Geoff’s layout

“Hi Alastair,

I have been enjoying your emails and content for quite some time. Many of the layouts and suggestions are excellent and inspiring in some cases.

I have taken the liberty of sending you four snaps of my N Scale 3′ by 4′ layout … I would love to receive feed back … this was my very first attempt to build a layout and n scale was the choice because of space limitations …

Thank you






“Hello Alastair, its been a while since my last message, but I have been busy building a high level continuous circuit above my South wales layout. I,ve also been on Hol to the Isle of Man.

The new track has several purposes, one to enable me to run-in new locos, to have something running when I’m working on the SW layout and not operating trains, and also, last year I bought an express passenger train set which would look silly on a small branch line. ( It was half price, too good to miss a bargain like that ) I can now run it with 6 or 7 coaches. Having said that, it cost me more to pay for all the timber & track.

But I enjoyed doing it. So I can run two trains while I solder, improve the branch line in some way or assemble a kit etc.

Hope this is of interest.






I think Geoff’s done an amazing job crowbarring all that detail in to such a small place.

That’s all for this time friends.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

39 Responses to Geoff’s layout

  1. Ron Schultz says:

    that “high line” around the walls above the layout is maybe what I need to do. I have some G trains that I never get to run as I dont have the space. My HO layout takes up the biggest part of the train room 15 X 30 feet and then theres the 8 X *8- O gage table with 3 loops on it . to many trains not enough space .

  2. Dave Jones says:

    Geoff thats a great little layout

  3. Mark Allen says:

    1st layout? great work Geoff !

  4. Thats a great N gauge layout you have built Geoff in the space you have , and alan thats a good idea having that upper level for running in your Loco`s

  5. Dale says:

    At 73 years old with a heart condition, I have to view my ‘first’ layout as my ‘last’ layout. Geoff’s results of his ‘first’ layout encourage me to press on, knowing a ‘first’ layout can be a fine layout.

  6. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hi Alan — like the idea of a upper shelf layout that is above and independent from the lower layout. As you said, it allows for some independent activity for continuous running. Like having 2 separate layouts in a condensed space.


  7. Gavin says:

    Great detail on your layout Geoff – Be good to see it again when you finish the upper level.

  8. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hey Geoff — very nice work for a first layout attempt. You certainly made the most use of limited space. Good luck with it. I can see an underlying itch you have for detailing. I suspect that with time and opportunity you will be considering doing another layout.


  9. mike luhouse says:

    You sure know how to use a shoe horn to get all the bang for your bucks! Excellent for a first attempt! Congratulations on your realistic and enviable layout in such a small space.

  10. David Leech says:

    Geoff. I have an N gauge model railway and I am amazed what you have done. Congratulations on a fine layout. It would be good to see a track plan for your layout and where you have put buildings etc.

  11. Mike Bissitt says:

    I really like it… I want to build one similar for a coffee table…. Could I get a blueprint of the layout? I like how busy it is…

  12. Mr.Tracy Brown says:

    You did a lot on a small surface thank God for N scale
    or else a lot of talented people would not be able to showcase their
    wonderful skills
    thank you Mr. lee for helping the world see these great layouts

  13. Tom says:

    Little space, small scale, large success! Well done Geoff.
    Alan, I too like the concept of running track above the main railroad. It looks great.
    Thanks for sharing ideas. Your work. Thanks Al fro bringing them to us.



  14. nice layout very condensed these days space is a big factor.i like the idea of the track above the layout and just running trains.

  15. fred says:

    Hi Geoff

    I would love to see your track plan and your grades. It is always great to pack such a lot into a small space. I am currently working on a three times around in N for my grandson on a 2 by 4 layout and have had to make a few compromises. I would like to see how you handled it with the extra foot of width.


