Pre war lionel o gauge train engines – Hugh’s

Hugh has been in touch with some proper nostalgia – his Pre war lionel O gauge train engines

Have a look at Hugh’s O gauge – and his fantastic poster too:

“Hi Alastair, Enjoy looking at your site.

I like pre war lionel o gauge train engines, tin plate mainly. So I built this layout for my Great Northern Railway trains. It is based on the 1956 Marx Rocky Mountain Express set and modified to represent the Glacier National Park area.

Most everything is from 1939 into the WWII era when tin toys stopped being produced. All the buildings are card board or wood.

The trains are custom painted Marx plus a set of wooden kit passenger cars that look like the trains GNR operated circa 1939. It is on a 71” x 40” coffee table.

We live in a Victorian house built in 1890 near Glacier Park. So I built a small table top layout that is like the ones Lionel sold in the 1920s and 30s. It is part of the living room furniture.

I some times run Ives, Hornby and Bing tin plate on it. The blue train is a Dorfan 53 with a Lionel motor, an AF mail car and 2 607 type Lionel coaches.

Some of the buildings are tin copies of German ones. I made them smaller to better fit the overall 0-27 scale.

This is one small loop and works good for clock work trains, too. It started out fairly simple and grew.

Hugh, Montana.”

Pre war lionel o gauge train engines

Pre war lionel o gauge train engines

Pre war lionel o gauge train engines

model railroad o gauge

model railroad o scale

Pre war lionel o gauge train engines poster

Loved seeing the poster and the actual layout!

Now on to Fred:

“My son has helped me make a backdrop image on my computer. It is 12″ by 144 inches. Where can I get it printed as one long sheet???


Next, on to Bill. Track cleaning is a subject that always pops up on the blog.

And Bill has thought of something I haven’t seen before:

“HI Alastair,

Came up with an interesting method of cleaning debris and especially bits of foam.

Plugged my keyboard vacuum which runs on the USB into my cell phone aux batter (morphie). Now I have a portable vacuum to clean my layout. It is still incomplete but coming along!



vacuum for model train

vacuum for model train

Who can help Fred? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to know too – backdrops are another subject that always pop up. There have been some cracking ‘how-to’s on them over the years.

Lastly, if you’d like to share anything, now’s the time to get in touch. It’s all getting a bit thin on the ground this end. And you HO chaps have definitely all gone to sleep.

That’s all for today folks.

A big thanks to Bill, and to Hugh for sharing his .re war lionel O gauge train engines.

Please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if it’s time for you to stop dreaming and start doing. It’s a sensible first step, whether you haven’t picked up some track in years, or you’ve never stopped dabbling.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

35 Responses to Pre war lionel o gauge train engines – Hugh’s

  1. Clark Ward says:

    I live in the US; over here there are several office supply stores that can print large things. I have been using the local Officemax and they’ve done well on large printing for me, both in B&W and in color. When they’ve made an error in scaling or something, they have been very willing to print it over to make it right (no extra charge, obviously). I believe Kinko’s copying centers can do large color stuff as well. Good luck!

  2. Steve Hardstaff says:

    In answer to Fred’s query, most colour output bureaus have inkjet printers that can print at virtually any length, 144″ should not be a problem. Just ring round and see. As to cost, I’m not sure about this, there’s usually a set up charge and the computer file will need to be on a memory stick or burned to a CD.

  3. John N Frye says:

    So many of us got our first nudge into the model railroading work with those post WWII tinplate sets. $15.99 for the whole set!! My dad had Marx, when I was I guess 3 or so, and when I was 12 I got my first loop of HO track, having been reading Model Railroader for several years and saving paper-route money. So thanks, Hugh for bringing back some of those “around the Christmas tree” memories. My HO railroad is still in active construction. I’ll be sending in some update pictures in the early fall.


  4. Hugo Budzien says:

    Way to go, lad!!! That’s a great way to show off Lionel Trains. We visited a collector, a friend of a friend, in Texas and he had replicated a static display Lionel had made for their dealers and the flat table with the single tunnel that led to the hidden loop underneath. That really surprised my wife who had never seen it before! I remember watching it in one of the front windows of McNeany’s department store in downtown Beloit as a kid, 70 or so years ago.

  5. Ralph Berry says:

    Clockwork nostalgia, we all catch it.
    Thank you Hugh for showing is that great set up.


