Shelf layout HO scale

Brian’s been in touch with his shelf layout HO scale – I do enjoy seeing your layout from the very start:

“I model in HO scale but based on 3 foot gauge, hence HOn3.

Below is the garage in the process of being converted into my train room. I put up a drywall 6 foot in from the garage door (behind me in this photo) as a storeroom for my wife’s household equipment.

Access to it is through the door at the back right. This left me with a 14ft X 10ft area for my layout.

Below is progress with the upper level still to be erected. A must have, are cupboards below for storage of model train “stuff”

room for model railroad

My layout is not so much about long runs (but will have a double loop and involved operation around logging shown in photos at the end) on the upper level.

Left photo below shows the start of the logging area. Right photo shows all the lighting under the valances installed. Rear upper storage shelf in the middle has not been installed yet. It will have the strip lighting under it to light up the area where the sawmill will be situated.

room for shelf layout

Photos below show the top deck of my two level layout is more advanced than the bottom with track laid and operational. Scenery in certain sections is complete. Photos taken from left to right as you enter the room, first the top deck.

shelf layout ho scale

A busy logging scene. The knobs for operating switches on the fascia board are part of the Blue Point switch machines all around the layout. The Log skidder is one of many resin kits by Rusty Rails. Log loads are cast in resin by me before painting and weathering. The Vehicles are modified kits.

shelf layout ho scale

The loco in the photo above is a brass Westside Heisler (one of two that I have) painted and weathered by me as is the case with nearly all the locos except the two Blackstone locos. They still need to be weathered and a train crew added.

The photo below identifies what CCL stands for – Cascade Creek Logging. The Mallet is a very old PFM model.

shelf layout ho scale

Photo below is a 3 truck Shay (one of two that I have) by Westside models.

Below is the other Heisler, also a Westside model. Kadee couplers are used throughout on all locos and rolling stock.

shelf layout ho scale

shelf layout ho scale

A company Coach (CCLco) built from a (long gone) E&B Valley kit I have about eight of these.
Below, a billboard and truck with figures is by Woodlands Scenics. Big Mcgiffert log loader is a Rio Grande Model and the truck mounted log loader by Walthers.

model railroad shelf layout

Below is a Woodlands Scenics Tie and Plank mill. Disconnects log trucks are by Rio Grande Models.

logging shelf layout

shelf layout saw mill

Flat car with water tank in above right photo (both) are cast from resin. Lead strips fitted between the beams of the car (shown below) to add weight before adding the bolsters and trucks, painting, staining and weathering.

shelf layout ho scale

Photos below are: Tepee sawdust burner by JV Models. Caboose a Durango Press kit; Donkey log skidder on another cast flat car is a Scale Structures kit. Cast logs on HO Rivarossi log cars converted to Hon3: A Woodlands Scenics vehicle loading cut wood.

model tream logging steamer

model railroad town

Above is mixture of Campbell and Woodlands Scenics kits all fitted with interior detail and lights

Below is a Woodlands Scenics Tucker Bros machine shop with lights and arc welding unit inside.

model railroad work shed

Below is a Rio Grande Models Rotary snowplow kit OM.

shelf layout ho scale

model train locomotive

Above is another 3 truck Shay with mostly Woodland Scenics buildings in the background awaiting painting.

Below is a Woodlands Scenics gas station kit converted to small line side station with a working street light.

model railroad sidings

Below is a Design Preservation Models “practice” kit. Full interior detail and lights added from my “bits box”

shelf layout ho scale

model railroad buildings

Top level terminus (Cascade Creek below). The tank car is by Narrow Gauge Car Shops.

shelf layout ho scale

A Blackstone K27 (one of two that I have) on a modified HO (to HOn3) Atlas turntable with a Tamiya
gearbox mounted underneath.

The lower deck:

Lots of work to do but at least most of the structures are built and painted. Some photos to show the extent of the detail. I make sure that all my buildings have interior detail and lights.

