4×8 HO train layout – Cal’s

Cal’s been in touch with his 4×8 HO train layout.


People have been asking about my track plan on a 4×8 plywood base HO scale. I found it finally on my computer hidden where it was hard to find.

I’m not sure if you recall my pictures, but as you can see, the building placement and road are completely different from when I designed the plan and what it actually turned out to be.

Originally I had the station designed for the back of the layout with buildings along the yard and sidings.

I think it turned out better than my original track plan.



4x8 HO train layout track plan

(More 4×8 HO track plans here if that’s what you’re after.)

4x8 HO train layout double loop

4x8 HO train layout tunnels

4x8 HO train layout tunnels waterfall

4x8 HO scale frieght

HO scale control panel

4x8 HO train layout waterfall beach

4x8 HO train layout fire station

4x8 HO train layout sidings

4x8 HO train layout engine shed

4x8 layout sidings

HO train layout

4x8 HO train layout buildings

4x8 HO train layout rolling stock

A huge thanks to Cal for sharing his 4×8 HO train layout – you can see his layout is really coming along now (his last post is here).

It also goes to show it’s okay to deviate from a plan…

And if you’d like to see some more HO scale layouts, here’s a collection of them.

In fact, ther are hundreds and hundreds of them on the site.

Don’t just take my word for it, though, here’s another whole page of them.

If you like what you see, there’s only way to see them all.

If you’re not already on the newsletter, you need to jump on! You can do so here.

That’s all today folks. Please do keep ’em coming and don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your own layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

49 Responses to 4×8 HO train layout – Cal’s

  1. Colin says:

    Lots of work and is well done. It does however show a problem that many of us have – lack of space. The layout is typical of so many where we have to try and get as much detail and variation into a small space. Having to do so make the layout look packed and unrealistic. One way of course is to use a small scale , say n gauge. This would allow for more realistic curves and larger spaces between areas I.e countryside and town. Although this helps one ,I think has to decide what you want to achieve realism or just have the enjoyment of building a layout. Realism unfortunately does mean limiting what you place on your layout. The rewards are in the eye of the beholder and the enjoyment they get. Ido think that realism is the way to go and some way to achieving same can be simply trying to get the curves to look mor realistic. They a slower curve into tunnels and do the tighter curve within the tunnel. Anyway well done to all builders.

  2. shawn gossen says:

    I like the layout. Very nice job.

  3. NJ Mark says:

    Before I returned to model railroading, my wife and I visited Northlandz in Flemington, NJ. It houses the largest HO system I have ever seen. It was totally unbelievable. Upon leaving, my wife asked if I had learned anything about my needs before I start my railroad. I told her I need to build a 550,000 square foot shed to hold it all. We laughed. I am lucky enough to have a 4 x 20 layout, but I wish I had more space as well. Cheers to all of the great craftspeople who have taken up this wonderful hobby and to Al for posting their inspiring work. Cal, I always see something new in your pics, great job! NJ Mark

  4. Marvin says:


  5. Marvin says:

    Great job.

  6. Gerry in Florida says:

    Very Very Very nice 4 x 8… Details are excellent… Wish I had the patients to do your kind of high quality modeling…. Gerry

  7. James Richards says:

    Excellent layout. Nice to see you can do quite a bit on a 4×8 sheet of plywood!
    Super job, enjoy.

  8. Joe says:

    Thank you for all the interesting emails, track schemes etc.
    What I would like to see is how to develop / build a control panel like many of the pictures have shown.
    I build and run in O gauge. Do you have anyone who can give a good description of putting together a control panel like the one shown in this email.
    Thank you

  9. John Stam says:

    Very nice lay out for a 4×8 nice job

  10. ray says:

    first thing I noticed was Gilligans Island. maybe that’s not what it is but, It made me laugh. great job!

  11. Kevin McArdle says:

    There are inherent problems with the standard 4×8 sheet of plywood layout, and that is the one plane (flat) track plan. Trying to cram everything into such a small space limits the ‘running’ of trains. I suggest use an open grid design to make a multi level layout, and going to a 5×9 foot space, which increases the layout by 12 square feet, (45 versus 32), if space allows.

