Dick’s HO scale layout

Dick’s been in touch with his HO scale.

He’s found some great money saving ideas:

“This is one section I have completed.

I used extruded foam for the rocks and painted them with acrylic paint and dry brushed the white for accent.


The track ballast I used “Chicken Grit”, bought it at my local farm store.

If I need it smaller I grid it on a granite stone with a granite rolling pin I had floating around the house.

Paid $3.45 USA dollars for 5 lbs, cheaper that buying the pre-made stuff.

Some of the trees by the cabin I cut off some of my wife Sedum flowers, in the fall when they dried out.

I also use the small branches to make flowering shrubs.

Utility poles are large (to scale) skewers and the cross arms are wool match sticks.

The transformers and a dowel painted gray.

The insulators are plastic beads (cut in half) and placed over smaller skewer, they fit perfectly.


The rocks in the picture, I picked up at a Pet Store, it is aquarium gravel. Works great as there are different sizes.

The grass is a mixture of standard you by in bulk and I purchased a sheet of Flower Topper from my local craft store.

The nice thing about this is that it has an adhesive backing, “no glue required”.


I have found an antique and unique store that has model train “stuff”.

All the train cars I paid $4.00 for and they were in great shape, all I need to do on some of them was change the couplers.

The Exxon-Mobile diesel storage tank is PVC pipe and #14 solid copper wire painted.

I make all my own signs, do a search for the sign image I am looking for and convert it to PDF and then I can scale them.

That’s all for now.

I work in HO scale and am a beginner.

I am retired and 68 years old and it takes up the day, by the way, my wife is into it as well. S

he is my design coordinator, she has increased the size of my original 4’x8′ table top the 5’x12′, didn’t expect that.


Big thanks to Dick for sharing – a lovely narrative of his layout. Looks great too.

And it’s also a fine example of how to stretch you budget.

That’s all this time folks. Please keep ’em coming.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.



PS Looking for the Beginner’s Guide? It’s here.

16 Responses to Dick’s HO scale layout

  1. Dave says:

    Great layout nice to se the wife has interest in what you are doing and of couture helping

  2. builder Kim says:

    Hi Dick and wife. Nice layout. She even added more to it. Wife is a keeper lol. Keep up the good work Dick and Wife. love to see more of your layout as you go. Thank’s

  3. Brent 'Hooligan' Polson says:

    That is awesome that his wife has taken interest in it as well. I bet if you gave her a layout of her own to work out she would come up with something fancier 10 fold! The ladies are a touch more creative and much more patient.

    Keep up the good work. Sometimes the satisfaction is constructing and fabricating bits and pieces rather than paying a bunch of money for an off-the-shelf item that 100’s of other railroaders may have in their layout.

    The only downside I see with this layout is that I am not much for parking lots. Just like in real life they take up valuable real estate where you could have more interesting scenery instead. But maybe a parking lot is just temporary until they make more great goodies to place on their layout.

    Keep on Track! (should be the new slogan!!!)

  4. Dick chapple Sr says:

    Your railroad looks mighty fine Dick.
    Great use of common items and transforming them into realistic products for the railroad.
    The BIGGEST PLUS is having your wife join in working on the railroad also.
    Have a great weekend.

  5. Frank says:

    Great stuff Al keep up the good work.I would like to post some photos of my layout in progress, how do I go about doing so?
    Thank you,

  6. great layout Dick and the details are verry koool
    utilizing and adapting all types of OTHER products to the pike surely does have an impact on your budget!!
    keep it runnin !!

  7. Bill Allen says:

    Dick…Great layout. You are most fortunate having your wife request expansion! Can you tell me a little more about “Flower Topper”?

  8. paul Otway says:

    Great to see a husband and wife layout, would like to see more of them.

  9. Jim says:

    Nice. Great tip for the utility poles. Personally I’d change out the power track connections for more realism.

    Jim AZ

  10. Mike RICHARDSON says:

    Very nice layout. I like all the ideas you gave for finding less expensive items to work with. The utility poles look great. I use a cheap unscented gray cat litter from Walmart for my ballast and other areas.

  11. Cary B says:

    Looking really good. Love the look of the carved foam board rock face, excellent job. I’m going to practice foam carving for a small area of my layout.
    Happy Holidays to you and enjoy the railroad
    Cary B

  12. Robert Brady says:

    Great work Dick and Wife keep it up!She must enjoy it.Lucky you.Have fun!

  13. Mike in NC says:

    Nice work Dick! Great cost-effective reuse of materials, too. Congrats to you and the Mrs!

  14. Erick says:

    Nice layout.!!!!!

  15. When you said wife helps! I knew that most comments would be about that! So, in keeping form, does she have a sister? Smiles……… Seriously, even my wife looks in once in a while. Not sure if its a wellness check or inkling of interest!
    Looks great and I will be checking into the chicken grit! Thanks for the ideas and the smile it gave me reading today!

  16. David S. says:

    Love the parking lot! Too many layouts have many cars on the roads and office buildings, churches, train depots, etc., but no parking lots. You can connect your power poles with wires made from sewing tread, one spool costs about $2.

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