The Lenz LH100 throttle (have 3) right rear is the DCC system I use to operate the layout. All locos are DCC with sound from tsunami and Blackstone.

model railroad harbor

model train factory

The harbour buildings are a 9 building limited edition set (only 350 made) by Foss Scale Models. All buildings have full interior detail with lights which were not supplied as original equipment.
An American Model Builders barge kit below, converted to be a car ferry.

Some of the boats are modified resin kits by Rusty Rails.

model train pier

model train store

Above, two Woodlands Scenics station kits made into a larger one!

The contractor’s barge is mostly scratch built but the hull and cabin supplied by Kibri.

model train barge

A few scratch built piers with a Campbell scale sheriff’s office modified into a lobster supplier.

model railroad pier

Shelf layout HO scale Conclusion:

I have stated at the outset that this layout is a work in progress. Since the above photos were taken I have turned the top shelf layout into a continuous run by adding a joining section on the right, in front of the window as you enter the room. There will be a lift out section at the door shown in the right hand side photo. This shelf will have more industry on it. In the photos below, is the new section.

shelf layout ho scale

To get this far from the start of the build to the above has taken 14 months (started Nov 2016). This excludes 90% of the buildings which were salvaged from my previous layout in Cape Town.

Photos below are of my old layout, 22 foot x 11 foot layout in Cape Town. (Lots of mistakes on it).

shelf layout ho scale


A huge thanks to Brian for taking the time to share his shelf layout HO scale. I don’t know about you, but I loved it.

Can’t wait to see the updates too.

That’s all for today folks. Hope you enjoyed it as much as me.

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



PS The comments are still rolling in on the new ebay cheat sheet. Glad it’s working for you!

55 Responses to Shelf layout HO scale

  1. Gary says:

    Nice. Job

  2. Jim Aspin says:

    Seems like a sad understatement to describe such a wonderfully executed work, but the only word that comes to mind. THANK YOU for sharing. 🙂

  3. Karl Fey says:

    Outstanding craftsmanship. Looking forward to seeing more as this layout progresses. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Cary B says:

    Great photos of a really nice layout Brian, can’t wait to see more as your work progresses. Thanks for posting Al.

    Cary B Maryland

  5. Randy Blankenship says:


  6. Michael White says:

    Fantastic job. Shows a lot of love for your hobby.

  7. Appookta says:


  8. Brad says:

    Fabulous detail work instead of the “cookie cutter” scenery.Taking that extra time has paid huge dividends.Excellent layout!!

  9. Jack Bury says:

    Great work. You have done a lot in that period of time. Excellent attention to detail..

  10. great presentation thanks

  11. Paul says:

    Ditto on all the other comments.

    Would love to see more about how you modified the turn table. I’ve had a atlas turntable for years and have not done a thing to it. It still sits in the box.

  12. Harry Kubarek says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Very nice job, did a lot of work in just 14 months. Fantastic detail Brian. I bet you had fun putting this together great imagination.

  13. Peter says:

    Great photos of a really nice layout Brian, can’t wait to see more as your work progresses. Also possibly a video of it working when it is complete?


  14. Frank Goodman says:

    Ouch. Your work makes me look like a 5 year old with crayons. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Kevin McArdle says:

    Truly, a craftsman layout. Wonderful attention to detail, and great collection of Shays and Heislers. Please send more pictures of the old layout in Cape Town, those two pictures were great.

  16. Webster Morton says:

    I really like your Logging layout very impressive.

    Web Morton Temple City, CA

  17. Steve Hudacko says:

    I am blown away by your work you are truly at the top of your game. How you were able to collect all the wonderful examples of your layouts time period and theme. I wouldn’t know where to start. I can’t wait to see more but for now I am going up to my train room to play. I am inspired. Thank you.
    Steve from Toms River

  18. Barry hespenhide says:

    What a fantastic lay out, love the detail.


