Large HO layouts

Bill’s been in touch. He’s added to the collection of large HO layouts on the blog:

“Hi Al,

I am a long time follower of your work and have used many of your tricks & tips in the book to help build my never-ending train project.

I love seeing all the different layouts you post from around the world.

My little space is in Rhode Island, USA.

Here is a sample for you to see. Happy Modeling!


large ho layouts

large ho layouts

large ho layouts

My word, Bill. All I can say is I think I speak for everyone when I say, “More pics please!”

There are some large HO layouts the blog, but my word, Bill’s looks quite a size.

(Lots of HO scale train layouts here.)

Next on to Carl who has sent this tip in.

“What do dandelions, apples and oranges have in common?

A toothbrush!

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

To make dandelions on your lawn, place a little yellow paint on a shallow dish. Dip a few bristles of your toothbrush into the paint. Now, run your finger gently along the bristles, and you will spray yellow paint in a random pattern of dandelions. Repeat this with white paint, and you have dandelions gone to seed.

I suggest you practice with water first to get the feel of the technique. Next, practice with paint on a hard surface to get your droplets the right size – thin the paint to get smaller droplets. You will probably find you need only a few bristles dipped gently in the paint.

If the paint is thin, it will give you smaller droplets. Thicker red paint splattered on a tree will give you apple size droplets. Now you can have an apple tree or an apple orchard.

Now add some wildflowers to your hillsides. Splatter a bit of mud on that truck on your dirt road. Where else can you use this technique? Hmm.

Keep on Training,

Carl in Kansas”

“Sending 5 pics of the cliffs always growing and evolving.


Bill G”

(Bill’s last post is here.)

model train rock cliff

model railroad cliff face

model railroad cliffs

model train cliffs

And finally, Dave has sent in the latest on his rebuild:

“Hi Al, just uploaded part 5 of my re build on the layout, a few tips and some trees I bought, made of plastic, but so real looking and very reasonably priced.

Still got to install more lights, and the bottom end of the layout to complete, Tonys still waiting for the all clear to open, also just added a short clip on the end of the Koi and garden.



A huge thanks to Will, Carl, Dave and to Bill for adding to the large HO layouts – quite a few on the site now. Really enjoyed today’s post.

That’s all for this time, folks. Please do keep ’em coming.

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.

38 Responses to Large HO layouts

  1. Alan Batcheldor says:

    WOW! is all I can say!

  2. NJ Mark says:

    Loved the detail in all of the postings. I am so glad that there are so, so many talented people who continue to inspire! Some day I hope to share, but I don’t think my stuff pales in comparison. Cheers! NJ Mark

  3. Hemi says:

    God you guys. all this layout work and such a GREAT view of it all….. I’m impressed!

    The splatter painting for flowers has always been a GOOD trick, and it seems to work very well! GREAT “How-To” on it as well!

    Keep it coming guys!!!!! ~Hemi

  4. Bob Cassidy says:

    That looks like one very busy layout! Great scenery!

  5. Leonard says:

    First let me say I enjoy all the pics and vids on this great site – especially the train cams!

    I wanted to reply to Carl in Kansas’ comment about detailing with a toothbrush. That technique is known as spatter painting and there’s lots-o-info if you google it. You might want to check out the Kemper Spatter Brush which is a clever and cheap way of doing it.

    Keep up the good work Alastair!


  6. Robert Brady says:

    Bills layout is extrordinary and Daves layout is Commerical free.
    Like to see Bill do an action video.

  7. john pistorino says:

    great and I liked the music It inspires me to get busy and rebuild my layout. But I am in a questionable problem. I have a lot of american flyer and a lot of G scale LGB and not enough room to use both. Even in the ceilings. I live in Miami and would like to see the layout in Tampa where I have grown children and grand children.

  8. Vincent says:

    Totally awsome, the best I seen. Keep the work going.

