back drop on the wall I angle them like 10% towards the wall really depends on the pics how much you can lay at the desired angle. Then put a blk light under backdrop keep a inch or so to let the blk light shine its also good to put just white paper on under side to amplify the blk light.. Goodluck Arnie..

  23. Rod Mackay says:

    Toni, most of Europe drives on the right except in the UK and Ireland. Since most of us are right-handed, driving on the left leaves your sword-hand free for jousting and suchlike, which is sure to come in handy sooner or later. On the downside, all the Polish and Romanian lorry drivers we have working over here are on the wrong side of the cab to see you properly in their mirrors before pulling out to overtake something on the motorway, but we’re too polite to complain. Sigh!

  24. RichardJJs says:

    Looking great looks a bit clinical and clean

  25. ed (Marklin) says:

    I was on that ship in Amsterken three years ago. looks just like the the dock and the surrounding area. Great JOB>

  26. Curtis says:

    Really nice Dude!

  27. Curtis says:

    You’re also quite the artist,… and comedian.

  28. Ollie says:

    Very nice detail on the layout Ken, please when you do the follow-up show sdome more of the nice control panel that was vissible for a few seconds.


  29. Ken Hecker says:

    CJ, wonderful trackplan. I’d rough up the trees a bit so the leaves are not so perfect and exactly the same color on each tree.

    Ken, please get a Hero camera and take us for a ride. This is an amazing layout, and I’d love to get down and experience it in scale. The bridge is epic. I’m in the mood now for an Amstel Light. I think I missed it, but what is your scale/gauge?

  30. Wayne W. says:

    Very nicely done Colonel. Your grades do appear to be on the steep side but it is difficult to achieve vertical separation on a small layout without a steep grade. Those of us with limited space have to learn to compromise and you have done a great job. The vertical transitions at the top and bottom of the grades are more important for smooth operation than the actual gradient in my humble opinion. Keep up the good work sir and I thank you for your service. Enjoy your well deserved retirement.

  31. Rudy says:


  32. Don Koenig says:

    Amazing job:
    Where did you get the tall spot lights in the beginning of the video.
    thanks Don K

  33. Jim says:

    Nicely done,Colonel. Great track design and landscaping features for a rural setting. So much more one can do with N scale in a limited space.

    Ken, what a monstrous layout. Great features and detail. Hope to see trains moving along those rails in the future.

    Jim AZ

  34. Don Kadunc says:

    CJ, beautiful. I am using Woodland Scenic’s trees, but haven’t been able to get that realistic look you have. Do you do something to them or pick them better than I do?
    Ken, this really gives a great impression of the Amsterdam port area. We have been to Holland several times. The city of Amsterdam is beautiful. You should show some of that beauty also.

  35. Terry Denney says:

    Maybe more on 4×8 ho layout. Hard to find good layout to fit my layout

  36. marvin says:

    very impressed. i’m fairly new to train modeling. but i am going to try a western theme, for my first real attempt, such as 3;10 to yuma

  37. Cary B says:

    Very nice layouts. I love the diversity of all the different track layouts, structures, backdrops, etc. I am working on my own modest layout now and am learning new ideas everyday. Thanks for sharing.

    Cary B

  38. Robert Shuman says:

    wonderful werk by everyone!

  39. ANDREW SCHYHOL says:

    Awesome, many new ideas and procedures. Wonderful comments. Catenary, where did you acquire your patience? MORE IDEAS PLEASE! Thanks, ANDY FL.

  40. Fred’s Wilbury Line says:

    Great stuff Amsterken…..
    Like the door opening all my YouTube vids start with the door ……

  41. David Hannan says:

    Amsterken is very unique …. love the way you have used re-cycled “junk” to create some excellent buildings. I wish I had that sort of imagination. I love hacks of all sorts. I also like the way your backdrop blends seamlessly with your layout. I really thought the ship was a full sized model at first! Very inspirational – showing what can be achieved with ingenuity and vision – 10/10 sir!

  42. David Massimi says:

    CJ and Mark…thank you for your service to our country!
    Dave, in NY

  43. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Hello C.J, rail roading is fun and full of surprising corners, corners that make your eyes as big as the moon. The set up is super nice, super clean!!! The video that you have setup for everyone to watch made me realize something. Background, blending in, not just the paint but objects. My eye left one object and went to another object. At the beginning of the film he was standing in the doorway and at that point he had a center point for his layout at the end of the bridge, everything seemed to go that way, to the end of the bridge. But when you got to the center with the close-ups, it was gone, not there, it blew my mind. If y’all have not watched the film, watch it. ( Amsterken Day ) Also C.J, you have a grade A lay out minus the weeds, no weeds😎
    SDG St.Petersburg Florida USA

  44. Nancy Campbell says:

    What a spectacular layout Amsterken is! I love the details you’ve put throughout. The backdrop is wonderful — I especially like the cruise ships! You have really inspired me!
    Nancy in South Carolina, USA

  45. Mike Schulze says:

    I loved the detail shown by Amsterken Day, especially the under table shots. We are all modelers and its nice to see how someone else hides/tapes their wires underneath. Can anyone help me with how those small thin black distribution type blocks are used??????? I have several of them but can’t quite see how to use them. Are they just wire organizers that are straight through side to side? Or, do they serve a bigger purpose????

  46. Mike Milliken says:

    Looks really good Col. Keep pecking away. It will look even better.
    Cpl. Mike,USMCR,

  47. John Bullock says:

    Phenomenal detail!

  48. Jim Gerstley says:

    nikce layout and scenery. question: Are there two independent loops or are they connected somewhere? It’s hard to tell from the photos.

  49. james hunter says:

    rally nice and clean…………………..i’m an old stogie but your work is really nice…

  50. Jeff says:

    Incredible. The background graphics, the ships, buildings, bridges, cars that need to be washed….. Exceptional detail. No music or moving parts gives the viewer a change to focus on the 3-D nature of the background.

  51. Torsten says:

    WOW!! That is truly amazing!!! Just WOW!!! Very very nice! I love it!

  52. Stephen Hill says:

    Colonel , thank you for Your service and sacrifices to our country and me . Sir , that is an incredible layout , very subtle yet very detailed . Reminds me of rural USA , very nicely done indeed . Enjoy ! Hope you have room for another one .

  53. Gary M from Long Island says:

    CJ of Honolulu……… great job…….and thanks for the service.

    Ken…….Amsterken………….fantastic work

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