    Well done 👍

  20. john says:

    Great layout

  21. Cal says:

    Awesome job. Love it. Nice work and the detail is impeccable!!!

  22. Nick says:

    I’m a novice. I just don’t get it. All that fantastic work and incredible detail! But, nothing goes anywhere. I thought the whole hobby was centered on operation.

  23. Rich B. says:

    Love the logging railroads, can’t go wrong- anything goes, Yankee ingenuity. Now up in Rangley, Me (USA) there was once upon a time the Rangley Lake and Sandy River RR. Did their share of logging maybe a century or so back.

    I had I to go up there often for the Navy SERE School, one day followed the old railbed out to the abandoned logging town (Navy property now). So even up in the NE the place looked like the western town in today’s layout.


  24. Rob Shuman says:

    Very well done. Truly Inspirational for me.

  25. Kurt Muller says:

    I appreciate especially the comments Brian made on which pieces he built from scratch and the various modifications he made to kits. Identifying sources is also very helpful because googling some of these items or features can be very time consuming.

  26. Tom Sallee says:

    Brian, Wonderful work on both old and new layouts.

  27. WOWWW
    you are one of the best modelers I have seen here on Alistairs site,…
    except for John …..LOL
    HE’S the baddest azz …..
    Great detail and nice Ideas for scenery
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  28. Peter Modrow says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful work.

  29. Ray Suckling says:

    Some very good work, will be stunning when finished. You refer to a Woodlands Scenics vehicle loading cut wood in one of your photo’s could you post the part number as I am trying to source vehicles of that vintage for my layout and not having much success .

    Ray Oz………

  30. Hemi says:

    -A little late to the game here, but thats GORGEOUS work! LOVE the details inside a few of the builds, and then the “Line-Up” of the “Characters” of the layout…..

    NICELY executed!!!!

  31. ARTHUR J ROMANO says:

    Honestly Alastair, this is one of the more interesting point to point layouts I’ve seen in a bit. The scenic views, the locos and rolling stock look marvelous. I’m an O gauge player but this makes me want to do an HO point to point too!
    Go, go Brian!

  32. Steven Szebenyi says:

    Agree with all the “WOWs” above!!! I love the weathering on….well everything! Thanks.

  33. Jim says:


  34. Brian Messenger says:

    Thank you all for the compliments about my layout.
    To the person that asked about more photos of my OLD layout, Al has previously posted a lot of them is this blog. Have a look at the Hall of Fame for more.
    To the person that asked about the modification to the Atlas turntable, I will have to do a write up of how I did it and ask Al to post it in the near future.
    To NICK, if you look at the last few photos, you will see that I have added a new section as well as a lift-out “bridge” at the door which then makes the top level of the layout a complete loop. There are lots of industries on the layout as well as a yard at the main terminal – Cascade Creek. There is more than enough operation for three operators at a time.
    To Ray from Oz, the Woodland Scenics range of vehicles is very good (I have all of them that suit my era) check out their website. The vehicle that you are looking for is D244 Flat Bed Tractor and Trailer.
    Once I get my camera (a GoPro) set up and running, I will do a couple of videos to be posted here. I have one but runs around the new section only. Work in progress.
    Brian – Knysna RSA 🇿🇦

  35. Marklin ed. says:

    Great I work at a old fashion saw mill, and you got it right. Did have railroad just logging trucks coming and going. THANKS

  36. James Sulkosky says:

    Nice job on you layout, keep up the great work.

  37. Warner says:

    Wow….I couldn’t agree more with all the comments except part of Nick’s. For me all you’re efforts to detail are overwhelming but admirable. As a beginner like most it would seem an impossibility to ever achieve this level of perfection but without the expertise of people like you Brian and your venue Alastair the desire for nice work could never be achieved. Your follow up remarks exemplifies your desire for detail. I wish you were my neighbour Brian. Thank you for posting. Warner

  38. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Some top notch modeling skills, Brian. The details are quite realistic. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  39. Alabama Mike says:

    Brian’s layout is totally amazing. Such detail and craftsmanship. A lot of time and love of labor have gone into this layout. Look forward to seeing more.

