Cecil’s S-Scale Railroad Layout

“Al. I’ve been a reader of your blog for several years and always enjoy the great ideas and suggestions submitted by your readers.

Some of these ideas have been included in my layout.

I’ve also included several of your houses and a church on the layout, which you will recognize from the photos.

Thanks for all you do to help promote model railroading as a hobby.

My layout is about 13 feet by 27 feet with room to walk around the layout. The plan was to get as many operating tracks as possible and I ended up with six operating tracks and another operating siding leading to factories along the river.

I’ve included photos during construction, which started in October.

Below shows completed tables in the back, part of which came from an earlier layout in our prior house.

A walkway was designed into the tables so I could get to the interior of the layout. This was later covered with removable foam pieces and a bridge.

model railroad benchwork

The top is ½” cabinet grade plywood, which was selected because it was straight as opposed to cheaper grades that are warped when you buy them.

benchwork

The layout as it sits today.

s scale layout

At the near end of the layout is a town with four tracks between the edge of the layout and the town.

The tracks are numbered from the outside in, with tracks one and two going around the outside of the layout and under the mountain at the far end.

These two tracks enter the mountain on the outside and exit on an elevated section before crossing the river on a long-span custom-made bridge.

The bridge is one of four on the layout that were scratch built based on photos of bridges on the Pennsylvania railroad.

elevated section of s scale tracks

The layout is still a work in progress since there is landscaping and other work to be done around the town.

There are signal lights to be installed around the town that will require sensors to be embedded in the track with additional wiring to be completed. That is why there is no grass, landscaping, or ballast on the tracks between the river and the front of the layout.

The layout has several American Flyer accessories that are set up so they can be controlled by push buttons on the side of the layout as well as from the hand-held remote control.

american flyer log loader

The power center is located under the front edge of the layout on a slide-out shelf. Three dual-channel transformers power the six operating tracks.

A fourth identical transformer sits behind the transformer on the right side to power the siding tracks. Three other dual-channel transformers sit behind these to power accessories.

Transformer outputs are connected to Lionel Track Power Controllers located at the front of the shelf, one for each track. These provide power to the tracks and are controlled by a Lionel Legacy control system through a hand-held controller. The controller can operate any of the engines, any of the 57 turnouts or any of the accessories on the layout.

power for tracks with transformers







In front of the depots are three tracks. The center is track one, and other two are sidings. An American Flyer Y3 engine passes by the passenger cars waiting at the depot and bulkhead flatcars sitting on the other siding.

american flyer y3 engine

An American Flyer SD70 diesel engine pulling a freight train on track two passes by the inside of the train depot and prepares to cross a road from town to the depot area.

Like most of the engines operating on the layout this engine operates with the Lionel Legacy control system which has “Crew Talk” or other functions operated from the hand-held controller.

american flyer sd70 diesel engine

Some of the buildings in the town are shown below.

The church is located beside the road as it enters town. Children play in the side yard, which is common to the school located on the adjacent street. A station wagon enters the parking lot in front of the church with a policeman controlling traffic at the intersection.

A freight train with two American Flyer U33 diesel engines crosses the river bridge on track three as it enters the town area. The river at this point is on the lift-up bridge section that opens to allow access to the interior of the layout.



Located on the ‘other side of the tracks from town’ is the A&W Root Beer stand, a popular attraction in our youth. Cars are parked in front with a couple of guys waiting to place orders as others enjoy their drinks at the picnic tables.

A waitress carries food to the yellow souped-up Ford roadster while a young man talks to his date behind the car at Mel’s diner.

Further down the road from town is the Everest & Son Country Grocery store. From appeances it has become a general merchancise store over the years, with old tractors stored by the side. A 1932 Ford Model A coupe is getting gas while a Model T coupe waits for its owner to return from the store.

