Dick’s railroad layout

“Hi Al,

Just thought I would send a few pictures of my “N” scale layout.

It’s 3 X 7. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years but am about disband it as the curves don’t allow me to run any of my larger engines or long cars.

I run regular power to it, not DCC. I have too many engines to switch to DCC.

I have been collecting “N” scale engines since 1964 and haven’t set up a layout until a couple of years ago.

As to amount of time I have in it, that’s hard to say as I work on it only once in a while.

My next project will on a 4 X 8 board and I’ve been getting a lot of hints from your emails which I really appreciate.

Many modelers have great tips and hints which we can all use.

Thanks for setting this web site up and all the work you put into it.

Dick in California”

model train track plan

Now on to Jim:

“The one thing I have not yet come apon is a good track sensor for “N” gauge. The ones for HO work but are not to are not even close for scale.

I use .030 fibre optic for my signal lights The strand goes under the board to a bye colour LED. DC power one direction for red– reverse current for green and AC gives a yellow orange .


Hi Al,

I to learnt the hard way and in the end decided that the most important factor on any railway is its wiring I hence came up with the ideas shown

As you will see in the diagrams of one of the sections of my layout all the wiring is cable tied and hot clued to the base board, believe me NONE of these wires move!!

Each section of layout has its own control board i.e.for points, lighting etc. There is still only one DCC controller, and a couple of transformers for the whole layout which is connected to each board by mini plugs.

If a short circuit occurs then you can disconnect each section of layout till the short circuit clears, you then know that the fault lies in that section.

As I am now in the Autumn of my life climbing under boards etc is not so easy, so another little tip, after you have completed a section of layout wiring PHOTOGRAPH IT it makes life a lot easier when tracing those wires, and don’t forget to label items its to easy to forget whats what.


“Did you get part 2 of ‘Accidents Happen’, Alastair?

Thought it would have gone down better than part 1 ….you got a good response from part 1.



Latest ‘ebay cheat sheet‘? is here. Bag a deal!

I have no idea what it is about Dave’s videos – but even the silly ones are watchable! Made me smile any how.

That’s all for today folks.

As usual, please do keep ’em coming.

And if you fancy doing not dreaming, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

56 Responses to Dick’s railroad layout

  1. Raymond Bove says:

    I believe railway practice is to avoid accidents. They are never pleasant, to say the least.

  2. Chris Rohrer says:

    Another very enjoyable video from Dave. Has HMRI reported back on the cause of the accident yet?
    I noticed the derailed truck. It’s nice to know that even someone as expert as Dave can have his problems. So there’s still some chance for me.

  3. Rob.billing says:

    Very well done good job it was only on the model railway. Congrats

  4. Alan Boswell says:

    Brilliant bit of fun Dave

  5. Dave in Algonquin says:

    I love the way Dave embellishes his layout with real life events. Creating the story and the video enhances the whole operation. Thanks for sharing

  6. Tom says:

    Dave; another video well done. I enjoyed it. Since I am a retired 911 Shift Supervisor and a volunteer Medic/firefighter these last two videos where close to my heart. Brought back many memories.


    Tom N

  7. Peter Jones says:

    Dave – Fantastic video lots of fun.

    Dick – nice layout so much going on I really enjoyed it thanks for sharing

  8. Don says:

    Very amusing Dave, the chopper was a hoot. Congrats to all the hard working staff at DMR. Love to see more…

  9. Kerry says:

    I just love watching the DMR videos. Now our remarkable Dave has started to animate them. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next! Well done Dave.

  10. Toni says:

    Dave, your how-to videos are very informative and your short movies are a marvelous trip to watch. Keep up the good work.

  11. fred says:

    Iwas pleased to see a man with my same problem—too many good engines to switch to dcc, the cost would be prohiitive. It would be nice to see the costs come down but I am not going to hold my breath. I love all of tyhe hints that giveus direction to make something at very little cost. If you could find some like that for N scale it would be great. thanks for the great tips so far.

  12. Great lay out. I like that you have control of all things going on.. You put on a great show. Can wait for the next video.

  13. Bob Miller says:

    Very nice layout Dick. I am always amazed and impressed by ‘N’ scaler’s. As an O scale guy I stand in awe of your skills in building and maintaining your layout.


  14. THOMAS says:


  15. Nice layout you have built Dick , loe all that detail , even got a camper van park , and Lawrence that is a very professional job with the wiring , well done both of you.

  16. Should read Love all the detail

  17. jerry knispel says:

    way cool

  18. Anthony Richards says:

    Hi There .Al please could you tell me what sort of DCC control Dav uses as I am thinking to go down the same (track ) .Is system is very good. Tanks. Anthony.

