National Park model railroad

Gary’s been back in touch with his his ‘National park’ model railroad theme.

He’s been busy adding more personal touches:


As always, thanks for all that you do. You have published two of my submittals and here is an update on a few new “features”.

As you may recall, my layout is based on a “National Park” theme and now there are some new stories to go with my Mount Thornton National Railway Park.

model train track curve

The first is the naming of the tunnel on Mt Thornton. Last fall my son-in-law volunteered himself and his brother Tim to rebuild the deck off my back porch.

In appreciation we held a dedication ceremony, had Tim cut the ribbon and unveil the sign for Tim’s Tunnel. He was very surprised and appreciative of the recognition.

national park model train wooden train tunnel

Then my nephew came to visit along with his 10 year old son, Carson, who immediately fell in love with model railroading.

He so loved running the trains, that given the option the next day to do whatever he wanted to do while in town, he chose to do more railroading and he spent hours running the units all over the layout. It seemed only fitting the Carson’s Creek became part of the local lore.

model train national park

Then I pulled off the ultimate tribute. My wife of 60 years (the one that let me build my layout in the garage and install the hoist that lifts it to the ceiling), already had her “Sharon’s Summit”.

However four years ago, before I started the layout, she required surgery which was quite successful and her oncologist/surgeon was extremely personable and supportive. One year ago, for her check-up visit, I shared some photos of Mount Thornton National Railway Park and now he makes it a point to ask what’s new.

This year, unbeknownst to my wife, I created Gubbi’s Grove and shared the pictures with my wife and the doctor of the new area named for him.

national park model railroad diesel locomotive

He was really surprised and honored to become part of the lore of the “park”. I created a small (3” x 5”) replica of Gubbi’s Grove, complete with trees, shrubs, gravel and ground cover, so that he had more than a photo as a reminder of what he has meant to my wife and the rest of the family.

These are things that I never anticipated when I started my model railroading journey, but they have become a highlight of my experience because people seem to be so honored to be recognized in such a unique way.

I guess it is just more proof of the multiple joys that can be derived from model railroading.


Now on to Jack:

“Hi Al,

I guess we all have setbacks with our layouts. I’ve had two in the past week.

I had set up my lake using Woodland Scenics Realistic Water. I had a dock, canoes and a car backing in to unload a boat. A reader of one of my emails said he had trouble with bubbles using Realistic Water. I started having the same problem. The bubbles ruined the scene.

I researched Realistic Water and found that off gassing from the foam insulation causes the bubbles. Woodland Scenics recommends lining the water with plaster cloth, completely sealing the foam. So, I ripped out the lake and lined it with plaster cloth. Back to square one.

The other issue was a water leak on the first floor, that dripped down on the layout in the basement. By the time I found the damage, much of the grass in my residential area was ruined. So, using a dropper and warm water I loosened the grass in small sections at a time and scraped it off.

I’ve got the grass redone and am currently setting the area back up. I’ve got some kids flying kites and others on the playground. The pool party is in progress. A family is fishing at the fishing hole (which also has bubbles, but it’s at the back of the layout so I’ll address it later).

Hopefully now I can get on to making some progress.

Jack In PA”

A big thanks to Jeff and Gary.

I do like the way Jeff has added personal touches to his layout – the make a layout much more interesting.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout just like Jeff and Gary did, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Remember, it’s the start that stops most people.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Model railroads for small spaces

Jeff’s been in touch proving that there are always model railroads for small spaces:

“Hi my name is Jeff and I built a custom fold up on rollers HO layout.

Its 5′ x 10′ on rollers and it rotates like a rotisserie to save space.

When it is folded up it takes up only 2′ so if you have it in a garage you can fold it up and roll it against the wall and still get a car in.

I have photos from start to finish and I hope you like them.


model railroads for small spaces

model railroad track plan

model railroad paper mache mountains

model train paper mache mountains

model railroad adding scenery

model railroads for small spaces revolving table

model railroads for small spaces revolving table

A huge big thanks to Jeff – it’s another fine example of not letting lack of space get in the way of enjoying yourself.

It’s all about making that start, even if it’s on a revolving table…

And when it comes to making a start, John has this sound advice as you’ll read below.

I wondered how his amazing minimum gauge layout was going.

Here’s a youtube of it that will jog your memory:

minimum gauge garden railway

Anyhow here’s John’s reply to my mail with some very sage advice on getting started:

“Hi Al!

The thing I enjoyed most in a recent post was the comment about “Paralysis by analysis”.

Many of us have heard the expression “Get ready, Get set, GO!”. While investing in planning is good and wise, the problem is that we can spend so much time getting ready that we may never get set.

If we do not get set, “GO” definitely will not happen.

To get things done sometimes we need to just get a general idea of where we are and what we want and then GO — without waiting to be ready or set. Most of my modeling projects begin with me having an idea of what I want, checking my resources, and then making things happen.

How does GO, ready, set really work in practice?

It all begins with dreams and making a lot of mitsakes. (Yes I intentionally misspelled the word.)

When I was around 12 I dreamed of building a ride on railroad in my backyard. I did get 20 feet of track down and I had a locomotive but that was as far as the railroad got.

When I got married in 1985 I saw an area of Nevada that I wanted to retire to. I also dreamed of living without any debts. Those were dreams that I never let die.

