Modular HO

Jim’s been back in touch with his modular HO layout:

“Hello Alastair

From across the big pond, my name is Jim Volmer Sr, in Buffalo NY.

It has been a long time since my last post, but have experienced a lot of medical and family issues to deal with.

I am in the beginning stage of moving to a new home, hopefully with in a next few month’s so my layout is in total disarray, with packing all of the trains, buildings, electronic equipment and supplies etc…getting ready for the move.

I really did not have the chance to complete what I started, but that will change once I am in my new location.

So I thought that I would share some information on the Model Railroad Club I belong to. The name of our club is Western New York Trainmasters.

We are currently housed in one of our member’s basements, still looking for a permanent location. The club did have a location, but it ended quite unceremonious, that layout was destroyed and the club moved to where we are currently. We have a total of six members and are looking for new members all the time.

The railroad is called the Buffalo Erie and Niagara, a modular HO layout that is approximately 26 feet long with two 38 inch wide sections ( one in the front and one in the rear of the layout ), with industries, sidings, turntable, round house, and staging yard.

Two continuous loops around the entire layout allow trains to travel East and West at the same time. The train that travels West will be used to deliver products to the various destinations. The delivery destinations are: Buffalo Grain ( a Grain mill that once was in our area ), Buffalo Salvage Yard, McKinley Printing Plant, Crescent Manufacturing ( a company that builds small appliances), Jamestown Container ( a paper and cardboard distributor ), and Buffalo Industries ( for dry and cold storage ).

During our operating sessions, the dispatcher will assign a train to the engineer and conductor, for delivery of rolling stock to the various industries. As the West Bound train travels it route, the dispatcher will notify the engineer that the turnout for the industry lead track is thrown and cleared for entry. Once the train has entered the industry lead, the dispatcher must reset the turnout. It is then up to the train crew to deliver the different rolling stock to their proper destinations in a timely manner, utilizing a Card System.

Each Card has the name of the rolling stock, its identification number, what is contained in the rolling stock, and its destination. On the facial of the outside front modular, is a set of Card Holders, with the name of each industry on them. It is up to the conductor to make sure the correct card is in the correct Card Holder. After the cars are unloaded, the train crew collects the various rolling stock, with the card associated with it, and the train is then sent back to the staging area.

The rear modular area of the layout is mostly empty at this point, with only operating tracks and one turnout.

There are plans in the works to add more turnouts and operations around the walls to a second larger staging area. We are in the planning stage of placing a river, with a railroad bridge crossing over it, a mountain and tunnel for the train to pass through.

There are currently a total of fourteen turnouts. Ten of them are controlled with Tortoise Switch Machines and NCE programmable controllers, connected to the Digitrax system. Four turnouts are manually controlled. The one turnout that leads to and from the staging yard, has an automatic stop feature to it. The train cannot pass through the turnout until it is activated. Sometime in the future all of the turnouts will be set this way.

There are plans in the works, to have an automatic block control system, dwarf lights for all of the turnouts, a automatic grade crossing signal controller. Currently the grade crossing signals are controlled by a switch.

I have included some pictures of the modular HO layout for all to view. Hope you enjoy.

Jim Sr”

modular HO

Buffalo Salvage yard

modular HO factory

Buffalo Grain

modular HO freight

East bound freight

model railroad

Jim’s post reminded me of Scott’s modular layout:

Modular model train layout

Now on to Dangerous Dave:

“Hi Al,

just aa short running session video I took yesterday using my phone, it was forecast for rain, so thought I would check out the layout after all the hot weather, glad to say all ran OK, it amazes me the quality of the footage as all taken on my iPhone, thought you may be could use it as a stocking filler as they say.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thank you to Jim for sharing his modular HO. Looks like they are having fun and making a wonderful layout too.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get bored of being bored and start laying track, 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.

14 Responses to Modular HO

  1. Mal says:

    Hi Jim
    Very nice looking layout, thanks for the pics.

  2. Skip L. says:

    Hello Dave
    After many years using a simple, uncomplicated flip-phone I’m now going thru the hassle (for this senior anyway?) of setting up a new iPhone… (Ugh!) But seeing the great video you were able to take of your always admirable layout with your iPhone is encouraging me to keep at it!
    But what’s a “gimbal”? Is that one of those small tripods for supporting a camera or a phone?

  3. Robert Butler says:

    Jim, I know how you feel. I belong to a club also with seven (7) members; we vary in numbers. We have a permanent location that we own. Our layout is completed as far as track-work; and we do operate two (2) nights a month and work on the scenery the other nights. We meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

  4. A question for Dave.
    In have watched your progress since the formation of this site, (a few years) and am impressed with your success.
    Do you ever do any shunting? or do you just run trains.

  5. Dangerous Dave says:

    Hi All and Al , yes I do a bit of shunting , but not for a while , so shall have to make a video soon showing this , and Skip , yes the iPhone is great for video , the Gimbal is a tripod of a sort , its run via battery power (charged up through a usb cable ) and it helps with the camera attached to pan smoothly when walking or in my case following trains …Dangerous Dave

  6. Dangerous Dave says:

    Hi Skip , the gimbal is a device that holds your phone like a tripod but it is electronically driven to follow the subject you are filming smoothly , as when you pan the camera WHEN WALKING OR FOLLOWING TRAINS LIKE I HAVE DONE…as for shunting , yes been a while since I have made one , will do that in the near future ..Dave

  7. Skip Leib says:

    Thanks Dave. I’ll check out the Gimbal on the web….
    Me and the ‘ol lady took a vacation in London (flying from NJ USA) back in ’99 I believe… Wasn’t that much into MRR’ing back then and that’s too bad because if I had been I definitely would’ve tried to look you up to see your great layout! Loved London (traveled all about on the Tube), but doubt if we’re ever gonna get across the pond again.. Age, y’know? Slows us all down some, sooner or later… ;>})

  8. Tom Sawyer says:

    Dave no one comes close to your skills and layout. Glad to see that you do stop some passenger cars at the stations to pick up and discharge passengers.

  9. zatara says:

    these are wonderful layouts but they seem so static;

    aren’t there any functioning cars and displays available in HO scale?

    even an HO slot car would make a huge dynamic difference;

  10. Steve, Lincs, UK says:

    Zatara, there is a road system made by Faller (there may be others too) which uses magnets, so no unrealistic slot. Megabucks though 😁

  11. James says:

    Enjoyed the video … finally running trains at the proper speed!

  12. Robert W Dyches says:

    dear all looking to sell a large amount of h o tracks,,buildings, wiring, switches, scrubs etc. please contact me at my e mail address. thank you

  13. To Jim,
    Thank you and everyone here. Yes I too have suffered these last couple years from medical issues myself, Hope for you the best. When you guys build and model your RR, to someone like me who has always been intrigued by trains. It’s that one scene, that one train, that one bridge, running stream or mountain scene that will bring me back to my youth and many others like myself. Your setups aren’t just about track, buildings and some glued down ballast or greenery, It is a memory, downtowns come alive to us older small town kids, Outdoor theaters come back alive, amusement parks the sounds still ringing in our ears. Thank YOU!!! Don’t be discouraged, keep the faith, you will never know how many smiles, or memories you have given to many who need a smile, or a moment to take in what you have built. Yours LS

  14. George Zaky says:

    Jim Sr
    Anytime anyone mentions a layout length greater than 14 ft I drool. 26 ft -Nirvana!
    Keep at your layout at home and let us in on the details.
    Thanks for the ride
    Spot on response! This blog brings smiles and a positive attitude and brings together some pretty talented, clever, and wonderful people.
    Big Al

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