Fred’s stunning N scale layout

“Hi Al –

This is an update on my project. You first heard from me about a year ago, with my soliloquy about the importance of scale. So about a year later, here I am again with my progress report.

My layout (N Scale) is about 24 feet by three feet, with a “dogbone” right angle section at one end for track return under a mountain. At the other end there is about eight to ten feet jutting inward (away from the viewing front, which forms a harbor, that accomodates a chemical tanker piered for loading at a refinery. The other side of the harbor will have a city, with 1920 era apartment buildings sweeping up to modern 30-40 story high rise construction. Downtown section of city measures about four feet wide, and two feet deep. Tracks underneath eventually terminate into staging yard (in next room of my basement, which up ’til now has housed all my good wine and scotch.) Years ago I was an architect, so I’m looking forward to building the high rise section.

The layout has a curvilinear front face, with masonite facia, so that the layout varies in width from eighteen inches to forty two, which makes it look more natural, I think. I have two rows of fluorescent tubes behind the top facia, together with high intensity incandescent mini-spots. It is very well lit, which helps these old cataracts see what the owner is doing! The entire length of the layout resides underneath a diorama backdrop that curves all the way up and over the layout (layout is 4 feet off floor, “sky” of diorama is at 7 feet, which I built of “Masonite,” and taped and plastered with drywall mud for mural painting. I used to landscape paint in my youth, and felt I had a better chance of designing the backdrop to my layout rather than a photo backdrop, which might have dragged the cart before the horse. I have been working pretty exclusively on the north (dogbone) end of the layout since I laid all the track a year ago, on a fictional rural town that looks a lot like my native New England.

“Maxwell Falls” (Grandson #1 is named Max) is the name of this town. It’s commercial, with brick shops from DPM kits, where the big effort seems to be in the painting and weathering, lighting, detailing, etc. I found a Volmer church kit, and kitbashed it considerably to use the right hand wall of the nave to extend the visible side on the left and give it correct proportions and scale. Landscape is plaster cloth on foam insulation. I used many latex molds to model rocks from hydrocal and plaster of paris. Water in the river and the ravine that holds the hydro plant is by “Magic Water,” and though I leaked about half into buckets during the pour, looks very real once done. painting the rapids was a real challenge. I have audio chips all over the place, and a speaker inside the power plant rushes with water through the turbines as I continue with this fabulous hobby.

Under Spandrel bridge, looking at power plant:

Dam and river:

Aerial view of Powerplant:

The bend at Maxwell Falls: (Note the “interface” between the plaster model road, and the painted road in the backdrop. I put the bridge expansion joint right at the break, and continued with the same color acrylic paint throughout. The painted road begins right at the red van on the bridge.

A Magic Water pond with sheep

Scratch built late Victorian – early 20th Century station

On the way from Maxwell Falls to “Port Charles” (The city)

More Backdrop painting approaching harbor

I’ll send you more in time, but here are some pics: (If I run out of digital room with these pics, I’ll just send them with labels in a separate email)

Fred”

A huge thank you to Fred for sharing such a stunning layout. Just goes to show how much fun you can have with a theme to bring your layout to life.

That’s all this time folks – don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you’re getting borded of sitting in your armchair (and it doesn’t matter how many decades you’ve been sat in it, it’ll really help you to get going).

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

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here

82 responses to “Fred’s stunning N scale layout”

  1. Eric says:

    Brilliant.

  2. Karl says:

    The painting of the backdrop is incredible. This is something I will try to incorporate in my layout. Just AWESOME!

  3. Jim says:

    OUTSTANDING!!! Great layout and fantastic photos!
    Nicely done.

    Jim R

  4. Raymond Bove says:

    Fabulous, unusual and so very professional. Excellent work!

    Raymond

  5. Rob McCrain says:

    It all looks absolutely fabulous.

  6. David Trigger says:

    Stunning work. Well done.

  7. Bruce says:

    WOW.

  8. Ashley Harvey says:

    What a neat layout! Excellent back-drop to compliment the layout.

  9. Ian says:

    Your dam, river, bridge and power plant are superb!

  10. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    Fred. Superb work Sir!
    The blending of the layout and the backdrop is seamless. It provides real depth to the scene.
    Excellent modelling. You should do some “how to” demonstrations to help the rest of us aspire to your standards 🙂

  11. David V. Corbin says:

    Amazing… Would love to see some “wide angle” (over all) shots along with the track plan….

  12. ian impett says:

    Loads of sheep well done fred great work the dam is very impressive IAN

  13. John McCoy says:

    Great

    Thanks

  14. Laurence Johnston says:

    Absolutely Stunning. great detail.
    Regards,
    Laurence

  15. Ian says:

    Awesome! Inspirational. Thank you for sharing

  16. Tom Monagan says:

    Beautiful, I love it.

