NYC O gauge buildings

Bob’s been in touch with his NYC O gauge buildings:


Here is my first contribution.

When we went to Savannah 2 years ago to visit my Father in Law; there was an advertisement in the hotel for an eatery “Barracuda Bobs”.

I took pictures of the advertisement and of course we had to go there to eat. It was right on the river. I picked up a shirt with the logo; but I was glad that I took the picture of the advertisement; because the sign was not on the building.

I decided that my town needed a restaurant more than a bootery, so off came the boot. I had trouble with the sign because to have it two sided the head would be 180 degrees out. Getting nowhere fast; I asked my son Eric about it. He said to send the file to him and he would take care of it. I got two pictures back a day later! The restaurant’s website has a picture of their bar which is beautiful. I copied it and printed it on “Modeler’s Inkjet Transparency” available from Evan Design.

Around sometime in 2010 we met our son Eric at a bookstore on Front St in Brooklyn. It’s almost directly under the Manhattan bridge (DUMBO). It’s Berl’s Poetry Book Store. It’s the only book store in NY that is totally poetry books. I expressed the thought that I would put the store on my layout. Berl had some post cards with a great picture of the sign. We moved in 2014 and the store never happened. I just recently got the urge again, but was running out of real estate. I decided to renovate Bob’s and put the book store on the second floor.

Using a Dremel tool I cut into the building wall and install a double door that I had removed from another project. If you’re like me your trash bin is pretty sparse. Then I salvaged pieces from a torn down pedestrian bridge and cut down the width of the staircase. I cut back the landing and only used 2 posts. Then I attached railings on the stairs and platform. A discarded piece of the platform was a good size for an awning over the door. I had previously created signs using the picture on the postcard and printed them on card stock.

I brushed on yellow glue and attached one to the wall. I used two more to create a double sided sign. I used a piece of poster board in the middle and used some scrap dowel to plug it into the front wall. I added lighting over the doorways and interior as well as hooded lamps to illuminate the signs. The diodes that I used over the doors and interior were a little bright. I don’t recall if I picked up the suggestion here or on another forum to use Tamiya x-26 clear orange to tone down the brightness and add a warm glow.

I topped off the project by adding the sandwich sign advertising poetry readings by my Son and Daughter in Law. My Wife’s comment was that no one will hear them with all the noise in the bar downstairs.


NYC O gauge buildings

NYC O gauge buildings

NYC O gauge buildings

A big thanks to Bob – his NYC O gauge buildings look fab – the lights really do set them off too.

NYC O gauge buildings

O gauge kit bash

Now on to Jim – who will remember from his absolutely stunning layout, that sadly, he had to dismantle.

Jim’s sent me this upate on his new layout. I’m crossing my fingers that it is the first of many:


Thanks for the opportunity to share my layout. I did not expect such royal treatment. I am overwhelmed by the comments. So I will try and answer some questions.

I too am 80 years young.

The time it took to do the basic layout was about 2 years. The remaining 7 years were used to make the various scenes, buildings etc.

The sky (wall) was a blue grey, although it did not show up in the pictures, like an overcast day. I did not want the back ground and sky to detract but rather enhance the various scenes.

The rock work was made with a wall plastering material we have in Canada. It is called Durabond 90. The number stands for the length of time in minutes it takes to set up. It is a material use to patch malls. It is much softer than hydrocal.

The one drawback is, you have to put a primer on before painting, otherwise, it is very easy to carve, paint and work with.

The trestle was scratch built from a Hunterline kit plans.

Now, here is a modeling tip.

Instead of one sheet of 2” foam, I use two sheets of 1” foam, glued together with foam adhesive.

model railroad foam

This allows me to go down in height and still have a flat base. You have to plan ahead a little as to where you want to cut out the first layer and not put too much adhesive between the two sheets of foam.

Here are a couple of examples of using two 1” sheets of foam with the cut outs. One you can see the cut out for the stream and the other the cut out for the turn table.

model railroad foam

model railroad polystyrene

Al, thanks again for your site and hard work.


A big thanks to Bob for sharing his NYC O gauge buildings, and to Jim too.

Love what Bob has done – I have no idea why, what really makes a layout for me is a theme, or a connection to a place.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to get going on your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

20 Responses to NYC O gauge buildings

  1. Michael childs says:

    Bob, Great buildings,signs and lighting.

