Dominic’s 12×24 HO scale

Dominic’s been in touch with his 12×24 HO scale layout:

“I started this project 4 1/2 years ago when I relocated to Michigan and bought a home with a basement and much more room than I originally had.

So I had a 12×24 HO scale area in the basement to do something with, as long as I didn’t take away from my wife’s storage area. A much larger area than my original 4×6 layout.

So with some planning, but with no particular track plans in mind, and wanting a little bit of everything, it was a plan as you go project in the making.

And this is what I’ve come up with so far.

It was suppose to be my winter project, but with the winters being so long in Michigan, it turned out to be my project 8 months out of the year.

The trestle bridges were all scratch built which was a challenge but the mission was accomplished.


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still updated every day.


I’m not what you would call an out and out cheapskate but I do look for value and I always look for another way to do things and usually come up with an acceptable solution.

Can’t say as I am doing so well with my waterfall and stream.

Nothing against Woodland Scenics as they do have some great things. However, I am committed to doing water scenes without their help. Should I surrender or are there some really great ideas out there?

Maine, USA”

A huge thanks to Dominic. An absolute monster of a layout – I loved it. It really looks like 4 1/2 years of work too. And who can help Russ?

That’s all for today, folks. If Dominic’s got you champing at the bit to get started, the Beginner’s Guide is here



HO scale printable scenery

56 Responses to Dominic’s 12×24 HO scale

  1. Ray C says:

    Wow! One of the best layouts I have ever seen. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Don Mebius says:

    I have a question looking at this layout that I hope you or other model railroaders could help me with – how do you reach the farthest corners of a layout when building it, and later when you need to service that area?
    This is a very helpful site and I thank each of your contributors to inspire the rest of us!!!

  3. Eric says:

    Really impressive Dominic, so much to see, no wonder it has taken 4.5 years, love the varied levels, those bridges are great and all the different scenes look great.

    Russ, have you tried E-Z water, I’m not a fan of the liquid water they do but the E-Z water with some of their water effects can work very well, just make sure to see that it won’t leak while setting or then you’ll have a mess. Do as they advise, prime the whole area where the water will go with Scenic Cement to stop bubbling.
    Happy Modelling
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  4. Keith Willoughby says:

    Cracking layout Dominic, fabulous detail to everything.

  5. Steven Joyce says:

    He sure loves those trestle bridges. They do look great though

  6. Jack Bury says:

    Very nice layout. I’m envious of all the space you have for your layout.
    Jack in PA

  7. Robert Brady says:

    Great layout very busy in a good way.Oh! Slow down the steam engine,too fast for it’s time ,lol!

  8. Allen Montville says:

    WOW, the last huge layout was great! This one is too!!!!!
    Farmer AL

  9. Bill Zurbrugg says:

    Nice looks awesome

  10. Bruce says:

    A great layout to be proud. It appears you have two main lines, but hard to tell. Can you show a track play?
    Thank you

  11. Curtis Smith says:

    I am glad to see that you are not hung up on weathering everything on your layout! I am installing a train wash on my layout to keep my rolling stock nice and shiny.

  12. Harry Barter says:

    Dominic that layout is absolutely amazing I am so impressed wish I had that Talent those bridges you built are absolutely gorgeous and I’m a general Commercial contractor fine detail great job I applaud you

  13. Randy Blankenship says:

    Superb, excellent, great realism, outstanding!

  14. Brad says:

    RE water-my plan is to make a REAL lake and waterfall(with running water and aerator) Doing this will be tricky and although they wont be in scale,I plan to put some little real fish in it,small ones like Neon Tetras,guppies and the like.I will make a bridge over this lake and the fish food will be delivered to them via a working hopper.I will stop the train over the lake to feed them.It’s a tricky project,but one in the works when I start my benchwork construction.I may even have a small fountain in the middle,May be too expensive for some,but I can have my fish friends on my layout.It will be close to me for ease of cleaning.The whole system should run off a 110,so there is no problem on that front.I scout garage sales and hope to find someone with a used old self contained fountain/waterfall that can be implemented into construction.WIsh me luck with this,I’m gonna need it lol

  15. Lynn says:

    Unlimited space, unlimited funds, an understanding wife; You must be in railroad heaven! Very nice layout.

  16. Don Jennings says:

    Dominic Real good layout and scenery and details. I like the train running.One thing ==the farm with chickens needs a fence between the farm and the track.
    Otherwise a real well thought out of real details on all your structures. keep up the good work and the fun of model RR ing. ==Don

  17. Rob Shuman says:

    Great job with the space and bridges!

