HO scale lumber layout

Apologies to Jim – I missed his HO scale lumber layout in my inbox.

He sent me these wonderful pics and narrative weeks and weeks ago.

I missed them.

They’ve just been sat in my inbox gathering dust.

Fortunately for all of us, he gave me a very polite prompt and I was delighted when I found them.

How could I have missed this stunning layout?

“Cedar Valley HO scale Lumber Rail Road

During the past year I have read your articles and found them very informative and helpful, and, sometimes quite humorous.

I should share with you and your readers my layout. I have a HO layout that fits into a 12ft.by 9ft. room.

It is a lumber and mining theme set in 1900’s.

It is point to point with an extra two tier helix in the furnace room for continuous running for grandchildren and visitors.

The layout is a design of my own with the name coming from a place I worked at before retirement.

The bench work is 1”x3” wood frame built in sections with 2”x2” legs. The height of the layout is 40”.

Foam sheets are then glued on top. The flex track is glued right on top of the foam board. The track work goes up to height of 46” at the mine and lumber camp.

The town of Cedar Falls has a station and many wood related industries. It is also the engine facility with a shop and a turn table.

HO scale lumber

model railroad lumber

model train HO scale lumber

HO scale model train lumber

model railroad building HO scale

HO scale loading platform

The port of Cedar Bay is a shipping center for lumber, goods and ore carriers. One other feature is the lodge at Cedar Point.

ho scale harbor

This station is at Cedar Lake. It is a stopover with a diner for the passengers. Everything you see in this picture is scratch built.

HO scale freight

There are other points of interest, namely, a sawmill, a mine, and a number of other industries.

Ho scale lumber yard sawmill

HO scale sawmill hopper

HO scale sawmill

Lumber is brought down from the logging sites to the mill, then cut up and then shipped to other industries.

The houses and buildings are all made of wood as you would see in a lumber town. All the structures are either scratch built or wood kits modified to meet the space.

The station is a Fine Scale Miniatures kit modified to fit between the tracks.

The large sawmill and the lodge were scratch built from pictures I found on the internet.

The turntable and engine facility are all scratch built. Nearly all the rolling stock is scratch built.

The rocks are made from moulds and plaster. They are then coloured with acrylic colours and washes.

The water is poured liquid water. The trees are either wound rope on wire or natural plants dried, sprayed and sprinkled with flocking.

The track is code 80 Peco Flex track with Peco turnouts mainly #6’s.

The ballast is my own. I get it from a gravel pit then sift it a number of times until it is the size I want. ( Make sure your ballast has no iron particles in it.)

I then use the larger stones around the layout. This keeps everything the same colour. The same goes true for the ground that shows. It is first painted with latex paint the colour of the ground and then real dirt from the farm and ground foam are sprinkled on top while the paint is still wet.

The locomotives are mainly 2-6-0 Bachmann steam. There are two shays and a climax. The CVL RR also owns a 2-4-4-0 steamer.

The layout is controlled with Digitrax DCC and nearly all have sound.

Below is a sample of what you can do with your paper cut out buildings.

HO scale model railroad

I hope your modellers can take some ideas and use it on their own layouts. It is always nice to share ideas with other folks.

I also do not mind other modellers contacting me for information and help.

Now for the bad news, it had to be torn down as a result of having to move to a new place.

Do not worry folks, I have started over again.

If you wish, I will keep you posted as progress continues.

Al, keep up the good work and thanks again for your site.


Ontario Canada”

My word – a HUGE thank you to Jim for sharing his HO scale lumber layout. Can’t wait to see his new masterpiece!

All of Jim’s pics are a joy to look at, and I do love the way there is pretty a much a ‘scene’ going on in every part of it, which really brings it to life.

How I could miss a layout like this is beyond me.

It just goes to show, if you’ve mailed me, and I’ve not replied, please bear with me. I’m only human.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to have a bash at your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Pick a theme, start small, and have fun.