  17. JACK WINDT says:

    outstanding, what is this mans occupation ?

  18. Ben Dickmann says:

    Among the best I have ever seen. Beautiful. Detailed. Creative. Balanced. Artistic. Realistic….FANTASTIC!!!

  19. Charles ZEIS says:

    Fantastic. Show off. Ha ha amazing great job!!!

  20. Ed Clark says:

    Nice modeling

  21. BullfrogEH, in Ontario says:

    A fantastic backdrop. Wish I could be so bravely artistic, to create such great blend into the whole diorama. – – – bullfrogEH in Ontario

  22. Horacio Chavez says:

    wow OUTSTANDING!!! Great layout and fantastic photos!
    Nicely done.

  23. Chuck Bartunek says:

    What an outstanding layout,beautiful.

  24. Michael R. McCabe says:

    A video of this layout would be a huge help, The pics alone are amazing

  25. Bruce Thompson says:

    This is amazing. This is exactly what I was thinking of doing with my new layout. Do you have any pictures of the layout from farther back? Fabulous!
    Bruce from Ontario

  26. Tom Durham says:

    From the mountain ridges to the rusty rails…the Oscar for set design goes to…

  27. Bob says:

    I’d never use the word “stunning”. I would use the words “above average excellent” and I’ve been in this hobby a long time.

  28. Dienzel Dennis says:

    One of, if not the best, scenery I have ever seen; and I have seen a lot over the many years in the hobby and all my travels. D. D. of D. B.

  29. Steve Hudacko says:

    This is one of the best detailed layouts I have seen. To get this detail in N gauge you have to have a good eye, actually you need two very good eyes. Nice job.
    Steve from Toms River

  30. Tom says:

    The pix of the power plant, dam and river looks like he cheated by taking a drone shot of the real thing. Absolutely unbelievably looks like a real photo.
    Amazing talent that is appreciated.
    Also background of coast looks like he has spent a wee bit of time on the Scottish coast. More talent

  31. Linda says:

    Wonderful talent. You can tell much time was spent with the beautiful backdrop, absolutely stunning. Great detail throughout the layout. Well done.

  32. Warren Ferguson says:

    Beautiful, beautiful work. I do hope you will provide more pics, and perhaps a video? Your work is truly an inspiration!

  33. Lee Barry, CEO LZPMRR says:

    excellent layout. I was into N scale from 1993 until 2009. Had to sell what I owned, family and food comes first. When I got back into model railroading I chose Z scale. If I had to do it again I’d stay far away from Z due to the price and lack of good quality stuff. Am still trying to get my layout pictures into my computer to send them to ya’ll. My son and his wife tried Saturday to no avail, it kept coming up “no memory”.

  34. Colin says:

    The best so far? Can we see a longer range photo to get a fuller feel for the layout.

  35. Rob55 says:

    Unbelievably realistic. I wanted to get in my truck and come visit. Awesome, beautiful. Thanks.

  36. John L says:

    Absolutely INCREDIBLE ! LOVE all the details in the scenery, well done.

  37. MICHAEL GLASS says:

    I LOOOOOOOOVE Your layout.

  38. Wayne says:

    Absolutely amazing. I have huge respect for N scale model builders which is really only appreciated when seen in person.

    Wayne
    Cape Town

  39. Brad Squires says:

    Nice work!! thank you for the share!! Keep it coming!!

  40. Appookta says:

    Incredible! Unbelievable! Astounding!

  41. Rod Mackay says:

    Wow!!
    Rod

  42. Barry Hespenhide says:

    Awesome, looks so life like. Great job and attention to detail. B. H.

  43. outstanding layout!!
    best detail I’ve seen in years…
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  44. Keith Willoughby says:

    Love it all, but the dam and power plant really does it for me…. Brilliant.

  45. David R. McClelland says:

    Fred, you are an artist and a master craftsman! Conductor Dave.

  46. James Malins says:

    Wonderful layout. Truly inspiring.

  47. NJ Mark says:

    Absolutely breathtaking! Your skills are amazing!!! Cheers! NJ Mark

  48. Harold Francis says:

    Outstanding

  49. Keith Carey says:

    Fred,
    Your layout and scenery is, absolutely, stunning, indeed.

    I am approaching the point of track laying the mainline on my H.O. layout.

    Your backdrops and the shadows of light are inspiring.
    I am feeling encouraged. And, feeling that paralysis coming back that my scenery will never make the “grade”.

