Model steam trains – Arnie’s update

Arnie’s been back in touch with his model steam trains video – and it’s another stunner:

“Hi Al,

It’s been a long while since my last contact and submission to you.

Despite my professional and family responsibilities, I have tried to keep up with your postings.

I continue to be impressed with the way the posting submissions have grown in number and diversity.

I am forwarding to you a short video I put together today, entitled, “BERKSHIRES – STEAM BY NIGHT.”

It features the recently released version of Bachmann’s N scale 2-8-4 Berkshire steam locomotive equipped with DCC and Sound.

It’s Bachmann’s first sound equipped N scale steam loco.

The number of sounds of these locos running on my layout are limited since I have a DC not DCC powered layout.

Full access to the spectrum of sounds can only be accessed in DCC mode.

Nonetheless, the automatic sound control when operating in DC mode is respectable.

As I have a DCC powered test track, I’ve run these model stream trains locos in DCC and recorded the accessible and user controlled sounds of the whistle and steam release hiss and added them to the automatic sounds of chuffing and bell at various points in the video.

For the viewers unfamiliar with the real Berkshire, here’s some info:

It was first made back in 1924.

Two surviving examples are still actively in use today in mainline excursions – the Nickel Plate Road (NKP) #765 and the Pere Marquette #1225.

The 1225 is the prototype that was used for the animated hit movie “The Polar Express.”

These locos ran in both passenger and freight service.

Depending on the railroad each loco was designed for, they ranged in length (loco + tender) from 100′ 8″ to 105′ 2″ with 2754 HP to 2979 HP.

I hope you’ll find the video interesting enough to post.



model steam trains night

model steam trains platform

model train night bridge

n scale freight

Model steam trains:

n scale trains freight

n scale trains platform

model steam trains night

Well, what can I say – except a huge thanks to Arnie for sharing his model steam trains video.

A stunning video and a wonderful narrative.

Please do post your comments below.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if Arnie has inspired you, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

model train answers

80 Responses to Model steam trains – Arnie’s update

  1. david howarth says:

    Very good showing of night time running Arnie …the sounds come through very good ..Dave

  2. christine says:

    Very nice, a little too dark, but very nice set up. When it comes to night, it’s best not to go too dark.

  3. john popp says:

    Its a terrific ,Arnie The sight and sound are just fantastic, Sounds so real .You sure are talented. .. Thanks for sharing.,John

  4. Dave Bower says:

    Brilliant video, very realistic sounds & views. I do like the US Loco’s & rolling stock. Enjoyed it very much thanks for sharing it, it’s a credit to you Arnie. Dave.

  5. George erdel says:

    Absolutely beautiful!

  6. Frank Cortese says:

    Arnie has answered my biggest concern; can sound be run on DC? Thank you! Great layout and great video. Keep on contributing! Frank from Micķey Mouse World.

  7. Ian Mc Donald says:

    i just thought that video is amazing the sounds and bells just right. having just the one carriage and lite up looked so great. it is amazing how a layout at night on camera looks so different. keep it up.

  8. dionisis says:

    a terrific video very good work!!!

  9. Ray says:

    Wow! What a great video. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Austin Wilson says:

    That was awesome to watch. Beautiful layout. I can only dream that someday my layout will look that good. Well done.

  11. Peter Sirrah says:

    Just brilliant

  12. Henry Vroom says:

    Arnie certainly captured the romance of the steam era. Great video! Amazing layout! What is the name of the instrumental that played at the closing?

  13. Jack says:

    Very realistic!! And this is in N scale. I was really struck by the realism of the scene from about 1:45-2:10. The rock outcrops and the stream were very real! It must have taken some care and effort to make things look so natural. I also liked the backdrop of the row houses on the hill. It reminds me of many towns in eastern Pennsylvania (Easton, Bethlehem, Pottsville, Minersville) from the steam era.

  14. Dave Whatley says:

    That was realy great, I wish it would have been a little more light in it. It was hard to believe that was in N scale DCC, the sounds were real great also. GOOD JOB !!

  15. Paul Vogel says:

    Wow what a wonderful layout. I thought his scenery was great. Really nice work !!!! Paul

  16. Kevin says:

    What a beautiful layout and video….thank you for sharing this with us. I am a long time model railroader who recently moved into a city high rise and had to give up his 3,000 sq ft basement with his extensive layout. I have built many a layout from “0” gauge to “HO” gauge and enjoyed many hours with my children and grand children. An extensive albeit portable layout makes for some crazy family gatherings at Christmas in our living and dinning areas of our condo.
    In fact I have a small storage unit rented still filled with boxes of stock, scenery, buildings and engines ready for someone in my family to take it.
    Do you have any plans that you could share with us of the layout….it is just wonderful and maybe……just maybe I could free up a bedroom or find some off space to explore a “N” scale layout.
    Thank you for sharing and making my day.


