HO scale Christmas train

Heinrich has been in touch with his HO scale Christmas train:

“Hello from sunny South Africa!

Now, we will never have a white Christmas in South Africa, but I can model my European experiences. With the assistance of my darling wife, Susan!

The idea of our Christmas tree layout started back during our Covid 19 lock down.

We had a Christmas holiday booked in the Black Forest of Germany, but soon realised that the world was going to be in chaos and made alternative arrangements.

The holiday plans were subsequently scrapped and we started work on Plan B: Staying home and bringing a white Christmas to Johannesburg!

We took a spare piece of ISO board I had laying around, fixed two radius tracks on it and started planning…. of course, everything had to be designed around the Christmas tree!

Here are some pics of how we started, and pics and a video of the final result.

Merry Christmas!


HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

HO scale Christmas train

Christmas model train

christmas model train

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here (goes mad this time of year).

A big thanks to Heinrich for sharing his HO scale Christmas train – an utterly wonderful Christmas layout.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as me. I do enjoy seeing them, so much work goes in to them, and yet they are only on display for such a short amount of time.

However, as Christmas decorations go, they are hard to beat.

You can find more model railroad Christmas layouts here.

There’s also Daniel’s model train Christmas story too.

Old Taz gives you the heads up on planning one with his Christmas window layout

Please do leave a comment below and let us know what you thought.

That’s all for this time – please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to make today the day you start on your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



39 Responses to HO scale Christmas train

  1. Lowell Blackman says:

    A truly magical winter wonderland. Merry Christmas.

  2. RonE says:

    It’s nice to see a Christmas layout for a change.
    Merry Christmas!
    Fröhliche Weihnachten.

    Sunny So. Calif..

  3. I love Your Christmas Tree layout. Froeliche Weihnachten! The Stille Nacht Chapel is exquisite! I think I have to get one for my layout. This year I’m putting my 1940 Marx ‘O’ gauge Commodore Vanderbilt train under the tree. It hasn’t run in years, but I want to bring back fond memories of early childhood.
    Victor Herbert wrote the song “Toyland”. He said “once you leave it’s borders you can never return again.” I guess Mr. Herbert never knew any model railroaders!

  4. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Happy Christmas Heinrich and Mrs Heinrich – nicely planned and executed layout.

  5. Terry Sipe says:

    Some of my earliest Christmas memories are of the train under the tree at my Pappy’s (grandfather) house. Christmas Tree layouts have been in the family for over 70 years. It’s is great that you and your lovely wife have found this project to do together. It looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

  6. NJ Mark says:

    That was very sweet and lovely. It was nice to see husband and wife Heinrich and Susan work together to a make a magical scene. Merry Christmas. Cheers! NJ Mark

  7. Eddie Grossett says:

    Brilliant Heinrich
    missing you guys From Cape Town

  8. Paul Lichau says:

    Great job at creating the Christmas experience. We live close to Bronner’s Christmas Store in Frankenmith, Michigan. It is billed as the world’ largest Christmas Store. Frankenmuth has adopted the Bavarian tradition in everything they do – Bavarian architecture is mandated in the greater business area – even for McDonald’s! Wally Bronner was from Germany and was a devout Lutheran. He lives Christmas year round. In all of his advertising, he refers it to it as “CHRISTmas.” Wally `went to the location of the original Silent Night Chapel and arranged to recreate an exact copy of that chapel on the yard of the store. It is very small and holds about 30 people at a time. During the Christmas season, local choirs are invited to present programs there. There is a fantastic Christmas Eve service at midnight. Fabulous experience. So glad that you included that model in your layout! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Ken Seibert Farmingdale, N.Y. U.S.A. says:

    To the Mr. & Mrs. I have only 1 thing to say WOW!!!!!!!! the both of you made the layout come to life, as in the song Frosty the Snowman coming to life. Sir you did a
    fantastic job setting the layout down, the Missus did a Fantastic Job with the Snow scenery on the buildings and grounds. I Commend the 2 of you with a Job well Done.

  10. hello Heinrich
    Beautiful layout, Wonderful to see another South African on this group. Where in South Africa are you?
    Henry in Pietermaritzburg

  11. Robert Brady says:

    Very nice and nostalgic. lot of work put in to that Christmas scene. Well appreciated
    The Critic

  12. Really nice,Merry Christmas!!

  13. Bill Holt says:

    Very Nice !


  14. Lynn Taubeneck says:

    What a wonderful homage to the birth of Jesus Christ. Great layout and working with a small space,.

  15. Sam says:

    I view this site everyday and there are so many fantastic posts that is is hard to pick one that stands out over an other. Until this post from Heinrich brought back such strong childhood memories of Christmas with a train running around the tree. Thank you for the memories.

  16. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Just a few days ago, my son-in-law gave me a raggedy-ass box of old Lionel rolling stock with a 2-4-2 and an F unit locomotive, all tossed haphazardly on top of a tangled stack of assorted track. It had belonged to his father, and was salvaged from his apartment here in Toronto when he passed over a year ago.

    To say that it had seen better days is an understatement, and, as expected, neither engine ran when power was applied. Nevertheless, I started by disassembling the locomotives, cleaned out dust and cat hair, degreased, re-oiled shafts and gears, refreshed the motor commutators, armatures and brushes, even found a couple of old flashlight bulbs that fit. Touched the test leads to the contacts, and … Voila … both engines are as good as new!

    Cleaned up enough track to make a test oval, did some quick restoration on a boxcar, hopper, tanker and caboose, and sent my son-in-law a short video. He’s 38 years old, and replied that the last time he remembers seeing these run was when he was in grade 3, so, maybe 30 years ago.

    The whole point of my wee note is to say that working on these old trains, with a light snow falling outside, provided an enjoyably profound sense of the Christmas spirit. Here’s hoping that each of you find the same peace and satisfaction this Holiday season – cheers!

  17. george zaky says:

    Heinrich & Susan
    I hope that the great job you did together is a symbol of happiness and joy for many years from now with your family.
    Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year
    George from LI,NY

  18. Hi Al
    My name is Arnie and I live across the pond in sunny Florida. Been playing with trains since I was 7 and now am 80. Recently switched from HO to N scale because of room problems. MY new layout sits on a 7 ft table by 30 inches.Below is a copy of the layout made with SCARM. It’s going to be DCC . I enjoy your column and look forward to it every day.

  19. ken says:

    Nice job you guys! Merry Christmas.

  20. Erick says:

    Very Nice!!!

  21. Bruce Young says:


  22. don kadunc says:

    What a nice diorama. It gave us a real boost for Christmas. We in Ohio are hoping for snow. We saw a Christmas special with the church and the origin of “Silent Night” Also, Meg is wearing a striped shirt like Susan.

  23. Jim AZ says:

    Very nicely done. The recreation of a “Winter Wonderland “ setting is so unique and wonderful to see. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas and happy new year.

    Jim AZ

  24. Mike Matejka says:

    Well done! A first class layout doesn’t have to be huge — looks like a great family project and a fun way to share the Christmas spirit! Hope Heinrich & Susan can go to the Black Forest next year — I’m sure this layout will linger in their memories when they go

  25. Alabama Mike says:

    Heinrich, I really like your Christmas tree layout. Great job and very beautiful.

  26. ARTHUR J ROMANO says:

    Happy Christmas to all.
    Such a team you folks made.
    Very nice work.

  27. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi Good to get a size perspective with the lady painting or whatever she is doing. Particularly like the snow effect it does look to scale and very realistic. Perhaps you could tell us all how your achieved the effect. Some have snow on mountain tops etc. all the year round on their layouts. “Snow like a puppy is not Just for Xmas”.
    I’m would not be too sure about no snow in South Africa with the way the climate is changing just about anything is possible.

  28. bob Amling says:

    You and your wife created a masterpiece. What teamwork, it’s wonderful! The details are amazing.
    Bob in Colts Neck Crossing NJ

  29. Karl Gansberg says:

    Love it. So nice to see something pleasant especially this time of the year when so many people have and are being effective by this damn pandemic. Soon 2020 will be gone and all we can do is pray and hope 2021 will bring many changes for the good.

  30. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Heinrich……Loved it…….What a beautiful scene and layout……the Chapel, the deer, the Santa on the roof…….loved it all. This should be displayed in a mall or store window for the holidays. WOW!!!!

  31. Great job merry Christmas holiday wishes from Florida

  32. Rich from PA USA says:

    Awesome job!!! Thanks for showing the process, some great ideas that i will have to duplicate on my platform.
    Merry Christmas

  33. Benny Rosario says:

    It’s extremely important to keep the Christmas spirit alive specially with everything that is going on in the world, good job it’s really good to see thank you and stay safe and healthy Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

  34. ben olson says:

    Heinrich, what a great scene! I especially liked the Christmas trees in the scene, a very special touch. Wonderful that you and the wife can work together on it!
    Thanks for posting, it was a joy to view.
    Merry Christmas!

  35. Ron Schultz says:

    Very nice love all the real looking snow . Its truly a “white Christmas” . and its such a size it can be stored away and reused each year .

  36. Larry Baucom says:

    Beautiful family project

  37. Jim Kiger says:

    Truly a wonderful job! Merry Christmas and my very best wishes for a heathy and happy new year!

  38. Ken Seth says:

    So Beautiful!! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!!🎄🎁

  39. Bruce Young says:

    When we can’t go to a winter wonderland, bring the wonderland to you. Very nicely done Heinrich. BRAVO

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