  6. Chuck Bartunek says:

    I had a similar layout when I was 6 or 7,it was a total surprise at Christmas, my dad built over at a friends house . Thanks for sharing , brought back a lot of memories.


    Hugh, great job. Love trains but would love to see your home. Looks very interesting….
    Sheldon. Phoenix USA 🇺🇸

  8. Kurt Seidler says:

    I have used blueprint printers to copy plans for large R/C airplanes plans but the printers use blue ink.

  9. David A. Massimi says:

    Thats a great looking layout in a beautiful home !
    Thanks for sharing it !
    Dave, in NY

  10. Kevin McArdle says:

    I got my first train set, Lionel 027, when I was six (1954), and I was over the moon. That being said, it wasn’t until late on Christmas morning when I got my first crack at operating, because my brother wanted to make sure it was running right, which was when all the smoke pellets were gone. That train set represented probably the best Christmas I ever had, outside of when I returned from Vietnam in 1971.

  11. Hugh says:

    The poster is a magazine and catalog advert. This set was sold by Montgomery Wards stores. They had a very larger store and warehouse in Denver Colorado back then, A fried in Colorado found one of these sets at a yard sale for $5 about 30 years ago. There are a couple of youtubes showing them in operation. Today they sell for about $300 U/S if you can find one. I was able to recreate the mountain and track plan from old photos and a track list I found online. I still plan to paint more forest details on the mountain panels.

  12. The O27 layout brings back memories from long ago. Had a huge layout in the attic play space. I was wallking home from elementary school one day and decided to take another route. Lo and behold, curbside, was a HUGE box of Lionel trains along w/Marx. I knocked on the the door and asked if they were throwing them away. Yes!! Ran the rest of the way home, told my dad, and I went and picked them up. I played w/those trains until 1969 or 1970. I traded them in to a local hobby shop for N scale engines and cars and two sets w/controllers. I still have them along with many, many others I have accumulated over the years. I haven’t built a layout yet as my health has precluded the attempt. I will get at least a small one built this year and when I do I will send in pics and a video

  13. Bruce Ganas says:

    Many sign shops produce banners of almost any length. As previously stated, you would need to bring your file on a thumb drive or cd.

    BruceG in NC

  14. “Large Format” color printing can be expensive! A few years ago I needed to produce just a few, and it was actually cheaper to buy a large format printer. Since the paper is on a Roll, the backdrop could (theoretically) be up to 50 feet long

  15. Dave T. Brown says:

    I work for a printer over here in Mass. USA and, like the other suggestions above it should not be a problem printing that size. The Epson printer that we and a lot of places use can print up to 44″ wide by 100 feet long. Never actually tried to go that long. BUT; the price will be by the length, and you will have about 32″ of white space above the image. I work with the files so I have no idea what we or anyone else might charge. If it could work for you, you might consider doing it in sections.

  16. Donald Ripper says:

    Lovely, Hugh. And looking at your cream separator took me back 65 years! Thanks…

  17. Ken From PA, USA says:

    Nice layout Hugh. As many have said in the above comments, I to got my start on an 027 clock work train on a 4×8 piece of plywood. Brought back lots of good memories. Thanks for sharing. Ken from PA, USA

  18. Tom Wilhelm says:

    Hello Fred,
    All above are correct. I ran a large and grand format printer for the lats 17 years before retiring. I would stay away from service bureau’s as they are probable not using UV resistant inks. Find a good sign shop that can print and laminate on paper if possible. If this was my layout I would print on a smooth vinyl with UV inks for ease of installation and conforming to curves easier. Also since this material comes in rolls you may see how much they will charge to run 2 or 3 images up on the material because you will pay for the waste. Good luck.

  19. Mister Malted says:

    Boy, how things have changed. I found the most interesting part of that ad to be – “No money down, no payment until February.”

    Jim C.

  20. Hugh, You have quite a collection of Railroad antiques. When I was a lad, my older brother gave me a set of S gauge American Flyer trains to play with. Seeing your layout brought back memories of my childhood. Thank you for sharing your train layout. Conductor Dave, Dayton, Ohio.

  21. Tom Durham says:

    Really liked Hugh’s segmented mountain that accommodates the track. Still have Marx and Lionel 0-27 from my childhood (WW2). Think I will dust and oil them and creat a track plan for them this Fall. My N scale layout (WIP) will have to wait awhile.