  17. Len says:

    Fantastic video – great layout and an excellent trip during the night – thank you for sharing your tremendous talent

  18. Robert Bouskill says:


  19. Mike DeMuyt says:

    Truly outstanding! I have never seen anything so realistic. Arnie,you are an absolute artist. Thanks so much for sharing. I also loved your closing music.
    I would also like to thank you Alistair for your dedication, time, and effort in sharing this site with all of us.
    Mike DeMuyt

  20. Wow, what a brilliant video. Excellent scenery and buildings along with realistic train movements. Well done!!
    Norman in UK.

  21. Rick says:

    SPLENDID, inspiring and most impressive!

  22. Ernie Webb says:

    Outstanding! Best work I have seen yet. N Scale though? My hands just don’t work that well on the small equipment anymore. In fact I recently moved up to “O” gauge for that reason. Maybe I will send some posts of my new and still primitive layout, in addition to offering about 200 pieces of rare HO gauge engines, diesels, buildings, sets, etc, I hope I can get those great sounds especially with my limited technical skills. Would like to see more of this layout

  23. Rick says:


    As an N scaler myself, I found the video wonderful. The sounds and engines looked great. But the best part of the video was your scenery and layout. Simply stunning and very realistic. I would be interested if you have any other videos or information on your layout available online.

    Great job!
    member of KV&EC Model Railroad club, Huntley IL.

  24. charles love says:

    That was great great great thanks

  25. charles love says:

    great, great, great,

  26. Arnie:

    Job well done as you have shown what you wanted for all to see. Your layout is great-depicting a beautiful backdrop and many splendid items along the traveled way. Thx for sharing and I know if you wanted to go DCC you could have easily as what you have shown us where there is a will-there is also a way. Take care and keep sharing.

    Harold Jr GPTx of USA

  27. Bob Lowes says:

    Beautiful! I was waiting until my local Hobby Shop got the Bachmann Engine in as I was worried the first of their tries at a N Scale Engine w/sound would be a flop, but your video proved otherwise. The care and detail you put into your layout is way above my level of expertise. and shows in your video. All I can add is: Well done”!

  28. wow great work Arnie
    both the layout, the trains, the audio dub/over, and the video process!!
    look fwd to more from you more often
    keep ’em runnin guys

  29. Mark J says:

    A master at work. Thanks for sharing, although you’ve made me more than a bit jealous. Just no way I could do that in N gauge.

  30. John Worobel says:

    Being a Pennsylvania born and native ,even though I,ve never been to the places mentioned in your video, if it has to do with Pennsylvania , It has my attention, great job with the detail, I really enjoy the stream and bridge scenes, (I could never get enough small mouth bass fishing), again awesome job

  31. JACK WINDT says:

    great job…….would like to see it in the “daylight”

  32. Edward says:

    Very nice….love the viaduct!!!!

  33. THOMAS says:


  34. Barry . Devon UK says:

    Arnie, an extremely nice layout with believable scenery. Your night time lighting was just brilliant. Top marks.

  35. Ron says:

    Excellent Has brought back a little faith in Bachmann. I’m interested.

  36. ENTHRALLING! GREAT JOB!! Thanks much for the viewing!!

  37. monty says:

    Hi Arnie, are there any Trout in your streams I got carried away for a bit thinking that the Trout in that stream will take a fly. the water looks so real great part of to your layout to look at, love to see a video of it all in daylight.

    thanks Monty
    Perth Australia

  38. Tim Crump says:

    Amazing work!!!
    Looking at the people in the train station, I remembered the old electric football games where the players were moved by some sort of vibrating mechanism….I wonder if that could be adapted for a train station, so the figures would move around……

  39. Ron D Harris says:

    Good modeling, good production and presentation. One of the better ones.

  40. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Outstanding,you can actually hear the Doppler effect,first class layout also.

  41. Ken Gokdenberg says:

    Looks like a layout Disney would do!

  42. Mike says:

    Thank you, for sharing , your pieces of history, so excellent ly. Re-created. Will watch & take notes many times. Congrats on excellent work.


  43. Rod Mackay says:

    Gosh, you don’t see anything quite like that in Berkshire!

  44. Hank Vonk says:

    I dig all layouts and Arnies is one of the best. Great detail and so damn big! Love that night time effect. And yes. It’s amazing that it is in n scale. Your an inspiration to us struggling to get things just so.

  45. christine says:

    When it comes to video, night can be done with a dark blue filter, a Hollywood trick. That way you don’t have to turn off all of the house lights. Christine.


    wow pretty kooool layout Arnie
    and Alastair the new ‘blog’ site is priceless
    keep ’em runnin’ fellas

  47. Steve Roberts says:

    Sounds great, looks great. – excellent layout and video – well done
    Steve R UK

  48. Allyn W says:

    Really enjoyed watching your nite-time running of the steam era trains.
    I’m not an expert but was very surprised at the realism.

  49. Jim says:

    Nice presentation. Great sound effects. And really appreciate the stills at the end. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  50. Jim McQuillen says:

    Enjoyed the “moonlight” effect. Well worth the view!

