David’s stunning HO scale model railroad layout

“Hi Al,

Thanks for all your blogs.

I started to build my layout about 6 years ago when I retired. It really just evolved, starting on the dining room table, then grew legs. Of course, starting as a novice I made many mistakes as we all do.

The HO layout is 6.5ft x 4.5ft approx and was constructed using Peco code 100 set -track mainly to be able to shunt etc, using #2 curves as the smallest radii.

“Karrawidgee” (a fictitious town} is based on the Mallee type of vegetation found in the Western part of Victoria in Australia and is fairly accurate re Victorian Government Railway infrastructure.

It is all scratchbuilt including the vegetation which is Cedum plants and vitamised foam rubber. The vegetation was planted individually recently as we endure COVID19 lock-down and must admit was over it by the time I finished.

I started the layout with the river taking a lot of space and found I had to make many bridges to fit track in. All trestles are a different height and grade and constructed from the Vic Railway drawings to scale.

As a boy we lived near a railway branch line and the goods yard was my playground, so I guess it’s a bit nostalgic.

I have tried to make it as realistic as possible. Layout #2 will be in the NE of Victoria with new challenges in vegetation with many timber trestle bridges.

Hope it is of some interest.



HO scale model railroad

model railroad oval track

HO scale shunting yard

model train sidings

stunning model railroad

shunting yard

curved track

A huge thanks to David for sharing his stunning layout – I loved it. Please do leave a comment below if you did too.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget, the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to stop dreaming and start doing.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

43 Responses to David’s stunning HO scale model railroad layout

  1. That’s a great layout with a lot of detail on a 6.5′ x 4.5′ board. Any chance of seeing the track plan?

  2. Trevor Gibbs says:

    HI David

    If you have seen the new Rail Modeller Australia magazine, I am sure that this would make a very good subject for an article… Well Done!!!


  3. DEREK RODDIS says:

    A cousin in Tasmania frequently uses the expression ‘AWESOME’ when describing something. Barely scratches the surface as a description of this layout. It looks creative, well built and interesting; well done David

  4. Tim Turner says:

    After 50 somewhat broken years I’ve finally finished my Model in N gauge,It would spoil it to add any more. When I’ve worked out how too, I’ll submit some pics. In the meantime I’ll have to settle for gardening!!
    Love the blog.
    Best Wishes
    Tim in Lower Tadmarton OXON UK.

  5. John Birch says:

    Love the detail and character, David.

  6. James Marek says:

    Terrific looking layout with beautiful detail work! So refreshing to see some pictures of top quality work on this blog…thanks to Al for doing this daily.

  7. Robert Brady says:

    The landscape looks great,a lot going on,realistic muddy river and all.Only problem I see is too many dead end tracks lack of locomotion.I would have lengthened the layout to continue travel.Second photo lower right you don’t need that dead end just remove it,not needed.I understand the concept just need to modify a touch.
    The Critic

  8. Marklin ed says:

    It is of great interest, well done layout. Like how you did the river and all the bridges. Thanks. Make me want to change my plans for my layout thanks again.

  9. Colin Edinburgh says:

    That’s a ripper of a layout mate!.

  10. Elmer Banks says:

    David’s fine work is enshrined in perfect photos. One can almost see folks living and working in each scene. It would be great to see a video of the trains in motion. What marvelous scenery. Great work, David. I’m inspired to work at better detail on my pike.

  11. John Wolfe says:

    Bravo on a job well done!

  12. Ted Rothstein says:

    Great railroad

  13. Allen Rosenberg says:

    Nicely done Dave. I am into bridges and your layout certainly has quenched my thirst. Also love what you have done with the landscaping in general. Thank you for sharing.👍

  14. NJ Mark says:

    Super layout! Great detailing. Cheers! NJ Mark

  15. Mike Balog says:

    Totally Amazing to see such detail in a small layout.. Have never seen so many trestles and bridges in one layout like this! Must have kept you pretty busy building all these by hand. Interesting method to fill the Coal Hopper / Loading Station, built next to an Engine House? You mentioned that you actually have plants on your layout buried in the scenery? Are those Live Plants? Or just the dried out variety. You have quite a bit of different kinds of Industrial Customers to keep that small railroad busy. Are your lights and crossing signals automated? Also liked the backdrop and the plexiglass barrier on the edge of the layout as protection. Guess also you don’t have Cats? Can we see a track plan so it demonstrates the railroad right of way? Keep Up the Good Work. Inspirational.. From Across the Pond, in N.H. U.S.A… ~ Mike.

