Arnie’s track plan and pics

“Hi Al,

I was overwhelmed with the number and content of responses to my recent submission on my nighttime LED lighting project.

As I have no way of directly responding to specific inquiries from within your website, I was hoping you would allow me the liberty to address some things on your posting.

There you can see many of my layout videos and send comments, suggestions and questions directly to me. I would be more than happy to answer any communications I receive.

But for now, I want to thank all who responded for their great, supportive feedback. I am humbled by your comments and the sense of inspiration that many readers feel to go forward with developing their own layouts and projects.

And thanks for the suggestions made by Deano, Scott, Glenn and others.

To answer a few points: Bill I apologize for the incongruous McKinley Explorer cars; I was eager to video lighting effects and so I just used what I had at arms reach to run through the station. But you can see my Alaskan McKinley Explorer on my layout on Youtube.

As for the layout itself, the video only centered on the south side of the layout; the valley side.

However, the layout, despite its impression of greater size, dimension and depth, is only 8 feet by 5 feet. I’ve attached some layout overview photos and a track plan of the SV&GS layout that readers requested.

As for the vehicles, while I customized the buses with LEDs myself, the cars were purchased from a merchant in China.

The LEDs in the cars a very bright despite there miniscule size (1.8mm?). This causes light flaring and bleeding through the plastic bodies. So I had to separated the bodies from the undercarriage and paint the interiors with flat black paint. Then where light still shone through, I touched up the exterior paint. And lastly I painted the perimeter of the lights to make the lenses look smaller and more to scale.

And again my thanks to you Al for making possible this forum for all to participate and enjoy.


That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

88 Responses to Arnie’s track plan and pics

  1. Sfc Raymond Mueller US Army Ret. says:

    Beautifull! Just wish I had the Time, Money, and Space.

  2. Frank Stroot says:

    Impressive, stunning.
    I love the river very well done.
    This layout is fantastic.
    It shows what you can do if your patiant

  3. Gary Baker says:

    Arnie, beautiful job! Have fun and enjoy playing train. No matter how old we old farts get, playing train is in the blood!

  4. John Fuller says:

    It would be nice if the country that the layout are located in would be published. Is this possible?

  5. Deano Stoki says:

    Raymond M.:

    It’s really not THAT expensive to have the beginnings of a layout similar to Arnie’s. Yes, I’ll admit it takes time and effort. But, you R retired…right? The basic layout from which Arnie’s Empire is derived was published years ago by Kalmbach (I think). It’s the last chapter in a softback book called “NINE N SCALE RAILROADS YOU CAN MODEL”… It has a complete (though basic) set of istructions w/photos to create your own pike in a minimum of space. I feel it’s a nice primer for those of us on a shoestring budget. Granted Arnie has certainly raised the bar for excellence here. But, if you look…copies are still floating around on ebay for only a few dollars. i don’t have my copy handy. However, even the smallest railroad in the book has the potential to be a showpiece….. Heck, you may even be able to find a reprinted update at your local hobbyshop….. Just doin my part to promote the World’s Greatest Hobby…. Deano

  6. Tom BonDurant says:

    This is definitely a work of art and a labor of love. Absolutely AWESOME!!!! I am new to the hobby of model railroading. I am beginning an ‘N’ scale layout on benchwork that measures 40″ x 106″. I really would like

  7. Tom BonDurant says:

    Sorry for the incomplete message… keyboard seems to be very sensitive this am…lol. Anyway, I would like to duplicate your layout. Are you modeling in ‘HO’ scale? I would really like to chat with you. Please contact me at the email address listed on this email if you are ok with this. Thanks….and, again….Great job.

  8. Al says:

    Great talent. Very nice layout, must have taken forever to complete. Love the river .keep them coming, realy enjoy e mails.

  9. john says:

    Fantastic Layout, I Love the way the whole Layout is set,I have just started on mine, but I cannot see it getting to your standard, Well done!!

  10. Mark Allen says:

    spectacular craftsmanship as always!!!

  11. Glenn Roach says:

    WOW!!! Now these pictures are even better than the prvious ones. Will we get to see your upgrades to the lighting. A split shot showing us before & after under the same lighting conditons woudl be nice (just my prefernce). This would make it so we wouldn’t have to jump back & forth from the previous emailing to the newest one. But your layout looks awesome to me. Nuff’ said, keep up the goooood work.

  12. Sheila says:

    Such a wonderful layout. Absolutely stunning! Thanks for the info on the layout.

  13. Bedros A says:

    Congratulations Arnie. Very nice detailed work.
    Still trains keep us busy.