  9. William L Mock says:

    I Billy need more than pictures. I think a video would be best to capture it all. Awesome job on it too. Can’t wait until the day I can start mine

  10. Susan Cannon says:

    Bill, I have an 11-year-old nephew in Tampa (Brandon) who is CRAZY for model trains. I’ll be visiting again around Christmastime (I live in Houston). I think he would love seeing your setup in person. If we can arrange it, would you be open to showing your layout to two devoted train lovers?

    It looks like I’m not the only person who would enjoy a visit! I’m not sure how we could connect – could Al provide my email address to you?

  11. Roy Forbes says:

    What else can you say about this apart from fabulous. Well done.

  12. TJ says:

    Thank you Dave. Your camera work gets better with every post. The addition of music is a good thing. Please more 40’s music…

  13. Patrick Talley says:

    Bill; I agree, more pictures please. Maybe add a video & a track plan.. Absolutely awesome…

  14. All I can say is….WOW WOW AND MORE WOW….

  15. Fantastic stuff today (and always).
    Al, Since you mentioned the “Beginner’s Guide” (which I have purchased) and a survey while asking what you can do to improve the regular blog page here is my hapenny on the subject.
    I know that you are dependent on the submissions you get and that limits what you can present BUT….
    I like the format as it seems to be evolving where you have a hint or two in each post, an inspirational video (like Dave’s), A layout in progress, and a finished one. When there is a “how-to” that is also nice.
    It is the mix that makes the page.
    Seeing everything from the newest beginner to the polished professional is also great! This is especially true when both examples are on the same post.

    As to the gentleman who posted above with the American Flyer and the G-Scale… I would suggest putting the American Flyer at a “kid friendly height” table about 40 or 42 inches from the floor with a grade or two to something more “adult friendly”. The G-scale could be a loop around the eaves of the ceiling or else a kid friendly loop on the floor. Just a thought…
    In fact, with what you said about grandchildren, A loop of LGB on the floor with a couple of sidings and spurs might be a whale of a lot of fun for both you and the grandchildren. The American Flyer table at a middle height would be more for you to have fun watching the trains while the LGB on the floor would be for you to have fun watching the grandchildren having fun with the trains.

  16. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    Hey Bill!

    Did you have to wait for your wife to go out like I did before making a mess with the plaster?

    Just started on my engine shed section and it never ceases to amaze me how plaster gets everywhere (or at least it does when I am around!) At least I got 90% of it off the kitchen floor before she got home and I got the customary telling off…….

    Great work looking forward to seeing the final scenic result.


  17. Malcolm Hodgson says:


    Great video but just one concern……

    You seem to have a little problem……..

    One of the models on your layout is too large.

    You seem to have modelled a man in the middle of the layout 76 times larger than he should be!

    Nice braces by the way.

    Keep sending your updates.



  18. Allan J Jelinek says:

    Great Layout.

  19. Terry Miller says:

    For Carl: I was watching “Paint This” on PBS last night in which the painter did the scatter painting on an oil painting he was finishing. He used the techniques to create pebbles and snow on the picture. At the time I thought that would be interesting to try on a train layout–and today there you were with the idea! Glad to know that it works.

  20. Doug Tanzer says:

    Love the work here – oh to have such space

  21. Al. I never get tired of your tidbits and the great builds of all the people that have a great camera to take vids and good pics. of their work some day I will have to raid the wife’s bank account and buy a camera that will do some of my stuff up well enough to send in , be well and stay well every one !
    George E. Prinkey

  22. Ian McDonald says:

    great pictures and a good video thanks for sharing.

  23. John Cochran says:

    Is Rhode Island really a state? I thought it was just a national pun. Well, I researched it and discovered that it is just a pretty nice place. Hey, I’m pretty impressed with the layout the folks have built. It all looks natural and realistic. My dad was a railroad engineer for nearly 40 years (Santa Fe) and railroads are in my blood. If I was building an old work/engine/station house I would use small sticks also, but I would burn the outside a little with a torch. The burn look would make it look weathered. Then I would take a little creosote (the word here is “little”) and rub in inside the structure. It would look and smell authentic! John in Oklahoma

  24. Thank you all for your comments , think we all have to have a bit of fun with our layouts , after all this is a fun hobby , and something that can be enjoyed by all ..thanks again for your support , since Al posted this video the views have added another 3000+ …Dangerous Dave

  25. James Marek says:


    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a koi pond without any visible plant life. Looks quite sterile. Do you plan to add plant life for aesthetics?


