l love model trains

Bill’s been in touch – he’s not quite saying, “I love model trains” but I think it’s near.

I do by the way. There are very few hobbies that get passed to the next generation, and there are even few that lay dormant for decades, and then resurface when we have a little more time on our hands.

Readers of the blog will know Bill’s journey is a familiar one.


I wanted to reach out and say how much I enjoy your site and all the great model railroads and tips that are shared on it.

I have always had a love of trains and it started with my grandfathers S gauge trains. When I was a preteen I built and nice layout and operated it for a number of years until just before graduating from high school.

I’ve attached some pictures of that HO gauge layout.

It’s from the mid 1970’s and the pictures were taken for a local newspaper story on it.

My next layout had to wait many years until the mid 1990’s and then I tried my hand at N gauge. That layout grew until a move necessitated it being torn down. I’ve attached some pictures of pictures of that layout. Sorry for some of the blur.

Here it is now another 20 years later and this winter I’ll start a 4×8 engine yard and switching layout. I love our hobby!

Thank you for your site where we all can share and enjoy each other’s pride and joys!

Best regards


vintage model railroad

vintage model train

I love model trains N scale

I love model trains N scale

I love model trains N scale

I love model trains N scale freight

A huge thanks to Bill for sharing.

So whether you can shout, “I love model trains” from the roof tops, or just mumble a mild approval, I find it quite comforting to know that a first layout is rarely the last layout.

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.

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

18 Responses to l love model trains

  1. Russell Wilson says:

    There are no last layouts, because when you get to heaven you can start again! Keep Rail Roading and remember Monon the Hoosiers line!

  2. Fred says:

    Nice memories!

  3. Mike Bushey says:

    As a first time model railroader who lives in a small city in Kentucky, USA, with no one around me whom I know of who does any train layouts, I have read with interest all the posts and comments on this site. I must tell you, it has been ever so helpful in my attempts at making a layout. I have a 4X8 in HO gauge, no particular style or type that is a continual work in progress, with a 4X4 new layout attached to one side of it that will be the town and repair center for loco’s. Having no background in railroads or this kind of hobby (used to fly gliders for a hobby, as well as sky dive and scuba dive), it has been quite a challenge, but a very enjoyable (and expensive) one! It’s amazing what stuff for hobbies costs these days, isn’t it?

    Anyway, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has sent in pics and advise! Oh, and feel free to publish my info in case anyone is in my area and wants to get in touch.

  4. John Roetman says:

    As a young follow like Bill, I had the room for an HO layout. Now that we downsized there is no room for a layout. But I love trains real and models. I like looking at the layouts and reading what people have done or are doing with model railroading. Keep up the good work and the memories.

  5. Dylan MacMillan says:

    You look very proud of your achievement in the early photos Bill, and so you should. That’s a fantastic model! Even in black and white, your attention to detail is clear to see, and to create something so outstanding at an early stage in life is remarkable. I take my hat off to you. It would be interesting to know whether you were able to make use of your creative talents in some way in a career of if model railroads have been your only outlet for your skills?
    Keep up the brilliant work and I’ll look forward to seeing photos of your new model when it comes to fruition.

  6. Erick says:

    look good

  7. John Brutcher says:

    Gee Bill, what ever happened to Gramp’s S scale trains ??

  8. dewaine says:

    you know most times you will find a smile on the face of a model railroader and also joy.

  9. Bernard Hallas says:

    To the guy who downsized an “has no room for a layout”.
    As a schoolboy in the UK I had a 00 scale layout and numerous locos & rolling stock. Then life got in the way.
    The reason I started, after downsizing and retiring, was that many years previously, as an adult, I had seen an article in a magazine about a narrow-gauge layout (HOn30 / 009 scale) in a coffee-table. simple, with an oval, passing loop and a couple of turn-outs and buildings and a wharf . That stayed in my head for 40 yrs.
    Having now time & inclination, I have “stolen” space in the office my wife & I share for a small narrow-gauge layout. See the Carendt book/site for small layout ideas. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
    Cheers, Never say NEVER.

  10. To the fine subscriber who wrote the following words… “As a young follow like Bill, I had the room for an HO layout. Now that we downsized there is no room for a layout. But I love trains real and models.”
    I have been a “Spaced Starved” model railroader for most of the past 25 years. Several of my layouts have been featured on this site and I model in both HO and On30 (O scale narrow gauge on HO track).
    Since 1985, the largest layout that I have built was 3 feet 6 inches by 5 feet 6 inches. Most of my layouts fold up and stand in the corner of a room when not in use (a small box holds the scenic details).
    When money started to get tight, Al got me started with his great little print-out structures… “Mad John” and his videos helped be get through my original blindness when it came to paper models… With the print-outs I have learned a great lesson — “Focus on opportunities and not limitations”.
    Maybe in his “Beginners Guide” (One of the greatest values on this site), Al might add a section on layout building for the space starved modeler.