  14. Jim in NC says:

    Terrific layout!! Makes me think hard about the possibilities!

  15. vincent primavera says:

    HI Arnie…Can you suggest a HO track plan incorporating a nice size classification yard for a 6′ x 4′ layout? And, is yours an N scale or HO? I can’t tell from the pictures. Hope you reply and thank you.

  16. paul Otway says:

    very nice

  17. Ralph says:

    Beautifully put together, I particularly like that viaduct, was that a kit or did you scratch build it?

  18. Chis says:

    Very impressive layout Arnie – Will spur me on the greater heights in completing mine. As for your issue in using LED & light flaring & showing through the sides or the models – what I do is use a small piece of insulating tape (Black or Grey) & wrap it around the LED so only a small section is showing through the front of the LED to point where you want the light to show. It works well & saves painting the model both inside & outside.

  19. If I had only known how great help I would have received in the begining by

    joining your club. Your work is purely and simply a work of art.

    A millon thanks for all the short cuts, tricks and common sense combined

    to complete masterpieces. Thanks again!


  20. THOMAS says:


  21. brian says:

    yeah i saw this layout its awesome i buildt this as my first layout from the atlas book nine N scale railroads you can model ..It was very cool but moved so i had to take it down …I like how Arnie changed the track plan and made more interesting …I have continued to build layouts and went from N to G to O and now back to N all because i wanted a layout to operate that wont brake the bank and take up to much space ..I have made 3 diff N scale spreads since i got back into that scale and now i changed track manufacturer also from atlas to kato snap track ..Its easy and fast to change around ,my layout can be seen on youtube search under trackspike64

  22. jim says:

    Like my son said to me today dad you may be getting older but you still are a kid in side you still like to play with trains. This is a very nice layout alot of fun times still to come enjoy.

  23. Cameron says:

    What a stunning layout. I have been following the videos over the last year and really appreciate seeing these overview photos and track layout plan. You have exploited that 8×5 space to its full potential. Congratulations. All the praise you have received is well deserved.

  24. Neil says:

    First a hardy thank you for what you do bringing us together worldwide and giving us these great pictures .To the builder you do a great job.I feel as though i have been here before because the realm is here to feel that.Great job .

  25. Mike says:


  26. Don says:

    Excellent job. I started out 2 years ago with a O scale and soon ran out of room. In hind site I wish I had started out with an HO scale. However, I do have some room in another area and might start an HO layout. Your work is certainly an inspiration on what can be done.

  27. Ian Mc Donald says:

    these pictures are stunning the amount of train play is fantastic the river scenery just wonderful keep them comimg or if you have a utube site please let us k now.

  28. Brian Clauser says:


  29. Chris says:

    fantastic layout, spurs me on to get mine finished

  30. Phil says:

    Great lay-out and love the river. All works well together.

  31. Peterr says:

    Fantastic layout.

  32. Skip says:

    looks great i too just started N. With 4×12 working on it for 12 weeks steady and sometimes I think Im not getting anywhere. Been off sick w/ knee problems so standing is a problem. maybe tell me how to puts PIC’S here I will do so.

  33. stuart says:

    absolutly fantastic, an incredible lay out, must have taken ages, most impressive

  34. Albert Weir says:

    That is a superb layout you should be very proud of it i wish mine could look like that well done

  35. Gwen says:

    how did you make the river and how did you paint it
    it looks great

  36. kimo says:

    Really nice layout

  37. Lee Barry says:

    Hmm, 5’x8′ you say? sure is a great use of the art of illusion. a beautiful job. as to the comment above about being retired and having time to do this: maybe the person is on a fixed income and does not have the funds to put out on a layout. those like my rich brother in Va.Beach,Va. no nothing of or perhaps as he has made it well on this earth tend to forget there are plenty of us out here in poverty world that are no well off.

  38. I have seen a lot of layouts but this one looks fantastic. It really does look like the real thing. Paul. UK.

  39. BARRY LIPTON says:

    I love your set up! Can i get some better pictures of your plans?

  40. Ben says:

    don’t apolgize for using mckinly hell my layout is aproduct of my mind & represnts no one or anything in paticular

  41. Jon B. says:

    Stunning, the illusion of depth is awesome. Gives us all something to aspire to. The water is so realistic. Would love to know how you did that too. Thanks for sending the video and the pics. Keep em’ coming folks. Love the site Al. When I stop working 60 hours and cleaning up after two kids and pets, I’ll start a layout. I’m saving all of these posts to refer to at that time.

