N scale helicopter layout – Brian’s

Brian’s been in touch with his N scale helicopter layout:

“Hi Alistair

Firstly, thanks for a brilliant newsletter – it’s great to see so many modellers sending in pictures and videos of their layouts.

I’m one of the support team for the N Gauge Journal of the N Gauge Society responsible primarily for advertising. I’ve also written several articles now for the Journal on topics such as the 1988 Paris to Hong Kong Orient Express, The N Gauge Tomix Thomas the Tank Engine range, and modelling water.

My N Gauge layout built on three independent levels is totally fictitious and not based on any particular era. With my father, Grandfather, and Great Grandfather all working for the Great Western Railway, it was important to provide part of the layout for the running of my GWR stock.

I’m old enough to remember the last days of steam in Plymouth during the sixties, so I wanted to include this era as well. And then with the four Grandchildren only seeing today’s private liveries, it was essential to provide for them.

The bottom level activity (essentially a twin track loop) centres around Mill Bay station and harbour. Mill Bay is a small seaside town and fishing port somewhere on the West Country main line.

The middle level, again a twin track loop, has two main areas – West Hoe station and The Friary through lines and sidings has a small engine shed for overnighting visiting steam engines and a diesel maintenance depot (Peco). West Hoe is another small town on the main line and a busy through-route for rail and road users!

I imagine the top level as a heritage line running on a single track loop with a branch line to the once busy Northlew terminus and goods depot, and the Rocks Chocs factory making fine speciality chocolates with only the best of Devon milk from the local Farm.

I don’t know why, but I like helicopters, and so I’ve added an RAF Westland Sea King performing a daring rescue off the cliffs of Mill Bay. I’ve also just completed an RAF Chinook which will take its place hovering somewhere over the layout.

Have attached a few photos and here’s a link to my YouTube video experimenting with adding real sounds – great fun!:

n scale helicopter

n scale helicopter layout rocks before rescue

model railway sidings

n scale river

N scale town

n scale town

n gauge station

n scale orient express

n scale station

n scale cliff railway

N scale helicopter

(All images are clickable)

Thanks again.


A huge thanks to Brian for sharing his N scale helicopter layout. Stunning stuff.

And now here’s something completely different, thought it would be fun to go from a finished layout (are they ever finished?) to a new one. Brand new in fact:

“Well, the bug has bitten me and I have started my “Chicago Northwestern” HO prototype.

Here are some early stage photos.

I know I’ll be referencing you guys as I get into the finer details of this awesome hobby.


laying track HO scale

laying track HO scale

Not much to see, I know, but this hobby is all about making a start – that’s why I post ’em.

And lastly, here’s a tip that Mike has sent in that I thought was clever:

“Cork sheets of any dimension x 1/8″ thick SOAKED in water (with any outdoor scent) until the sheet is totally pliable!

Lay the still soakedly wet sheet over any object with your preferred shape even some objects gathered together to form your shape.

LET IT DRY until it is firmly dried out of all wet.

Periodically during this drying period, hand & finger press areas in order to guide the drying shape closer to your preferred shape’s details.

After the shape is COMPLETELY DRIED, move the light weight structure (usually a mound or rock face) to wherever it was meant to stand.

PAINT the shaped cork sheet as required. Use white glue (dries transparently) to emphasize raised spots.


That’s all for today folks.

A big thanks to Brian (N scale helicopter layout), Tom (brand new layout) and Mike (another good tip).

Please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide, if you want to get going on your layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More N scale layouts here if that’s your thing.

25 Responses to N scale helicopter layout – Brian’s

  1. Fred says:

    Brian. An I say what a stunning layout …I love the shot of the helicopter..
    Very similar rocks to what I created on my layout …. Wilbury Castle..

    Once again thanks for sharing I’m inspired….fred

  2. Mal says:

    That’s a really good layout Brian. Can we see more? A track diagram? Are the sounds overdubbed on the video or are they DCC sound chips?

    In other words please tell us more!

  3. Kevin McArdle says:

    Brian, all I can summon is, WOW!

  4. Mal says:

    Hi Tom

    Tom, My layout is at a similar stage. Still laying track on bare plywood and wiring. And more wiring and then more wiring. But if we stick with it we can get on to the scenic stuff soon. Looking forward to seeing how you progress. I must start posting some of my own progress as well.



