Garage model railroad

We’re going to start with an update from Bill today and his garage model railroad.

“Good Morning Al

With more evenings available to enjoy the hobby I decided I wanted to expand my garage model railroad.

Looking at my options I landed on an idea to use the counter space I have but rather than expand the HO switching layout I’m going to build an N Scale layout. I have a tote full of N Scale items and I thought it time to bring them out after about 25 years in storage.

I’ve attached some pictures and a video link of what I’m doing this time around. I still need to be able to bring a vehicle in the garage so I came up with an idea to add folding legs to one side of the table so I can push it up on the counter when not in use. When stored this way I only lose about one foot in the garage so more than enough space is left to bring in the Jeep.

This layout will have a continuous run with two laps around a 3×15 foot layout. On this layout I’ll be able to run trains and sit back and watch while sipping coffee. This one will have mountains as well as a fair amount of switching and be run off DCC.

My wife thinks I’m crazy and she may be right but I’m having fun.


Bill in Virginia”

garage model railroad

garage model railroad

garage model railroad

garage model railroad

garage model railroad

N scale

N scale

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

“Hello Al,

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa.

My name is Heinrich and I am 45 years old.

The hobby took fire in me about 5 years ago when my family and I still resided in a smallish townhouse.

I started with a relatively small 4×8 board but alas, this was still too big for my townhouse and I had to contend with a board that had to be assembled and disassembled whenever I had to run my trains. Not good… The board only had tracks on it and I could not fix any scenery items to it.

From the get go I had a plan in mind for what I wanted to achieve. My models are predominantly old Lima, South African Railways models (some rare and extremely collectible). In my collection I have diesels, electric and steam. I always wanted to model the 1960’s to 1980’s era of the South African Railways and specifically the Karoo landscape.

In 2018 my wife and I bought a proper house and my wife was kind enough to allocate me a room specifically for my trains.

My “train” room is about the size of a single garage and I could finally set my layout ideas in motion.

I decided on double level, wall mounted layouts that would run separate from each other. The top layout will be my Karoo layout and limited to steam locomotive operations and the bottom will be a mix of rural and city.

I work in aviation security and I am away from home frequently. In order to ensure that I spend enough time with my family and on my trains (good balance must be maintained), I approached a layout builder (pensioner) to put my layout ideas and plans into reality.

Due to upgrades being done on the new home and issues at work, the work on my train room and layout could only commence this year. But o my, the progress…

The modules, and scenery) are being assembled away from my home and will be transported and installed once complete (about 60km away from me).

I attach a couple of photos from what has been done to date. Due to size issues, I may have to send more photos in a separate email…

In the previous photos, you will observe the models being measured and fitted. The idea is that should we sell the house and move away, I can dismantle the modules and (hopefully) reinstall them again in a new room/location.

In the attached photos you will observe my layout plan, the laying of the track and ballast and also weathering of the tracks.

I must ad, the ballast stone is original Karoo sand (collected by a friend) that has been sifted to HO scale.

HO scale track plan

laying track

laying track

ballasting track

The top part/Karoo layout is nearing completion.

HO scale model bridge

HO scale model railroad

HO scale model railroad module

HO scale model railroad module

HO scale model railroad module

HO scale model railroad module

HO scale model railroad module

HO scale model railroad module

HO scale model railroad module

I hope you enjoy the pics!


A big thanks to Bill for sharing his garage model railroad, and to Heinrich too.

I think Bill’s come up with a fab solution for expanding. Very inventive.

And Heinrich hasn’t let lack of time rob him of a layout.

As I keep saying, your layout is whatever you want it to be, and if that’s somebody else building it, that’s fine too.

That’s all for today.

Please do keep ’em coming

And don’t forget the the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is the day you take your leap of faith.



15 Responses to Garage model railroad

  1. Kaustav says:

    Hi Bill – your benchwork is just awesome! Love the innovation and how you can move around those large layouts /modules. I wish I had a full room to myself to build my railroad though. 🙂

    Hi Heinrich – that brings me to your method , that’s what I am after – modular shelf layout. I can afford max 16 inches depth, but I can go about 30 ft long. I also will need space below and above for my dioramas, micro layouts and switching modulars.

    So much to build… so litte time!


  2. markus muetschard says:

    Nice bench construction… Did you think of a little overhang on the side of tue foldable legs? …or recessing the foldable legs a few inch?

  3. al–you keep finding the most amazing modelers and modeling!

  4. James says:

    A six minute video of benchwork…so very cool!

  5. Rod Mackay says:

    Excellent work. Love the South African layout.
    Bill, I’ve got an old kitchen that looks just like that, only slight technical hitch is we’re still using it as a kitchen, so I don’t see conversion getting approval!

  6. george zaky says:

    You’re a genius! Awesome concept, use of space and planning.
    Great job and also great planning. Nice modeling also. Keep us posted.
    George from NY

  7. Bob Belk says:


    Where in Virginia are you located?

    I live in Bethesda, MD, 2 miles from the Legion Bridge (River Road exit).

  8. Glyn Jones says:

    Wonderful start to what will be a beautiful
    Layout. It looks like you have a Garratt loco (my all time favorite loco) heading your consist . If I may ask where did you get it? They are almost impossible to find.
    Congrats – Glyn

  9. John Russell says:

    Hi Heinrich, I love what you have done so far. I live in Australia, and grew up in Newcastle NSW. The Government Railways used Bayer- Garrett loco’s from the coal mines. When we went to town. we would them double heading the train going to the wharfs. I was wondering if you know of anyone that makes the Bayer – Garrett’s in N Gauge?

  10. Bill in Virginia says:

    Heinrich your layout looks great! Really like how you put the modules together and the weathering and detailing is very well done. You have a layout that looks fun yo operate 😀

    Thanks to all for the nice comments on my bench construction. I enjoy our hobby and look to maximize the amount of railroading I can get in limited garage space 😀

  11. ANDREW FL)RIDA USA says:

    Hello Heinrich, Awesome track work and ballast! How about some pix of your locos and rolling stock. I like to see different and unusual (for me) equipment,
    Thanks, ANDY

  12. Hugh Ward says:

    Bill might use the old screen door hook & Ring latch to hold the legs when he folds them . He also might shorten the cross braces to the same length as the cross members or a little shorter to fold them against the cross braces as he folds the legs

  13. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Bill….really cool……I am very jealous of your carpentry skills…….

    Heinrich…….Love those long runs………your layout is looking good.

    Gary M from Long Island

  14. Bill, Great idea, could hardly hear you speak so missed a lot of your running commentary

  15. Will in NM says:

    Bill, Very clever use of space but doesn’t that N scale layout make the workbench almost unusable? I like your layouts all being on casters so you can roll them around. That’s the way all my wood shop tools are set up so I roll them out of the way when not in use.

    Heinrich, Very nice start on your layout. You have some serious modeling skills. I liked your little country store and gas station scenes. What are the things on the roof of the store that look like giant pumpkins and why are they there? In New Mexico where I live, it’s common practice to toss old tires on to the old tin roofs to hold the roof down during the windy season. I look forward to seeing more of your layout as it progresses further.

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