Course I’m biased, but you’ll be glad you made that start.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

75 Responses to HO scale lumber layout

  1. Bernie W Glynn says:

    You sir, are an artisan. Beautiful work all around.

  2. Mike Street says:

    What an amazing looking layout with superb detail. Hats off to you Jim
    Mike S

  3. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Jim Great layout. Everything to scale and the buildings correctly sited on the ground with no obvious base boards showing. Great scenery and detailing. Cant wait to see your new layout. I’m sure it will be even nicer than the one you just sent in. Are you going to model the same timber logging and processing or a new idea.
    Please send in progress reports.

  4. Brian Messenger says:

    Jim, your layout is absolutely fantastic and reminds me a lot of my layout except mine is HOn3 (Cascade Creek Lumber). Your scenery is brilliant and the locos that you are using, very similar to mine as well as the industries that are supplied with cut lumber. Your scratch built buildings are really great. The harbor scene is very well done. Would love to see a track plan of the above layout. I built my double deck layout, 14ft X 10ft in modules for the simple reason that if I ever have to move, it would be easy to take apart and reassemble in a new situation. It is designed to fit into a standard garage – 20ft X 10ft.
    Keep up the good work and keep us posted of your new layout.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy Knysna RSA 🇿🇦

  5. James Marek says:

    A stunning layout! Extremely well done!

  6. Cary B says:

    Hello Jim, Happy that Al got your layout description and photos on his site. Absolutely beautiful layout indeed.
    The detail is amazing. You should surely keep Al posted on your rebuild progress. Thanks for sharing
    Cary B New Market Maryland

  7. Malcolm Hodgson says:


    Looking forward to seeing your new layout.

  8. Anthony says:

    A wonderful layout, superb craftsmanship.and realism.

  9. Bob Cassidy says:

    Fantastic ! I wish I had that much talent. Really, really a great job.

  10. NJ Mark says:

    What a great layout with fantastic scenery! Truly this was done by a person of great talent. Stay well. Cheers! NJ Mark

  11. Joe says:

    Jim, I have saved all your pictures. Good Lord, what awesome work, and the detail is nothing short of fascinating. You have really captured the essence of your subject in miniature.
    I felt an arrow in my heart when you said you had to tear it all down. That was a blow to a gut who is 71, fighting bone cancer, and wanting to leave something awesome to my grandkids.
    Then you followed with the news you are going to rebuild. Please do keep us informed. It is important to see skilled workmanship like yours as an inspiration.

  12. Mike says:

    Superb, railway modelling at it’s very finest,

  13. Bob Richards says:

    Your scenery, era, and design is fantastic. I can place myself into all of those scenes.

  14. Robert Brady says:

    Everything outstanding! The water fall is so natural looking,makes me want to jump in.Fantastic
    The Critic

  15. Douglas Harley says:

    The layout is one of the best I have evwer seeb-Compares with the Great JOHN ALLENs ayouts of many years ago. Your rockwork kis the best I have seen. I have been in the HOBBY for 65 years and have juged trais in contest You deserve A Best in Show Ri’bbon! Keep up the good work.
    Doug Harley,Arkansas

  16. Mike says:

    Incredible detailing – your skills are unmatched!

  17. Douglas Harley says:

    The layout is one of the best I have ev0er seen-Compares with the Great JOHN ALLENs ayouts of many years ago. Your rockwork is the best I have seen. I have been in the HOBBY for 65 years and have juged trais in contests. You deserve A Best in Show Ri’bbon! Keep up the good work.
    Doug Harley,Arkansas

  18. dana green says:

    Your layout may be the best ever built by hand, Modelers everywhere should see these photos. I would love to see your plans used to build that turntable. I would love to try that. How can I get that design to build my own?’
    66 yo retired guy
    Maine, USA

  19. Clifford Jacobsen says:

    I just built a 30 x40 shop for doing trains full time! I build from scatch out of wood, cedar and cyprus! Looking at your work really encourages me to get started full time again! I’m 72 and time to do what I enjoy! THANK YOU!

