Brian’s new HOn3 layout

“Hi Al, I have been busy building my NEW HOn3 double deck layout.

Hope to have track as well as scenery on the upper level done soon.

This is a panoramic view of my layout so far.

Must paint the blue sky between the levels and will be ready to lay track. Note the ‘moon’, top centre.

When the main lights are switched off, the blue light gives the effect of night for nighttime operating sessions.

There will be LED strip lights under the top blue valance as well as under the middle green valances to give more light on the layout itself.




You can seem more of Brian’s layouts here.

“Hi Al:

There have been so many great tips on your site over the years.

At the moment my best tip would be to give your railroad a life, an existence with a story.

My basement layout in Large scale which you were so kind to post pictures back a couple years is called the Rural Montana Branch Lines.

It came into being because rural Montana was not being served by BNSF anymore.

So a large group of investors, ranchers, lawyers etc decided to buy up all of the abandoned right a ways while still possible to use and built a network again to connect all of rural Montana and feed out to BNSF on their mainline routes.

They bought up a mixture of old equipment and refurbished it (justifying most any rolling stock and loks to be mixed together).

I can go on and on.

Some of my towns are dedicated to friends living and those that have passed on.

Junxville dedicated to my friend and Pastor who passed away. He salvaged to make extra income .

Tea Pot Junction dedicated to our favorite grade school cook retired, now she has a cafe at Tea Pot Junction serving coffee and the greatest of pies.

Then there is the town of Ubet.

A tiny dusty old town out in the middle of Montana that was dying off, the town people got their heads together and decided to turn the town into a living history museum/town to attract tourists.

So they brought in several old buildings to adjoin an old railroad warehouse that they turned into a giant museum building.

Then there is Klein Mt built into the rocks literally, stores built into bluffs with wood store fronts. Etc

This adds life and character and zest to any railroad big or tiny.

All of my towns have justified the actual lack of space one way or another by building a story with history behind it.

Lots of fun.

I hope this is a worthy tip for someone out there.



Hardin Mt USA”

A big thanks to Brian and Dick.

I think Dick is spot on with his tips – the layouts that always get the most comments and views all seem to have a back story, whether real or imaginary.

And besides, it makes your layout a lot more fun too.

Please post a comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

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



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Sill updated daily!

16 Responses to Brian’s new HOn3 layout

  1. Cary B says:

    Brian, I love your layout plan. I assume the wharf scene was from a prior layout. Please keep Al posted with the progress.

    Dick, your railroad story line encourages me to make plans for my own small layout of the future.

    Cary B

  2. Macbear says:

    Al is spot on: Dick’s tip promotes happy memories of people and places, along with, maybe, a little fantasy. When we share with others – some of whom will recognise the personal interest, we may build social bonding.
    My bit of fantasy is in the business and place names. The layout is based on the part of Nottinghamshire linked to D.H.Lawrence. I couldn’t resist “Chatterley’s Close” as a street name.
    In my own work in that area I encountered interesting surnames. A bit of licence allows business details aimed to raise a smile: Hugh Cancemi, Optician; Seymour Legge, Ladies Fashions; and, grimly, O’Deare, Berriman & Ashe – I leave you to guess their business…
    I would also add my own tip. Pick a date. That discipline avoids orchards bearing a heavy crop of apples with clusters of daffodils in long grass or similar incongruities. Whilst doing that historical anachronism may be permissible to enjoy rolling stock – so a locomotive scrapped decades before appears as if it were preserved. Good fun.

  3. Art says:

    I love the look of shelf layouts but never quite understood (and haven’t seen any videos) on how they actually operate. Do the trains simply go forward and then reverse, back and forth? Would love an explanation if anyone sees this post. Thanks.

