HO scale layout 13×8

Jack’s been in touch with his HO scale layout 13×8.

“Hi Everyone

My layout is located in the corner of my garage in Venice Florida and is modeled after Chesterville, a fictitious town somewhere in New England in the late 50’s and 60’s.

It measures 13’ on the long side and 8’ on the short side.

We are in Florida in the winter so I get about 6 months to work on it. This is my 4th winter.

Because it is in the corner I built the table on casters so I can wheel it out into the middle of the garage to work on it. The table is framed in 1X4 with 4X4 legs. I attached the casters to the bottom of the 4X4’s.

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

I covered the frame with 2” ridged pink foam. That kept it light and is easy to carve out for the river, easy to add trees and drill for wiring etc.

The mountains were constructed of layered white Styrofoam (mostly packing material that I salvaged), and then carved.

The white Styrofoam is easily carved and some bits can be broken off. I coated it with inexpensive premixed joint compound.

I put on two layers spreading it with my fingers. If you put joint compound on too thickly it takes a long time to dry and tends to crack.

The back of the mountains are open in case of problems with trains in the tunnels.

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

For the sky I used 1” ridged pink foam boards which I attached to the garage walls with Velcro thereby avoiding any visible attachment hardware.

I have three voltages (6-9-12) available for accessories and lighting. This allows me to use various voltage lights and balance out the brightness if needed. This also avoids the need for resistors on lower voltage lights.

There are 3 loops. There is one for the trolley, one for the outer loop and yard and one for the inner loop and siding.

I created a cross over to be able to bring a train from the outer loop to the inner loop and vice-versa. Because it is such a small layout I went with DC control. Many of the buildings are Walthers kits and prebuilt stuff I acquired along the way.

The layout has basically 4 areas on three levels. Main Street is on the upper level on the left. There a trolley that runs along Main Street, around the park, behind the buildings and through the mountain.

The park features a lunch wagon (named after my wife Tracy) which I build from a non-working trolley I picked up at a flea market.

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

Below Main Street is a small rail yard and a passenger station accessed by a pedestrian walkway with stairs down to the platform.

Moving to the right on the next level between the fire tower and the shack up on the mountain is a flat area which is a future farm.

Down below will be a rural street leading to the oil and gas depot. I am still figuring what is going to be on that street. For sure there will be a church with graveyard and various houses and buildings.

The river is crossed with four tracks and a scratch built covered bridge and foot bridge.

In the back there is a pathway down from the farm area over the foot bridge to the water tower at the far right. I created a chain railing along that pathway by drilling a small hole through some square stock. I then put a long round head pin through some jewelry chain and the square stock and stuck it in the foam. It is a little tedious but I think it looks great. I have another section to do when I get the patience There is a detail photo at the end.

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

HO scale layout 13x8

That’s it folks, still very much a work in progress but just thought I would share what I have so far.

Lots to do including ballasting the track.

Thanks for looking and thanks to Alistair for the blog. It’s been great to follow along and see what others are doing.


A huge thanks to Jack for sharing HO scale layout 13×8 – wonderful pics and a wonderful narrative too.

Over the years, the blog has gathered quite a collection of HO scale layouts.

Long may it continue!

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming, it’s all a bit quiet at the mo.

Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is the day you make that start.



17 Responses to HO scale layout 13×8

  1. RICHARD FATH says:

    Nice job. I like the covered bridge and the chain fence with pins is clever. Keep up the good work.

  2. Peter Waring says:

    Jack, your layout is coming on great, really good detail and tells a story, look forward to seeing the completed layout. Regards Peter…

  3. Rich Townsend says:

    That’s a great layout for a Florida garage, where space is at a real premium. I’m your new neighbor (Port Charlotte).

  4. The Old Ref says:

    Good stuff, Jack!

    Some great tips in your narrative.

  5. Great layout with a great use of space. Like the caster wheel idea. Can you share the track plan?

  6. Bill in Virginia says:

    Lovely layout Jack! Lots of nice details and I especially like the trolly line you put in. Keep you the great work 👍🏼

  7. Erick says:

    Pretty Neat; I am going to have try that.

  8. Robert D. Bouskill says:

    I like your idea of having the layout on casters. I did something similar as part was on castors that could be pulled away. Here is a video https://youtu.be/74qoLzl2aSg

  9. Dan Hulitt says:

    Great trip and layout, and that’s a fact, Jack! The fire tower reminds me of the one at Devil’s Head, on Colorado’s front range just north of Pikes Peak. My oldest son and I climbed up (about 10k) and got to see the inside. We noticed a fire near Pikes Peak and because of that they let us stay and watch the process.

    Thanks to Jack and Al.

    MN Dan

  10. Richard B Holmes says:

    I like rolling train tables my first HO was 5 by 10 feet built on two service carts. I will be moving to Naples (hopefully) soon and half my garage is planned for the rebuilt layout. As a potential fellow snowbird have you had any problem with your layout when you return to FLorida after the summer humidity? do you do anything special?

  11. Allan Jelinek says:

    Nice (SORRY) Fantastic job. I wish I had your modelling skills and attention to detail.

  12. Robert Hoonakker says:

    The layout looks great. I have a question: The fire tower did you buy it as a kit or did you build from scratch?

  13. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Interesting details. And you gotta love a layout in the garage.

    Jim AZ

  14. Ronald Kehl says:

    Nice work! As I model in a small space, the rolling layout works great.

  15. Bob Cassidy in Maine says:

    Looks great! I have a question about the curve radius for the trolley. I’m working in a trolley into my layout. According to the paperwork that came with my trolley it requires a 15 inch minimum radius. Yours looks a lot tighter. What radius did you use and does it work ok? Again, you are doing a great job!

  16. Jim S says:

    I miss my NJ basement and my old 12×20 layout since I moved to California. No basements here, so I will have to rely on using the garage. I’ll be going to a 4×8 or 5×10 table, but with casters to move it around. I like the storage beneath Jack’s table., for the empty rolling stock boxes.


    I’m in Naples FL for the winter and I used 4 rolling carts to mount my “L” shaped double 4 x 8 plywood and foam layout only into it for one season but can’t wait to get back

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