Lionel prewar layout

Bob’s been in touch with his Lionel prewar layout:

“Greetings, Al.

This is my first opportunity to reach out to you and your readers, although I have been reading and learning from your posts for almost a year.

I am resurrecting, and building on, family Lionel O Gauge trains, some of which date back to WWII.

This is my first permanent “adult” layout, encouraged by my recent retirement and the birth of my first grandchild.

I spent the first part of the winter months building the platforms 8’x12′ x 36″ high with a void area in the middle for access. I threw out all my old tubular track, which was badly pitted, and went with the Lionel FasTrack.​

Then the fun began. I had the Pennsylvania Railroad 2020 steam turbine locomotive refurbished. It was my uncle’s, dating back to WWII. I contacted the PRR Historical Society to get some background on the real-life engine. They were terrific, and sent me magazines, etc.

As it turns out, that engine wasn’t very successful (compared to the first diesels coming into service), so they only made one and it hauled passengers, not freight. So, of course, I needed to buy some Broadway Limited cars for a bit of historical accuracy.

My grandparents bought the Santa Fe Silver Chief set for me when I was about 10 yrs. old (1955 or so). I always had trouble keeping those 15 in. cars on track, so I put them on the outer loop with 84 in. curves and a modest grade and trestle bridge.

Historical fact: In the ’50s, the Broadway Limited would take you NY to Chicago, and the Silver Chief would take you Chicago to LA — a full U.S. cross-country representation here.

To build out a Pennsy theme, I decided to get a current CSX loco to pull some coal and oil. The Seaboard switcher on the inside freight spur has a few random operating cars, just for fun.

My wife is much more “craftsy” than I, so she is helping with the buildings, scenery and landscaping. I am keeping a few web sites in business building out town and country settings. I will stay in touch as I make progress.

Thanks to you and your contributors for sharing very valuable expertise and experience.


lionel prewar layout

lionel prewar layout

There are quite a few prewar layouts on the blog now, but when it comes Lionel trains, I’m always reminded of Ed’s post:

Vintage lionel train layouts.

And of course there is Hugh’s too:

Pre war lionel o gauge train engines

Now on to Rowan:


I have been working on a couple of layouts this past year a HO scale down stairs and an O scale up stairs. Both are a work in progress and I have taken many ideas from your blog.

I restarted my enthusiasm in railroading after my father passed – he worked and retired from the Kansas City Southern Railroad for over 40 years. Many thanks to you. PS my wife did give permission to use the dining room, she loves trains, too.


model train layout

model train

model train track layout

model railroad track plan

“Hi Al, A few photos of night operations on the Cascade Creek Railroad in HOn3.

Logging operations continue into the night on the Cascade Creek railroad.

1 – A train bringing logs to the yard for sorting and then onto the sawmill.

2 – Heavy work at camp 4 to get the logs loaded.

3 – Guys are busy in the yard at the town of Cascade Creek sorting incoming cars.

4 – Number 20 on its way to be turned on the turntable, refueled and ready for the next mornings run to Camp 4. The yardmaster is welding a repair job in the engine house, ready for the next mornings early start.

All lighting is from the locomotives headlights. Main lighting in the room is only a blue light for night time operations.

This is what the hobby is all about – having FUN.

Hope you enjoy.

All the best


(You can see more of Brian’s stuff here).

A big thanks to Bob for sharing his Lionel prewar layout, and to Brian, and Rowan too.

I liked these layouts because they show what this hobby is all about – making a start.

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

And for all those who want to take the plunge and get going, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



24 Responses to Lionel prewar layout

  1. Frank Goessler says:

    Ahhh! O gauge. Thanks to Bob and Al for humoring us old o scale dinasours.

  2. Susan Cannon says:

    Just so you know, I’ll be doing a dining room layout as well! 🙂 Once I get all my structures built, that is.

  3. Rich says:

    With 3 rails, is this possibly O27 gauge?

  4. Jim says:

    Nice work to all three of you. It’s great to see more interest in this hobby. Keep up the good work and have fun.


  5. Tom Barretti says:

    Bob;s layout looks great, need some operating accessories, station platforms and passenger station, love it.

  6. Tom Barretti says:

    lionel layout looks great, need some operating accessories, signals and passenger station and station platforms to dress it up. Old Lionel guy, love the layout.

  7. Perry says:

    Thanks fellow, both 2 rail and 3 rail O scale in the same day, wow!

  8. Bert Butts says:

    Keep it up, Bob. Definitely want to see how the layout all comes together with your wife’s help!

  9. Perry says:

    I must say I liked the 2 rail layout it has more action possibility.

  10. Rod Mackay says:

    Ah, the Broadway Limited, went on that in 1980 when dear old Freddie Laker brought in Skytrain and the dollar was briefly 2.4 to the pound. Happy dayys! It wasn’t permitted to walk up front to see what hauled us out of Penn, and by the time I could see the head end in the morning we had diesels on instead, any ideas what would have pulled it for the first leg out of New York please?


  11. wow great layouts all
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  12. Austin Wilson says:

    Very nice. I love my very large populated HO Scale train layout with a large rail yard, a town, country living, industrial park, farming, and an oil refinery makes it complete. Hospital, city hall, fire department, police department, gas stations and restaurants complete it.

  13. Thomas Murphy says:

    Hi Bob,
    I wish you much success with the older O gauge equipment. Please try to keep us posted., if you think about it.
    Regards, Tom (USA)

  14. Eldrege Driver says:

    Where can I find information on how to repair old HO locomotives? Thanks
    Eldrege Driver

  15. Kevin McArdle says:

    I want to come to dinner at your house.

  16. Cary B says:

    Hello Al, today’s post was so refreshing. It was all about the rekindling if model railroading within us. So nice to get back to the hobby. It is evident in the excitement in both these layouts owners. Keep em coming Al as you encourage others to take up past pleasures
    Cary AKA cbgadget in YouTube from Maryland

  17. Robert E Sandrus says:

    If it isn’t too late, increase the height of your layout to about 40″. That way when you sit under it for the many chores that go on below our worlds, you won’t be banging your head on the lower structure. Its too late for me.

    Lumpy Head Bob

  18. Dan Hulitt says:

    A couple of comments on some questions spurned by these wonderful layouts.
    Both vintage O gauge and O27 were 3 rail. 027 cars were shorter to handle the tighter radius.
    Unless it was an excursion run, all passenger trains would have had Amtrsk diesel power up front.
    I believe there are lots of publications out there, some by Greenberg, on the care and feeding of O guage engines.

    Thanks for sharing guys.


  19. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Rowan……I bet your wife loved you using the dinning room set for your layout!!!!

  20. Robert Brady says:

    Where you all going to eat Thanksgiving dinner this year Bobby?
    That wouldn’t happen at my house, especially with an Italian wife .

  21. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Bob great start!, Those Lionel trains look great! As you get into this great hobby down the make the changes you want and enjoy your train the way you want. Bob take a look at OGR Forum for O scale and 2 rails, you will see some outstanding layout in 3 rail, God Speed! Mark

  22. Will in NM says:

    Nice work Bob, Rowan and Brian! Looks like you’re all having fun with your model railroads and that’s what this hobby is all about. I wish Brian’s photos were a bit larger so we could see all the wonderful details in his nighttime scenes. Rowan, I don’t recognize the variety of track you are using on your dining room layout. What brand is it? Keep up the great work guys and keep us posted as your layouts progress.

  23. Erick says:

    That is great.!!! I hope mine turns out that good.

  24. Dave Karper says:

    Bob, look into Mr. Lee’s printout buildings. They are HO, but Mr Lee gives the proportions to enlarge to other scales.

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