6×4 model train layouts

Chris has been in touch. He’s added to the 6×4 model train layouts on the blog.

I do love an update – and I do love it when than update is nothing more than the very first stages, because this hobby is all about making a start.

“Hi Alastair,

It has been a bit stop start but the attached photos show what progress I have made so far.

I bought a DCC Ready Hornby Flying Scotsman set from the toy department of a local department store that was selling them at a knock down price.

The store had to sell their stock or return all Hornby items as Hornby had changed their policy to only selling either online or through model shops.

Hooked and before they sold out, I went back a couple of days later and bought a DC West Coast Highlander set, again at a knock down price! That was the easy bit.

Having Triang trains many years ago the bug was there but with family, career etc. it was buried deep. This was the opportunity to have another go. Fortunately I have a lovely tolerant wife who like me has always had an affection for trains, especially steam.

So after discussion and the measuring of rooms, layout size etc. it was agreed that a 6 x 4 table with castors on the legs would do the job.

After a few mistakes the result was this, albeit on reflection a little over engineered….

6x4 model train layouts bench

Thanks to your members many words of wisdom you will see that I was already thinking of converting to DCC and was installing a bus wire.
Much track laying and relaying went on, most of it trying to use too much track and being far too complicated.

6x4 model train layouts

The lesson learnt was of course KISS, ‘keep it simple stupid!’

So the up to date situation is this…

6x4 model train layouts.

6x4 model train layouts engine house

I have converted to DCC and bought a Hornby Select controller, TTS decoder for the Flying Scotsman (FS) and am waiting to hear from Hornby as to what TTS Decoder would be suitable for the 0-4-0 West Coast Highlander.

I encountered a few problems with the conversion to DCC. Fitting the Decoder to the loco was not an issue but the speaker supplied with it was far too big. Again one of you members came to the rescue in an article where they said they used the speaker from an old mobile phone. Bingo! With a bit of trimming it fitted beautifully by the funnel.

First testing did not go well. In spite of checking all wiring etc the FS seemed to have a mind of it’s own so after two frustration day I phoned the Hornby help line. After much checking and re-setting the problem was found to be the small chip in the DC connecting rail that I was using. Once this was removed full control was achieved.

Having built the Engine Shed and Tunnel Entrances I am now moving on to more scenery building.


It’s good to see a growing list of 6×4 model train layouts, and I’m looking forward to the next missive from Chris.

Now on to Steve who has been back in touch after his last post.

He’s been kind enough to answer your question – here’s his last missive if you missed it.

“MANY THANKS for the kind words & encouragement!!! I’ve been working on the layout for about 3-1/2 years now. Mostly in the dreary Cincinnati winter months, as I fly RC planes & helis in nicer weather.

The cost is “classified”. If my wife found out I may have to move me and the layout to the dog house.

There were MANY people who helped along the way: my wife really helped with building colors, Alastair & his work posting others’ work, folks I purchased materials from like Brooklyn Hobby(track, cars, engines), Tam Valley (frog juicers), Scale Model Plans(residential house plans), Litchfield Station(DCC & engine decoders), ANE SmartSwitch (turnout controls), plus many more.

My words of wisdom: plan, think small and DO SOMETHING, Planning, having an idea what you want to do, helps visualize the end result. Yes, plans change, but the overall concept/ scheme of my layout didn’t.

Think small! Not so much in terms of scale, but in terms of trying to do anything. Building & painting the buildings seemed daunting, so I started with one, then another, etc. Same with trees – there’s probably several hundred trees of different sizes/ shapes.

Starting with one (whether building or installing), then another, then another breaks it down into manageable parts.

I never really sat down and said “today I’m going to plant all the tress”, but did say “today I’m going to plant a FEW of trees”, then would get carried away and end up planting 20 or 30 at a time.

For the “Do Something”, I didn’t know how to color rocks, so I was VERY hesitant to get started. I started experimenting with rock coloring. It was terrible the first few times, but I kept trying different things until I hit upon a combination I was satisfied with. Had I not “done something” (even though wrong, at first) I’d still have white plaster castings.


A huge thanks to Chris for adding to the 6×4 model train layouts, and to Steve.

And if you want to make your own start, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

That’s all for today, folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.



PS Thank you for all the comments on the new ebay cheat sheet – it loads lots quicker now.

21 Responses to 6×4 model train layouts

  1. Mark Jobin says:

    All in HO …??!
    Great set up … 4×6’ good size… I might try this…!

  2. Jim Aspin says:

    Chris, nice work! What did you use to build the engine house?

  3. Jan Pynappel says:

    I completely agree with you Steve. Unless you start something, you will never enjoy everything this wonderful hobby has to offer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your layout.

    And thanks also to Alastair for keeping this site going. Always such wonderful information!!!