Fast forward to 2020. That was a very bad year and a very sad year. As bad and sad as it was, in August of 2020 I was able to purchase the place I live in now. I was almost debt free but had a tight budget (and it has been uncomfortably tight at times).

I also began the railroad in my yard that I had first dreamed of in 1971. Mitsakes have been made (one reason that I am almost debt free). My 7.5 inch gauge railroad has nearly 2000 feet of operational track on the ground.

That is the BIG Scale view.

On a smaller scale the process has worked like this.

I have been in model railroading for a very solid six decades now. While my earliest trains could hardly be called models, the dreams began then when I had Brio style trains and no real ideas of what dreams and limitations were. (Can you remember much about what you were doing at 2 years old?)

“Scale model railroading” began when I was about 5 years old and we had Marklin trains, I also had Kusan O gauge at that time.

By 1969 I was involved with both N scale and two rail American H0. I also purchased my first brass locomotive that year by saving pennies, nickels, and dimes — It took me a year to save up the $45 that I needed for both the locomotive and the tax.

It all begins with a dream and a strong desire.

At nearly 64 years of age I can honestly say that the longest time that I have spent without either having an operating layout or a layout under construction has been about 3 months (and that may be stretching it). Most of my layouts have been H0 scale and small, less that 12 square feet total area. Many fit on the return leg of my desk.

One reason my layouts have been as small as they have been is a result of restricted living space. At my parent’s house I had my bedroom 10×12 feet. It had to have all the normal things like my bed, dresser, and desk. I had big dreams but a small living space.

After I got married in 1985 we lived in small apartments from 1985 to 2010 when I purchased a mobile home. That mobile home did not have any real space for a layout but that lack of space just meant that I continued with my small layouts.

While I have room on the property for a dedicated layout building now, I still keep building small and portable layouts — they are fun to build and require little in the way of time and resources.

If I do end up with a dedicated layout shed it will probably be small itself.

To repeat myself..

“Ready, Set, Go” is a recipe for “paralysis by analysis” and “being stuck”. It is a recipe for wishing and never really having.

The philosophic spin is “Have, do, be”. The idea that one cannot do what they want until they have what they think they need.

“Go, set, ready” sounds odd. It is “Be, Do, Hove”.

There are many examples of individuals whose dreams were bigger than their resources or skills.

When the dream is big enough — even if all the space for a layout is the top of the dresser in your bedroom — you will make things happen, you will get started, you will have a layout and you will have fun!

All the best,
Nevada, USA”

A huge big thanks to John for these words. I couldn’t agree more with him.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one – please do leave a comment below!

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you take the first step to getting started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

OO scale model railway

Rob’s been back in touch with an update on his OO scale model railway:

As well as a fab youtube update, he’s taken the time to talk us through his train journey and shared pics too:

“Farland is a OO scale 1:76.2 model railway. It is my impression of Britain. It is not historically accurate.

When I started it, I intended to keep to a narrow time frame of 1965-1968, but the time frame has leaked to pre-1950s and post-1990s. I add anything that piques my interest.

I started modeling in OO in 2012 after buying what was described to me as a locomotive with sound. Sound? Yes, the London store clerk explained, it has sound when it runs. That started me on this journey I have been on ever since.

I had some Lionel O gauge trains as a youngster and a wind-up, clockwork-type train given to me when I was about 6. I still have it, though the 3 rail O gauge stuff is long gone. I guess I should also explain that as a child, I lived in London, England, for a time when I was a kid, once again that 6-year-old period.

The current Farland is actually the second version of it. The first version was built in our unfinished basement at the time. I made every mistake possible with this first layout.

There was no plan at all in the beginning. I bought a sheet of 4-foot by 8-foot plywood and put legs under it, then set up my sound locomotive to run on it. It wasn’t long until I added 2 more feet along one side and then one foot along the end. Within 6 months, the layout was “U” shaped and 22 feet by 13 feet.

Around then, my loving and understanding wife decided she had had enough of seeing out the junk that we stored in our basement in the YouTube videos I started making. She suggested we finish off at least the part of the basement that the layout was occupying.

I agreed and came up with an overall plan for a completely finished basement. We didn’t feel we could afford to do the whole thing so scaled down to the hall leading from the bottom of the stairs to the would-be train room.

I then worked on a track plan that would maximize the running track and include some of the elements I wanted on my model railway. One and most important was I did not want a duck under or bridge. I wanted to be able to walk into the layout unencumbered. All Farland plans achieved this.

By the way, for those of you that are unfamiliar with the OO scale or gauge, it uses the same HO track with a 16.5 mm gauge as HO uses. The track for all purposes is HO track.

Here are three track plans. The first is about the third iteration of the first unfinished basement layout.

L shaped track plan OO scale model railway

Next is the final plan of the first Farland in the unfinished basement.

OO scale track plan

Last is the as-built version of the current Farland in the now-finished train room.

The room is 23 feet x 22 feet with a bump out in one corner and an inset at the opposite corner.


OO scale track plan model railway

model train tree

model train quay

model train farm

model train station OO scale model railway

model train tug boat

OO scale overhead view

model train freight

model train crane freight

A huge big thanks to Hall of Fame member Rob for sharing his OO scale model railway.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you make a start just like Rob did, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.