Where do i start when making a model train layout?

Got something different today. If you’ve ever scratched you head and wondered ‘where do i start when making a model train layout?’, this may help.

I was reading through the comments on one of Bill’s posts, and it struck me some folk had not seen some of his earlier posts.

So I wondered whether it was worth doing a ‘catch up’ – a post with all his links in.

Then I thought, would it worth be worth doing a post made up of all his previous posts?

Anyhow, I thought I’d try. Please do let me know below whether you think it’s a good idea or not.

Here are the posts (they are not all just on Bill – but his story is in them all).

Where do i start when making a model train layout?

Post 1 – The track plan

Post 2 – Benchwork

Post 3 – More Benchwork…

Post 4 – Laying track

Post 5 – Adding buildings

Post 6 – Wiring

Post 7 – Track glued down and powered up

Post 8 – Scenery

Post 9 – More scenery…

Post 10 – Really taking shape now

Post 11 – Trains running…

Here’s a few of Bill’s pics as well:

Where do i start when making a model train layout ballast

Where do i start when making a model train layout track

track laying

That’s it for today. A bit different I know.

Please have a look at all the comments below – there are hundreds of layouts on the site we can do this for if you think it’s a good idea.

Hopefully, if you’ve ever wondered ‘Where do i start when making a model train layout?’ you now have a plan.

And if Bill’s inspired you like he has me, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get going 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.

68 Responses to Where do i start when making a model train layout?

  1. Dr Greg Di Mascio says:

    Yes, more of the same please.

  2. A good idea Al , think a lot can benefit as they can go straight to the part that they are wanting ideas from …Dangerous Dave

  3. David Hannan says:

    Excellent idea to include pas posts!

  4. Bill Baldwin says:

    Yes, Alastair. Definitely do more of these step-by-step constructions, broken down into stages that are well-illustrated with almost self-explanatory photos. That would be a real practical plus added to the simple appreciate of all things model railroad, that you are focus on, presently. You might actually have “under construction” and “all these rest” sections of your website. Both should be available in an archive, indexed under various subject headings. You could solicit photo-documented essays from model railroaders, so that they will provide instructional visual coverage in anticipation of their project’s pending appearance on your site. Many thanks, once again.

  5. John says:

    Yes. Good idea especially if one likes a particular blogger. Easy to follow their postings.

  6. Tim McCrorey says:

    Yes,a great idea. It is good to see a layout from start to finish, and see how it all takes shape. It gives plenty of guidance for those of us constructing our own. Great layout too.

  7. Colin Harris says:

    Al, I think that it’s a really great bonus to be able to easily follow specific threads from the past to the present, without having to troll through thousands of leads.
    Please continue to add ’em to your format on your amazing website – atb Colin.

  8. David says:

    Yes please, always well absorbed and appreciated

  9. Mike says:

    Yes, it makes total sense for the reasons you gave. people can either look at them all or not.

  10. William Roode says:

    Great idea a must for future posts.

  11. Eric says:

    Great idea Al, people can trace back how it all went together from beginning to present day.
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  12. John Frye says:

    Al, It makes good sense to me, and really could add a lot of interest to the site. You chose a great one to illustrate the concept.
    John From Baltimore

  13. Chris Munson says:

    Yes, I like seeing the story of a layout in this format, otherwise it’s too broken up by time. Of, course, keep the usual flow coming. Sounds like you are on to a ‘Best of Alastair`s Posts series.

    Yours truly,
    Cornelius von Smokenstak

  14. James says:

    yes if it was O scale

  15. Jack Bury says:

    Al, it is a lot like the Hall of Fame section. Maybe Bill should also be there. It’s a good idea in any case.

    Jack in Pa

  16. Brett Taylor says:

    I really Enjoyed this Idea

  17. jacques zanin says:

    this was great to see. I love to see step by step building it gives me ideas of how to start and what I will end up with.

  18. Frank C Goodman says:

    Great idea, thank you.

  19. Raywill28 says:

    Like it, very good idea. Already made use of first posting.

  20. Susan Cannon says:

    It is a yes from me.

  21. Frank Albano says:

    Great idea Al, I enjoyed it very much. Yes please do more like this. Great stuff

  22. Jeff Taylor says:

    Loved it! It’s nice to see someone take the time to put something together like this that really shows the process from soup to nuts. I model in HO scale and getting back into the hobby from when I was a kid some 50 years ago. So much has changed in the hobby, but no matter what scale you model in, it is indeed the best hobby in the world. Thank you for everything that you do, it’s appreciated! //Choi-choo Jeff

  23. Scott says:

    Al, your starting to think like a designer, with step by step captures of the creative geniuses of your blog followers. Excellent idea. The sharing of individual tastes is similar to the evolutionary process. Your followers agree as seen in the posts online.

    One could look through the various posts as kind of a catalogue if the posts were databases by road, countryside, theme size, etc. if one had the time of course….

  24. I think it is very helpful to see all the posts as you have listed above. I print out a lot of the posts and pictures when I learn something I can incorporate into my own layout.
    Kathe, Miami, FL

  25. george zaky says:

    Big Al
    It is a pleasure to see and hear the masters over and over. The more you watch the more you learn.
    I like your thinking- keep it up
    Be well
    George from NY

  26. June R Bostwick says:

    yes, ur right. we miss the beginnings. putting them together like this really is a good thought. Continue with this as you can. thanks.

  27. Alan Edwards says:

    A great idea along with the beginners guide. Al you also asked for feedback on the building printouts fantastic

  28. Bill Holt says:

    Yes, good idea

  29. Robert Binz IV says:

    Yes, I like it

  30. DJfromNJ says:

    A definite improvement. Count me in the “YES” column for all the reasons cited above!