  18. Linda Howell says:

    Great job Dominic. Your attention to details is awesome. You can tell you’ve taken your time with this one.
    Linda, PA

  19. David Klekovic says:

    Another real good one. I really like the new ideas everyone comes up with. Looking good

  20. Robert Miller says:

    I have been using 100% Silicone caulk for my water features. For water falls or rushing water you lay out strips on tin foil and peel them back and touch-up the backs with white paint. For lakes or ponds just spread the silicone over your painted surface. Making waves or other features is easy.
    Dry brushing with white paint on wave tops should give you the look you want.

  21. Kenneth Seegert says:

    What a great job and layout I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was a well spent 4 1/2 years.

  22. Dave in Ontario says:

    Wow! – Very impressive RR. Can’t believe all the ‘people’, almost everywhere, on top of buildings, bridges, etc. You certainly have created a very ‘real’; but, ‘compacted’ majestic RR; a true tribute to the lengthy MI winters. – – – dave in neighbouring ONT.

  23. Tal says:

    Excellent. Thanks for all yours hours of work and sharing with us.

  24. Evor Kerr III says:

    Dom, great use of space!! Has inspired me to get started on my 12’x24’ lay out in my basement! Keep on modeling…

  25. Mark Johnson says:

    I normally admire without commenting, but that layout deserves a comment. You’ve managed to get so much in without it looking crowded, an achievement in itself. Lovely detail to all the scenes, you should be very proud of your work. Trains a little fast for my taste but but a lovely layout.

    To 1:04 pm, as a train and fish lover, please don’t put live fish on your layout. They have a line of extremely sensitive organs running down their sides (the Lateral Line), which detect movement, vibration and pressure. For a multitude of reasons the unending barrage of vibration from running trains will seriously affect their long-term health and most certainly shorten their lives, even if you double the underlay you use.

    Mark J

  26. Terry Miller says:

    Very nice layout. If you’re going to use real water–watch out for humidity.

  27. Bruce Meier says:

    What an awesome layout you have built Dominic. I watched your video with a mouth wide open to your detail’s and especially to your bridges. I have yet to start my first layout, but I now know, it needs to be bigger. Been collecting trains for 20 yrs (O gauge) leading up to this moment and I “think” Iam ready to start…..LOL

  28. Graeme Coleman says:

    Really impressed, I also am planning as I go, but not making the great progress you have done. You have inspired me to do more.

  29. rangeryder says:

    For quite some time, I have been observing many of these videos and the great detail put into the layouts.
    The one thing that I would like to know, what is a realistic speed of a model train and how is it measured?
    And on that subject, an HO or N scale car, can it’s weight be scaled and when “all” the cars/engines are scaled weights, will the train work?
    I also noticed, that when the layouts are presented, there appear no “speed” signs on the layout(s)?
    I would like to add a suggestion when shooting video’s of your layouts – the closer you get to a detail – you must increase your “dwell*” time.
    While the layouts are very good, the video(s) can cause cross eye and vertigo to some one who is intensely viewing it; whether small or full screen.
    * dwell time is actual number of seconds the camera is stationary before moving the camera.

  30. Rod Mackay says:

    Great layout Dominic, but wow those trains are beating it up a bit, I’ve seldom been on American passenger train that went that fast, let alone freights.
    All the best,

  31. Minnesota Dan says:

    One of the most complete HO videos I have seen. We got the overview, and the opportunity to get up close and personal. Just like that couple leaning on the tree. Hope her dad does not see where he has his hands. 😉 Then the in promto car show on the bluff. I got some good ideas from this.

    Very well done, Dom.

  32. christine says:

    Nice layout, slow down the trains, the kids must love seeing it.

  33. Joe Wright says:

    Love it, thanks for posting

  34. John Kiernan says:

    Great layout just slow down a little

  35. Cal says:

    Very very impressive. One of the finest layouts I’ve ever seen. My only comment. Slow the trains down!!
    Cal from Oregon

  36. Dionisis says:

    It ia an awesome layout,Very good job Dominic!! you manage the space very well!! Keep modeling!

  37. David Richards says:

    GREAT layout. Being from TX I LOVE the Lone Star Beer delivery truck.

  38. Thomas Meleck says:

    Very impressive layout Dominic. Well detailed. It looks like you spent far more than 4 1/2 years working on it. Thanks for sharing.

    Russ, sometimes old ways are the best ways. Mod Podge is a clear, water based product that’s been around for a while. It’s been used for years primarily for making artwork glisten with gloss effects. It pours out white, then dries to a clear gloss. It works as well as more modern water based products, and is also a bit cheaper to purchase in quantity than Woodland Scenics product. Try looking in art supply stores for the best selection of sizes and prices. I’ve seen it offered in Michael’s Arts & Craft stores. I think even Walmart may carry it as well–although I haven’t checked there.

  39. Jim says:

    Very nice layout!