  11. Bill althaus says:

    Hi all – this is Bill 😀

    Thanks for the wonderful comments and discussion. This is what makes model railroading fun as it’s a shared hobby.

    To the person that asked about my grandfathers S Guage trains. Sadly his layout came down like most others because of a move. I was very little yet and he gave a complete train set to two cousins. Over the years I have tried to buy them but with no success.

    To the person commenting on my creativity I thank you . Model railroading is bit one avenue of creativity. I woodwork,I landscape and use creativity in my work. I’ve been an instructor, a geologist and currently am working for an internet company. I will share pictures and commentary of my next layout as I get it started here in the coming weeks.

    For me personally I enjoy looking at large layouts but am very content building something small. We all enjoy different aspects of the hobby and I enjoy building and detailing. My N scale was only 30 inches wide by 12 feet for the two modules shown in the pictures. Somewhere are pictures of the completed modules and if I can find them I’ll send them in. My new layout will be two 4×8 sections that are portable and can be quickly set up in my garage until my wife wants to park her car back in that is…

    We all smile and share a common connection through our hobby. What a great way to connect!


  12. John Tipper says:

    It was nice to see some early photos of Bill’s layout. Always remember to take photos of your layouts; ALL attempts! I’m happy I did so as looking at the old photos reminds me that I really should make a start on another layout!

  13. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Hi Bill, nice start. It is always nice to have a hobby, no matter what it is. My father started his up in Gary Indiana down in there basement. He was the oldest of the three boys. My father past down to me a lot of his O Gauge trains and buildings. I am the youngest of three boys. I myself started in HO Gauge because I could fit more on a 4 x 8 plywood. I imagine you could fit more using N Gauge on a 4 x 8 piece of plywood. But I like O and HO Gauge so for me I have to figure out all the things I would like to have on an train table. I have a 10 x 10 room, so what I came to terms is what kind of table that wood work best for me. I came up with two types and still have room to do my other Hobby’s, first is a table that go’s around the room or second, use a table that is a 10 x 5. The 10 x 5 will give me more room to do both but, I like the table that go’s around the room. What I came up with is the tables will have to be modular tables, some thing I can break down very easy and set back up easy. The tables, in my drawings will be two x three’s or four x three’s I want it to be easy for me to move the tables just in case we move again and I know that will be the case. This is our fifth house that my wife and I have bought together and it will not be the last. Buy low and sale high, that is how we came to be in this house.that is why I have to make a table that is user friendly and that is all the ground and power that go’s with it to. So when I do make the table I have to have all my blue prints together. So now you know the dilemma I am up against. I do have a very bad back that I have had many hands inside my back. Al, there will be pictures and Blue prints from the get go. Thank you everyone for all the insights feedback and I hope that all my information will help someone out and about. Thank You, S.D.G from Saint Petersburg Florida.

  14. Greg Schaefer says:

    Bernard mentioned the Carendt website. I found it be accident once. I was searching for John Allens “timesaver” and ran across it. You should all visit that site. There are some truly ingenious ideas from their members. No “no space” excuses allowed.

  15. Cary E Price says:

    Bill, Love your story. I believe some of us have our brains wired for scale models. Of course model railroading is great because it’s the model that actually works. From the hand me down lionel set in my garage as a kid to a HO layout when I was in college to the garden RR I have in the woods behind my house now, I look back now and realize it’s in my DNA. Sounds like yours too! Thanks for sharing.

    Mike Bushey- I live in KY- maybe Al can hook us up!

    Cary in KY

  16. Susan Cannon says:

    I think this post just goes to show – the model railroading bug never leaves you once you’ve been bitten by it!! Great jobs, Bill, and thanks for sharing!!

  17. John Hauser says:

    Bill: One of the secrets of life is to be passionate about what you do. Model Railroading can be one of those passions that never really stops giving us the ability to express our creativity and enjoy ourselves. Thanks for sharing your photos and history with this great hobby. Keep going! John Hauser

  18. Richard says:

    Very good article. I don’t know if many of your subscribers know of this website, adafruit.com (adafruit industries). It is a great resource for electronic parts, tools, computers and test equipment. Located in New York. BTW Alistair, I visited your country last month. Stayed five days in London and had a wonderful time. Such a clean and proper city.

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