  16. There are many appropriate phrases…. Each made the more so by this being your first layout! Astounding, Awesome, Brilliant, Magnificent, Jaw-Dropping… All very appropriate.
    You said you were into shunting so the dead end spurs are appropriate… Especially in terms of a goods yard.
    The scenery is spellbinding and right out of a Paul Hogan movie.
    Very well don!

  17. Bill Kennedy says:

    Oh I am so envious, David. You have done a great job. Now, what is next,-the garden?
    My best, Bill

  18. Malcolm hodgson says:

    Excellent work

  19. Tom says:

    That is a most excellent layout! The level of detail is amazing. Great job!

  20. WillBill says:

    There is no ballast on bridges. Do not use track that has ballast. Use plane track. Other that that this most significant defect. It is an excellent RR.

  21. Outstanding piece of art.
    Thank you for sharing your passion and ideas.

  22. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Great looking back ground tied in with some wonderful scenic details and landscaping. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  23. Lindsay G H Hall says:

    That’s a heck of a lot of model railway to fit into 6.5′ x 4.5′. Love it. Lindsay

  24. A nice layout you have built there David , so much detail , well done …Dangerous dave

  25. Bill Roberts says:

    Absolutely awesome! I could probably do as well but it would take me about 25 years.

  26. John Seale says:

    very nice

  27. charles post says:

    Loved your realistic detail. Felt like I was standing right there.

  28. Marty Weinberg says:

    I love it.

  29. Greetings from Milwaukee in Wisconsin!
    This is a beautiful layout! Really rugged country. I couldn’t spot any mini koalas or kangaroos, though!

  30. Tim Haas says:

    Stunning job David!

  31. Alabama Mike says:

    Wow David, that is amazing detail and realism in your layout. I have really enjoyed looking at it and thanks for sharing, I imagen you spent many weeks building it. again it is so beautiful.

  32. Will in NM says:

    David, Your model train layout is absolutely stunning. You sure squeezed a lot of trackwork into a small area and it looks great. I especially like the coloration of your scenery: it seems to capture the western Australia (as well as western US) desert colors and vegetation very well. Your roads, both the asphalt and dirt roads, are some of the best I’ve ever seen and the blacktop road is even properly double-striped at the RR crossing. I am puzzled by the zig-zagging maze-like fence in the first and third photos at the RR crossing. Is that a typical Australian feature?

    Like others, I’d like to see the actual layout plan and more info about your construction and scenery techniques. I can’t wait to see how your Eastern Australia layout is coming along. Thank you for sharing such great photos of your work so far. I think the only thing that would make your layout better would be a few more human figures in some vignette scenes to make it more alive. Your layout reminds me of John Allen’s original 5 x 9 foot Gorre & Daphetid in it’s quality level.

  33. David. Great layout and landscaping work. One of the best HO layouts I have ever seen. I really like the bridge and trestles design and all of the scratch build. You can tell by looking at the detail that you put your heart and soul into your layout and you enjoyed it.

  34. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Outstanding layout, excellent detail ,great job

  35. Gary Manganiello says:

    David……fantastic job…….it is a beautiful looking layout…….and I love the way you put the plexiglass around the front II think its plexiglass). And your first picture says it all……the road, the trees the detail……great job.

  36. Bob M -two N scales says:

    David, your layout is a perfect example of ‘the Devil is in the details’! So much detail makes it look so very lifelike, white lines in the street are faded, and the sedum trees are the best I’ve seen!
    Wonderful work indeed”

  37. Bob Phillips says:

    I am truly impressed with the beauty and complexity of the layout and how you fit so much on such a small space. I too would like to see the track plan, I’d like to copy it in N Gauge.

  38. george levens says:

    I would like to see the track plan.

  39. Awesome bust little layout!!

  40. It’s just a FANTASTIC layout, but I also don’t understand all the dead ends! … but overall a great job of detai!

  41. Jeff G says:

    Great layout! It’s really awesome. You gave an approximation of the layout size, but it seems to me it has to be at least 8-ft x 5-ft. Are the buildings all scratch built?

  42. David De Bondi says:

    Hi Jeff G,
    Thanks. The layout is exactly 6.5-ft x 4.5-ft ( 1960mm X 1400mm ) and all the buildings are scratch built to roughly Victorian Railways design. The signal box is not truly right, but a modification to hide point motors, but passes, I think, in appearance.

  43. ray brendlinger says:

    just fantastic detail. Great roads, rugged, like it really would be. I also like the dark ballast on the track. I couldn’t do that good in a 100 years!

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