  5. Dave G says:

    Excellent modelling with lots of atmosphere.

    Thanks for sharing

  6. Eric says:

    Brian, wow, love the helicopter and your water effects, looks good enough for a paddle in this hot weather. The whole layout brilliant. If this is finished what are you going to do next?
    Tom that looks as if it is going to be a very large layout, starting is the main thing, then you will be totally hooked on the hobby, or maybe way of life should I say.
    Happy Modelling
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  7. Jim Aspin says:

    Great shots!
    Where did you find an N Scale helicopter? I’ve been looking for such but have had no successs. Help!

  8. NJ Mark says:

    I really liked the scene wherein you can see the shadow of the bridge on the train below as it enters the tunnel. Great video!!!

  9. Robert Brady says:

    entire layout is the Bomb! Great! lol

  10. Appookta says:

    Brian, I’m flabbergasted! Incredible!

  11. Ennis Thompson says:

    Outstanding “n” scale layout and creativity Brian. Some really nice work and workmanship for all to see. Thanks for showing.

  12. Roy Forbes says:

    One word! WOW!!!

  13. Jim says:

    Stunning, indeed!

  14. Jim Marek says:

    Brian, what brand of track do you use? TY

  15. James Malins says:

    Very impressive layout.

  16. Brian Rockey says:

    Hi TY
    All the track I’ve used is Peco, either Set-track or flexible 1m lengths (wooden sleepers).
    Many thanks

  17. Ian McDonald says:

    Unbelievable photos videos and how to videos thanks for sharing.

  18. Peter says:

    Hi Brian,
    Congrats on a really fantastic layout, the attention to detail and weathering is awesome. Brought back a whole lot of memories as Millbay, West Hoe & Friary are well known to me .Like yourself, I hail from Plymouth England although I moved overseas more than 40 years ago. I do remember the end of steam very well, we lived right next to the mainline into North Rd. station.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your layout. Happy Railroading, Peter.

  19. Brian Rockey says:

    Thanks again to everyone who has sent encouraging comments.
    Great to hear from another ‘Janner’ Peter.
    Keep modelling everyone and for those N Gauge modellers UK and International I would strongly recommend joining the N Gauge Society – just Google it and you’ll get all the info you need on the website to become a member. You’ll get a bi-monthly journal with lots of information on new products, news and modelling tips and ideas, and access to the N Gauge Society shop.

  20. Thank you, a simple thank you. that has to be one of the best layouts in “N” I have seen in a while. Great modeling techniques, difficult transitions but it encompasses every level of what any modeler can dream up, great layout!!

  21. Brian Rockey says:

    Hi everyone and thanks for kind comments.
    The helicopter is possibly from a company called Sweet, but can’t remember exactly as it was a few years ago now when I put it together. I do remember cutting out the door to show it in the open position for the winch man. Here’s a link which may be helpful. Scale is 1:144 close to N Gauge 1:148.
    Best Regards to all.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  22. Bob Kaylor says:

    Brian, The Sea King, and its many variants, is the finest flying machine ever built. But, we’re using Alistair’s TRAIN space so let me get back on that topic. I love your layout and would really enjoy seeing a track plan, if possible.

  23. John Birch says:

    I love it! Excellent work, Brian. The detail and little snippets of real life are great. (I know I am biased but I do like a UK layout with English scenes and rolling stock!)
    My grandfather worked at Rugby station for a number of years and his youngest brother (my great uncle) worked on the L&NW for 48 years but because of his hearing problems, was only allowed to drive goods trains!

  24. Will in NM says:

    You’ve created a wonderful N scale layout. You must have better eyesight and hand-eye coordination than I do to make such detailed scenes in N scale. I can barely cope in HO scale. I would like to see your track plan too. My younger brother is planning to build a two or three level N scale layout one day and I think he could benefit from your design ideas.

    Looks like a good start on a fairly large HO layout. I keep thinking I’ll build a big HO layout someday, but time is running out on me and the three smaller layouts I’ve started are all unfinished. Good luck with your project and keep us posted with your progress.

    I’m not sure that I completely understood the goal of your cork shaping process but I’ll keep it in mind as I have a big roll of cork that I haven’t used yet.

  25. Dave Karper says:

    Brian, nice job of loaded, but not jammed scenery.

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