Cheap model railroad sets

Andy has been in touch with is take on cheap cheap model railroad sets – he’s done a great job too:

“Hi Al,

Firstly I’d like to say how much I enjoy all the tips from your subscribers and seeing their work.

I started my layout two years ago this month on the premise that it would be a “pocket money layout” so everything is either scratch built or used/repaired.

It measures about 15 feet by 5 and is built on two dining tables which I got from a charity shop for £5 each and covered in MDF offcuts from a local joiner. The photos show how far I have got so far (still a lot to do) and I hope they show what can be achieved on a budget.

I have spent between three and four hundred pounds to this point (less than £5 per week) and the enjoyment I have had far surpasses the expenditure.

I hope you like what I have done, as I not a purist by any means!

Thanks again for all the ongoing tips and info

Andy (Ferryhill County Durham)”

Cheap model railroad sets

Cheap model railroad sets

Cheap model railroad sets

Cheap model railroad sets

model railway

model railway

model railway church

A huge thank you to Andrew for adding to the cheap model railroad sets on the blog. It just goes to show, you can build a layout on a shoe string budget… though once you’re bitten by the bug…

Now on to Brian:

His latest layout is really starting to take shape now. I still have no idea how he gets so much charm and character in to them.

“Hi Al,

progress on the layout. Gone is the snow (styrofoam) and greenery and shrubs now in place as well a the start of the trees.

The hole in the layout (middle right) in the bottom photo is where the Spar tree (log loader) will be situated to load the logs onto the empty log cars.

Cheers – Brian”

model train logging

model train logging

model railroad logging

model railroad shelf



If you are unfamiliar with Brian’s layouts here are some of his previous posts:

Brian’s logging locomotive

Brian’s wharf

Brian’s wharf buildings

Thanks to Brian and to Andy for his addign to the cheap model railroad sets on the blog.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if Andrew has got you thinking. It’s full of money saving tips.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still going strong.

34 Responses to Cheap model railroad sets

  1. Pete Evangel says:

    That’s one fine looking layout Andy. Lots and lots of things to look at and probably even more than the photos show. I wish though there were a couple “before” photos (like just the tables) to see where you started. And to think, you’ve done all this great work on the cheap! I had to convert pounds to US dollars and all I can say it, I’m impressed (1 pound is equal to 1.30 US dollars) so your total is only about $600 USD. Very impressive.

    Sunny Silicon Valley (where nothing is cheap)

  2. Keith Miller says:

    That’s £5 a week well spent!
    Well done Andy.

  3. d j howarth says:

    Well done Andrew …You a Yorkshire man ?? …it can be done without paying a fortune as you show …Dangerous Dave

  4. mark st john says:

    verry interesting build
    quite busy and the fact it was bullt for 5pd a week is really cool
    Im a ‘shoestring’ builder myself
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  5. JACK WINDT says:


  6. Victor Heffern says:

    Hi Andy Your layout looks great. Thank you for sharing. Vic

  7. John Reynolds says:

    Very impressive work…
    A couple of years ago I built an Inglenook switching layout for less than $200 USD. I am currently seeing what I can do in On30 on another “budget” layout build. So far I have built 8 freight cars at a total cost of roughly $5.00 each.
    While I find every project I embark on to be “food for my soul”: This current project has been some of the most fun and invigorating “work” that I have had in the hobby in several years. I have been having so much fun building the cars that I had almost forgotten “why” I am building them… I just purchased a couple of engines on e-bay (two Athearn switchers) for a grand total of $50 for the pair… (I only needed one but when I lost the bid on my first one I found two more and bid on both… $30 for one and $20 for the other) I needed the mechanisms… My current planned “budget” is $500 for an operating layout about 3 foot by 6 foot.
    Again: Very well done on your layout! Excellent ideas and work!