Just past the general store we’re in the country and find a one-room country with a swing set and tetter-totter stting by the side of the road. The Wycoff school is named after the one-room school that I attended from the fifth through eighth grades, with thirteen kids in eight grades.

One of the two large scratch-built railroad bridges that span the river and the lift-out panels that provide access to the center of the layout. An American Models K4 streamlined steam engine meets an American Flyer U33 diesel engine at the end of the bridge span.

On the side of the layout all six tracks align next to each other adjacent to a two-bay engine house. Three trains parked on the tracks include two U33 diesels, one in Southern Pacific and one in Santa Fe colors.

In the middle of the layout is an industrial area with three factories and an oil storage site. Trucks are backed up to the dock area picking up or making deliveries. Three railroad sidings loaded with freight cars serve the factories.



The Rio Grande SD70 pulls the 33-car beer train over the elevated section and starts across a bridge over the river. Three grain bins on the other side of the track store grains from the farm.

The elevated section supports tracks one and two and passes over the Farm. Since I grew up on a farm that was located next to a river this had to be a part of the layout. The farm sits between the elevated tracks and the river, with a cattle lot on the other side of the river.

The beer train on track two is made up of refrigerated cars bearing logos for different brews as well as a few wines.

The deer grazing at the top of the mountain have an excellent view of the HO train sitting below and of the entire layout, with the beer train winding around the elevated section and the town in the far distance. The river passes by the farm nestled at the foot of the mountain before flowing downstream

There is a lot of work remaining on the layout to get to a ‘completed’ status — but I don’t believe that any layout is truly complete because the builder will find something to change when it ‘looks done’.

Installation of train sensors on the tracks to operate the crossing lights and signals is high on the priority list and planting of more trees on the mountain meadows comes in second.

Cecil”



A huge thanks to Cecil for putting together such a wonderful narrative, and so many pics.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Course, I’m biased, but I loved the church he’s made from the print out scenery (which is here).

That’s all for today folks.

And if Cecil has inspired you to get going on your own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here if you wan to get going on your very own layout.

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still going strong.

PPS Got a question you need answered? Have a look at the forum.

39 Responses to Cecil’s S-Scale Railroad Layout

  1. Ken of Lakewood Shores says:

    Amazing

  2. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi Cecil A well planned and executed layout achieving what you wanted with multiple trains running at the same time. It is interesting to see the differing approaches to a layout design. Cecil was very specific in what he wanted to achieve, maximum number of trains running at once. I think this is a very specific requirement but does remove from it being realistic in its layout. Dangerous Dave has also achieved a goodly number of trains running at the same time but has recently changed his layout to contain longer sweeping curves and a less cluttered look to his layout. Nothing wrong with either approach just interesting to see the various approaches in practice. Cecil please show us your continued progress. Well Done again.

  3. Steve says:

    What a great layout, and excellent write-up and video too! Hall of Fame, Al?

    The pulling power and smooth slow running of those locos is very impressive, and to get long trains running faultlessly over the pointwork shows that you have taken great care with the tracklaying.

    Normally I prefer the more uncluttered approach to layout design, but for some reason I was captivated by the “busyness” of this one.

    Loved the art on the walls too.

    A general question about U.S. railways (sorry, railroads) – here in the UK it is a legal requirement for tracks to be fenced or walled off from the surrounding land, but nearly all of the U.S. layouts I have seen have open access to tracks, even in built-up areas. Is this the case on full-size railroads?

  4. Hey Cecil
    Wow that is some layout! You will make us all envious, so nice to have all that room to work with, well done! I love it

    Peter Rothwell

  5. A very nice layout you have built there Cecil ..well done

  6. Robert Brady says:

    Cecil; Magnificent !
    The Critic

  7. Robert Brady says:

    Steve ( fenced ) New York Hudson river line is fenced off and are forbidden to walk across the tracks from New York city to way upstate. As a younster we fished the Hudson weekly, I’m 72 now but as a kid we were called river rats. No more.
    The Critic

  8. Daniel Robinson says:

    All ways amazed at a great layout and the work goes into them dream of mine to have that size of right of way.