  12. Robert F Brown says:

    Great layout. You have made the most of 4 x 8 feet. Lots and lots of interesting and entertaining details to look at. I especially like the village store fronts. The mountains on the turn are great, to. I am also limited to 4 x 8 and have been looking at adding some corner mountains. Your layout is helping my thinking with respect to mountain design.

  13. Mike hier says:

    Thank you Cal and Al,

    This is a fabulous use for 32 square feet of real estate. A couple of features are special for my taste; you have the ability to keep two trains running, and you managed to include some wonderful mountains and tunnels using very little space. I’d love to take a ride under that waterfall.

  14. Thomas Murphy says:

    Rather well done Cal.

  15. Very nice. Lots of deal. A bit busy, but heck, who cares? You are enjoying yourself and your work is nice!

  16. Ken Goldenberg says:

    Wow, this looks similar to the collection I had as a kid ( and still have in storage)
    Classic Santa Fe passenger train, SP and UP stock. Nice! And a huge Disneyland fan.

  17. Robert Mize says:

    Very good job, gave me some good ideas.

  18. Pastor Harry C. Wigmore, III says:

    Hey, Al, Are those rockets in the pictures from North Korea???? Maybe they are being sent to North Korea to use to blow themselves up.

    Any way I love this train layout!!!!! And the p-51 Mustang flying over the side of the mountain, how cool that is!!!!!!

  19. John Lammin says:

    First of all, Thanks for all your hard work Alistair. Cal, I`de like to compliment you on your layout. You have done well to get so much into a small space and it looks great :o). Also, thanks to all the people who send in tips they are so helpful. I am from the UK and operate 2 N Gauge layouts. One is 5`x 3ft and the other is 32″x5` 5″. My first layout I am going to dismantle it and start again I made a lot of mistakes on it. I will try to get some pics of my new layout for all to comment on lol. Best wishes: John.

  20. Cary says:

    Fabulous layout Cal! You’ve packed a lot into a small space and it looks believable. You also have lots of things to fiddle with which I’m sure makes operating it all that much more fun. Congrats hope you are enjoying !
    Cary in KY

  21. Don says:

    Great job Cal. You obviously have the patience of a saint. I like the realism you have managed to create. A lot of activity going on in that space. The dual tunnels on the end of the layout are intriguing. Nice job with the control panel also. I am in the beginning stages of prepping a 4 x 8 layout with a 3 x 7 attachment. Your layout provides me with more to think about. Keep up the good work.

  22. Ian Mc Donald says:

    very nice layout, lots of everything, the photos work for me you can really look at everything in detail that’s where you give ideas away thanks for sharing.

  23. A beautiful layout!

  24. handymanjohn says:

    I love it. Cal I would like to know what you used to make the “water fall”? I’m in the planning stage and think a good waterfall on my design would be great.

  25. Mike says:

    Awesome layout, yes what did you use to make the water fall. I’m also in the planning stage, I’m setting up a 4′ X 16′ down stairs in our basement. I love your little Gilligan’s island, great job on everything in a 4′ X 8′ area.

  26. Jack McGoff says:

    I would like to see a diagram showing how many straight, ,curved and switches were needed. How the wiring is layered out and so on. Show just the track layout. Great job – would love to duplicate.

  27. Bob Bennett says:

    is it possible to purchase this layout

  28. Graeme Waters says:

    I think Ray might be right…definitely a nod to Gilligan’s Island.
    Very impressive layout.
    I commenced my layout in 2012. Step 1 was to build a 30 x 16 foot shed. Step 2 was to get another shed for all outside tools.
    Step 3 air condition the shed. (Bendigo, Victoria gets very warm)
    My main shed now houses the layout – under construction and the work area.

  29. Kemper Smith says:

    For someone, whose equipment is older, it is good to see what can be done using blocks. It it very pretty and effectively uses the space available. Thanks for the views.

  30. george zaky says:

    Loved what you did. When it takes a while to admire the details and craftsmanship on a 4×8 then you know that its a great layout. I got rid of the Atlas switches. Installed a DPDT with a momentary instead. One side of the DPDT is for the switch and the other for a 3V red/green light. Much better. Switch position is easier to see.
    Be safe
    George from NY

  31. :Lynn Taubeneck says:

    Where did you get the station? Is it scratch built or a kit? I love that style of station and want to get one for my layout.

