N scale layout – Bob’s

Bob’s been in touch with his 5×10 N scale layout:

“Al…first let me say how much I enjoy your blog. I owe my love of model railroading to my paternal grandfather.

As a young man he started working for Texas and Pacific Railroad as an apprentice dispatcher. He ultimately spent more than 40 years working for T&P and never left Texas. It is not an exaggeration to say that railroading was his life.

My grandfather’s parents emigrated from the United Kingdom to Texas while my grandfather was still a baby. They came from a small town in Devonshire called Totnes.

My grandfather once told me that there was a famous castle in Totnes and he was certain that it belonged to our family. I had my doubts, but perhaps that is why I have always had a castle on my layouts.

My grandfather was not only my inspiration, but my namesake as well. His given name, which I share, was James Robert. He was burdened with both nicknames and answered to Jim Bob all his life (using two nicknames was not uncommon in Texas at the time…what am I saying? It’s still not uncommon).

Thankfully for me, my parents decided to just call me Robert (Bob). However, I must say my grandfather was philosophical about his double nickname. Later in life, If someone made a disparaging comment about his name he would simply say, “I don’t care what you call me…just don’t call me late for supper.”

Thanks to Jim Bob I have been involved with model railroading for more than 50 years.

Like so many other hobbyists of my generation my first model trains were Lionel. HO scale came later. For more than 20 years, my wife, three children and I lived in a house with a 400 sq ft room over the garage.

My son put a sighn on the door that said DANGER! DAD’S TRAIN ROOM.

MY HO layout eventually filled more than two-thirds of the room. But, then we moved into our new house and I had to start over with no room over the garage.

The only dedicated space I had available for a layout was a corner of my office/library, so I am now an N scale modeler.

My current layout is approximately 5×10 N scale layout and built on a movable table for access.

Because of limited space I decided to build up instead of out as you can see in the photographs. I typically run four trains…a mix of steam and early diesel locomotives. I hope you enjoy the photographs and thanks again for your hard work and dedication to this marvelous hobby.

Bob (not Jim Bob) in Texas”

N scale 5 x10

N scale 5x10

N scale 5x10 freight train

n scale hill with castle

n scale trestle bridge

n scale trestle bridge

model train town scene

model railroad trestle bridge

model railroad freight train

A big thanks to Bob. Loved the way he built up instead of out, and what a super narrative too.

Bob’s N scale reminded me of Steve’s 5×7 logging layout.

Here’s a quick pic if you want to refresh your memory:

N scale polystyrene incline

“The Ohio Western & Lima Shortline (OWLS) layout is in N Scale and designed to fit into a spare bedroom with about 2-1/2 feet walk-around space – so it came out to 5’ x 7’.

It is loosely (OK, very loosely) modelled after my hometown, and set in the late 1940s to early 1950s.

Choosing this period allowed me to use early diesel powered and steam powered locomotives.

The track is Peco Code 55, with Peco Code 55 Electro-rail turnouts. Power to the rails is DCC supplied by a LENZ 100 system.


You can see all of Steve’s N scale here.

And if you’d like to see how Steve’s layout turned out, here it is:

“It’s hard to believe it’s been over 3 ½ years since I sent my original email regarding the OWLS (Ohio Western & Lima Short line).

I continue to plug away, focusing on the scenery, landscape & buildings. Alas, age has taken it’s toll and the old hands aren’t as steady as they used to be!!

Here are recent photos of the OWLS Short line, mainly the progress I’ve made with the above mentioned areas.

Again, THANK YOU for all you do!

The layout is from about the late 1950 – 1960 time period and centers around a local logging/ lumber industry.


You can see Steve’s N scale update here.

I’ve lost count of all the N scale layouts on the blog – here’s a small collection of them.

I’m going to finish with Hall of Fame member, Arnie.

He’s sent this video in a while ago now, but I still love it. If N scale is your thing, it’s very much worth watching.

“Hi Al,

I finally finished my video on the American Freedom Train (AFT). I created my own replica in N scale of the original 1947 AFT locomotive and added to it 6 passenger cars of my own original paint scheme and my custom designed decals.

(These cars have their own Freedom Train locomotive I designed to complement them in the style of the 1947 loco. But, if I can find the time, I am now thinking of creating a loco using a more modern diesel style.)

But here is my video of the newly created AFT loco of 1947-1949. Once again, I am continuing the story line of Heritage celebrations and having the restored 1947 AFT loco lead an Excursion Train on a one day run through the Susquehanna Valley region.