  9. jack masarie says:

    Great to see larger scales represented. BRAVO
    shlack in NC

  10. Bill Holt says:

    What an amazing set-up. Very well done. EXCELLENT !!

  11. Robert Prouse says:

    What a grand layout! Brings back memories of my childhood Lionel setup, which was much more humble 4’x8’ figure-right. But it had a log un-loader and a barrel loader.

  12. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Cecil….. one of the best….. the narrative, the pics and the video. I am very jealous of the room you have. I am very impressed with the way you designed and built the access opening to the interior. How did you do the electrical connection? What did you use for your bridges? You said you scratch built them. And I am glad to see you got the speed on your trains realistic to the scale of your layout. Fantastic job, well done, very impressed.

  13. John Duryea says:

    Really great layout, I’m also S legacy and some flyer. I’ve got track down using American Models track and turn outs. Your way ahead of mine, wirh more detail. Finding items to scale and that look real is tuff in our scale. Like to ask where you found the grain elevator?. You can email me anytime.

  14. James Marek says:

    BEST S-Scale layout I have ever seen!

  15. Bruce from Illinois says:

    Cecil, great to see an S-scale layout. I’m still working on my 5X10.

  16. george zaky says:

    Cecil
    You have no idea how excited I am that your AF & S scale layout is spectacular & so huge. I dont think everyone here is aware of what was invested here. Bravo on the scratch built. I cowardly packed my S ( I could not bear to sell it) and reverted to HO because of the availability of stuff and inclusion of Faller vehicle systems. It is truly sad that the market for S stuff just is not there and the costs for doing what you did is so high. If we met I would go on for days with questions.
    So I bow to you because you could afford it and for your artistry in planning, designing and creating this masterpiece. BTW those wonderful paintings-Perillos by chance? Love them.
    Please give us more details & updates
    George from LI, NY

  17. Tony says:

    Cecil-

    Great layout and great write-up! Love the Espee engine!

    Tony, Kitty Hawk, NC

  18. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!!!!

  19. Calvin Kaufmann says:

    What a wonderful layout! The craftsmanship is most impressive including the details and especially the construction of the opening access section. If possible, a track layout would be nice to have as reference. I have enjoyed the creative approach that every contributor has shown.

  20. Mike Balog says:

    Hi Cecil :
    Very Well Done, Impressed Indeed.. Reminds me when I was 8 yrs old,. My father had a split level house. Half the Basement was a Giant 027 Lionel and S Scale American Flyer Layout. Many operating accessories like your layout. Impressive you have flawless trackage that can run trains as you have. Wish my Father were alive today, he would have an ear to ear smile watching your trains run. ~ Mike in N.H. ~ U.S.A.

  21. Anton Bruce says:

    Absolutely stunning, Cecil! What wonderful work!

    And every modeller here will agree….a layout is never “finished”.

  22. Bob From Towson says:

    Sir, You are a master!!! I also have Flyer s scale trains and enjoy them completely. Your layout shows planning only an architect or electrician could conceive…I.Envy your mind sir…..Member TCA 02-55263 NASG21R0056E

  23. TJK says:

    As many layouts I have observed on this site I only comment on a few…..
    Most of the layouts are terrific …..
    Cecil’s is magnificent!

