Model cliff railway

Brian has been back in touch with his layout that has its oewn model cliff railway.

You may remember because he’s a Brit living in New York who sent in this post: Canal layout

Now he’s shared a video of the layout.

I loved seeing the barge pulled by the engine – and the cliff railway too:

“Hi Al,

Its been about 1 month since you posted my model railway on your blog.

I must say I was very flattered by the comments which were made, what a wonderful bunch of people the model railway hobbyists are!

I must thank one contributor, Thomas Strangeway in particular. I had commented that I could not work out how to have my barge pulled by an engine; he suggested using Lego wheels. It works perfectly so thank you Thomas!😊

My other challenge has been how to send a video. With a little help from my daughter, not only have I managed to link together 4 video clips, I also learned how to download it onto Youtube.

In the 1st clip you will see the barge moving down the canal, with the help of the Lego wheels, in the 3rd you will see the Funicular (cliff railway) and in the 4th clip with the farm and park you will see at the bottom of the screen another canal with canal lock and 2 barges.

I hope you think this is good enough to post,

I much appreciate what you do for this wonderful hobby,

Best Regards

Brian Hopkinson
(Brit living just outside of New York!)

model cliff railway crane

model cliff railway tramway

model cliff railway tramway

model cliff railway overhead view

And now on to George, who always puts a smile on my face with his blog comments:

“Hi Al

Some of my pics from the Strasburg Pa Museum. I was elated when they had a Shay, Climax & Heisler engine for me to see since they are my favorites.

The layout is a small model layout at the museum and I think they have a larger display that I will see soon.



And now on to Jim who is after some advice:

“I am having trouble deciding on bench work size to run N scale. I have been told 4×8 is too small because of radius.

But I have read that size is a good starting point particularly if you’re going to run Kato freight locomotives and cars, no passenger at this point.

Can someone help me with some suggestions?


A big thanks to George and to Brian for sharing his model cliff railway.

And who can help Jim?

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

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



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

16 Responses to Model cliff railway

  1. Pieter D Voigt says:

    HI, I am enjoying your updates for years now, and I think it is wonderful work you doing to keep us updated.
    Is it possible that you can share stuff that will help me (us) on Arduino projects for animation, I am sure you see lots of it.

    Thank You

  2. Dean Halls says:

    Hi George, most N scale modellers would love a space of 8’ x 4’ for their layout. You will have no problem with the radius however you should consider access in so far as if you are able to move around all four sides of your planned 8 x 4 then you will be able to reach all of it to build and maintain it. If not it will be a struggle and as a first timer that may put you off – which we wouldn’t want to happen. Happy modelling.

  3. Terry Plunkett in Oz says:

    I have been running a 6×4 N Scale for about 45 years. Many mods and iterations over the years, but it’s enough for me. My main line is a double over-and-under folded loop, with a couple of branch lines and a long three-line shunting yard. The main line is around the outer circumference, allows continuous running, and gives gentle curves for long carriages and locos. Sounds small-ish, but you can get a lot in that space if you are short of room. Uses flexitrack and all long radius points (switches).Keep meaning to put it all in pics for Al, for the website, but never seem to have the time.

  4. Robert Brady says:

    Brian, While in New York ,do what a new yorker do . Model the New York area with CSX and Amtrak like I did. I’ve been in Florida for 47 years and still Miss NY!
    Your layout though is fan- tastic !
    The Critic

  5. Kevin McArdle says:


  6. Brian Olson says:

    The camera angles truly take us into another world. Well done.

  7. George Zaky says:

    Brian-the Brit in NY
    Great video of trains, barges, & funicular running smoothly on a smashing layout. No one else can make that claim. Awesome.
    I am a total failure on N scale and my dear friend JH’s Kato N layout runs smoothly with Kato motors. 8×4 is certainly large enough for a properly planned scheme so if you stick with Kato there’s no stopping you. Forge ahead with vigor and show us what you did.
    Big Al- Gracias

  8. Stephen Hill says:

    Brian very nice layout , looks very detailed and well thought out .. great job .

    George , thanks for sharing those pics , awesome to see that early iron , they are majestic indeed .

    Brian 8×4 is plenty big enough to accommodate n scale trains . My wife and I just began our n scale on an 8×4 platform and it’s huge … loads of room for turning radius .
    My Ho is on 10 x 6 and proportionately it’s smaller than the n on 8×4 . Go for it. You’ll be just fine

  9. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Brian. Nice layout. Clever use of canal barge being pulled along, the cliff railway and the auto reversing local service. Assuming you are running the main trains at a semi scale speed then the canal boat is going fast enough to take off as is the cliff railway and the auto reverser. I would suggest that the canal boat and the cliff railway are slowed down to a crawl and the auto reverser about a 1/4 of its current speed maybe even slower. These 3 areas are designed to catch the viewers attention. They are given split seconds to observe them. Please slow them down I think you’ll be even more delighted with your layout.

  10. George Zaky says:

    Big Al
    I would like to profusely thank some of the greats on this blog whose brilliance, creativity, and hard work have been so influential to an old gorilla fingered, McGoo eyed, broken back codger like me. At the top is Bill from Va whose ON30 / O scale genius layout that I stole some ideas from. Rob, Brian Messenger, Dangerous Dave, Kaustev, and others whose names escape me at the moment have given me such enlightenment.
    None of this could be without Big Al’s hard work.
    Thanks guys

  11. Rob McCrain says:

    Fabulous layout Brian. I am curious about how you plan to manage the water in your canal. It is a lovely layout. I love the funicular inclined railway too.
    George, that’s for a look at the Strasburg Museum. I would like to get out there someday.
    N scale will negotiate 12 or 13-inch radius curves quite well. They sell smaller ones, but I wouldn’t recommend them. You will find that for a simple n-scale single loop layout 30 inches wide is adequate, but bigger is always better until you cannot reach the center of the board. Go for the largest radius curves you have room for, but don’t sweat it if 4 feet is too big.
    Rob McCrain

  12. robert dale tiemann says:

    nice pics. i really like the ones from the museum.

  13. Jurgen says:

    A 4″ X 8′ is plenty to start an N-Scale layout.
    Many HO-Scale modelers start on a board that size.

  14. EARL S CORY says:

    4×8 is fine for N. You can use 20in Radius curves which will work for passenger cars. Just be sure that you can get to all four sides of the layout. Even leaning over two feet to get to the center can be a struggle. I have built N scale on 3×5 and had it work out.

  15. Glyn Jones says:

    Beautiful job with the layout Brian and the canal is a very nice touch. Good luck with the N scale George- having never built one in this scale I can’t be of much help but go for the most generous curves you can incorporate into your space regardless. You won’t regret it!

  16. Brian Rockey says:

    Great video Brian – some really interesting and original things on your layout. By, the way, is that the Metcalfe castle?
    Best to all.
    Brian, Wokingham, Berks, UK

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