  19. Laurie says:

    Another fantastic effort.

  20. Colin Pryce says:

    I like Lawrence’s wiring tips. Dave and the DMR are becoming an institution! I love the animation, a change from seeing trains going round and round!! Great job Al, keep mailing those tips and clips!

  21. Bob Bouskill says:

    I think Dave is having more fun with his trains than what is allowed ! Thanks for sharing.


  22. John Bigglestone says:

    Dave – That’s brilliant. I have been following this series of e-mails from Alistair fdro some time and I love your approach. Not just brilliant scenery, but operation as well. Are you on DCC or standard DC? What controllers do you use to get that superb slow running and smooth starts? I’m about to build a layout for operation, (Hornby Dublo 3 rail, all over 60 years old) which will never look good scenically, because of the the track but should provide lots of operational fun
    Thanks for all your tips and videos

  23. David Priddle says:

    Well done Dave. I enjoy your creativity in the layout and in the video editing.

  24. Sam Clark says:

    I would be interested to know where the turn table came from. I model in N-scale and can’t find a turntable of the appropriate size. I have had one ordered from Diamond-scale since last January and the Cornerstone one from Walthers is to big. I have one from Peco but it is disappointing to say the least. Sam—(zookeeper32@hotmail.com

  25. Jimmy STORRIE says:

    A1 Dave

  26. Tom says:

    To Dick in CA: my story is similar to yours. My latest 4’x8′ (first platform in 35 yrs) was started 3 months ago. I am doing a ‘1942-1954’ period when freight cars -primarily open hoppers, flats and boxcars were 40 footers. I fitted three separate lines (PRR, DL&W and Reading) as they occurred in my home region. The tightest curves are on the RDG which ran mostly hoppers so it works OK. I even get a little wheel slip on my steam loco as I used hear many years ago The PRR has passenger cars that are the longest cars of all and they fit the scheme. I am doing DC as I too have too much motive power from five decades of collecting to bother to change to DCC. A suggestion, if I may, avoid contemporary long length cars and enjoy the past. No operating sessions, just satisfaction in running.

  27. Darrell Smith says:

    Just Way too Cool !! Loved it !!!

  28. Wayne Pursh says:

    Surprised there aren’t more accidents on Amazing Dave’s layout with all those vehicles driving on the wrong side of the road. Loved the helicopter. The stop action reminded me of the old Mr. Bill feature on USA Saturday Night Live show.
    Thanks for sharing all the great photos, tips and videos.

    Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA

  29. Jimbo says:

    Love the mobile home park in photos # 2-4.

  30. Carl Halgren says:

    Again the question of DC vs. DCC raises its head. I have a lot of old DC engines, and I plan to convert some of them. Those little 4-4-0 engines have no room for decoders. My solution – I went to DCC and have a few DCC engines, and a couple of engines I converted. I still have my DC controller. My layout is divided into a few blocks. Basically, I have 2 loops. I can run DC on everything, or I can run DCC on everything, or I can run DC on one loop and DCC on the other. Some (most) DCC engines will run on DC and give you many of the sound features.

    Carl in Kansas

  31. Fred says:

    For Dick in CA
    If you expand your 4×8 board with a 1″ by 3″ trim all around (if you can squeeze in this small amount) you will find that it will help with those wide curves so your larger engines will be a bit happier. Who says size doesn’t matter? Good luck with the new layout.
    Fred in Ontario

  32. Perry says:

    I would suggest an around the room layout that would give you more room than a 4’x8′ board could ever give you, and you can reach across without strain.

  33. Randy Hinke says:

    way cool,

  34. Rick says:

    Dick (CA).. Love the layout. As a fellow ‘N’er in the Chicago suburbs, where did you get the mobile homes in scale? I have never seen them. If you change to the 4 X 8 please send pics.

    Thanks Rick
    KVEC Model RR Club

  35. Robert Brady says:

    A day in the life of Dave ‘s Town in the UK. Great News cast Dave!

  36. Antony says:

    Been following the building and running of your layout for a few years now, congratulations on a job well done. This latest video shows just what a truly incredible imagination you have, and the way you have produced it shows you have WAY too much time to play around with these things. Seriously though, I loved it and as you say accidents do happen, even in miniature – I’ve had more than a few on my model railway over the years. I’m looking forward, as always, to the next installment of “Daves Model Railway”. Keep up the good work.

    Warwickshire, UK.

    p.s. Huge thanks to Alastair for keeping the information coming, It really is appreciated.

