Dale’s HO scale layout

“Most of my trains are from Pennsylvania, Reading and Lehigh Valley. This past year I had six main lines and one bumper car line. I’ve been putting up layouts since I was six years old. I change it every year but always have the winter scenes.


HO scale layout

winter HO scale

“Hello Al,after years of watching train layouts on your site,and looking at mine which I have started 10 years ago,I am wondering if anyone out there can give me some tips on what I should do next.

I would be grateful,so I can get motivated and finish it !The layout works,and is in a coffee table in the Living Room. Thanks for your help.




Who can help Chris? I’d love to hear your ideas.

That’s all this time folks. Please don’t forget Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your own layout.



PS Lots more HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

18 Responses to Dale’s HO scale layout

  1. Ralph Berry says:

    Chris, that is a place where a lot of us have got to with the same problem. The next thing that I would do would be to put a scenic divide don the middle and have a tunnel or bridge connecting the two sides. next think up a local industry to justify the existence of the railway and build it on one side. The other side could just stay as a staging area to set up the trains to appear in your scene, or a port or canal scene where trains unload or transfer goods from your industry to travel further.. I hope this gets you going.

  2. David Hannan says:

    Chris that is a super layout under a coffee table! I would be itching to add scenery. Others with far more experience than me, will more idea where to start. I would ballast the track first, provided you are completely happy with the track plan. Scenery needs some thought, as you will want to see the layout from all sides. Possibly a hill/mountain in the middle of the layout?
    I will be very interested in what other model buildwers might say!

    (Dirty) Dave

  3. Jan Boen says:

    Hi Chris,

    I would try to avoid the obvious oval shape by laying the track differently and also think of some scenery to hide/camouflage sharp turns.
    A fiddle yard is also nice when you like maneuvering around.


    (Mr) Jan

  4. Laurence Johnston says:

    Dave, you may be able to clean the ballast up by using a small flat screwdriver and running it across the sleepers. Just drag it backwards and it should break off any surplus. Look forward to seeing it progress.

  5. James D Smith says:

    So happy to see a plain simple 027 layout being posted. Redaardless of what one gentlemna posted – it does not need to be a super well detailed layout to have fun with it. A lot of us do not have the time, recourses, or skills for that. My attempts is an O guage tinplate that will simply run a couple of trains and maybe make a few buildins from memory of my younger years. Nothing more – nothing less..

  6. Rod Mackay says:

    Hi Dave, it gets quite dusty in a garage, you might want to rig up a cover that the layout can be pulled up under in the raised position.
    Very pretty Dale, but what’s a bumper car please pal?
    Chris, first thing you want is a guard’s van for that freight train mate, and a water tower and columns to refill the loco tenders/tanks, and a hut with a stovepipe for the traincrew to take their breaks in and play cards. Have fun.

  7. Hi all well im 65 now and my first ever Train layout was suspended above my bed when I was 12 years old my Dad was a Big DIY Guy and he fixed washing line pulleys to the beams in my ceiling so the lay out could be lowered onto my bed back then I thought it was very Cool to have

    Great to see things haven’t Changed and others still have a simpler idea

    Keep at it
    all the best Anthoney

  8. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:


    Great to see you on your way. You mention static grass – good stuff but just put some paint down first either green or brown to see how it goes. When you use it for real you will find it pays to have scatter layers down first, let it dry then more PVA before you use the scatter tool- just don’t touch it when the ‘power’ is on. Your pulley system shows you have the skills to make a good layout. The main thing about a layout is to have fun so just do what pleases you, cheers.

  9. Perry says:

    Hi Dave,

    You need to use a finer ballast for your Layout. What you have is for a larger scale.

  10. Perry says:

    Dave you also need put more feeder wires to your layout.

    Perry in New Orleans

  11. Thomas Murphy says:

    Two quaint ideas; a suspended layout and a coffee table layout. Very interesting, indeed; shows you that there’s always an outlet for creativity in model railroading!
    Regards, Tom (USA).

  12. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great start Dave a little bit each day will give you a lot of enjoyment. love the coffee table layout, a bit of greenery a few scratch built buildings and that will make a good basic layout.

  13. Garry says:

    While the beautiful HO and smaller layouts we often see on this site are superb, as a guy with a bunch of Lionel O gauge, I am thrilled to see something similar to what I work with. In my mid seventies am having lots of fun doing something I did sixty or more years ago. Now know a bit more about tools and electricity and some of what was frustrating for me as a youth is now a more satisfying challenge….not that I do not become stuck at times…

  14. Pete (Houston) says:

    A suggestion. Once a train goes through the switch to the inner loop it is more-or-less confined to this loop unless one wants to back the train out and re-enter the outer loop. Add another switch or turnout on the other side of the layout and this would add a lot more operating interest. This would allow trains to move from the outer to the inner loop and back without having to back up, a not-very-prototypical train movement.

  15. Phil Knauf says:

    I have my early 50s 0/027 gage 2025 engine, tender and 8 cars. I have limited space and therefore have a 4 x 6 board and some 027 42 switches. Willing to buy more track and switches At this point not interested in modeling just trying to get up and running. Would like to see some layouts for 4 x 6..

  16. Alan McTavish says:

    Hi Chris,
    What you need is a Strategic Plan. You need to list all the things that need to be done – you can call them ‘obstacles’ if you like but it is better to refer to them as ‘stepping stones’.
    By breaking down the ambitious target, it becomes less daunting.
    Then, order the steps chronologically – what needs to be done before something else can be done. Re-write the list in that order. Some things will need to be done simultaneously – that’s not a problem.
    You can break down each step even further if you feel it necessary using the same process.
    This method takes away the ‘fear of failure’ because achieving each individual step is yet another minor success.
    I can give more information if you need it – Al can contact me if necessary.
    Best wishes,
    Alan …

  17. Dr. Bob says:

    Hi Chris! Some years ago when I was into carpentry, I would build coffee table layouts in ‘Z’ or ‘N’ as a hobby (great stress reliever) and then give them away to relatives, friends, or needy families with children. Not one layout was ever the same. While reading the great comments posted here, I noticed I followed some of the same traditional steps; Plan, build, and enjoy! No hobby is ever quite complete but that is the beauty of having a hobby.

  18. Don Jennings says:

    Where is the part that is suspended? That was the topic /

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