Large model train layout – Joe’s

Joe’s been in touch with his very large model train layout:

“Dear Alastair,

I have been enjoying reading about layouts others have been building and looking at step-by-step photos. It demonstrates how layouts are merely products of their creators’ imaginations. So I decided to participate and show the layout I have been building for the past 2 1/2 years.

For starters, it is an HO layout that measures 27’ x 10’. At my wife’s objection, it consumes about 2/3 of my basement. I have been dreaming about this project for my entire adult life, and at 67 I was finally able to realize it.

It is built with double ply 1” x 4” girders, connected by four major braces, and held up by eight legs. Photos shows the completed substructure. The next step was to construct the lattice work to which the 7” risers would be mounted (photo 3191). Finally, the sub-roadbed is made of 1/2” plywood supported by the 7” risers. This makes the top of the bench work 42” high (photo 3196).

Because of the size of the layout, it has been built in 13 sections that can be disassembled and moved to another located for reassembly. To make this possible, track and landscaping that span section boundaries can be separated. All wiring that spans section boundaries have had Hitachi-type connectors installed so that wiring can be disconnected.

I n my next email I will discuss the design and control aspects of my layout.



large model train

large model train bench work

large model train benchwork

My word, it’s going to be a very large model train layout indeed!

Now on to Michael:

“Thanks for sharing the great camera train video, see attached photo, may wish to share so others can see what to build to hold camera. And, if one needs a video camera, yard sales on Saturday morning is a great place to find them and cheap as well!

I am sure everyone would love to know what to buy and also see how this is done.

Much thanks


A huge thanks to Joe for sharing his large model train layout – it looks like he’s going to build a stunner with all of that space. I can’t wait to see the next update.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started 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.

30 Responses to Large model train layout – Joe’s

  1. David V. Corbin says:

    Looking great… I am concerned (judging just by the pictures, which may not give the best viewpoint) about “reach” for some of the areas. Even though I am tall, and have long arms, I find that even 30″ is too far (for me).

  2. Dave says:


  3. Bruce OScale says:

    Joe, What a great start. I assume that the center is about 3 feet wide leaving about 3 feet width for the outer areas. Along with the outer walk around area, it appears that you have ready access to all the layout without extended reaching. Are girders two 1×4 slats screwed and glued? Much better than 2×4 which could warp readily. The pic numbers do not appear in the post, but easy to determine the pic described. Are you located on US east coast? You have a finished basement with an entertainment area; noted a TV in background in other room.
    Please continue with updates. Thanks to all who contribute to this site.
    Bruce in SC USA

  4. Dennis. Cork says:

    Well if you have Built it show use then ,ples

  5. NJ Mark says:

    Awesome!! Too bad, for a lot of us, it took many, many years to realize the dream of model railroading. Started mine at 64 and am nowhere yet complete. I guess that’s what keeps us going. Cheers! NJ Mark

  6. Rob McCrain says:

    So Far, it really looks great. The support system looks professionally built. Rob McCrain

  7. Ben says:

    I have been working the past year on a new layout. 32′ X 32′ 1450′ of track. I’m also concerned about the reach on Joe’s layout. My old layout I had holes in the middle so I could crow underneath to the hole and stand up to work on things. But that got old the older I got, That in why I’m building my new layout so I can easily reach everything with ease
    I love to hear other model railroaders builders new layouts. It is so much fun, because we can keep adding things the next 10 years to the layouts. Keep having fun.

    Santa Ben

  8. Roy says:

    Wow!!! And I though I was ambitious! Hope it goes well.

  9. Lynn Taubeneck says:

    Wow, it makes me a little embarrassed to send any pics of my 4’x8′ project. I am sure this is going to be a stunning layout.

  10. Bob says:

    Often I am amazed at the space some people have and how nice railroad tables look during construction. However the hobby boils down to having a small favorite space where you can study you models and often this fits into a few feet long and a couple of feet wide.

  11. Kevin McArdle says:

    Will you be using removable scenery panels for access? Are you still married? You mentioned the eminent domain seizure of two thirds of the basement for the layout, against your wife’s objections. Maybe you could buy her a few engines and rolling stock and include her in construction…………..

  12. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Ditto on the reach comments….Also looks like a major project to take the sections apart…But kudos on the professional looking build…Mike

  13. skip says:


  14. Joe: you have a VERY understanding wife!!!!!

  15. Pete Chimney says:

    One last comment; because the layout is butted against the far wall in photo 1, to get to the other side one has to walk around the entire layout. This may prove a bit tiring after a few months. And the area in the far end of the layout in photo1 is reach with great difficulty to track laying and scenicing, even from the center access area. May I suggest if you have not already laid track and scenery, you reconsider this configuration, do some rebuilding, and allow for easier access.

  16. David says:

    Hi Joe
    Very well built railway base and an understanding wife lucky you.
    I have a 10’x 5′ shed. Look forward to seeing more.

  17. Andrew C. Maloy says:

    Looks outstanding!!! We are currently planning our new and hopefully forever home and actually building a room that will be dedicated to my HO train set. I too am 61, retired, and have a wife that is as excited about this project as I am. The room will be 10 x 15. But if in the future I need more space I can test the waters of our 43 years of marriage by telling her we need more room let’s just knock down the wall and stretch it into the spare bedroom.

  18. Dennis says:

    This guy must be single!!!!

  19. Idris Dixon says:

    WOW and WOW AGAIN! I’d give an arm and a leg for that amount of space
    In the UK we’d have to us several room to build that kind of lay-out, unless of course you be long to a club. Good luck with your railway (railroad) but keep the wife sweet
    Idris (South Wales)

  20. Paul Selwyn Otway says:

    Pretty strong looking bench work.

  21. Harvey says:

    Why does everyone start with a FLAT board. Even the Sahara dessert is not this flat.

  22. Ian McDonald says:

    that is going to be some layout will look forward to more photos your wife will know were you are and when not to enter we modellers need that happy wife happy modelling(life)

  23. Edmund Hudson says:

    Watch out, if you think your through the woods, then be warned! she who must be obeyed will demand her pound of flesh by fair means and foul!

  24. Helmut Eppich says:

    Wow! Looks like it’s going to be a biggie! Good luck! Should be a doozie. So that’s what those cab ride cameras look like. Always wondered. Have a great foundation for your railroad. All you have to do is build it up.

  25. Helmut Eppich says:

    Build it and they will come.

  26. david howarth says:

    Looks like a big layout in the making there Joe , Good idea with the Camera Michael , but think could have a few problems with tunnels etc. …Dangerous Dave

  27. I just turned 71 on March 1st and am building my first layout in maybe 25 years. I find myself describing it as pleading for space from my wife and sometimes maybe even an extra hand. It’s rather laughable because if I had married a gal with an desire to get in the engineers seat, I could have avoided all of this. Joking really. It is at this age that we set and ponder the best solutions to the weirdest questions involved in anything greater than an 8 foot oval but enjoy the point of the whole thing. I AM ALIVE! Unfortunately I have developed cancer in the last year and have two buddies helping me to keep it moving before I move on to another world. BUT, two more friends have met and developed an interest in a great hobby. Blow the whistle and lay some more track!

  28. Thomas Murphy says:

    Wishing you the best Joe.

  29. ken bell says:

    totally arwsome incredible keep on going.

  30. Robert Rolfe says:

    To the man that posted 5:33 PM, Give it all you got and pass it down if you can. I am trying to pass it to my Grandson, wish me luck, looks like all the new generations want is a video game and or something plugged into their ears. Damned, I guess nothing lasts forever,

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