Dick’s O gauge

“Hello Al and O-Gauge fans!

After 7 months of part-time work on my O-gauge layout, I have some additional details and photos on this emerging 240 sq ft model railroad. Progress has proceeded in areas of electrical, space, and track. For this article, I have included some photos that show results of the completed electrical, space, and track construction work.

Electrical improvements included wiring separate color-coded wire buses for 18VAC for running trains, 15VAC for operating manual turnouts, 12VDC to power accessories, block signals, switch signals, lighting, etc., an additional bus for running conventional trains (to be installed later), and a spare 3-wire bus.

I now have space to add some scenes that will make things come alive. It took a while, but I installed shelves under the bench work to store items used often and purchased six light-weight drawers (with casters) to store things. Some of the original wiring was cleaned up to improve appearance and access. I now control 9 turnouts using the MTH DCS remote and control 5 turnouts manually. The turnouts that are controlled manually using momentary switches will support freight yard action. They seem to be a lot more convenient to operate (i.e. “UP” for turn and “DOWN” for straight). Trying to control 9 switches from the remote while piloting and monitoring up to four engines in motion is very challenging and more often than not, result in model-scale disasters.

The majority of the new track installed support freight yards. Additional space was added to the layout to allow extra room for businesses, roads, and scenery. Although a stable theme has not yet been established, there are three areas that will support freight activities that include a staging branch for accepting cars from and assembling cars for freight trains. There are tentative plans to add some elevated track to support non-digital trains later that would rise above the landscape. The bridge by the door is a drop-down unit that replaced a lift-up version that was not very appealing and that required frequent adjustments and tweaking.

More track work was necessary to include freight yard action separate from the main lines. Scenes will include a mountainous area with a waterfall, a serene pasture for cows and horses, a city scape, train station, locomotive maintenance, business scenes, and an elevated town that will cover the mainline tracks in one of the corners.
Scenery is a key factor to model railroading and should evolve incrementally. I plan to develop each scene to ensure the theme comes together gracefully. A follow-up article will be produced after some scenery is completed.

Thank you in advance for your due diligence in maintaining this forum. I appreciate and enjoy the articles, photos, and videos your followers are sharing with us, too!


“Hi Al. Best tip I can give anyone – If your track work does not work flawlessly, no amount of electronics. scenery, realism, operations, etc will ever make you want to head for the train room. Take your time on the track work, make if bullet proof, and everything else will be a delight!


“Use Play-Doh to make molds for scrap yard parts, cast with any two part resin.


“My name is David Kennedy and I just did my first Model railroad. It is an HO scale sceen from circa 1861 in northern Georgia (USA) It took me about 5 months to build it. It is on a 4′ X 8′ piece of plywood. I routed out the wood for the river. The mountains were made of a cardboard frame and plaster of paris. I hand painted some of the figures and I build some of the models. Please share the pictures with others. I hope you and other can enjoy.


Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Just absolutely loved Edwards Play-doh tip. Brilliant!

Keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

34 Responses to Dick’s O gauge

  1. Jaaques Shellaque says:

    Thanks, Dick. It’s so great to hear from other high railers,
    and showing the “nitty-gritty” (i.e. your great feats of
    wiring and labeling of same). Keep it coming !!
    Thanks to all.

  2. builder Kim says:

    Heck of idea David.keep that in mind thanks

  3. Duncan Galbraith says:

    Having seen Dick’s excellent efforts I will NEVER let anyone see my wiring system! That’s an engineering feat all by itself.
    I like the 1861 Georgia layout. A very original and well executed idea. Thanks!

  4. Frank Goessler says:

    Once again, thank you very much for your post. Have we really had two o scale posts in two days? Pinch me, I must be dreaming. As usual I am amazed at the time and resources available to my railroading brothers. Can’t wait to see how Dick’s layout progresses. David, thanks for the pictures of your layout. Looks amazing, keep up the good work. Al, always a huge thank you to you and what you do. I’m always excited when I see another email from you.

    O gauge Frank

  5. Bob Shipley says:

    Dick- Nice work so far.
    David- very nice layout.

  6. Cary Price says:

    Great layouts and tips! Nice work guys and thanks for sharing. Dick, looks like your off to a great start, I like the way your keeping things organized, I know i like working much better when the area is free of clutter and I can find what I need quickly. David, love the detail in your western scenery- nice job. And the play dough tip, I toyed with the idea of making molds to reproduce parts, maybe will give a try. Thanks to all for contributing to this site, I love checking it out every evening. Cary in KY

  7. Joe Saffa says:

    Like western town,not many layouts with civil war theme my favorites


    I like your layout. great with all of the horses, but some of your RR rolling stock needs to be backdated. What you have is too modern.

  9. Cary B says:

    Dicks O gauge layout is looking really good, Looking forward to updates as it progresses.
    Mark and Edwards tips were helpful and David’s Civil War era layout out is really nice. Keep them coming Al,

    Cary B

  10. Rick Bishop says:

    Enjoy your newsletter greatly!! For some reason have stopped receiving them. So I am re registering.

  11. Warren Ferguson says:

    David, you’ve done a beautiful job with the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression) layout. I really like the stream and mill site, and the balky mule is a hoot. Please send more pics as you progress. Warren, AL, USA

  12. Morey Day says:


  13. Bill Holt says:

    NICE….I like the wiring, good job.