  31. Dennis Gamble says:

    Yes please. Great idea.

  32. Earl Jones says:

    I agree with all of the comments. Great idea, Al

  33. Richard Donnelly says:

    Great idea, especially if you can start each project with a track plan.

  34. Wm althaus says:

    Al – thanks so much for using my layout as the prototype for this. I think the idea is great. There have been a number of times Ive tried link hopping to get to an old post of someone’s that interested me. This will be great to see others work as their layout goes thru various stages

    Best – Bill in Virginia

  35. John Gurney says:

    Great idea! Nice to be able to see a project end-to-end.

  36. Alan Keen says:

    Yes Please. Great idea, more work for you though.

  37. Edwin Dick says:

    Yes, please!

  38. Joe Kincaid says:

    Very good stuff Al. Kind of a pick and choose or whatever spot you’re in on the old pike. The value is you are covering every sort of vexing, irritating, challenging, and satisfying when done problem(s) we all face. Once again Al, this idea you’ve got knocks the ball clean out of the park.

  39. Martin Vanderhoek says:

    Hi Al
    Brilliant idea particularly for a newish joiner.


  40. Robert Mize says:

    Yes, I think this is a great idea. It would also be a great help to some of us.

  41. Old Prospector says:

    Absolutely fine Job listing it this way keep it up.

  42. Steve Waldner says:

    al, this is exactly what I need to get started, A step-by-step plan of action. What a great idea.

  43. don kadunc says:

    Yes, it it really helps follow along with a project.

  44. Marcia Tonner says:

    A big YES for this 82 year old woman who is setting up a standard simple track system for her 5 year old great nephew who is mildly autistic! He loves wheels so this is perfect and I am an artist who loves trains…..perfect match.

  45. Dave in Ontario says:

    It is very interesting to see the layout development, all in one sequence; especially, if we individuals are particully interested in a specific layout. But, I can’t imagine how you’ll be able to keep the individual segments ‘in order’, for the eventual ‘recall’ as a series? You must be a very organized collector of our various submissions.. Please try this procedure with some of ‘Dangerous Dave’s works.

  46. Ronald Nagdeman says:

    When I was growing up, we had a monstrous “O” gauge layout on 4-4×8’ boards in our basement, so I enjoy your posts, even though most of your pics are HO and N gauge…keep ‘em coming, Al!😎

  47. Charles Pippin says:

    Please fo continue. I have been building my n scale train for a year now and I need all the help I can get. I’m 83. It’s hard to teach old farts new tricks but, hey! Let’s throw it against the wall. Some of it may stick.

  48. Bob says:

    What a great idea! It is inspirational to see the progress on post after another.

  49. Tom C. says:

    That a brilliant idea. This would help me, being a novelist , beginner in model trains. I’ve been looking this type of building from start to finish. Instead a piece here and a piece there. A tip here or a tip there.
    Yes please, please do more like this.
    Other ideas similar to this would step by step in wiring, scenery, building houses, store fronts and layouts.
    I’ve been watching your emails for a couple of years and this is the best one yet.
    Thank you for doing this. Now I may get started in building one too.
    Thanks again.

  50. Richard Wright says:

    Terrific idea! Really helps when doing something new and different to be able to look at how someone else did it. Thank you.

  51. Rob in Ann Arbor says:

    I’ll,just add my “yes” to the group. This methodology is very helpful.

  52. Jim Logue says:

    Absolutely, great Ideal! It is really helpful.
    Thanks for all you do for the Hobby!
    Jim, from New Jersey

  53. Arthur Steffen says:

    I think you got your answer. March on with more.

  54. David Wibbels says:

    This is a important part of helping all of us wanting ideas about train layouts.

  55. Roger Ringnalda says:

    Yes please post more! This was fantastic, just o follow the process if for no other reason. A great guide for someone who is building their first, or second or third layout because of the logical process Bill has established. And remember modelers, this logical presses good to follow no matter how complex or simple your plan is!

  56. Joe Hudson says:

    great idea I think, by the steps, really good for beginners and maybe even for some advanced people to learn a possible new way of looking at how to tackle tough parts in their layouts ! new ideas always good !

  57. Doug Gard says:

    yes, Please more. I really enjoyed seeing the “how to aspect.”

  58. Gerald says:

    A simple yes.

  59. Robert Craig says:

    Yes; most helpful.

  60. Ray Z. Pittsburgh, Pa. says:

    Great idea. Makes the site that much more interesting!

  61. Al, Good idea on having all the posts.RJ L

  62. Jim says:

    I agree. The additional format would certainly be of value and interest.

    Jim AZ

  63. Jim Richards says:

    Of course. I remembered it once I open the wiring part. I still like the idea. I would not do it all the time just on special occasions. PS as he stated HAVE FUN!

  64. SorenES says:

    Hi Al! Do make similar posts in the future – for me it is a huge treat to see a layout grow from the very beginning to its present state. It is also a convenient way to present a load of ideas for benchwork and future modelling. Soren

  65. Ron says:

    This is a great idea that will be highly welcomed by everyone. One other idea is to add an electronic column to the cheat sheet. Thanks and keep em coming!!

  66. A great idea, Al!! It’s nice to see the progress made on layouts from start to finish.

  67. Robert Burke says:

    Al, I don’t think I’ve seen so many responses to a post – and remarkably they seem unanimously in favour of the idea. I’m happy to add my yes vote. Great inspiration to all those who are not sure where and how to start. A step-by-step guide to taking the plunge. And a special thanks to Bill for his expertise and sharing.
    Cheers. Bob in New Zealand

  68. Brian Messenger says:

    An excellent idea Alastair. A definite YES from me. Please keep it up.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy in Knysna RSA.

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