  20. Ted Rothstein says:

    Super nice!

  21. Ted Stanuga says:

    Amazing work, thank you!

  22. Ruben Simon says:

    Incredible work! My only comment would be that, if the wall was light blue, it would look like a “finished” masterpiece. Maybe you could do this before getting too much done on your second build. Maybe even some clouds in spots where the hills appear high.

  23. Jim
    Great layout

  24. I wish some modelers would offer a scheduled or appointment only open house so
    some of us that live near to that location could come and visit. A layout like Jim’s is fantastic, and an inspiration for many of us. We would all like to see it.

    Perhaps some of you would consider offering your layouts for a visit on a limited basis.

  25. Marklined N Y says:

    Great layout, I always want to do a lumber co. layout. But I see that yours is wonderful. Hard to do better then yours

  26. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Great layout with realistic scenes. Your modeling skills are quite remarkable. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing your new layout.

    Jim AZ

  27. Tony, Kitty Hawk NC says:

    Jim- Brilliant! Please do send us updates of your new layout- from the beginning. Thanks for sharing!

  28. John Marshall says:

    Very nice layout. Your attention to detail is unsurpassed. I’m now 84, and getting back into the hobby after many years away. A great deal to catch up on. I would like to pose a general question to your more experienced correspondents. Hydrocal or Sculptamold for scenery?

  29. Steve Ruple says:

    What an awesome layout !!!!, I’m just starting to make a layout and I have seen four sections of your layout that are totally awesome that I’m looking at building into my layout. It won’t be the same, but you have given many good ideas on how I’m going to do it. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful layout.

  30. Charles R. Dickens says:

    WOW… Absolutely beautiful. Nicely done!

    – Boz –

  31. John Davis says:

    This is marvelous! How long were you working on this?

  32. Ben Olson says:

    Jim, Wow, simply awesome! I love the sawmill scene and the curved wood bridge. I’m considering adding a curved wooded bridge to my layout and have been searching for ideas…yours is by far the best looking that I’ve come across.Could you tell me please…Did you make the bridge from scratch or build it from a kit? And if from a kit, where did you purchase it?
    Awesome work….please post another update soon!

  33. Bob P Fair Lawn NJ says:

    Jim, your layout, scenery, and details are the best I have seen to date.
    Pity you had to tear it down, can’t wait to see your next one.

  34. Will in NM says:

    Jim, I’ve always been a fan of logging/lumber and mining railroads so your layout photos were a welcome surprise. Your commitment and skills to scratchbuild so much of the layout is truly amazing. Sad to hear you have had to dismantle such a great layout. My only suggestion regarding your wonderful waterfall scene is that it needs a backdrop that suggests the origins of all that water flowing over the falls. Something like a mountain with streams merging into the river that supplies the falls. Your rock molds and coloring are exceptionally accurate — they look just like the rocks in the Granite Dells where I used to live. The best I’ve ever seen. Keep us posted on how your new layout is progressing — and thank you for sharing such a beautiful layout with us.

  35. Phil Gray says:

    Thank you Al for providing this site so that we can visit such fine layouts as the Cedar Valley Lumber Rail Road. Thank you Jim for sending photos of your “Former Layout”. You are an inspiration to all of us old geysers, Im 82.
    I love this era. Please share with us the progress on your new layout.
    Phil, Tulsa, OK USA

  36. David Ryder says:

    Jim –

    I would love to know about the turn table. Is it a kit? How does it work? It looks really great!

  37. Bruce Nichols says:

    Great pike.
    I would like to see how you built the turntable.

  38. Norm Stafford says:

    I have not responded to many of the great contributions that Al receives. This one though is special. Great job!! My layout is in an upstairs spare room and I had to put in two helixes to get the elevation I needed to model the Hoosac Tunnel as it comes over the Deerfield River in Western Mass.. More about mine later but thanks for yours.