  51. Mike Murphy says:

    What a wonderful layout. I absolutely love it. Great job!!!!!!

  52. John Schmehl says:

    Very nice great work!

  53. louie says:

    WOW !

  54. louie says:

    Very impressive.

  55. Curtis Barrow says:

    If there had been a little smoke I would to have had to look twice to make sure it was a model railroad! Really nice! I loved the moonlight by the river meet. {!-{>

  56. Allen Wortman says:


    Great layout and video. Can you post your layout plan? By any chance is it the same as an Atlas plan with the same name but in HO scale from many years ago?

  57. Amaizing. Gives me a reason to work harder on my scenery. Just wonderful. Thanks.

  58. Rich says:

    Arnie I am blown away by the fantastic detail in your N gauge layout. The row homes on the hill was definitely a reminder of my roots in Reading, PA. I am about to begin my first layout that will be permanent. Grew up with a Christmas yard where the full size tree was in the middle of the trains. I enjoyed turning off all the lights late at night and just sat and watched as the train circled the track. Again, great, well detailed train set up.

  59. Ed Mahon says:

    Terrific layout. I expected the people to move…I thought it was all real.

    Reminded me of Ridgway, PA.

    Congrats on an outstanding layout.

  60. DJfromNJ says:

    Very well done, with attention to detail. Congrats on a superb layout. Enjoy your handiwork, Arnie!

  61. Larry Paxton says:

    One of the finest n scale layouts I’ve ever seen! At 72 years of age I pretty much stick to O gauge Lionel and Marx but have toyed with the idea of building a small Inglenook puzzle/layout in n or ho. This is truly inspiring. Thank you

  62. Thomas Flemming says:

    Very inspirational, bravo.

  63. Like many others WOW ! Great setup. Enjoyed it very much.

  64. Will in NM says:

    Arnie, That was a great and very professional looking video. Dangerous Dave should be jealous. 🙂 It’s amazing that Bachmann and others are starting to put sound decoders into N scale steam locos. To my ears, the chuffing sound was a bit flat sounding, but I’ve been spoiled by hearing my HO Broadway Limited Big Boy and Challenger working with the Rolling Thunder bass booster. Sometimes it’s almost too realistic and my wife has to cover her ears.:-(

    Your layout and the incredible amount of detail in it are always a delight to see.
    Thanks for sharing.

  65. Ruben Simon says:

    My eyes are very sensitive to light and I found the lighting seemed a little bright for nighttime. Since I know it’s probably just me, and what would be the point of running model trains in the true dark of night, I wouldn’t think to comment on it. I wonder if it’s Christine’s eyes that require more light. That can be accomplished by turning up the brightness on the computer. 😉 I loved it just the way it is.

  66. John McKeon says:

    Thank you Arnie,
    Truly a “Standard” to aspire to!!
    How you find the time to do all this is beyond my imaginings! Beautiful

  67. mike tate says:

    Very nice layout, it is really smooth in DC mode. You have nice touches, like your water it looks real. KUDOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  68. Roger says:

    It’s apparent from the excellent “ critical “ reviews, that you have not only achieved the satisfaction of a job well done, but also the pleasure of knowing that you have brought much joy to your peers.
    The layout is esthetically and functionally remarkable, and in DC N no less. Thank you for sharing this.
    A layout design would be interesting
    Keep on truckin’

  69. Nancy from Sequim says:

    Thank you, Arnie, for sharing your hours of fun on your layout. You transported me back to the early fifties when my family and I loved watching the trains climb the Continental Divide above Butte, MT, making its way north to Helena. MAGNIFICENT!!

  70. Matthew D Johnson says:

    You have built an inspiring layout in N scale. It is clear you made use of the space, but you detail is astounding! Enjoy!

  71. Matthew D Johnson says:

    BTW. I went to school in Central Pennsylvania right next to the Susquehanna River. Brought back fond memories.

  72. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice. this was a good showing of night training, thanks.

  73. Norman Greenberg says:

    One of the best I ever witnessed!

  74. Don says:

    I love passenger trains & trains with auto haulers on them but there are no auto haulers here, the whole setup is awesome

  75. Delmar Servoss says:

    very nice love it i been there

  76. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice sound work. well done.

  77. Steven Porcelius says:

    Very realistic and great sounds especially at the end with crickets and frogs
    Also I am a firm believer of running trains at the appropriate speed to the scale and YOU NAILED IT!
    Thank you for a great layout and video

  78. Matt says:

    You did a great job! Everything looks good. The details make it special. N is the way to go, because you can fit so much in a finite space. I recently switched from N to HO and I’m regretting my decision. I wish that I could go back, but I spent so much on the HO equipment.

  79. Fred (skull ) Anderson Melbourne Australia says:

    Layout by night looks very realistic,and with the trains running with sounds looks very real. Loved watching them

  80. Bob Muhme says:

    Fantastic work on your layout! Just spectacular!
    BTW, the 1225 that’s still running, runs from Owosso, Michigan north during the summer on certain days!
    Bob the N scaler in Michigan

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