Davorin’s layout


Once a year my wife and I clean out our pantry, which includes the herb & spice shelves.

This year instead of throwing away the oregano and other Italian spices, I used them as ground cover in my layout.

Now every time the trains pass through the outskirts of town, it stirs up the fragrance of the herbs and spices and I smell PIZZA, and it makes me crave that Italian delight.

I’ve gained 20 pounds since I made this blunder.

The good side of this is, if you allow people to come see your layout, you might be able so sell the a slice of pizza on the way out. Thus making you money to pay for your railroading addiction.

All jokes aside. Top chefs suggest that you discard your herbs and spices if they have been opened for 6 to 12 months. Don’t throw them away. You have already paid for them. Why not recycle?

Use them the same way you would use the manufactured ground cover. Different shades of greens and browns can be used just by using a different herb or spice.

If need be, you could use a coffee grinder to get a finer texture.

I’m just glad I haven’t used the pumpkin pie spices yet. I would be 30 pounds on the plus side by now.

Happy munching, and don’t drip that tomato sauce on the track.


“To make a pile of ash, mould a pile shape out of Plasticine and put it on a piece of shiny plastic.

Cover it and some of the plastic around it with a thin coat of PVA.

Sprinkle with fine ash (burnt paper is good). When dry peel whole thing off the plastic and place where required.

Well I think it’s good.


“Dear Alastair,

I send few pictures of my layout in progress.

All of this item will be lately installed in layout dimension 2×1,3 m.

Best regards


That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get going on your layout, 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.

41 Responses to Davorin’s layout

  1. Martin Wood says:

    Richard you have cheered me up for the day! Seriously though I am going to explore your herb idea..
    Alaster, Davorin’s layout isn’t that small if you look at his dining table the pieces are sat on. He has made a selection of dioramas which when fitted onto a layout, will be much bigger than you think. That in itself is a really good idea because it means that you can make scenery in the comfort of the home without being in the garage, loft or shed where it may be quite cold during the winter months.

  2. Rodney N. says:

    Hello i have been saving all off your emails on trains so far i have only got a locomotive and 60 feet of track and no table as yet but im going to use everything that has been sent to me to build mi own lay out when i get started i hope to send my progress for every one to see thanks for aoo your emails Rodney

  3. As said the makings of a nice little layout

  4. John says:


    We all guess you have no willpower …. LOL

  5. builder Kim says:

    very nice photo’s.I like the turn around.Guess im frugel.I like to build most of my own thing’s.Just find plastic molded bought things to expensive and way tomuch for haveing it shipped to you.I find what i build no one esle has it.Great work with your layout.Keep it up.Like a photo of it together.thanks lots.gave me some idea’s.

  6. builder Kim says:

    Hahaha putting on weight.That’s funny.Never thought of useing old spices on my layout.no wouldnt be a good idea to pass ya tounge along a DCC track.im useing a cherrio for a life preserver for my spice pool lol.been tempeted a few times to munch it.Dog knows it’s there.and many others have noticed as well.thanks for the tips everyone.oh check out my microwave tower i sent in.made from wire and a sink tap filter for the microwave antenna.it will be lighted with strobe light.

  7. builder Kim says:

    i have a question.How does when ya move the turntable to another track.How does it make the conection for power.I never looked carefully on these before and dont know how it works.I thought of makeing one but dont know how it makes the connection.Did you make this one.thanks

  8. Tom says:

    Yes Davorin h done a greatt job. Can’t wait to see it put together in the finished product.

    Thanx for sharing

    best regards

    Tom N

    “Keep on Training”

  9. Sheila says:

    More great ideas. Thanks for the tip about the herbs. I have a great place on my HO scale layout to try it. Around the barn in an adjoining field.
    I always appreciate the pictures and these are very inspiring.

  10. Alan Martin says:

    Looks like its going to be a stunning layout when finished. Are the buildings made from scratch, kit-sets or whatever? If kit-sets I’d love to know where from.

  11. paul Otway says:

    Good things always start small

  12. THOMAS says:


  13. Sounds like a nifty way to get ground cover for free. Personally, though, I prefer the smell of alfalfa, so I use that when making a ground cover.

  14. Sundaram says:

    Innovative and extraordinary. Happy railway modelling.


  15. Roger O. Forget says:

    Very iteresting. Thanks for the tips with our old spices.

  16. Dag says:

    It’s beautiful

  17. Jeff McNeal says:

    Love Davorin’s terrific effort. I have not thrown my spices out in five years, now I am ready to make the leap!

  18. Chuck McChesney says:

    I thought the Old Spice(s) might make you feel invigorated, like after a shave! Lol. Anyway, nice job on the scenery & culinary excursion so far. I’ll never look at my oregano the same again.

  19. Mark Mueller says:

    I want to see (or at least hear) what Davorins’ final product will look like. I’m trying to get a feel for the time period by looking at the style of scenery; age of the buildings, light fixtures, etc. This seems to be early 1900’s to late 1930’s. Streetlights are electrified so that gives a certain time reference. So how does the petroleum tank fit into the final scheme of things?