  16. Great job on such a small space. 3; by 4′ is a nice size. You sure did a lot with it.

  17. james says:

    Looks nice… but I’d put some ballast down… keep up the good work

  18. Pete Evangel says:

    Love the detail in such a small place. You must lots of patience to place it all. One suggestion if I may. When I click on the photos to open them, they are a tad grainy. A higher resolution would be great. I would like to know how you wired it! Are the switch tracks remote controlled or manual? How many trains can you run at once? Is this DCS? Would love to do something along this line (N-scale) on a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. That is my max allowed space!!!!

  19. paul Otway says:

    A very nice layout, amazing what cna be done with N scale.

  20. jon irwin says:

    Geoff, great stuff. Wait till the next one!!!!, now you have the bug. I found that while working on a layout in the back of my mind what I might try next time. The beauty of this hobby (obsession) is that a layout is never really finished. all the best mate..Jon (Australia)

  21. An excellent layout especially as a first attempt. Your detailing is remarkable, you certainly have a keen eye.

  22. THOMAS says:


  23. Chris says:

    Very nice layout with lots of detail.

  24. MIchael says:


    That looks great! I have also started with a 3×4 N Scale but am still in the planning stages and only have the basic oval. I would love to see the track lay-out (minus scenery) to get a better idea of how you used the space.

  25. Stanley Lyszcarz says:

    I agree with Geoff, a track plan would be very helpful. Just the track layout would be great. Is there one?

  26. I LIKE SMALL LAYOUTS LIKE GEOFF’S! You’ve done an excellent job—did I see some industrial switching spurs in there, too?
    Alan–Wish I could do something similar—but my security deposit would be in jeopardy! Double track—running two trains at once? Great view! –Joonathan Caswell, U.S.A.

  27. Carl V. Gogolak says:

    Do you have a track plan you can email?

  28. Bill Koepsel says:

    Looks really good for the first layout. Maybe a little crowded but wonderful for
    such a small space. Can’t wait to see what you do on a larger layout…

  29. Gary M says:

    Great layout….. a lot of detail in such a small place……..took a lot of patience……

  30. Looks great, just goes to show that you can build a nice layout in very limited space.

  31. Shaun Pollard says:

    He Geoff.
    Have you got a track plan please?

  32. David F says:

    I get carried away on too much track & rolling stock then have no space for buildings. This is great, plenty to see

  33. Robert Prouse says:

    Geoff —

    That’s a fabulous use of 3’ x 4’! Mine is 2-1/2’ x 5’, and I’m a little jealous. Nice work on the corners.

  34. Wowzers…
    So much to think about…
    The post is impressive and the comments so far are very thought provoking.
    Ron Schultz, I know the problem well and Alan’s solution is a good one.
    Too often I have found myself loving “Micro-Layouts” but “Macro-Locomotives”. That “High-Line” idea may be just the ticket to giving my “larger goldfish” a place to play.
    Geoff’s layout is a fantastic first effort. I have seen many like it in the “old days”. For my taste it is a little cluttered BUT is is more than many have done…
    To Geoff I raise the proverbial glass and say WELL DONE.

  35. jimwillis says:

    Very nice layout

  36. Jim Kennedy says:

    I have been looking for something to build because I have the same type of space restrictions that you do. This is great. It give me something to go by. Would love to see any track plans you used to lay out the track.

  37. paul says:

    I like the layout which is compacted and still a lot going on.The layout have given me some ideas for one which i am going to have a go out (1st timer) .I am really impressed with it and I also like your idea for a running separate track…well done
    and thank you for sharing with us Geoff

  38. Pelican Bill says:

    as usual I request a track diagram layout of the yours and everyone’s layouts..
    It would make every layout posted so much more understandable
    Thanks to all who take a few minutes

  39. Malcolm says:

    Very nicely done, but with such a small area I wonder why Geoff didn’t consider Z scale (1:220) instead on N scale (1:160)? The reduction in size of buildings, vehicles, etc. could have been beneficial in reducing crowding or permitting more development. The comment “Thank God for N scale” by Brown is right on, even more so for Z scale.

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