  42. james says:


  43. Barry says:

    What is the large structure seen in the first picture?
    Who makes the model?

  44. Louis Seldon, DFW, Texas USA says:

    “It would be nice if the country that the layout are located in would be published. Is this possible?” ditto John plus city, & maybe an email address so we can ask to visit if we live in the area?

  45. Louis Seldon, DFW, Texas USA says:

    Gauge would be nice?

  46. Louis Seldon, DFW, Texas USA says:

    6 switches (turn outs) in the first photo, any problems with switches in this gauge? BEAUTIFUL LAYOUT

  47. Ross Johnston says:

    Great Photos arnie! I appreciated looking at your track plan. Cheers

  48. Christine says:

    Very cool.

  49. james says:

    really nice layout, more pix and/or a video would be nice too

  50. Amit says:

    Great Photo.
    I would like to do similar layout, on 8′ x6′ board any suggestionfrom the geniuss.
    Take care
    love amit

  51. Barry Pearlman says:

    Seem that this hobby is similar to owning a Corvette. Owning one and affording one are two separate concepts. 🙂

  52. michael broderick says:

    thanks for the pics I am getting same great ideas for when I start. there are great lay outs mick

  53. Terry jacks says:

    Love the Susqauhanna layout and those Rose houses. Reminded me of Pittsbirgh, Pa.

  54. jim morris says:


  55. To all who RESPONDED ! says:

    UNBELIEVABLE ! for an 8X5 layout incredible detail, the river is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Would have like to seen the heliport and what they’re flying.

  56. William says:

    Not much to say but WOW!

  57. Stephen Bee says:

    So, that’s what an impressive layout looks like! Arnie, that’s a great advertisement for enjoyment and expertise. That shot along the river is stunning. I’ll just sit and admire the set of photos for another 30 minutes or so…! Steve (NZ)

  58. Edward says:

    REALLY NICE!!!!!!

  59. Frederick says:

    I hope he doesn’t open a hat factory in Susquehanna. (I had to say this).

  60. Victor Heffern says:

    Beautiful layout, Detail perfect , A lot of love went into this layout! Thank you for sharing !

  61. Kevin McArdle says:

    I saw a comment that said that the layout pictured must have taken forever, but that is not true, and that way of thinking gets in the way of starting a layout. Get a hollow core door at a building supply, a boxed set of trains, set them up and enjoy. Just get started, and stop adding degrees of difficulty. Our imaginations haven’t changed, but for some of us they’re a little rusty. Happy railroading.

  62. Linda says:

    Wonderful layout. Great imagination and use of space.
    For those who are needing to know a specific location or town….why? It’s a beautiful job! The primary concern for any layout is translating those wonderful fantasies of the mind (YOUR MIND). Into what you feel good about. Everyone has to start somewhere so just go with your heart.
    Keep these marvelous projects coming.

  63. Phil Siciliano says:

    Can I get a detailed copy of this track layout, Thank You

  64. David Wibbels says:

    Looks so much like Pennsylvania I had to put on my heavy jacket to look at the pictures. Excellent Work !

  65. Pat says:

    Very Nice. Wish I had the time

  66. George Steffens says:

    Awesome looking layout. Great photos of it, too.

  67. Ed Purdy says:

    Arnie or Al,
    What’s the secret on the viaducts? A tutorial type video presentation on how to build those would be great. How did you get those “wires” on the telephone poles? On an old ‘S” gauge years ago I did it but it was a mess, looked great for a while, seemed to collect dust really quick and was always in the way if I had to deal with a derailment. Your layout is magnificent.

    Ed from NJ

  68. Robert Brady says:

    Great layout a lot of detail.Question; Where may i ask did you get the above ground train station I’ve been looking for one for months? was it custom made or kit ?I have to have one.Any info is appreciated.

    Robert from South Florida

  69. Brad says:

    Excellent use of a 5 x 8 space.Secondly,I would apolgize for nothing about using “doesn’t fit the layout”.It’s YOUR layout,run what you want.I have locos I will run on whatever layout I build,but I’m not building a layout for every time frame or location.If I have an old west layout and I want to run a maglev on it,I will because I want to see it running.Purists, although accurate, are limited by whatever locale/era they pick.Pity,because I just like playing with trains and will run every different loco I have accumulated

  70. Brad says:

    RE 1220 post.Although no layout yet,I have the same building.Maybe hard to find now but it’s the “county courthouse” kit.It’s a very LARGE piece.It is packed away now for my move next summer or i could tell you the maker

  71. Robert Klotz says:

    If you were working in O guage how big would the layout be.