  37. Ralph in central Ohio USA says:

    Dick. Great job on your layout! I wish I had the patience to be good at that. To Dave. I enjoy watching your videos! Did the ambulance driver get a ticket or scolded for sideswiping that ladder truck?

  38. Ted Rothstein says:

    The accident scenes look like something out of Hamburg

  39. I disagree with the folks who say that wiring is the most important thing with any model railroad. In all railroads, the most important thing is track work no matter what the gauge is.
    Lester, GA USA

  40. Steve Johnson says:

    I have a 21 year old autistic son whom we adopted when he was two and who loves our 0 gauge 4″x 8″ 1905 Wild West layout. When I pulled out the HO 4’x8′ my dad and I built in 1960, Zach’s manual dexterity was not up to putting derailed cars back on the track, However, when he saw the video of Dave’s accident scene, he became all excited about building something like that in our basement. I’m not sure how he will deal with N scale, but given his level of enthusiasm, I’m certainly willing to give it a go! Thanks for sharing that, Dave; you have certainly sparked the creativity in my child for which autistic children are well known.

  41. Wm althaus says:

    I wish my hands were steady enough these days to work in n scale. Really like your layout and the trailer park is great.

    I hope my wiring looks as nice as yours as well.

    Hope the guy on the stretcher on Daves layout survives

  42. Al says:

    Awesome. LOVE the trailer park!!!

  43. Ian Robertson says:

    Dave- brilliant and just proves we are all kids at heart . Next disaster will be plane crash on the line – oops

  44. Dave Friar says:

    I love Dave’s cheesy videos. Keep them coming.

  45. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Good scenario – fire realistic in Dave’s post.lDicks Layout impressive and with that many locos good decision not to go DCC.

  46. Dick,

    Since you have a really neat layout, why not expand it, rather than going through all the fun of building a new one.

    I had the same problem in HO with my 4×8, So I added 1 foot on two sides to a 4×8 table to give me 5×9 where my maximum radii are 26-27 inches. As I have several loops around the table, I operate my GG1s, Pennsy passenger cars, and large locos on the outside two tracks (the main line), which have cross-overs, and my shorter freights on the tighter curves. You probably could even install a wide-radius track crossing the freight lines to get into a passenger yard.
    Good luck

  47. Will in NM says:

    Dick, NIce job on your N scale layout. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen a whole trailer park on a model railroad. Well done! I can’t imagine how much work went into creating that. After getting out my N scale sets and playing with them for a few days, I decided it’s just to small for my current abilities.

    Dave, Great set of wiring photos. I agree it gets harder every year to get under the layout. Since my layout is small I’m looking into ways to make it rise up to a higher level so I can just walk under it when working on wiring.

  48. Thanks Dave, I needed that. LOL

  49. Brent Holman says:

    Awesome Layout, Fun Videos, I’m Unhappy I Cannot Have My Own Layout But I Do Have 2 Dozen Antique HO Steam Locos, & Another Several Kits, 2 Shays!….Right When I Was Old Enough, Instead Of Finishing A 6′ x 20 Foot Layout, My Father & Brothers Cut It Up & Built A Workbench…That They Used For All Of 2 Years…However We All Built Possibly The BEST ‘HO’ (ha) AFX Slotcar Track: 60′, 88 Sq. Ft Of Scenery, White/Glow In The Dark/Xmas Lights On The Ceiling….It Was AWESOME…& I Ended Up With The Trains…Someday….I Love Racing Cars But I Like Trains Better.

  50. Chuck says:

    Dave, That was too funny. I loved the chopper flying over.

  51. Chuck in NY says:

    Dick in CA. That’s a great looking layout, nice work. Keep us posted on your next layout.

  52. John Ruetz says:

    Loved it Dave. Made my day.

  53. Lindy Smith says:

    Your creativity is awesome! My wife and I laughed at the first one, couldn’t wait for 2 and you outdid yourself! I loved your layout and got some ideas for ours, thank you for sharing.Blessings

  54. william janmes palmer says:

    thats awesome

  55. Tony Weisbecker says:

    That helicopter reminds me of a UFO I seen once . 🙂

  56. Larry Lissak says:

    Another great debate: wiring vs track. One never take a sides until problems occur.
    Enjoyed the video. Who said railroaders lacked imagination and a sense of humor.

    I do like the hot glue idea. My dad was an electrician who wired boxes for production machinery. I always marveled at how he laid out and squared the wires. We were the only ones in the neighborhood who had wiring diagrams of the house wiring. I have a color coded Excel spreadsheet for my train layout. Wires are bundled and held in place with 3M wire hooks.

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