    Anyway, the dam is awesome. It truly looks like a 500ft high flyover.

  50. William says:

    Definitely a superb work of art!!
    One question though. Where i the penstock for the power house? I couldn’t make it out behind the dam.

  51. Gary Appleton says:

    Perfect work

  52. Thomas says:

    Great job! The only thing missing is a video with sound–it won’t be the same as being there but I know I would appreciate it,

  53. Thomas says:

    Not sure who posted:
    “When I got back into model railroading I chose Z scale. If I had to do it again I’d stay far away from Z due to the price and lack of good quality stuff,”

    Check out ZTrack Magazine and Rohukan products from Japan–you may gain a new a appreciation for Z-scale both in quality and price,

  54. Thomas Murphy says:

    Top-notch craftsmanship, Fred! Your photos deserve to be displayed in an art gallery. Very impressive contribution to our hobby indeed.
    Regards, Tom (USA).

  55. dave says:

    Very nice N scale is so hard to work with The hobby seems to be geared for HO the most with more accessories That painting and dam is really awesome !!

  56. Glyn says:

    Fantastic layout Fred – the dam, dam wall and power plant are superbly done. Who makes the dam wall kit? Very unusual and effective.
    Regards
    Glyn

  57. Paul Selwyn Otway says:

    nice

  58. walt emerson says:

    WOW, what a great you’ve done………….wish i had that talent. walt

  59. Cary says:

    Really incredible work Fred! I decided to do an outdoor layout due to space constraints, but your layout makes me want to work in N scale one of these days. I recently saw Arnie’s N scale layout and both make me realize what is possible in this scale. Thanks for sharing. Cary in Kentucky

  60. Garry McGhie says:

    excellent work loved the scenery work, would love to see a track layout and how you gained the track height

  61. Bernie says:

    The dam and power station made me go “Wow!” I’m envious of anyone with such artistry. Well done

  62. W. Ward says:

    FANTASTIC!!!! I am in awe.
    ww – Michigan US

  63. John Reynolds says:

    Jaw Dropping…
    Beyond amazing…
    N scale? N-credible!!!

  64. Ian Mc Donald says:

    so real just great scenery. nice job plenty of enjoyment comes thru. thanks for sharing.

  65. Robert Rolfe says:

    Fred
    Your work is AMAZING, so like like, like a picture. I do not know how you do it, but keep up the OUTSTANDING WORK. Thanks for sharing.
    Bob N.V

  66. Ken Goldenberg says:

    Exceptional detail!

  67. Lawrence Phipps says:

    I must say Fred the layout is fantastic, your detail is amazing
    A layout to be very proud off
    Have never seen a dam modelled before and it looks the real thing

  68. Jim says:

    Simply fantastic. Great detail and lifelike. Really appreciate the water scenes. And dam is truly remarkable. Hope to see more.

    Jim

  69. Robert Shuman says:

    Great work in detail and colour! Truly inspiring.
    Rob

  70. David says:

    The dam looks so real.love to see a video, thanks for sharing your brilliant work.
    Dave R

  71. Ron says:

    Fantastic work. Would love to see the entire thing, regardless of its state of completion.

  72. Jay Bicknell says:

    Beautiful layout!

  73. Daniel says:

    The power plant is incredible!
    Dan
    Massachusetts

  74. Martin Vanderhoek says:

    Well done!!! Your work is to a very high standard. I am planning in the very near future of building as similar design with Harbour and City buildings. Would it be possible to have a copy of your tack layout plan? This would help in my planning as a starting point. Also your ideas on the high rise construction would interest me greatly.

    Cheers

  75. Jim Sulkosky says:

    Nice layout great work.

  76. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    WOW, very nice backdrop. And the Dam, there is not a word to describe it, so real. Out standing job, very well done. The colors are blended so well. Good eye. N gauge, I have 0 gauge & HO gauge, and ad soon as we move I am going to put the two together. Acorse 0 g up front & HO g in the background or center of the layout. I have many different designs of the two and I will probably designs as I go, lol . Any way great job on your layout. That Dam is so real, like to see more. Stephen from Tampa Florida signing out.

  77. Ron Logston says:

    What a work of art, it’s a beauty there’s a master at the peak of his skills

  78. Ed Purdy says:

    Is there a Louvre for Model RR artistry? Incredible work.

  79. George says:

    That is so real I thought about buying a ticket to ride on your train that is coming out of that tunnel so I could see the rest of the layout !
    Be well and stay safe Sir !!
    George

  80. Rick D says:

    There is only one word

    UNBELIEVABLE

    Rick

  81. You have done some fantastic scenery work! I love the quality of your work!

  82. Robert Brady says:

    🙂

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