  72. Mike Schulze says:

    Truly an awesome layout. What I like is that you have a lot going on without the layout appearing “busy” like most layouts. I think the separation by river and several highways allows this to be done.
    Keep up the good work.

  73. William Beers Coatesville Pa says:

    WOW! Great Layout, the scenery is excellent. I have a 4 x 8 1958 Boys Life layout that I plan to resurrect for my grandchild. Now I need the time to do it while still looking for a Corvette and the money to do it all!!! Congrats on a well done laylout!!

  74. Herman says:

    Fantastic layout.

  75. Rube Simon says:


  76. Danny Marso says:

    Stunning layout , very nice !

    I have a question, I have sent two photos of our layout, and asked advice three
    Times , and I NEVER get any feedback . Am I addressing the inbox correctly or
    What? I purchased a speacil book, and I think it was $9.00 , it cam very quickly,
    No problem. But my photos have never been show ,and my questions have
    NEVER been answered,what is the problem? I get all Alstairs emails,but you don’t
    Seem to get mine ???

  77. Thanks for everything as it looks great.

  78. Allen Wortman says:

    I was trying to find the Youtube video but unsuccessful. Please provide directions or post link.
    Thank you,

  79. Hi Al. Thank you again for the reposting of some of my submissions. It’s nice to see my work revisited and knowing I had such a positive influence on other modelers.

    Arnie Steiner – Staten Island, NY

  80. Andrew Aves says:

    Awesome Arnie – Thank you for sharing. Many of the questions above may be answered by looking at Al’s Hall of Fame where Arnie deserves to be and his posts are there – Link from the menu at the top of Al’s blog – Andrew in Oz

  81. George Moffatt says:

    While looking at Arnie’s railroad, I thought “Where did I see this before?” Then I realized, “I’m building it!” Well, almost.

    I had planned to build a round-the-wall layout featuring both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Central Railroad of New Jersey in a 15-by-30-foot room until I lost it to relatives. Given my now-limited space, I’m building a 5-by-9 HO layout based on a John Armstrong N-scale 4-by-7 plan published many years ago.

    Since HO takes up four times the mass of N, my shoe-horned layout will look like a “bowl of spaghetti,” without the sweeping curves, scenery and open spaces of Arnie’s. But I will increase switching by have two yards, one for freight and one for passenger service, on the first level, with Armstrong’s interconnected three-level plan plopped right on top (I have a lot of bridge kits).

    Many other layouts have been based on Armstrong’s plan, but none have the flexibility of Armstrong’s — and Arnie’s. And by going up four levels (not an outrageous idea), I’ll have both Armstrong’s clever mainline right-of-ways for extended running and more than enough switching fun “in the basement.”

    Thanks, Arnie, for publicizing “our” plan. Armstrong would be amused. Alas, he died in 2004.

    George Moffatt

  82. Great layout arnie shows all your hard work

  83. Frank says:

    I like it when people talk about the old classic books written by Armstrong and articles by Lin Wescott. I became interested in Model Railroading while in high school and I have a copy of “HO Railroads That Grow” and the book on building the “Clinchfield Railroad” which for those who may not be familiar with it was an “N scale” layout built with the terrain being fabricated entirely out of foam and the build was a series of articles.
    I also have a track plan book by Armstrong and 2 of Robert Schlesinger’s hard cover books.

    When I first looked at “Ho Railroad That Grows” I thought it was a simple layout but just more professional or advanced than putting track on a sheet of plywood with all plastic buildings and trees. But as I read it and saw the end result then I began to see that it’s all about creating illusion and realism.
    As many here can also state, sometimes the most incredible looking railroads are small in size and yet the details, the realism, and the visual appeal is amazing. It all comes down to what you do, how much love you put into it and the final presentation.

    Frank in Orlando

  84. Ion Balauca says:

    EXCELENT !!!
    Well done!
    Congratulations for your skills but mainly for your patience.
    How much time did you need to finalize this masterpiece ?

  85. William Orton says:

    There’s a ton of detail. I really like your bridge. Outstanding layout. I guess it’s time to tear it down and start modifying it. Just kidding. Great work

  86. Chuck says:

    Annie, I have watched your layout videos and really love the detail. It looks so realistic. You have alot packed into a small space. So cool. Thanks as always for sharing.


  87. william janmes palmer says:

    nice layout looks good

  88. Frank C says:

    Please tell me what size Arnie’s layout is and whether it is N or HO scale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *