HO scale harbor structures

Brian has been back in touch with his HO scale harbor structures:

“Hi Al, more construction done on the lower level of my HOn3 layout.

This became a personal problem as I originally thought that I would just start the harbor area and carry on with the rest of the lower level. Ha ha!!!

The rest of the lower level now has to wait. I still enjoy running log trains every now and then on the almost complete upper level logging area of Cascade Creek.

I got so involved with it that I just carried on as it is one of the most enjoyable parts of the hobby that I have had to date. I love detailing to this level with all the buildings (most of them recovered from my previous layout) that go with it.

First two photos are of the waterfront expansion under construction on the lower level of my layout past the harbor.

The next three photos are of the night life at my still under construction harbor. Never had a problem with the Woodland Scenics realistic water as can be seen in the photos. Others on this site have complained about the product. Just follow the instructions as explained on the product. I have used it many times and will continue using it.

When I have completed the waterfront expansion, the harbor and the waterfront with all the detail that goes with an area like this will be done. (Is a layout ever finished – NO)

This whole area will be super detailed as it is the first section of the layout that one sees when entering the train room. The shadows on the wall are there because the valance lights above are switched off at the time of taking these photos.

Once this is completed I will do a write up of the whole harbor/waterfront construction with how it was done.

That’s all for now.

Brian – HOn3 guy RSA🇿🇦”

ho scale harbor structures

ho scale harbor structures

ho scale harbor structures

ho scale harbor structures

ho scale harbor structures

A huge thanks to Brian. He’s a Hall of Fame member if you’d like to see more of his posts.

Now on to Graeme.

He’s got in touch with a question I know we’ve all thought about:

“Hi Al,

My big question is which is the best DCC controller?

That’s a hard question to answer as all of our needs are different.

So, the discussion could be what is it about the DCC controller I like and what is about it that I really don’t like.

These controllers are very expensive and a significant investment in our layouts. And, I am sure that there are many like me who do not want to make the wrong choice.

For example, I noticed from one of Dave’s video’s that he uses the ESU ECoS – Now, Dave is a very savvy modeller and he would have specific reasons for his choice.

BTW, I really enjoy the posts and especially the videos – I have learned everything I know about the hobby from them. When I get my layout to some semblance of order, I post a few photos.

Kindest regards, from Graeme in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia”

Please do scroll to the bottom and post your comments – I’d love to hear them.

A big thanks to Graeme and to Brian for sharing his ho scale harbor structures.

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.

21 Responses to HO scale harbor structures

  1. Eric Rayner says:

    Brian. Excellent work, looks very realistic, one question, is the water superimposed as it only shows on the night shots?
    Graeme. Sorry I can help I’m DC only and happy about it.

  2. Robert Ives says:

    Truly… beautiful works of art!

  3. jacques zanin says:

    i truly love the night time lights on the pier and buildings.

  4. george zaky says:

    I bow to the master. I cannot believe your talent and artistry.
    George from NY

  5. Cary B says:

    What a beautiful layout, definitely some of the best details I have seen, Awesome
    Cary B

  6. Tim Pfeiffer says:

    Graeme – I’m from South Australia. I am using the Digikeijs DR5000. They can be bought on Ebay (Aust) for about $250. I’m using it with the Roco Z21 app and it you can use a mobile phone or tablet as a controller. It does the job for my layout which is a ‘U’ shape measuring about 4m x 1 m with 2 2m x 1m wings and I have no problem running 4 locos at one time. It can also be hooked up to Lenz and Roco handsets (and possibly others) but you can also use a number of mobile phones and tablets as well. Good luck.

  7. Larry says:

    DCC Don’t have a large layout but have many many locos Steam & Diesel. Converted many to DCC control and sound. Have a couple of reverse loops. Digitrax is a very good choice.

  8. DJfromNJ says:

    Night lighting is very well done. Love the not-too-bright, just right effect!

  9. corrie says:

    About the best DCC, it is about the same as what is the colour of blue? I have used Digitrax for a couple of years and for me it works excellent. I am not a Digitrax agent.