  14. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Nice job on the lay out Dick, can’t wait to see the rest as you go. Great job. I have an O gouge also, I can’t wait to really get going on it, really going on it. I can relate on keeping the lay out on line. Experience Data & Voice installator, t’s cross and i. Dotted. Everything in place and everything label. My boss said I was to asinine of my work, I believed that I was given my best to the costermer. I have been cutting wood for my son wedding, make signs. I have been cutting some for my train tables also. So I hope soon that I will be making a film on the basics on how to make a train table and fill that empty space to make you your man cave. I hope I will do everyone right. Nice work David on the 1861, I was born 100 years later, it is amazing on how the world change with in those 100 years. Nice job on your train setup, like it a lot. Brings back memory’s at a place i work at as a kid. Like to see the whole lay out.
    SDG St.Petersburg Fl USA

  15. Bill Donlen says:

    I received my first Lionel set 72 years ago, at my first Christmas. Uncle Tommy got me a freight set. I Had a Reading RR coal line in the back yard, so a big chugger with coal cars up and down 6 days a week. Still have most of that set, engine in repair, Unfortunately my trains have been in boxes , except for Christmas set-up since. Would love to have a permanent display area and time to build as I want. For now will watch this site every time it comes in and be watchful and envious!! Thanks to all who have made this part of later life joyful!

  16. Rich Wentzel says:

    Al would you please give my email address to Bill Donlen. He must be from my hometown area as I am from Reading. Sadly I am the first of the last four generations who did NOT work for the Reading RR.

    To Al: I appreciate your attention to keeping us model RRs informed but damn you for showing things that raise the bar so high! lol Do keep up the great service you are providing.

  17. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Mark one of the best tips ever. We see many railroad videos where the trains rattle over turnouts or have wavy straights and other obvious problems. Derailments for bad track layout and fixing will be a pleasure reducing event.

    David Like your river. For a first attempt it looks really great.


  18. Jim Aspin says:

    Thanks both for sharing! I always appreciate Al for allowing us non-professionals to have a stage! Great results to both of you!!!
    Dick, would love to see details of your walk through “bridge” mechanics! 😲

  19. John Birch says:

    What I love about some of the layouts are the little personal touches that sometimes suggest a humorous wink from the owner – the stubborn horse!
    I also enjoy those that don’t try to pack in as much track as possible leaving a sense of space, which to me, is far more realistic. But that’s me and what I like.

  20. Will in NM says:

    Dick, That’s gonna be a great O scale layout. I like your trackwork and neatly organized wiring. That’s some serious benchwork but I guess you need that with O scale layouts.

    Edward, I liked the play dough idea but my experience with it is that it’s kind of grainy and dries out pretty fast. Wouldn’t regular modeling clay give similar results and capture finer details? Just wondering.;-}

    David, You’ve made a good start on your first layout and I especially liked the scene with the prospector and his reluctant mule fighting him. One suggestion I would make is to get a can of Testor’s Dullcote and spray all those shiny horses and wagon to tone down the glare. You might try using flat paint in the future rather than the gloss kind.

  21. Erick says:

    Pretty net set up. I to am planning on putting Civil War set up a my layout.

  22. Tom Carlisle says:

    Thank you for the O gauge trains. My favorite is Marx with the 3/16″ scale. It has been over 70 years since I built my own layout. Last year my wife bought me a used set similar to my original freight. I do have a Lionel ZW to help with the power. I still have a double return loop oval on plywood my daughter Maeleah and I built for her 6th grade class including remote control switches and lights controlled by switches. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Tom Carlisle

  23. Tony, Kitty Hawk NC says:

    Mark- so true about getting the track work right first!
    Edward- the Play-Dough tip is great!
    David- great job! The role of railroads during the Civil War was huge, but you rarely see them modeled.
    Thanks all for sharing!

  24. Wonderful job. I started with a wonderful wiring system but got sidetracked into a mess.

  25. Great layout and thanks to lett os an joy it.
    HC Treintje Belgium Herman.

  26. Bernard Schainholtz says:

    If you want to copy anything scrap or part of a model, ask your dentist for leftover alginate or elastic impression material. I have made copies of rocks that you can. use for plaster casts.some elastic material lasts forever.Berniedoc.

  27. William Orton says:

    I like that MTH DCS lash up with a Lionel ZW transformer. Do you have any trouble blowing DCS fuses? I’m considering having my ZW upgraded with the interal breakers to stop blowing DCS fuses when anything derails. My Menards tinplate track with Ross switches do not have the tight geometry I need.
    Bill in NC

  28. Stephen Hill says:

    David , really like your theme , I’m here in GA also and I swear that locomotive looks like the General that we see on display at the Kennesaw train museum . Great layout , looks very era correct .

  29. Brian Olson says:

    Great examples of benchwork, every model railroad needs a solid foundation regardless of size of scale.

  30. Kenneth Fox says:

    Thanks Dick. Nice to see that some people are doing some layouts in O scale, same as me. Can’t wait to see the finished product, Not everyone has to do an HO layout. I realize there is more room for detail, but there is so much more that can be done with O scale with the moving parts and flexibility. Would love to see more O scale layouts.

  31. Domenic Coletta says:

    Dick, I love your wiring. I just finish my bench work today. My first step to wiring was to put led lights under the entire 270 square foot bench. It looks like a giant E. I would love to hear about your wiring process along with which gauge wire you used throughout the project. I already ran my main track power using one feed of 12/2 wire throughout the entire E. Before I go any further, I have to test all my equipment, which has been in storage for over 55 years. Then I have to design my track layouts, so I can determine where the wires will be needed. I am just about 2 months into it working part time.

  32. robert dale tiemann says:

    nice layouts, lots of work. i really like the civil war layout.

  33. TJK says:

    Nice work guys. Enjoyed the O scale.
    Al, you do a great job presenting the layouts no matter what scale. Thank you

  34. Jeffrey McKnight says:

    Jeffrey McKnight from NC says Outstanding Layout . Remember have fun along with the details. Mine scale serious and some silly a few places. Love the 2 rail O scale as well as the 3 rail O gauge O scale. Thanks to Alastair for wonderful posts.

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