  39. I have been in the hobby fore many wears and do not think I can match your talent level , please let us all see your next build !
    You should show the youngsters in your area and help them develop the skill to do the hobby in their lives !


  40. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Outstanding Layout!!!! STUNNING well done!!!!!!!

  41. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Stunning is the word Great Layout!!!!

  42. Awesome! But, then, I’m partial to (1) steam, and (2) mountains! Great work!

  43. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Just amazing scenery detail……what a fantastic job………I drool over these pics…… I wish I could do half as good as these……

  44. Alabama Mike says:

    Jim, great layout and great talent. Your detail work amazes me. Thanks for sharing

  45. Wayne Johnson says:

    I love it, Jim.

  46. Brian Moretti says:

    Wow very cool and nicely done, if you need anything let me know I got slot of stuff to get rid of

  47. Beautiful layout. Can’t wait to see what you are working on next!

  48. Ru says:

    Hi Jim,

    What a nice layout. Sorry you have to tear it down. I hope you can keep a lot of stuff from this layout for the next one. And I believe all of us would like to see the progress on your next layout.

    Kind regards,

    Ruud de Sterke

  49. Eric Kiehl says:

    Outstanding indeed. Love the ship yard and lodge.
    You know the more I think of it i love it all. Very interesting and the flow of the narrative telling us about the layout is perfect 👌

    Eric the Firefighter St. Louis, Missouri area

  50. Tom says:

    Very Nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. Krish says:

    Jim, this is beyond good! It’s mind boggling.

    You said we fellow modelers could reach out to you. May we know how, please?

    Hi Brian Moretti, I am sure a lot of us would like to know what would you like to dispose off. Please let us know how to reach out to you.

    Krish, Northern Virginia

  52. Beautifully done!! Makes me want to be right there in it!!!

  53. Bob From Towson says:

    As I Professional Photographer for 32 years I have to say …MAGNIFICANT !!!!

  54. Erick says:

    Looks pretty kool.!!!! I hope mine turns out that good.

  55. Frank says:

    I love logging theme railroads. They tend to promote a lot of scenery and I like the old steam engines with their moving parts. They also seem to lend themselves to spall spaces or are easier to build on a small budget.

    Although your layout is rich with structures.

    Frank in Orlando

  56. It looks so good am Jealous! LOL
    your bridges are beautiful, your water scene is epic and your scenery looks life-like!~ awesome job!

  57. howie says:

    fantastic layout, its a shame you had to take it down.

  58. Charles Eyster says:

    Jim, you have/had a most beautifully built layout. I can only aspire. What I would like to ask, is that proverbial question, do you have a full layout photo or a track plan. Being that it was a 9’x12’ layout/room, I am procrastinating about my “future” layout, which is being planned for about the same size. I have houses, commercial buildings, trees and shrubs, locomotives completed and many still in kit form, rolling stock in various stages of lighting/weathering and dozens of other “projects” which garner my attention.
    As for my layout, I’ve drawn and reworked many ideas and have a 3D rendition that I’d like to send to you. I plan on using the wildest turns for larger passenger service and locomotives and a lot of flex track.
    I am always interested in seeing what others have done before me to see the viability of my design. I fully realize that it will be crowed in some areas and challenging to built two inclines to access an 8’x5’ underground platform for storage or as a train staging yard.
    You mentioned a helix for what I understood to get from one level to a second one. I did not see this pictured.
    I would like to ask if you could send any info or additional pics to help me out. I realize it’s an imposition to respond to the, perhaps hundreds, of comments, but as a procrastinator……. I’ll wait🥴

  59. dondh says:

    So realistic! Great job, Jim!