  20. Litacats says:

    I love the idea of using the spices, I will take all mine down to the railroad first thing in the morning the place will smell great
    I use the dry flowers from at cat mint and spay them with spray paint they make wonderful trees and bushes,I also use lavender to make trees and bushes,

  21. John Reynolds says:

    Very nice modeling!

  22. colin says:

    good layout wish my layout would look like the one shown. im bilding a n gage and have come to a stop. funding has run out. and I don’t like the layout iv dun.

  23. Chip says:

    @ Richard, Fantastic… Do mice like oregano? Never the less…. MAybe you should add a Pizza Joint if it fits circa your set up!!

    Also we have cats that will chew through a wooden door for catnip. painted and glued or not. Discovered the hard way.

    In fact we have a *NO CATS ALLOWED” sign at cat eye level on the door to the layout. Cats are anathema to train layouts. They are careful yet selectively destructive.

    Now off to the spice rack….

  24. Dale says:

    While reading Richard’s post, it struck me that adding the colors of the spices to the (used) coffee grounds I have saved might make for realistic ground cover. Or have some of your readers found coffee grounds and/or spices to be rodent attractive?

  25. Lee Barry says:

    Boy sure wish I knew how to send pictures of my Z scale LZPMRR. I never have been shown how to go about taking pictures of it and then sending thru my computer to Al for him to post. Hopefully …..one day…

  26. Perry says:

    On how to connect a turn table. There is a split ring a round the out side under the turntable. The electricity is picked up by two shoes that follow the turntable around to pick up current as needed.

  27. Ben Hassan says:

    I like the way Davorin has built his scenery in smaller bits (modules if you wish), I think this is a great idea! It seems it would make it easier to rearrange, expand or completely change the layout if one so desired.

  28. Brad says:

    Off the wall 2 things.1) Cattails can be used in many ways if you peel them/shred apart.I will stop there and not say how I use them.I’d rather you come up with your own 🙂 ideas because that is the fun of exploration and experimentation 2) Kids cereal boxes can be a great source of signage and window scenery especially on new building/store bought kits you construct.On some I tape them in and if you leave a few loose buildings on your line,you can change the signage from time to time when you are bored and have nothing else to do or find a better sign or window dressing from another box.You can even stockpile them.Larger pics can also be used as billboards.I glue them onto balsa I have cut and use painted balsa dowels for posts.Not expensive to do at all.Sharpen the bottoms,drill small hole in your board and they will stay put while the glue dries

  29. jules rosen says:

    Signage tip : look thru you Sunday newspaper coupon inserts. They coupons have alot of package pictures and good logos to cut n use.

  30. john thorogood says:

    More and more ideas WOW
    Here’s one: Save the small capacitors from computer mother boards and use them as barrels or cargo. A little paint and they look real. Turn them upside down and it looks like they have a lid on them.

  31. Dave says:

    What happened to the ladder and the under layout chair

  32. Kaustav says:

    @Richard- now that’s what i call being industrious! Quite an innovative idea especially if you’re a model railroader and also own a pizzeria! But as you mentioned expired dried herbs are definitely a great way to make ground cover. Or also brings a subtle variety in the shades which always looks very nice.

  33. Andrew Aves says:

    Re Dale’s Comment about Coffee grouts – I have tried them, no trouble from rodents, but living in an area with very high humidity mold was a problem so had to be scrapped in favor of saw dust. Best wishes

  34. Sid Pratt says:

    I really need a turntable in 7.25 gauge.

  35. Danofive0 says:

    The things I see & learn here. Are just great.
    And Ideas. WOW! Keep them coming.

  36. Robbie says:

    I smell pizza too. How come you did not put in a small pizzaria ?Also, what did you use for a turn table ? I have one, and am using a bike sprocket and chain, and turning it underneath the table via the pedal assembly. I never have to worry about burning out a motor. It is low geared and turns slowly. A different power supply operates the track for the Roundhouse track The layout I am building takes up my entire front room. My first attempt. Slow progress.
    Keep chugging along all.

  37. ScenicsRme says:

    That is the fanciest turntable diorama I have ever seen, grass, trees, streetlights, looks more like a park than the grubby grimy railyard/shop prototypes I’m familiar with. Even the turntable and roundhouse at Spencershops, NC State Transportation Museum isn’t that clean.

  38. Deacon04 says:

    You can also use the tea leaves from discarded tea bags. My son in law saves all his and uses on his dioramas.

  39. Greg Marples says:

    Don’t think I will add herbs and spices to mine, I’ve already had a mouse visit. In N scale terms a mouse is a 1950’s movie monster! Fortunately, he was very careful not to damage anything.

  40. matiSon says:

    I have been thinking about making some modular additions to my N layout. Yours is a good example of making modular sections that work and fit together with each other.

  41. Stephen Hill says:

    Fascinating concept of separate sections . Wished I’d a seen that sooner … would have made my life easier . I’ve been stretching and standing on stools using needle nose pliers to reach stuff . My next layout is going to be modular as well . What a remarkable idea .. thank you . Oh yeah , I looks great , want to see it as it progresses , wonderful detail and painting .

Leave a Reply

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