David’s HO scale

David’s been in touch with his HO scale train layout.

His journey is one many of us will be familiar with.


I thoroughly enjoy your blog; reading it is a part of my morning ritual.

I have learned a lot from your contributors. Thank you for all you do to promote our hobby. You provide a great service to all of us train buffs.

These photos are a long time coming. It has been a journey for me.

It started 63 years ago, when my dad bought me a Lionel 027 train set, featuring a steam engine and tender. As you might expect it had smoke pellets.

Over time he bought me a switch engine and operating accessories. Then him and Mom decided I deserved to have a nice layout.

He built a 16’ x 8’ double track layout with switch track allowing the trains to switch loops.

The main feature, however, was an L-shaped 2 track tunnel made from wood and screen frame stuffed with newspaper and covered in an old sheet, which Mom painted with earth colors and Dad installed red and green lights hooked up to a 2-way switch at the entry of the tunnel. I was the envy of the neighborhood.

In my thirties, a friend and train enthusiast encouraged me to unpack my 2 trains and set them up.

This began a 35-year adventure, which resulted in a 20’ x 30’ basement filled with 14 O-27 trains and a bouser trolley and a Lionel bumper car trolley. Oh yes, the layout was filled with operating accessories. For me, the fun of the hobby became modeling.

Operating the trains did not have the thrill I had when I was a child. I moved 8 times during this period, so my benchwork had to become portable.

I used standard 2” x 4” legs bolted to ½” plywood framed by 2” x 4” frames.

The key lesson from multiple teardowns and rebuilds was that getting the track work right was critical. As a result, I used a lot of half-straight track in my curves to avoid derailments.

When I turned 70, I realized that my railroad empire was no longer fun, because I did all the modeling and building that my basement allowed.

I ended up selling my collection to an eBay trader for about 45% of the collection’s original value. The only thing I retained was my original steam engine and tender, in memory of my dad. It did not take long for me to have “seller’s remorse.”

After giving the idea of starting a new layout, I decided to convert to HO scale. I think, the pictures tell the story of my new adventure.

I love the realism of the HO scale and the building and scenery options are far more extensive Than O-gauge.

What I have found is that I am spending more time and detail in creating the scenery for my layout.

I hope your readers enjoy the pictures.

Best Wishes,


HO scale passenger train

HO scale town

HO scale layout curves

HO scale train layout model railroad

HO scale mountains

HO scale tunnel

HO scale lumber

HO scale layout river

HO scale curves

HO scale layout harbor

ho scale tunnel

HO scale buildings

HO scale gas station

HO scale layout model railroad

HO scale freight train

HO scale layout

HO scale roads

HO scale apartments

HO scale factory

HO scale making tunnels

HO scale model railroad

A huge big thank you to David for sharing his HO scale train layout – I did enjoy his narrative.

So many of us started this journey with a Christmas gift when we were young and full of wonder.

That’s all this time my friends.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

model train answers

21 Responses to David’s HO scale

  1. Stephen Hill says:

    David , great layout , a lot going on there… I like it . Awesome that after you sold your stuff you revisited the hobby . A new and fresh start is invigorating, good for you . Thanks for sharing , enjoyed your narrative as well .

  2. Fred says:

    So much enthusiasm so much going on,superb

  3. robert dale tiemann says:

    wow lots of all the good things, very nice.

  4. Carl Flowers says:

    I see that you have included a lot of Dept 56 buildings — especially liked the Wrigley Field ball park!

  5. John Bullock says:

    Great storey… and layout!

  6. Bill in Virginia says:

    Love it ! A living railroad with so many scenes to enjoy. Great job!

  7. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Dave….. great layout……..fantastic job on that river scene.

  8. george zaky says:

    David from Ind.
    Wow- that’s a huge HO layout with an incredible inventory of scenery. A layout is never done so keep at it.

  9. Kevin McArdle says:

    What great parents you had that participated in your love of trains, hell I couldn’t get a baseball glove let alone a railroad empire. Don’t lament the loss of your 027 collection, consider it perpetuating the hobby and a new hobbyist. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. You have several unique and nicely done buildings, many of which I’ve not seen before. Kits or scratch built?

    Jim AZ

  11. Bob Beard - The Princeton Jct. Yardmaster says:

    I liked your story and I’m glad you’re back into model railroading again. You definitely seem to be happy and are enjoying it.
    Al: I’ve been thinking about it lately. You perform a wonderful and much-needed service connecting many model railroaders together from all over the world, letting us see what others are doing and encouraging first-time modelers, and particularly armchair modelers (like myself). I’m an armchair modeler right now because my house is on the market and I don’t know where I’ll be in 6 months. Getting to the point I’d like to donate $10 to your website. How do I do that? I’d like other model railroaders who view your site to consider doing likewise. I enjoy seeing your site every day, and I feel it provides an extremely useful service. I hope I set a precedent for others to show their appreciation. Then we wouldn’t have to worry that you might fold it all up one of these days.

  12. Don says:

    love everything about this layout, awesome

  13. robert dale tiemann says:

    huge amount of work, lots of effort put into this one. i really like the logging area.

  14. Kenneth R Fox says:

    Some of the detail was okay, but overall, it is too busy for my taste. I’m trying to decide if he was trying to put more focus on the town or on the railroad itself. I got lost running all all over the city, and had trouble finding the trains. Oh well. It’s his layout.

  15. Delmar gene Servoss says:

    long time in the making but great job

  16. Phil Bradley says:

    This is amazing, to say you only restarted in HO gauge a year ago. To get so much done in a year showes your enthusiasm for the hobby. It’s always good to see how someone else fits things together on a layout. I would dother a bit at the huge size of the space you have available.
    I enjoyed seeing your video as well. Keep up the good work, I look forward to seeing more of your photo’s and video’s.
    Great job, overall.
    Phil, Durham, England.

  17. Sam H. / Baltimore, Maryland says:

    Wow. Wonderful display. Your scenery is really nice. I just wish I could do as well.

  18. Ken says:

    Wow, Looking for Al’s email each day is an activity I always look forward to. So many talented people with so much knowledge to share!
    David, I really enjoyed seeing all of the detail in each separate scene and envy your ability to see a scene ahead in your mind and then make it happen. You obviously have a great talent!
    I would also like to pursue Bob Beards’ inquiry about how to make a nominal donation to Al to help defray the likely significant costs of hosting this blog. Perhaps Al could look at linking up as a Patreon host or some other service like that.
    Do any readers have knowledge on how one might start up the ability for Al to receive a bit of funding assistance? Of course I’m assuming that Al would be receptive to this!
    Ken , from Western Canada

  19. Don, Coeur dAlene Idaho says:

    David, excellent work on your layout!

    I to want endorse what others have suggested in terms of supporting Al! Just need to know how we can follow through!

  20. Ross Johnston says:

    Thankyou Dave for sharing your model railway. I enjoyed your video and I hope you can do another showing the trains moving around your layout. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide, South Australia.

  21. william james palmer says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *