HO scale switcher

Dan’s been back in touch with his HO scale switcher:

“Alastair, this will help answer some of your readers questions.

This set is the Woburn switching local area of the layout. I will use the locals to help readers see more detail of the layout. All names of businesses are from Walt’s family or local model friends.

Overall look at Woburn. The RDC may or may not be in the mix when the local works the job. This complicated the switch job.

HO scale switcher mill

Switching activity at the mill.

HO scale switcher train yard

Work in the yard.

diesel car

General view of the town and the RDC (rail diesel car) leaving Woburn.

freight arriving

The last of the arrivals getting a taxi.

HO scale taxi cab

All industries and switching locations have cards like these on 4×5 cards to show what can be spotted and in some cases the order the cars can be spotted.

switching card

This is an example of the switch list each local has when they leave the yard. They have the railroad’s reporting letters, car number and what to do with each car.

switching spreadsheet

We use car cards for all of the cars on the railroad. These car cards have info as to where they go next . (The cards have a pocket for the destinations.) Either to a local when arriving from Boston or to a train to go to Lowell at the opposite end of the layout. Each local has the cards for the train and then bring back the cars and car cards from the work done.

Between sessions two or three of us change the card’s destination (There can be 2,3,or 4 possibilities as the destination pieces can be filliped end to end or over and end to end.) We then make up the trains for the next ops session.

Once you do this a few times it is not a confusing as it seems.

The Woburn Local is the most difficult local. As you will see later, each local has it’s own set of issues.

This area is from Wilmington to Bellirica. A local is assigned to this area. There are 6 industries. Rake’s Rock Works, monuments. Swift Packing, Brenda’s Ice Cream, Knorr oil, Goins Lumber and supplies, and the Bellirica Freight Station.

This local has facing and trialing turnouts and must get clearance from the dispatcher to enter the mainline for a run around to get the cars in the correct position. We have over the line trains running while the locals work.

The over all view from Wilmington to Bellirica. The town names are from Boston to Lowell in the correct order. The industries are fictional for Walt’s wants.

overhead view of HO scale switcher

Part of the town of Wilmington.

HO scale switcher town scene

Morning activity in town.

HO scale switcher town scene

Partial view of the locals job.

model railroad town scene

The Swift packing house is in the background. Doing research, Walt found out that meat was shipped from Chicago (VIA Canada) and then locally cut up for the various cuts of meat to be shipped locally.

model train house

The rock works. The green board along the edges is for the car card work when we are sorting the cars for switching. This way we don’t put the cards on the layout or cars.

rock works

The oil facility.

model train oil tanks

Engine service area.

engine service area HO scale switcher layout

yard service area

Engine service office.

engine service office HO scale

Winchester yard. This is where the locals are broken up and made up.

HO scale freight yard

Over view of the Winchester yard and passenger station.

freight yard

Winchester Highlands commuter stop. On the B&M Time Table this stop is just about 1/4 mile from Winchester.

commuter stop

Approaching Winchester Highlands stop.

model train commuter stop

Passing the lake by a park.

model train lake

The park.

HO scale park

The underpass to the other side of the tracks for the grocery supply business and the city of Winchester.

model railroad underpass

Our version of Winchester.

HO scale town

Brenda’s Ice cream.

model train ice cream shop

The service station and Diner.

service station and diner

Goins Lumber and Supply. For some unknown reason there is an industry with my name on it on all of the layiuts I have worked on.

model train lumber

The Bellirica Freight house.

model train lumber

BA tower and a Brill rail car.

HO scale switcher tower

All of the B&M towers and stations except Winchester have the same basic colors. This makes it uniform as many railroad practiced.

That is it for this local… more to come.


A huge big thanks to Dan for sharing more of his HO scale switcher layout.

If you missed his last post, it’s here: HO sale Boston and Maine

That’s all for today folks.

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.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

15 Responses to HO scale switcher

  1. Stephen Hill says:

    Dan that is impressive. You certainly have out a lot of planning and detail into your display . It really is outstanding . The scenery looks very realistic and the towns and train destinations are nicely done . Great job !

  2. Scott says:

    Having spent my summers in and around this part of Massachusetts and always racing to the River bank when I heard the horns of the B&M freights approaching town, this series has been very special to me – thank you … I’m an American Flyer S Gauge modeler myself, but taking much inspiration and best practices tips from what you’ve shared here!

  3. Don says:

    well done, the railroad underpass, the church in the countryside, the small chemical plant, the town everything is well done, love the passenger train. great work.

  4. Bob Cassidy says:

    Outstanding! I love the B&M. When i was growing up i used to ride between Beverly MA and Boston just to ride the train. I really enjoyed the Budd cars.
    Those days are way long gone now. Your B&M theme layout is just great. I looked for a long time with the Budd Cars with the 11 windows on a side. All i could find were the Athern Budds with 10 windows on each side. i finally found the ones with the eleven windows per side. I bought 4 of them lol
    Thanks for the memories!

  5. Kevin McArdle says:

    Dan, Woburn, Wilmington, Billerica and Winchester! I’m from Newton Mass. now living in Dallas. All I can say is Wow! Great layout, I think you need a model Dunkin’ Donuts for the layout. I think I saw a B&M Buddliner on a siding. As a kid l loved watching trains passing through Newton before the Mass. Pike extension when there was a four track mainline. Thanks for sharing.

  6. george zaky says:

    Wow! Much thanks for the trip thru the Boston & Maine RR layout. The layout is expertly done, pleasing to the eye and very well planned. It is a great example to follow for others to begin their layout of the century. Of course I am crazy jealous of the space it had. The switching that many dont do is an added feature that makes minutes into hours-awesome.
    Big Al
    I dont know how you keep track of all this ( there’s a pun in there somewhere )
    You sent me link to a video you made to use thicker card for the cardstock buildings. It was a game changer, made all the difference in making stronger & better buildings and I think its time to show it to all.

  7. Karl Johnson says:

    Hi All,

    Nice B&M layout. I grew up in Central Mass on the Fitchburg division (late 60’s and early 70s) The commute trains stopped as far as Ayer, I was further out in West Fitchburg. There was plenty of action there. Like another who wrote, I have a American flyer line with custom painted B+M equipment for the biggest part as there is little offered in this scheme.
    I find myself now in Memphis, a ways from where I grew up, but have great memories of the B+M and the old New Haven Fitchburg branch when I lived in Leominster. I spent plenty a summer day waiting for that local to come by and switch the various industries. Nice carefree days.
    Thank you.
    Karl J.

  8. Kirk Knutson says:


    Your HO model railroad is a thing of beauty. Nothing is overdone. An outstanding blending of railroad, buildings and scenery. Very few modelers have that talent. A few more people would make it even better.

    Kirk in Tacoma

  9. alfredo leonardo pacifici says:

    Fantastic job ! Ilove it !

  10. Frank Vozak says:

    Very nicely detailed switching layout with excellent scenic detail and good choices for passenger equipment, locos, and industries Puts alot of model railroading in a small space without looking crowded

  11. Lawrence Ripplinger says:

    BRILLIANT! No doubt about it!!

  12. santafedan says:

    There are LOTS of people. I will send a batch if you want.

  13. Lonnie Vickerman says:

    Two thumbs up. Great Layout

  14. Roger Turner says:

    Very, very well done layout. Great attention to detail, love the large switching yard, wish I had the room for one. Also love the multiple levels.
    great work.

    Roger in Kansas

  15. Michael says:

    BEAUTIFUL layout.

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