  2. WOW,it looks real. i have areal big question for anyone to answer How do you keep the layouts clean – no dust or anything?? Thank You

  3. Ruben Simon says:

    Jim – glad to hear the sky really is as it should be. Thanks for letting us know.

  4. Bobs certainly brought the life in to his 0 Gauge , such great detail with the added shop signs ….and good luck with your new layout Jim …Dangerous Dave

  5. NJ Mark says:

    The inclusion into your layout of places you’ve seen and been to are great. I have plans to do the same. It just adds that fun, personal touch. Cheers! NJ Mark

  6. Bob barrett says:

    Bob great depiction of my home city Brooklyn! Who makes the street trolley in front of the building? I also have O gauge. Bob B

  7. Marklin Ed. NY says:

    Charles question has been on my mind also. How do you keep your layout dust free and clean? THANKS Jim and Bob for the great stuff. I have to find that book store next trip to NYC.

  8. Terry Miller says:

    NICE buildings, signs, etc on Bob’s layout but I have the feeling the city police are going to come along shortly and fine him for blocking the sidewalk with his Poetry Reading Tonight sign. haha

  9. Gene Trumble says:

    I am planning on revising or rather restarting 4 unsuccessful attempts at building a layout, all of which were open frame L girder framed with 1/2 ” plywood sub roadbed cut to accommodate the track plan. This worked well with mounting the Tortoise switch machines.

    In looking at many plans and pictures of ‘works in progress’ I know see the use of dense closed cell foam insulation of varying thicknesses, and can reason the use of that in ability to actually carve detail into the ‘ground’ if you choose to call it that.

    My mental hang-up is, how does one go about fastening the Tortoise machines to the underside of the foam board? Can anyone who has used foam board and the Tortoise machines please give me a hint on how to securely fasten the two together without using a permanent bonding agent in case future adjustments need to be made. All suggestions welcomed;

  10. I absolutely love the whimsey on the layout created by the poetry reading! Maybe he can play an appropriate recording when visitors show up.

  11. DJfromNJ says:

    Bob, Your Barracuda Bob’s sign shows world class inspiration.

  12. Rich B. says:

    Reminds me of Broad St. in Elizabeth, NJ back in the 50’s🧐

  13. I love the resturant building and the streetcars good job on the sign
    and remember age is only a number

  14. Timothy Morlok says:

    re: Gene T.’s Q; From Model Railroader Video+ : They show how to glue thin plywood squares on the bottom of the foam so that they can attach the Tortoise machines with screws.

  15. Bob Amling says:

    Thanks for all the comments; yes it’s more enjoyable when you personalize it.
    Bob, The trolley is a Williams, I think it’s pre Williams by Bachmann (WBB).
    Sadly it can’t negotiate the tight curves of EZ Streets, I placed it there just for the pictures.
    Terry, no worries on the police, they’re too busy giving tickets to the hot rodders elsewhere in town.

  16. chris keil says:

    Excellent detail!!! What is your source for vintage vehicles in O guage. Your trolley tracks are well done. Would love to know more about the layout,

  17. Brian Olson says:

    Very, very creative! A nice personal touch to your layout.

  18. robert dale tiemann says:

    very good work. nice terrain.

  19. W. "Dutch" says:

    Thank you for showing your O gauge buildings. I am preparing to make a 16 by 24 foot layout in three rail O gauge. This will be a representation of the NE corridor from NYC to Philly in NJ, where I grew up. I now live in the mountain west and memories of Pennsy GG-1’s and other eastern railroads will be depicted. I had a building/shed/train depot built in my backyard. I have spent eight years designing this layout’s track plan. Still have to do a lot of work on the small building before beginning the layout. Each year I have set up a Christmastime layout in our living room, .usually 5 by 10 feet. Anyway, my goal is to depict the era of late autumn 1956, the end of the steam era. So, it is early winter. I would love to get tips of building O gauge buildings and structures. for my year round display, using my computer to print out the buildings and structures. At this point I have over 300 ceramic buildings in storage for use on my display, but would like some more realistic easy to make buildings and tips. Thanks for posting your O gauge ideas here. I do enjoy all the displays here from all around the world. I also enjoy railroad history and how it did indeed change our world, and how it continues to evolves as the yeas go by. W.

  20. Tom Busler says:

    Beautiful layout. It looks like Sarah Jean might specialize in fairy tales.
    Tom in Mississippi

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