  4. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Hi Brian…Looks great…Might I ask if you are planning a mirror on the ends?…I notice the reverse signage on the building…which by the way are(is) beautiful…It will be awsome when finished….Mike

  5. John Clark says:

    Love it guy

  6. Ted says:

    Brian, incredible detail on the wharf structures. Will the two levels be two distinct rail lines? If not, what mechanism will you use to move trains between levels? Please keep us all posted on your progress! Ted

  7. Cord Reynolds says:

    Hey Dick – maybe you would explain the origins of the name ‘Ubet’. 😉


    Cord Reynolds
    Jackson, Wyoming

  8. Brian Messenger says:

    Hi all, an explanation of ‘my’ shelf layouts. The upper level will be a logging operation (moving wood to a sawmill) loosely based on the Westside Lumber Co. on the west coast of the USA where on one side of the layout the trees will be cut down and loaded onto log cars for a trip to the sawmill on the same level. On the other side will be a small engine terminal with a turntable and two stall engine house plus a small yard. The locomotives that I use are Shays and Heislers (logging locomotives). These locomotives can run with trains in forward or reverse. There will be a runaround at the tree felling area in order for the train to have a loco in the front on the return journey. There is no connection to the lower level.

    The bottom level will be based very loosely on the Denver & Rio Grande RR (locomotives and rolling stock only) and will have a full engine terminal facility on one side and the harbor on the opposite side terminating at the wharf. Again no connection between the levels.

    In reality, I will have two different layouts to operate independently from each other. The layouts are designed to have two operators for each level all running on DCC.

    Yes, the wharf was salvaged from my previous layout where it terminated against a wall. There was a mirror at the end and because you could not actually see the end of the wharf but only in the mirror hence the mirror images on the buildings. These will be changed once placed in the new location where one can see the actual end of the wharf. In a few of my previous posts, one can see all the photos of the building of the wharf and explanation.

    If you peruse through all my previous posts, there are numerous photos of my buildings, locomotives and rolling stock on my previous layout. All (?) will be used on my new layout. The reason for building a new layout is that we retired and moved to a different town 500 kilometers up the coast from Cape Town.

    I will send Al a plan of my layouts in the near future.
    Cheers Brian

  9. John Reynolds says:

    Nice idea and work. I like the idea of using two levels for two very different layout ideas.
    John (from Cali)

  10. Michael Flanagan says:

    G’day guys
    I am working in N scale. Can someone please let me know how much I have to scale down the print out for buildings from Al.
    Many thanks

  11. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Cord Reynolds….howdy neighbor. That is a fun one, and it brings up a couple other things folks might like to hear. As this was told to me by an elderly lady who rode my schedule bus when I drove for Trailways, my shcedule went throught Lewistown, to Eddies Corner and on to Great Falls Mt. As we went by Eddie’s Corner she told me that what is now Judith Gap originally was named Ubet. When the Post Office was completed there someone piped up and said we need to name this town, and someone else piped up and said you bet!! Wa la….Ubet stuck.. The odd thing was, this lady did not know I was a model railroader. I had already named my town as Ubet and I is in central Montana on my layout. Ever since I was a kid I’d always reply to many things with “ubet”, pretty common out here anyway. So I decided to name my town Ubet, not knowing there really was one.
    Now in my town of Ubet I have a cowboy boot factory where Ubetchur boots are hand crafted. I hunted for a railroad ticket punch, and bought an old one from a tiny old railroad company from the Eastern US so I could punch my railroad tickets and passes for passengers of the Rural Montana Branch Lines. I was excited to see that the punch was a cowboy boot!!

  12. Will in NM says:

    Brian, that is a great start on your new layout. I sent my brother a link to another (N scale as I recall) layout that had three or four disconnected levels where each level represented a different aspect of the railroad. My brother wants to build an N scale Christmas layout with multiple levels too. I do wonder where the Rio Grande narrow gauge would have encountered a fishing wharf. 🙂

    Dick et al, I love the idea of creating a back story for your model railroad and all the clever double entendre names you have come up with. I only wish I was as imaginative as you all seem to be.

  13. Jim Kennedy says:

    Al, I am getting ready to start my first layout soon. It will be in N-scale. I would like to put the effort into video but I am not sure how to go about doing that. Can you or any of the subscribers offer any suggestions?

  14. Erick says:

    Looks good. But would to like to see more.

  15. Dave Karper says:

    Art, there are several ways to turn locomotives on a shelf layout. The most space consuming are a return loop,and wye. The least space taker would be turntables at each end. This is also the most expensive.

  16. Brian Olson says:

    Creativity as always on display here. Thank you!

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