I hope you will find it interesting and enjoyable.

Thanks again to you Al and the readers for all the support and encouragement to continue my modeling efforts.


(Here’s a load more N scale layouts if you’re after those).

That’s all for today folks.

A big thanks to Bob for his 5×10 N scale layout, Steve for his logging layout, and Hall of Fame member, Arnie.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is the day you are going to plan your own masterpiece.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

model train answers

45 Responses to N scale layout – Bob’s

  1. Chris Daws says:

    Great video as always.
    love your layout, great feeling and sounds.
    Can I ask where the the back drops are from,
    they would suit the layout Im building

  2. Tony Cooper says:

    I see a Durango and Silverton train on the layout. If anyone goes anywhere near Colorado, l urge you to stopover in Durango and take the steam train to Silveton, the scenery is just absolutely jaw dropping, l’m saving up for another trip so long as air travel becomes less dangerous due to this damned virus.
    Thanks Al, geat blog
    Tony, Cardiff, UK

  3. Malcolm Hodgson says:


    That is a beautiful looking layout with so much fine detail. I would love to own that one myself! Great back story as well.

    My cousin lives in Totnes so I will be asking him about your castle and see if it is still there. Nevertheless, yours looks great atop that mountain!

    Kindest regards

    North Wales

  4. Malcolm Hodgson says:


    There is a castle in Totnes, this is what I found…..

    “Totnes Castle is one of the best preserved examples of a Norman motte and bailey castle in England. It is situated in the town of Totnes on the River Dart in Devon. The surviving stone keep and curtain wall date from around the 14th century. From after the Norman Conquest of 1066 it was the caput of the Feudal barony of Totnes.“

    You should let English Heritage know that they don’t own it, you do!

    Can’t recommend moving there though, it has no roof, running water, or rooms, just outer walls, but on the plus side a great view!


    North Wales

  5. I would love to see the set in action, that is beyond cool. It is beautiful.

  6. Paul Case says:

    Bob you have an absolutely fantastic layout. Very detailed and neat.

  7. Christopher Warr says:

    looks really good, thanks for sharing

  8. Tony, Kitty Hawk, NC says:

    Bob (not Jim Bob)- beautiful presentation- really good looking layout! Dave, great job, as always. Thank you both for sharing.,

  9. James Marek says:

    I like your layout … a lot of work went into it
    I’m sure! Question…can the trains run from one level to another?

  10. Eric Kiehl says:

    Very well done. The detail is awesome. Love the bridges

  11. James Marek says:

    Just a friendly suggestion…less down time ( no train action) would help make your videos more appealing to view in my opinion. Do like your layout!

  12. Great job Bob. Very tastefully done. Best n scale I’ve seen in a very compact area. My wife would approve!

  13. Chris Sylvester says:

    wow Bob! thats a great on your layout thank you for the pics

  14. Stephen Fetzer says:

    There are layouts, and then there are layouts. Bob’s is one that’s top notch.

  15. Robert….
    What a fantastic story and layout…
    A very clever use of space….

  16. Robert Brady says:

    OH McGoo u’ve done it again! Enjoyed the video Dave! As always
    The Critic

  17. Terence McElarney says:

    I too would love to view a video of your outstanding creation and maybe a track plan. If video is not your thing when the virus dies back, try contacting your local photography or film club or even your U3A group all of which usually love a new project to challenge them.
    I visited my 3D modelling club [full of young men who made computers do things I had only dreamt of, with me I had a tramway rail switch by the time I left I had a piece of road surface resembling scale granite sets and fitting the radius. It was different and they jumped at it. I also got some new friends.
    Oh, a.s.a.p. get yourself to Devon, the whole county is great and Totnes is outstanding.
    Terry – Old Hampshire

  18. Dan Hulitt says:

    Bob, your pristine layout reminds me of the Thomas Kincade Christmas tree train where 3 or 4 mechanical trains go round the tree, each train higher up, But, it can’t hold a candle to your fine job. Yes, the Silverton and Durango is a great ride, taken it twice. They just bought some diesel power to add to the mix.
    Dave, entertaining as ever.

    Thanks, Al.

    Mn Dan

  19. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Dave great video as always. Thanks for that. Nice to see the trains running. Your sound quality has improved have you made any changes. The locos sound much better that they did the last time I commented. I particularly liked the wee 060 ( I think) Tank engine at the start of your video. The sound was very very good. Thanks again and please keep them coming.