  4. Thomas says:

    I really like your elevated track! I’m working on a 4×8 layout, and really would like to have some elevation in it. I was thinking it would need more piles and closer together for support, but if this is working for you I’m gonna give it a try. I’ve got the same turnout on the right side, and I want to elevate the inner track. Thought I would put in a lake on the left side and build a bridge crossing. Got a long way to go’ but you’ve given me a great idea. Thanks


  5. George W Reid says:

    Nice! I too have learned from past tries the KISS system. Just wondering though what have you made the loser “boxes” for. I like the idea but wonder if it’s something more than just storage?

  6. Dr. Bob says:

    Nice work Chris! I noticed you left some thought in your design to possibly future expansion? Moving to DCC is a great idea too. You will be impressed with the dynamics and ease of operation.

  7. Ken From PA, USA says:

    Chris, your table is fantastic! casters are a nice touch for moving to get access. I don’t think there is such a thin as over engineering when you have a table on casters. There is a lot of stress going on when moving it especially after the layout is finished. I have layout on casters and mine measures roughly 6 ft. by 12 ft. keep up the good work and have fun.
    A big thanks to Allistair for maintaining this site. I enjoy everyone’s input and have learned a lot! Ken from PA ,USA

  8. Chris Arnold says:

    The layout is OO size. 6 x 4 was a compromise as a best fit in the only room suitable for the table.

  9. Chris Arnold says:

    Hi Jim,
    The Engine Shed was part of a bundle purchased through Al. There is a great video on utube by John who shows how to print it off, stick it on card and gives some very useful tips on giving it character.

  10. Chris Arnold says:

    The boxes under the table at the moment are designated as storage; it gets stuff off the floor so I can get there with the vacuum cleaner!!

  11. Bob Walker says:

    Hey Chris… excellent-looking benchwork! -Bob W,, NH, USA

  12. Carl Halgren says:


    Some advice before going too far on your tunnel. First, since the tunnel is on a curve, make sure there is enough clearance on both sides for your long er (passenger) cars. Second, allow access to the inside in case of a derail. On my layout, the tunnel is open to the edge of the layout. That makes for easy access. To keep the tunnel dark inside, I draped a black cloth over the opening.

    Carl in Kansas

  13. Carl Halgren says:


    You mentioned wanting to elevate some trackage. I have a 5×8 layout with one track passing over another. In order to keep inclines to a minimum, one track goes down while the other goes up – that cuts the inclines in half. Give that a thought while designing your layout.

    Carl in Kansas

  14. william says:

    great job and as with all new things, we forget KISS.

  15. both Steve and Chris have the right idea , you have to start some ware not
    worry about making mistakes -I have found that you remember the right way better
    if you make some of the wrong moves in this hobby and boy did I make a lot of those !
    and Al. I am getting flack form the boss about how much money we spent for the holidays so it will take me some time to smoose her after she spent almost $1,600
    us on me and our grandson this past years holidays ? might even be more after I
    bought the boy two brand new locos from Walters and a bunch of track and gave him a lot of rolling stock to boot ,and she can see me putting out more for the new shed and a lot of new track and scenery along with some rolling stock to replace what the boy needed and she knows I will want a couple more new locos to pull the new stock !?!

  16. todd micu says:

    very nice !

  17. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Steve…….You are right about the cost of this hobby….I am at the end of my 4th year with my HO scale 9 x 7 layout and including everything; that’s trains, tracks, switches, tools, scenery supplies and more….. my cost is in the thousands. and about your issue with coloring rocks……. go into your backyard and rake up some dirt and then sift out the dirt and you will be left with all types of rocks already colored and weathered.

    Chris… jealous of your woodworking skills……and great start to your layout.

  18. Will in NM says:

    All good advice on how to keep the layout building process manageable. I wish I could maintain concentration long enough to finish one small project at a time, but I always seem to get distracted and leave them “almost finished.”

    Great start to a simple layout — a very good way to learn and develop your modeling skills. I agree that it’s easy to start playing with track and end up making it over-complicated. I did that with a Christmas layout that I started in 1997. I had laid out a workable simple double oval with some crossovers. But then I got a CAD program that allowed me to experiment with more complex track plans and ended up with a 3-level layout with tunnels I couldn’t build and gave up on it. A few months ago, I looked at it and realized that if I removed the entire 3rd level, I’d have a layout I might actually be able to build. Thanks to the likes of Dangerous Dave and Farland Howe who routinely seem to tear out sections of their layouts and rebuild them, I got the courage to remove that 3rd level and start over. Now, there’s even some hope I might get it finished one day.

  19. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Nice job on that HO table, looking good

  20. Erick says:

    Wow that is great workmanship. I hope mine turns out that good.

  21. Brian Olson says:

    Like all good model railroads, it beings with good benchwork!

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