Barry’s railroad story…


Here’s my story about the basement train layout – Barry Palmer  (age 62).

This layout is in HO scale.  I purchased these trains and supplies almost (20) years ago.  I had just started building a layout back then but then went through a divorce and since then have never had enough room to build another layout.

My Grandson Porter is almost (6) years old and is absolutely fascinated with trains.  I asked him a year ago if he would like my train and help me build a layout in his parents’ basement for his Xmas and birthday present and he didn’t even hesitate with his answer.

My daughter Nikki (Porter’s mother) has also taken an interest in the building of this layout which we started in mid January and just completed it last week.

I mentioned before that they live 1-1/2 hours from me so I would travel to their house and stay 2-3 days maybe twice a month to work on it.

The total hours spent on it were approximately (140).  I’m retired but have both a (30) year engineering and an (11) year General contractor (construction) background so I am quite detail oriented and have all the required to do this kind of project.

I designed the entire layout and track plan based on the buildings that I had from my collection over the years.  I made the trackplan basically an upper and a lower loop with a couple of sidings and spurs with mechanical turnouts and analog controls to keep it simple as he’s only almost (6) and mainly enjoys the trains travelling around their respective loops. I put an MRC sound system on it so he can make the appropriate sounds to add realism.

The layout is designed with the ability to add at right angle to the farm end another 4 x 8 portion that would include a double helix to get from one level to the other.  The outside will have stained door casing at the top edge and black or gray curtains to the floor to hide the under part and make it look like a piece of furniture.  The street light are functional but we haven’t installed the interior building lights yet.

Many of the items are scratch/scrap built.  The gas station canopy and gas pumps I created from all scraps.

The asphalt road and sidewalks are made from residential roofing products with the sidewalks painted gray and the road lines are yellow and white tape cut down to strips approximately .040 wide.

The signage my daughter made on the computer.

The chainlink fencing is created from window/door screen cut on the diagonal and I use air gun nails from my construction tools for the posts.

Most of the trees are made from real tree branches with Woodland Scenics’ clump foliage applied.

Most of the mountains and there’s a lot of them are made with cheese cloth from a crafts store and boxes of Plaster of Paris to keep the budget down in-lieu-of plaster cloth.

Once again, I thank you for all your interest and publishing our various stages of development.  My Grandson, when he gets older will have theknowledge that his train layout was published and seen by modelers all over the globe.



See the finished version here.

And don’t forget to leave a comment!

Or perhaps you’re sitting there scratching head, “Thinking, how do I start a layout like that?”

Well, course I’m biased, but this will sort you out, step by step.





8 Responses to Barry’s railroad story…

  1. Tony Dodd says:

    Nice one Barry. HO does look more natural than OO but I live in the UK so I have to make do. My grandson is coming up to 5 and also lives around 80 minutes from me so we are about to embark on a similar project – though I expect to take a bit longer and will include a summer loop into their garden for when the weather is good. He has a younger brother so the whole will get some decent mileage.

  2. roger brown says:

    Barry i must say that the layout that you have made has made me want to do more on my layout.I have 4 grandson’s that i am going to build this for and i also have 2 granddaughter’s that love to run the trains so i am looking to do something like what you have done .I would be real interested to see your track plan on this layout so that i could get some ideal as to what i would like to do.

  3. Barry Clay says:

    Barry this is a lovely story that you have written on your project,it is evident from the pictures the joy that this layout has given in its creation,personally I love to see these pictures of a layout in the raw state with all of the basic structure in place and the scenery in preparation,I also note the all important spirit level to make sure everything is set up correctly.
    Getting the children involved is also a great idea,top marks for a super workmanlike layout.

  4. frank says:

    hi,your lay out is looking great.frNK

  5. Larry Gibson says:

    I too am a grandfatherjust getting back into modeling. I bought my ho stuff in 1966 and it has been stored since. You are an inspiration to me. I hope to be moving withing 3 blocks of my grandchildren just as soon as we can get this house sold. I have two grandsons 12 and 3 and really hope i can get them both involved with the greatest hobby. I would love to see your track plans, even a rough sketch. You have several features I would love to incorporate. Keep up the good work.

  6. Ralph Berry says:

    What marvelous progress shots Barry.
    I am just coming up to the scenery on my layout so I will be checking out the recycling bin to see what will make hills and mountains.

  7. Richard Schrieber says:

    Berry: This Rail Road you built with the help of your Grand Kids, is a very commendable thing you have done. It’s your legacy to them. Where its a far better thing you do to build this as a Labor of Love, its a thing that is a live gift, that will go on before you, and its forever in their memories. Congratulations; on a job well done!!

  8. keith says:

    Hi Barry Its nice to see a face to a name. Your carpentry looks very good , its a shame it has to be covererd up. I was wondering do you have trouble with the track at the start of the curve; I noticed that there is a sharpness to the right at the end of the straight? Do you get any derailments at that point ? I have the same situation on my layout and some of my stock will not negotiate that section of track , so i was just being curious. I live in Canada but I am a Brit so I model British in oo and when my 7 year old teaches me how to put pictures on the computer I can show you my layout . Like you I used real wood for my trees and then discovered, that when you have finished with a bunch of grapes you have a tree . Just decorate it the same way as you would with the wooden armature. I find if you coat the tree (before decorating) with paint or stain they will not go brittle. Your layout gave me a lot of ideas so I tore mine apart and started again . Keep up the good work Barry, your a wealth of inspiration. Keith.

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