  20. Bob in NH says:

    Yours is one of the most beautiful and imaginative layouts I’ve ever seen on this
    site. Congratulations for your workmanship and innovation.

  21. Ruben Simon says:

    So clever. You’ve got everything in there in a small floor space! Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

  22. William Swenberg says:

    Nice layout except that in real life there is no ballast on bridges.

  23. Don of the Desert says:

    What an amazing layout in a small space. Kudo’s.
    I’ve been viewing pics and videos for a long time on this site, but your backgrounds are so deep looking and blend so well with the scenery, It’s the best I have ever seen. If it weren’t for the ceiling, one would not know they are indoors.

  24. William Schart says:

    Ther’s also the Cumbres and Toltec RR in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. It too runs on a segment of the former D&RGRR’s narrow gauge line, of which the D&S also was a part of. At one time, there was a standard gauge section south from Durango into NM, going through Aztec and ending up in Farmington, NM. That got pulled up eventually.

  25. Ben Olson says:

    Bob, what an outstanding layout! I love all the bridges and the cut-a-way one too. Incredible detail, just beautiful! You have inspired me to add more bridges to my next addition, thanks for sharing!

  26. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done, Bob. Neat and tidy and great use of space. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  27. Art Romano says:

    Fantastic job on your layout.
    Too much fun for one person. lol


  28. wade hodder says:

    Beautiful layout, great detail and design, I have only one comment, I must admit my eyes/focus was on the pictures and the train holders mounted on the wall, just my opinion, but a sky/cloud mural would accentuate the layout more, just sayin !

  29. M. Dale Patterson says:

    I love it and see many possible ideas for an old layout. But, could we see a track plan. its hard to see how you get from one level to the next

  30. Michael Scott Bruce says:

    All I can say is WOW!!!!! What a lot in a small space. Your trestles are fabulous!!

  31. Steve Joyce says:

    Just curious if there are 3 closed loops( each level is a big circle) or do the trains go up inclines in the mountain and travel on the other levels as well.

  32. Kevin McArdle says:

    Was your layout professionally built or built by you? Ether way an amazing layout.

  33. Ken Mabie says:

    Very creative, pretty, and unique. Excellent work.

  34. Old Ben says:

    Looks like the N scale layout was built by Disney.. Perfect in every way. Super WOW.

    Dave what did you do before you retired?

  35. Ralph says:

    Great looking bridges. Did you build them ?

  36. Bob Davidson says:

    Wish I could communicate my feeling on this magnificent piece of art,, but everything had already been said above. It is obviously a labor of love.

  37. Tommy Jones says:

    That’s brilliant!

  38. Will in NM says:

    Bob, Your N scale layout is very impressive. I gather due to the vertical separation that the three levels of track are not connected. I would call your layout a “wedding cake” style layout. I like the way each tier represents a different area: the lowest level is the town / city area, the second level is the industrial / manufacturing area, and the third level is country / rural area. And finally, above all the rest, is your wonderful castle.

    That is a great layout design that I intend to mention to my brother, Terry. He wants to build an N scale layout where the lowest level is desert in Summer, the next level is Spring in the foothills, the third level is Autumn in the sub-alpine environment, and the final level is Winter in the high mountains. Your layout would be a good starting point for his idea.

    Thanks for sharing your photos. If you ever make a video of the trains running, please post it here.

  39. Thank you re my model railway …to answer Chris , the backdrops are from Gaugemasters , and Colin the Pannier Loco is one of Bachmanns, with with Wheeltappers DCC sound fitted ..

  40. Who Cares says:

    WOW. What a great cool set up.

  41. chance pataki says:

    Absolutely stunning layout. My only constructive criticism is the speed the trains are running are not realistic. If some of those passenger trains went thru those S turns at that speed, they would be tossed around in the coach. Also,, real trains start moving slowly at first

  42. Earl says:

    I love the level of your layout. it is definitely a labor of love. I love your bridges, by any chance do you know of any resources that I can use or research on how to build trusses and the elevated part for tracks to lay on for an elevated train like the NYC subway or Chicago elevated trains.

  43. Looks Great, can I assume the 2nd level does not connect to either the 1st level or the Very top level’s ?

  44. Brian Rockey says:

    Wow! Wonderful layout, subject and background info, and video, Thank You.
    Best to all
    Brian, Wokingham, UK.

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