  40. Cary Buter says:

    This is my second comment over time on this post.
    This layout I absolutely stunning. It’s amazing that is has been accomplished in such a short time.
    Brian has an amazing collection of structures and equipment in such a beautifully landscaped layout.
    Thanks for sharing
    Cary B New Market Maryland

  41. william cantrell says:

    WOW! Outstanding work and unusual detail. Some great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Joe Kincaid says:

    Brian, I bow to your incredible skill in attention to the minutest detail. Since modeling is illusion in miniature, creating the illusion is an a art form that you, sir, have mastered. Have you seen the offerings from Pricom in audio and lighting that can be that final touch in bringing a scene in miniature to life. Rolling sunsets, Going through an entire day in an hour, utilizing both sound (birds chirping, crickets, coyotes howling, a babbling brook, saloon’s with men in gunfights, etc), and lights using LED’s, DMX overheads, trigging events by motion, fast clocks, and sensors strategically placed make for a experience that transcends running trains around track placed in hump yards, turntables, slips, and all manner of operational fun. My joy comes from what you are doing in bringing it to life completely. The beauty of this hobby is it is never done, and innovation, creativity, a big touch of engineering, and learning from those pesky damn mistakes are all part of this game we play. At present I am creating a thunderstorm rolling across a section of the layout with thunder you’ll feel, lighting bolts going off, hail hitting the rooftops of nearby buildings, and wind fiercely howling as if the banshe is on her way in the black coach. It is the art of smoke, magic, and mirrors created in the fertile minds of people like you Brian! Thank you so much for sharing, and do keep sending your progress to our great friend Alastair, who maintains this incredible site to bring the hobby to us all. I look forward to your future posts. Who knows, maybe next it’s smell from the sweat of men working in the logging camps! Great stuff!

  43. kevin says:

    most excellent
    a lot of hard work that paid off

  44. JoeS_inME says:

    Fabulous work!

  45. Neil Simpson says:

    very very nice wok . . . looks like a labor of love !!!

  46. Frederic Lucas says:

    Impressive. Logging and coal mining are my favorites.

    FL, Pittsburgh

  47. George Zaky says:

    Beyond awesome layout, craftsmanship, and artistry. Logging themes with Shays, Climaxs and Heislers are my favorite. You also chose quality manufacturers and there is quite a large inventory of stuff. You have taken top shelf kits and assembled them as only a master can do. Bravo.
    I would love to see a video of the trains running to see & hear those Shays & Heislers.

  48. Mr. Ron from So Mississippi says:

    Being a South Africa native, why did you choose an American logging camp for your prototype?

  49. Brian Moretti says:

    Love what you are doing how did you make your trees they look great
    Please let me know

  50. Tom Strangeway says:

    Awesome build Brian.
    I frequented instead models a lot when I lived in CT. In the UK now and will be starting again shortly. Thanks for the inspiration.

  51. Tom Strangeway says:

    Correction to my previous comment. Plumstead Models in Cape Town.

  52. Old Taz says:

    Your a man of many talents. This shows in your work. It is outstanding. Looking forward to seeing more of it in progress. Fantastic job!!

  53. Will in NM says:

    Great job! It’s nice to see how you’ve gone about rebuilding your very fine layout in the new, smaller train room while improving the overall operations value of the layout. Point-to-point is great and prototypical, but it’s always nice to be able to just let the trains run in a loop sometimes and be a kid again.

    I’ve always been partial to narrow gauge and logging railroads for their geared locomotives and home-made rolling stock. One of my first brass engines 60 years ago was an HOn3 Shay that I never could get to run very well. Keep up your wonderful posts and thank you for sharing!

  54. Erick says:

    Pretty kool? I hope mine comes out that good.

  55. Al Otis says:

    Cudos on an outstanding layout

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