  24. roger turner says:

    I really enjoyed the pics and video of a well planned layout, very impressive. Love all the detail as that really make a layout, I think. Especially liked your vehicles, was wondering if you might also be a car guy? My layout is much smaller, not near complete, after more then a year of work, with a very long list of to do’s, so I have a feel for the amount of work you have already accomplished and it is very inspiring and a joy to see.
    Thanks for sharing

    Roger from Kansas

  25. Dear Al, Thanks again for all you do for the hobby. I got my first S Gauge train
    set in 1946 and continued to accumulate until I switched to HO. Now days at
    age 80 I’m back to S even though in a nursing home where a layout is impossible.
    I really enjoyed your posting of Cecil’s layout. I’ve archived every post for over
    a year. I hope to make a book of them in the future, with your permission.
    Thanks again for letting us see what can be done…..RJ

  26. Tom Provo says:

    A lot of thought went into this layout and the fact that you can operate 6 different trains at once ia great. I also loved the way the river can be tilted up to access other parts of your layout

  27. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Actually, more than nice. Quite impressive. So many neat scenes you have created and with great detail. I liked the model t Ford scene and the diner. A and W was good too. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  28. Ron Edwards says:

    Cecil,
    Looks great. I am impressed with your power supply arrangement for the layout. I am in the process of putting power to my layout and am discovering the many challenges to what looked like a simple project on paper for three separate tracks and a train yard that will use Mike’s train house DCS control system with a Lionel TMCC connected to the MTH DCS track interface unit. I can only hope mine turns out as well as yours has. If you have any hints for this effort, I am more than willing o listen. Ron

  29. Mike says:

    Hi what a great layout I love all the trains running at once what I would really love to see in more detail is the bridge that you made the open up access to your layout I’m having dilemmas on how to access mine that I am building keep up the great work and thank you for sharing it

  30. Daniel says:

    Amazing love it!

  31. WOW! This is a beautiful layout. I’m 83 years old and so Your automobiles take me back several decades. Your “Beer Train” would make Milwaukee proud! My layout is HO gauge but I have rolling stock of all gauges in my ‘collection’, including a beautiful American Flyer 4-6-2, which was an 80th birthday gift, and a 4-4-2. I also have an American Flyer ‘O’ gauge train from the 1920’s or ’30’s.
    I also love and appreciate the Native American artwork around the room. Great work!
    Joseph from Milwaukee.

  32. Ross Johnston says:

    Thanks for sharing your Layout with us Cecil. I really enjoyed your video and got some ideas for my layout from it. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide, Australia

  33. ScenicsRme says:

    Steve, Back to your question. Except by local ordiance there is no fencing of railroad track required here in the states. There is a branch track about 1/4 mile from my house that they run locals on about 6 times a day (and night) that loops around the city through a small yard. I could walk up and sit in the middle of the track or walk on top the rail like a balance beam anywhere along it if I so desired.
    Even mainline is not fenced off except maybe where it passes a grazing pasture where the pasture owner may have put up a barbed wire fence to keep his animals off the track.

  34. Wayne Johnson says:

    What a fun layout and a fun video to watch. I’ve been an American Flyer fan since I was a kid.

  35. Steve says:

    Thanks Robert and ScenicsRme for the answers re fencing. I suppose with the vast distances involved it makes more sense for neighbours to do their own bit of fencing if they want to! I am still amazed at how dangerous it looks without a fence in built-up areas. Trains here regularly pass through heavily-populated areas at 100+ mph – perhaps quite low speed limits are the norm through U.S. towns and cities? Most of Cecil’s trains were running impressively slowly 🙂

  36. David Schaffner says:

    Stunning is the only word that I can come up with your amazing layout…Nice planning and landscaping. I don’t know too much about “S” gauge, but it seems a cast- off from 027 Lionel…Love the multiple trains running seemingly without effort and restraint. Do I see some Plasticville?, almost a lost treasure long before kits and European models and self- made kits. Again, amazing layout. Love it and good video capabilities going on there…

  37. Alabama Mike says:

    Wow Cecil, super S ga layout. Really enjoyed watching it. A lot of great Ideas incorporated in the building of it. I like the fancy hinge lift on the center walk way.
    I would like to see it when you finish all the scenery.

  38. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great Layout! Well done!! enjoyed your video, Have fun with your layout!

  39. Excellent. Everything it should be which includes FUN!

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