  22. Pete Chimney says:

    Before I retired I printed dozens of oil well logs on 12′ wide paper and lengths up to what was on the roll. You might check with a Kinko or Office Max or other print shop and see if they can order a roil of 12″ paper for you. Make sure it is NOT perforated for folding. This should reduce the cost since you only need a 12″ wide panel, the other paper on a 36″ or 44″ wide rolls is waste for you.

  23. Joe Wright says:

    Thanks for posting. This is unique, totally different.

  24. Mr. Hugh.
    I received a 027 ga back in 1955 at Christmas in a figure “8” pattern, it had a open gondola car, box car, pos a tanker with cobouse and a barrall loader and a uncoupler, plus I got my mother to let me buy a larger transformer for it also. Had it up till the early 70’s when my daughters decided to take it out of the storage room and play with it in the yard right were the water ran of the roof and that weekend when I went to cut the grass I found it after 2 days of rain needless to say it was runned and it went to the street.
    By the way that is a beautiful layout you have their and beautiful home also.
    also after I got out of the service my first wife and I with our 3 daughters went back to her home at Minot, ND and one of her cousins husband work for the Great Northern R/R and he took me a Gentleman’s home that had 2500 sqft basement with layout of the Great Northern from start to finnish in Washington State with round house, yard mountain tunnels and all, by the way all of his engines were dirty.
    Have fun with your layout.
    Art from central Bikini State, FL

  25. Hugh says:

    My interest in the toy trains goes way back to when Dad bought us a new Lionel set and a bunch of used Marx track for Christmas in 1953. I still have his Issmayer coach from about 1907. In the late 1970s I was restoring some of the 1925 Yellowstone busses and got interested in the National Parks history. A sports car club friend really got me back into toy trains in the 1980s. He managed one of Denver’s best train shows. A few years ago Glacier National Park turned 100. Lots of history and photos started to show up to help with this layout. Hugh

  26. I am a guy in his 80’s and loved the nostalgia the old Ward ads brought back. I certainly do remember when things were reasonably priced. Good show !

  27. william f. harris says:

    Al back in 7-21-18 you posted a hotel or saloon cut out. I would like to know the cost now for this item. thank you

  28. Ian McDonald says:

    nice vacuum. good size layout. great flyer on the old train set and layout. thanks for sharing.

  29. Boston Tommy says:

    I use Microsoft Publisher, but other similar programs should work, and create a custom-size banner A4 size high and as long as you want. It then prints on as many sheets of A4 paper as needed, with a bit of overlap to glue them together. Needs care, but the end result is good, and like Ernie Wise, you can’t see the joins.

    I’m not at home right now, so can’t check, but I think there was an outfit that offered “SagePlus” as a free starter program.

  30. Boston Tommy says:

    Got it nearly right! It’s “PagePlus”. Sorry for the poor memory..

    Boston Tommy

  31. Greg says:

    Interesting that the ad says “no money down”, no payment due until February…” It turns out that $16 in 1956 would equal qbout $153 today, so a bit of an investment! 🙂

  32. William R. DeWalt Jr says:

    Yes,lots of memories for when I was a kid back in Pa.we always had a train going around the Christmas tree and yes it was an 027 gage of the old steamer that Lionel.Let me go on to say that all of these platforms look great and I can only hope that mine looks as half that good.However I am having a slight problem in locating a book that has been out of print for some time now.If anyone can help me out here I would be very thankful to all.The name of this book that I am looking for is called,Building plains for an elevated H.O.platforms.Thank you and have fun with all these GREAT LOOKING PLATFORMS!

  33. Andy Evans. Yakima,Wa says:

    A fully functional Lionel ‘hidden loop’ train display can be seen operating during the Toy Train Christmas Event at the Toppenish Wa Northern Pacific train depot. They have multiple scales of train displays running plus caboose rides to see Santa. Held every December to raise funds for the museum operations. Great fun!

  34. David TRIGGER says:


    Printing of backdrops.

    You need to seek out a digital printer with large format capabilities. Check on their file requirements & print media limitations of the machine(s) they are running. Ideally, they will print onto self adhesive, signmakers’ vinyl. Most will be capable of gentle washing/wiping down. Good luck.


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