  32. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great Layout!! So much in a 4 x 8 Great scenery!! Well Done!

  33. John Bullock says:

    Like the creativity of all the 4 x 8 plans I read about here, and this one is no exception. I particularly like the track plan here.

  34. Jim2 says:

    Love the Gilligan’s Inland! 😄

  35. Ben Olson says:

    Cal, like so many others, I thought the “Gilligan’s Island” scene was pretty cool! You do have a lot going on in a small space and actually that’s what I like about your layout. There is so much to see from different angels. Every time I look at the pictures I notice another detail. Speaking of detail, I thought the detail in the train yards is exceptional…must of taken a lot of time to create this. Great job, thanks for sharing! PS: Along with Pastor Harry, I’m wondering about those rockets…..!!!

  36. Bill Glover says:

    I would like to thank Al and Cal for making this available for view. I am also limited to a 4 x 8. I am trying to get back into model railroading after a long absence. I was considering numerous plans when I spotted Cal’s. I have decided to take Cal’s concept and modify it to my desired features. But again, this was a very timely post! Thank you!

  37. Robert Brady says:

    How on God’s green earth did Gilligan end up on a land locked island?
    Great layout love it had to get that pun in,Lol
    Mr critic

  38. Jim AZ says:

    Very nice. Some good looking and well detailed street scenes. Good job.
    Jim AZ

  39. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Wow….geat job…I love the waterfall with the beach……really cool. You have a lot of detail in a small areal……..nice yard work.

    Gary M from Long Island

  40. Ken G says:

    Neat layout! Looking at it I kept thinking – I have nearly all of the same trains! I have the same Santa Fe passenger train and engines, same with the Southern and Union Pacific engines! I grew up in the San Francisco Bay arena so those railroads (along with Western Pacific) fit my area. Sadly while I still have all of those trains they have been packed up far too long.

    The Disneyland railroad station is great. Is that scratch build or is it one of those printable “cut-out” plans I’ve seen online?

  41. Great work, looks fantastic, but I have to ask: Is that the “Minnow” wrecked on that small island???

  42. Wayne S from Downunder says:

    The waterfall is so realistic.
    Fantastic effort.

  43. Will in NM says:

    NIce job Cal. You’ve crammed a lot of railroading into a 4×8 space. I agree that moving the station up front was a wise decision even if you had to remove a siding or two to make it work. Your tunnel grotto under the water falls is probably functional as well if you get a mid-tunnel derailment. I like that your water falls had a source (in the backdrop?) so that they just didn’t appear to pop out of the ground. When you only have 4×8 feet for your train layout, you have to make some compromises. You can go for maximum realism or maximum operating fun. I think you’ve achieved a nice balance between the two extremes.

  44. Alabama Mike says:

    Great job on your layout Cal. I really like the track layout. Very nice scenery , also.

  45. Very nice.

  46. Guy Pernetti says:

    Lot’s of stuff in a small space. Looks very nice and well planed.

  47. Dan Richards says:

    Hi Cal,

    I want to add to the long list of compliments here. Everything about your railroad, from track design to scene design and execution is really well done. I particularly like the way you’ve integrated passenger and freight operations.

    I like that so much that I’m considering scrapping my current plan and doing something like yours. To that end, do you have a larger track schematic? I just can’t read the track markings on the one that’s posted.


  48. Bob Thomas says:

    Fantastic layout, really busy with lots of things going on. I’d love to build something like that myself but the wiring is putting me off.

  49. Steven Tate says:

    Thanks for sharing your 4’x8′ layout. I really enjoyed all of the great details, especially the scenery. I listed my HO 4’x7′ layout on Facebook Marketplace recently and was wondering if you know anyone who might like to buy it. Please let me know your ideas about this, Cal. I enjoy designing and building HO model train layouts and I am planning to build a new one when I am able to sell my current layout. You have given me a host of new ideas and I look forward to implementing them.

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