  8. GaryOC says:

    A fine piece of work all done on a budget but with an obvious natural talent and to draw a compliment from the also very talented Dangerous Dave is a testament to your great results.
    Gary – Australia

  9. David Hannan says:

    Are the round brick pillars made from toilet rolls?

    A cracking layout on such a small budget!

    Well done! Very inspirational!

  10. Richard P Greenhalgh says:

    Love this!
    It’s exactly the kind of thing that I want to do. Something quite deliberately inauthentic in the sense of not period-specific or region-specific. In part this is because too I have loads of “random stuff” to use/repair and also to scratch-build with.
    I love your pair of class 33s and also the nod-and-wink of the Poundland truck at the back of one shot. Please keep us up to date with your singular railway!

  11. don a kadunc says:

    I see a number of the available printouts from the site. A great way to save money.

  12. paul Otway says:

    A nice layout Andrew.

    What make are your trains?, some looks like Triang and Lima.

  13. jim sulkosky says:

    Looks great Andrew happy railroading

  14. Brian Morgan says:

    Looks good – the important fact is that you enjoy it – whether it is totally accurate is not a problem – it is your railway and the fun in building and operating is all that matters

  15. Bob Miller says:

    Outstanding…I spend a fortune building a layout and Andy does it for peanuts and it looks better than mine. Thank goodness this is just a hobby or I would be depressed. Good job to all of you that have vision and imagination as well as the talent to make this hobby great.
    Bob from Mississippi

  16. Martin Slaughter says:

    Very inspiring Andrew
    I’ve picked up stuff for my and my son’s layout from 2nd hand toy shops, it’s amazing some of the things you can find for just a pound or two.

  17. Cary B says:

    That’s a fine looking layout Andrew. Thanks for sharing.

    Cary B

  18. Steve Roberts says:

    Great job Andrew, an entertaining layout can be done cheaply if you persevere and keep your eyes open for bargains. Nice one!

  19. Chandrasekar R says:

    Nice Layout. Inspirational and interesting work.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Helmut Eppich says:

    Sure inspires originality and creativity!

  21. fredrick day says:

    fantastic job. all used shoe sting budget doesn’t get better.

  22. Ken Stramel says:

    Looking good. I know the fun you’re having. Keep up the good work.

  23. Andrew Johnson says:

    that is a very busy layout.

  24. Jerry Alter says:

    PHENOMENAL !! The layout is beautiful.

  25. Howard Espin says:

    I have seen many great layouts that have been on the site. I just have one request many never tell what gauge the layout is and it would be help full to me if the gauge were part of the narrative. At 84 my eyes are not as good as they used to be and it is hard to tell the gauge from just a picture.

  26. ANDY FL, USA says:

    ANDY, Looks like it is a fun layout to operate. Very imaginative,
    your private little world. I’m just seeing the activity in my mind.

  27. David Wooff says:

    Excellent work Andrew. More “Engin-uity” from the North East.
    Stephenson & Armstrong would be proud.

  28. Brad says:

    REMARKABLE!!!! WELL DONE!!!! Perseverance over pocktbook

  29. Milton Robinson says:

    What do you mean, lots more to do! Every inch of that layout is covered! Looks like you had a good time building it! Enjoy

  30. Erick says:

    Looks great: But would like to see more.

  31. William Kennedy says:

    A really great job on a shoestring budget. I almost went broke on my small layout. This a hobby that can be fun and teaches persistence and patience.

  32. Richard Rudolph says:

    Wonderful work!

  33. Brian Olson says:

    I took the same approach to building my second layout, 2×4 switching plan. My main layout is 6×12, both of them N Scale. The main layout pretty expensive, and while DC, 15 engines ain’t cheap!

    But my switching layout project was designed to use existing track and buildings etc I had just laying around. Photographs for backdrops, scenery on the cheap. It will be DCC so engines and transformer costly but overall, great operating fun and keeping costs low.

  34. Mr Ron from south Mississippi says:

    Bob Miller from Mississippi; Where are you located? I live in Vancleave, close to Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

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