  26. Mike Balog says:

    Hello Al and Fellow Model RR’ers:
    Liked Bill’s layout.. More Photos and possibly a Video would showcase this layout more. How about a track plan as well? The photos that follow, were they still of Bill’s Layout? The timber trestle, I observed the roadbed beneath one of the bents.. Suggestion for the space directly above the track to be “Boxed In” with more wood beams way above train height to stablize that bent.. Instead of a single piece of wood cross bracing. In real life, if that brace came off the trestle, it would fall right on the track and cause a derailment. Dangerous Dave Did it again.. Wish to know His Secret how to Light those buildings with those LED light strips.. they look like the LED light strips used for Christmas Lights? Oh by the Way.. his outside garden is Fantastic.. What is his Green Thumb Secret? He could make a HO/OO Scale garden on his layout too. Bet his Wife is Happy with that backyard garden.. he put a Lot of Time and Details to bring it where it is now.. Does he belong to a “Garden Club” over there? How about the Fish Pond,, is that heated for the Winter Months in England? Keep Up the good Work Dave… Cheers…
    ~ Mike In. N.H. [ Across the Pond…] ~ USA.

  27. John Hauser says:

    Bill and Dave’s work is a labor of love and the final result is spectacular. They inspire us all. I use those Amazon trees and they are reasonably prices and look very good. This hobby is addicting and brings out a creative side that is gratifying and beautiful to see. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Bill………what a beautiful layout…….love the color……love the red trees.

  29. Marklin ed says:

    I have nothing to say today it is just great reading all the comments

  30. Ted Rothstein says:

    beautiful layout, wow

  31. Jim AZ says:

    Bill, nicely done. You’ve modeled some great looking scenes on your layout. Would like to see more. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  32. Ken G says:

    I just the New England in the Fall scenes! Beautiful. My favorite time of the year. I only wished I lived in an area that got the fall weather and colors.

  33. What an awesome layout. Even if this isn’t your favorite layout. You have to admire his dedication to the hobby & the amount of resources & time it takes to design & build something with so much beauty.
    I hate to ask this, but does anyone know Cal from Oregon? He built a layout for the first time at 61 and I am trying to get a hold of him because I would like to use his layout design to build my first layout. I am trying to get a hold of him to ask questions abt his layout. I f you know him can you pass on the message. Thanks.
    I have seen some truly amazing builds here.

  34. Bill Luxford says:

    Greetings for New Mexico:
    It all looks great! We have to understand that what we see on the layout is a drastic compression of real life. Scenes are compressed Taking everything into consideration; the whole layout looks fine. The water under the tug and barge looks more like the Caribbean than an industrial waterway that it is does add color to the overall appearance of the layout which is great N scale is getting so much more products made available for it that in photos it almost appears to be HO. Thanks so for sharing. WRL

  35. To answer Mike , I show how to put lights (the LED Strip Lights ) in to houses in oner of my videos , but will show again , but its easy just get a 3 led strip and glue it in the back of the building , wire up to your 12v supply , as for the garden , I do cover the `Koi over with polycarbonate sheeting during the winter months , as for putting plants in , well Koi just dig them out within a short time , so unless like a lake where they grown from the soil at the bottom , it is not worth putting them in pots to be dug out ….there is no heat adde during the winter but they go in to semi hibernation , and noi not a member of any garden club , I just enjoy planting and enjoying the results each year …thanks all for the comments ..Dangerous Dave

  36. robert dale tiemann says:

    lots of really good work.

  37. Steve Boisvert says:

    Wonderful layout and very inspiring. I do have a question. I am starting my own layout at 4x8ft. I will be putting down a 1/2in Polyurethane foam to start. Is that a good foam layer to start?
    Thanks for your great pics! a lot of fun!

  38. gene servoss says:


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