  10. Beautiful layout with the water effects and night pictures.
    When it comes to Controllers it’s really a preference. Best recommendation is if you belong to a club use what they use as to be able to take yours back and forth. Also just talk about it with friends

  11. John Frye says:

    While I have decided to stay with DC power-pacs, I did spend a great deal of time doing research on DCC. There are, without a doubt advantages. My research brought me to Ring Engineering https://www.ringengineering.com
    I was drawn to their product because, even though I’m pretty cool with electronics, I’m not with computer codes and programming. Never got into it. Biggest reason I’m staying in the stone age is I have 30 or more engines and the time and effort to convert even a portion would break the family bank.
    John From Baltimore

  12. Tom Wood says:

    ?? You took your “Pelican Bay” building and track out and built a pier with lights? The blue room lights give it an unusual glow, the light posts on the water looks nice.

  13. Hi. When I started with DCC last Summer, I bought a Gaugemaster Prodigy 2. I quickly upgraded it to Wireless control handset and a USB interface. With getting on for 50 locos already converted, some of them with sound, and coach lighting, I also bought an 8A booster. I got interested in JMRI and wanted block detection, but couldn’t find anything which would work with the Gaugemaster, so I ordered a Digitrax Zephyr only for them to get shut down as an effect of the Hurricane. I’d already got the detectors so I found a second hand Zephyr which I use for detection. The new Zephyr when it arrived has been used for accessory control. Yes I’ve had problems with the different systems, but as I get used to them, I’m solving those problems.

  14. This great. I am looking forward to seeing the finished project. I have been considering a waterfront area on my n scale layout. I am space limited but something like this might just work. Thanks for your efforts.

  15. Mark says:

    Is the water present on the day light photos or just on the night photos only?

  16. Greame, as you have said, all our needs are different. First consider what is your goal with the layout. Is it operation, with long mainline runs and a couple of operators, or is it a one man show with trains running around in circles? Think also of expansion, will this be your last layout, or will there be additions in future? Then look at what is available, and also think of support. Are there other modelers in your area, what system are they using and will they be willing to help if you get stuck? One system that has recently caught my attention in the Digikeijs DR5000 which can use almost any controller from digitrax, lenz, roco and it also has built in wifi so you can download an app like the Roco z21 app (free) and use your smartphone as a controller.
    I am using the z21 start, with 4 thethered controllers and 4 smartphones yo control my layout. Just my 2cents worth

  17. Rob McCrain says:

    DCC vs DC. DCC wins. It enriches the experience and is more immersive. There are many DCC controllers. I use the Z21 system because it is mobile. I can be anywhere around my layout and still control trains and do it while I am watching them closely. It is all handheld. It uses your Android or iPhone as the throttle controller and function controller. It is all graphic, no numbers to punch in. You select locomotives by picture and control functions like engine start and horns by icons. You set up their order as well. They cost about $400 and includes a wireless router that is dedicated to running trains. There is no internet involved other than initially downloading the app from your app store. It is easy to set up and run. Rob McCrain Farland Howe

  18. Peter Pocock says:

    DCC is a no brainer! I’ve used Lenz for years, and I’m too far in with that brand to change. I think the first consideration is its “user friendly” quality.
    The second is how easy is it to use with smart phones or tablets? Especially handy for walk around control.
    Can you get help when you need it, and, you will need some help!
    Price would be next
    Are you a member of a model railway club/group. What do they mainly use? This point may be the most important!
    Good luck.

  19. Dave Wells says:

    Hi Graeme
    I use an NCE powercab, you can buy these for around $180, hooked up with their usb interface (about $45) you can control locos via your laptop using jmri and you can also hook up to a smartphone using engine driver app. I like the shape of the cab its easy to use and I find I can have three locos running at once (00 scale).
    Hope this helps

  20. Dana Vincent says:

    Beautiful night scenes. Great work!
    I use NCE- DCC system. Easy and quick to learn with lots and lots of features.
    Love that water scene!!!!!

  21. Mike RICHARDSON says:

    I like & have Digitrax Zepher with an extra wired controller. Very reasonable priced and works great for my 9ft X 13ft layout. My budget for trains is not as large as Dave’s. LOL

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