HO scale train layout

David’s been in touch with his HO scale train layout.

His journey is one many of us will be familiar with.


I thoroughly enjoy your blog; reading it is a part of my morning ritual.

I have learned a lot from your contributors. Thank you for all you do to promote our hobby. You provide a great service to all of us train buffs.

These photos are a long time coming. It has been a journey for me.

It started 63 years ago, when my dad bought me a Lionel 027 train set, featuring a steam engine and tender. As you might expect it had smoke pellets.

Over time he bought me a switch engine and operating accessories. Then him and Mom decided I deserved to have a nice layout.

He built a 16’ x 8’ double track layout with switch track allowing the trains to switch loops.

The main feature, however, was an L-shaped 2 track tunnel made from wood and screen frame stuffed with newspaper and covered in an old sheet, which Mom painted with earth colors and Dad installed red and green lights hooked up to a 2-way switch at the entry of the tunnel. I was the envy of the neighborhood.

In my thirties, a friend and train enthusiast encouraged me to unpack my 2 trains and set them up.

This began a 35-year adventure, which resulted in a 20’ x 30’ basement filled with 14 O-27 trains and a bouser trolley and a Lionel bumper car trolley. Oh yes, the layout was filled with operating accessories. For me, the fun of the hobby became modeling.

Operating the trains did not have the thrill I had when I was a child. I moved 8 times during this period, so my benchwork had to become portable.

I used standard 2” x 4” legs bolted to ½” plywood framed by 2” x 4” frames.

The key lesson from multiple teardowns and rebuilds was that getting the track work right was critical. As a result, I used a lot of half-straight track in my curves to avoid derailments.

When I turned 70, I realized that my railroad empire was no longer fun, because I did all the modeling and building that my basement allowed.

I ended up selling my collection to an eBay trader for about 45% of the collection’s original value. The only thing I retained was my original steam engine and tender, in memory of my dad. It did not take long for me to have “seller’s remorse.”

After giving the idea of starting a new layout, I decided to convert to HO scale. I think, the pictures tell the story of my new adventure.

I love the realism of the HO scale and the building and scenery options are far more extensive Than O-gauge.

What I have found is that I am spending more time and detail in creating the scenery for my layout.

I hope your readers enjoy the pictures.

Best Wishes,


HO scale passenger train

HO scale town

HO scale layout curves

HO scale train layout model railroad

HO scale mountains

HO scale tunnel

HO scale lumber

HO scale layout river

HO scale curves

HO scale layout harbor

ho scale tunnel

HO scale buildings

HO scale gas station

HO scale layout model railroad

HO scale freight train

HO scale layout

HO scale roads

HO scale apartments

HO scale factory

HO scale making tunnels

HO scale model railroad

A huge big thank you to David for sharing his HO scale train layout – I did enjoy his narrative.

So many of us started this journey with a Christmas gift when we were young and full of wonder.

That’s all this time my friends.

One last thing – there’s a few questions on the forum that are feeling left out. Can anyone help?

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, 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.

model train answers

19 Responses to HO scale train layout

  1. SteveGaragiola says:

    I also enjoy this blog every morning to see what clever and innovative ideas your members share. Another beautiful layout here today. Thanks for sharing, Dave. I too am more of a scenery guy. That’s the joy of this hobby, there is room for such a variety of interests and talents.

  2. EDWARD BENCE says:

    I loved the story Dave, and so reminiscent of my own…..
    Lovely photographs and Layout, I look forward to seeing more.


  3. George Zaky says:

    You downsized in scale but not in scope. Now we have to see some trains running in a video.
    Nobody has said it yet so I will.
    Model trains keep you young and happy!. Keep at it.

  4. Erick says:

    Look pretty kool.

  5. Danny Kelley says:

    Hi David I’m know how you feel, I lost interest in mine to I had a two plywood ho set. I sold it about two years ago. I missed doing it to, so I am in the process of starting another ho set. I have started ordering my layout already. I really like your new layout. Thanks Danny

  6. Dan Willams says:

    Love the layout Dave!! Nice work.

    Dan in Richmond Virginia.

  7. Jim Donovan says:

    “I thoroughly enjoy your blog; reading it is a part of my morning ritual.”

  8. Kevin A Hunter says:

    So tired of self-appointed, so-called “critics” bashing other modeler’s layouts. So you don’t like it, fine. Keep it to yourself. This is not constructive criticism. It’s bullying.
    Funny how we never see the critics’ layouts.

  9. Terry Price says:

    2 Thumbs up to Kevin’s post.

  10. Ben From Chicago says:

    Dave, your layout is really neat. Of all the scenes, the lumberjack one is one of my favorites, it’s unusual and very creative. By looking at the details in the layout, it’s clear you are having a lot of fun with it, so keep going! Would love to see some of your trains run in the next video. Thanks for sharing, very nice work!

  11. Mike from Cleveland says:

    I agree Kevin Hunter. Fun looking layout Dave. Keep it up.

  12. Stephen says:

    Wow. That is amazing . Stunning attention to detail

  13. TJK says:

    To Kevin Hunter: I feel the EXACT same way.
    I have called out “The Critics” many, many times.
    They will not share whatever they have constructed, but they will bash others.

  14. Terry Miller says:

    Nice layout with lots of things going on, but unless the tree stumps the loggers are working on are suppose to be Giant Redwoods, they are way out of scale. Old growth trees with diameters that big are long gone for commercial loggers.

    Terry/Idaho USA

  15. Matt says:

    Great layout David! You have captured the essence of humanity and human clutter, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It is difficult to model humanity in a layout and to have it come out believable. You have done this.

  16. Calvin says:

    I enjoy reading this blog every day!
    The background descriptions are wonderful to read. The cut down trees are to a scale of the cottonwoods that are in my backyard. I am in the process of doing the initial design work on my layout and will provide information as it progresses. Thanks Al for providing this forum to the worldwide community of model railroad enthusiasts.

  17. Steve Ruple says:

    Nice layout Dave and a lot of scenery.
    To Terry Miller, I disagree with you on your comment about the tree sizes, I have a friend that lives on a forestry land and he has cut down large trees for them to be made into lumber for commercial lumber companies that are very large in diameter, so they are still doing that today !!!!!!!!!

  18. robert dale tiemann says:

    really like the layout, good work.

  19. Will in NM says:

    Dave, You’ve done an amazing amount of work on the new HO layout in what seems to be a very short time. I love all the details you’ve included in your new layout. The video was good but could benefit from a little slower camera movement. You’ve made a great restart in the hobby and I hope it continues to be fun for you.

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