  60. Michael Dowling says:

    Beautiful work! I love the wood structures and the wood freight cars. Even a gallows turntable!! What is the origin of passenger car #2? You even have an MDC (Roundhouse) climax! I hope you were able to salvage some structures when you dismantled the layout. Please keep us posted on the progress of your new layout.. Thanks for sharing your layout with us!
    Keep ‘’em on the rail!

  61. Bill in Virginia says:

    Fantastic layout all around! Looking forward to more as you build your new one

  62. Dave Anders says:

    What a beautiful layout.

  63. James M Corradini says:

    What a beautiful layout I had to zoom in on the barrel Factory because I swore the horses look real. I know other people have asked this question I am building my bench work in the exact same size room is it possible you could show a drawing of your layout even if it’s just a pencil on a piece of paper I’m so curious, thank you for sharing.

  64. Jeff Daley says:

    As we get older and situations change in our lives. I can imagine that having to tear up your hard work, your pride and joy is not an easy task! Let alone the additional expense. “Train stuff” ain’t cheep! Perhaps in preparation for that eventful day we might want to consider building our layouts to be dismantled more easily? I’m sure thinking in that direction.
    Jim, have fun on your next go around. You definitely have what it takes!

  65. mickey bevens says:

    Three words, FAB U LUSE!

  66. Heather Logan says:

    Jim a lot of us can relate to that problem, more so Jason & I for we moved into a new place got the layout set up & found out it was up for sale & we had plans of doing the rest of it till that notice came in but we have been given 6 mths lease so Jason started on the L shape & he has the lay out for the rest of the L shape plus the other part to make the U shape happen but we are only working on the bottom part at the moment in case we still have to move again, no fun waiting. Loved your layout but Jason wants to know the 40″ you said is that from the floor to the table it’s self or part of the display for our layout is only 32″,(2ft8ins) or 81cm High from floor to table because of me being in the wheel chair so I can work on the set too, so your 40″ would make it hard to lean over the layout to do anything on it would it not, so why make it so high that’s why he asked it just seems to be a bit high to work on, but in saying that the lay out is great we both love it & hope you get it back together again ok all the best with it, renting is no fun.

  67. Brian Rockey says:

    Wonderful layout Jim – expert modelling and scratch-building. How about a video?
    Brian, Wokingham. UK

  68. Brian Rockey says:

    Sorry Jim, missed the last bit where you said it has to be torn down – shock horror!!!!!!
    I’m certain the next one is going to just as good if not better.
    By the way, where did you get the sailing ship, scratch built??????? Lovely model.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  69. Matt P says:

    Absolutely beautiful work!

  70. Jack from California says:

    My word the water falls and bridge are fantastic! It gave me new ideas for my layout. I’m saving that picture and try to emulate your work. If it comes half as good as yours I’ll be happy!

  71. William says:

    I have been visiting Alastair’s site for years and have not commented. I am no technical whiz but the feel of your layout , the old -time setting, the extensive use of wood was too gorgeous for me not to say “Well done!”

  72. JIMMY ROBINSON says:

    Great work!

  73. Steve W. says:

    Jim this is (was) beautiful. I’m planning a narrow gauge logging layout in N, and your work is inspirational. Can you post your track layout?

  74. Anthony Weisbecker. says:

    Words can’t express the beauty of this layout . this is one I would want to run all my old timer locos on . I have all those early 1800’s (first locos) including the European models all with their passenger cars . They would look awesome on this set up . My Big Boy Bowser (I built) would have trouble in these turns however but just about everything else would run . I only have steamers as locos go . Here in eastern Florida we just stated dealing with one of those high speed people mover engines (NO CLASS FOR A TRAIN). They are still finishing up test runs and block off all three of our local crossings . Nows a time for a paint ball gun Ha ,Ha . It would be glorious wouldn’t it .

  75. Dave Karperd says:

    Heather Logan: layout height is relative, Some prefer layouts high enough so that when standing and operating, the layout is mostly at eye level. In your situation I suggest you determine the height most suitable and comfortable to you,

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