  40. John Reynolds says:

    An older trick for water and one that I have used…
    Gloss Medium…
    Available at all art stores and most craft stores…
    Matte Medium (diluted) is an old standby for ballast glue…
    There are many other synthetic water products besides Woodland Scenics…
    they are of varying prices and effectiveness in simulated water…
    try your local craft store!

  41. Tom Sallee says:

    Dominic, A great variety of scenery and structures that tell stories. My favorite, the barn with the white house next to it. There is so much activity in the yard that it reminds of a family reunion which turned my thoughts back to some wonderful memories from my childhood.

  42. Carl in Kansas says:

    Here is a tip for water. I particularly like it for making mud holes, drainage ditches, etc. A bit of gloss polyurethane or gloss varnish over your base paint looks quite wet. I have not tried it for a lake or large body of water, but it should work.

    Mod Podge comes in gloss or mat finish. Make sure you get the one you want. And, yes, Walmart carries it.

    I use Mod Podge to glue down my ballast, using 1 part Mod Podge to 2 parts water, plus some 70% isopropyl alcohol as a wetting agent. Since it is flexible, it does not transmit sound like PVA or white glue does.

    Keep on training,
    Carl in Kansas

  43. Carl in Kansas says:

    Sorry the readability of the scale speed table did not come out well. Let me try again.

    Time to travel 3 feet at scale speed
    Prototype Speed N HO O
    5 mph 65 sec 36 sec 19 sec
    15 mph 22 sec 12 sec 6 1/2 sec
    25 mph 13 sec 7 sec 3 ½ sec
    60 mph 5 ½ sec 3 sec 1 ½ sec
    90 mph 3 ½ sec 2 sec 1 sec

    Carl in Kansas

  44. Brian moretti says:

    Very nice but you need to slow down the trains ..

  45. OLar Maksin says:

    …very nice job. Per previous comments you must be in railroad heaven, (the one on this planet) . My question is regarding what looks to be a Crude Tower in your refinery. Was that from a kit, or did you scratch-build that? If so what did you base your plans on??

    OLar ( pronounced O-Lair)

  46. Hemi says:

    I sure am impressed!!!!! NICE Layout!!!!!
    My only critique would be to slow down that IHC 4-8-2 just a tad, to allow the side rod moveemnt to be seen a bit better…… HOWEVER that said, the IHC 4-8-2 seems to be one real good runner (I have yet to fault ole IHC for that and they last too. I have some of the first 2-8-2’s and 4-6-2’s from IHC and they to this day run quite well for they’re age. and I have several to build yet (bought in other road names for really GOOD prices) that need built to my railroad….. BUT thats not a problem with a little detail added, some paint and decals all is then “good”!!!!!

    As for the IHC 4-8-2’s and the newer IHC 2-8-2’s and 4-6-2’s they came with flywheel drive, unlike those oldies but goodies I have, they got the same motor but no flywheels but thats OK I don’t allow them to coast all that far anyway!

    NICELY done, I’m jealous of the sheer size of the layout and look GREAT all at the same time! VERY NICE! PLUS something I forgot to say, your DC cab control I see, thats a welcoming feature this day in DCC age! (I’m DC Cab Control too!

  47. Ross Johnston says:

    Great layout Dominic and thanks for sharing it with us. I would like to see your layout plans as I’m just starting layout tracks on my layout which is in a 20 x 18 shed. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide, South Australia

  48. Jim S. in Pennsylvania says:

    Dominic, fantastic! Don’t concern yourself with what you are reading above. You have spent a lot of time creating your layout so you have earned the right to run the trains at any speed you desire……….

  49. Dennis says:

    Very nice. one of the best I have seen.

  50. David says:

    Obviously this one gets a 5 star rating. Nicely done. Congratulations. DR

  51. kpete says:

    I can’t add any superlatives to what has already been said. That is very impressive. One thing I noted was that, at least in part, the layout has Chicago & Northwestern flavor. I noticed that you have at least 2 locomotives and a trestle with C&NW rendering on it. I grew up in C&NW territory. In Escanaba, Michigan they used to load iron ore into ships from C&NW Railroad cars. I have many friends who used to work at the dock and on the line. Thank you for sharing your layout with us. God Bless from kpete to a fellow Michigander.

  52. Ian McDonald says:

    that is an unbelieveable layout the detail is out of this world. you are also good with the camera thanks for sharing.

  53. This is a fantastic layout. Is there anyway you could get me a track plan? I would love to try to create something close to this in N scale. I really enjoyed the video. Thanks for sharing.


    I loved the video the work and the detail very well done so relaxing those Ben Thomas YONKERS NY

  55. Tjk says:

    Nice layout Dom! I love the Seagrams whiskey truck making a delivery at the same building as the Salvation Army. Also enjoyable are all the deer at the fishing hole, if you can’t catch a fish, you could walk right up to a deer and bonk him on the head. Lots to see on your layout. Thanks Dom!

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