Joe’s 27×10 HO scale

Joe’s been in touch again with his 27×10 HO scale layout. (If I’m not mistake, his last post is here).


I have been looking at all the layouts you’ve been sending, and they all feature something that is interesting.

I am sending a video of my layout which I have been building for about 3 1/2 years. It is about 90% complete. It is a 27×10 HO scale.

It features a single track main line that doubles back on itself several times to simulate a double track main line.

The passenger line features a commuter service that shares a single track in both directions.

All the landscaping was done from scratch. Much of the track is under the bench work and is accessed through three tunnel portals, giving the illusion that the trains enter the tunnels and go off to some distant point.

The below-bench track work also hides two passing sidings each for both the freight and passenger lines. These are used to alternate trains at random so that the sequence of trains differs. There is also a passing siding that is exposed to allow faster passenger trains or priority freight trains to overtake slower or non-priority freights.

There are several sections of the DCC layout that are operated manually, such as engine services, industrial sidings, and freight and passenger car yards.

But the main feature of the layout is that the freight and passenger main lines are computer controlled. I use a software application from CTI known as Train Control Language (TCL). For you programmers, it is based upon the C language.

All engine movements, sounds, signals, lighting, auto traffic lights, etc. are controlled by TCL. At any given time, up to 7 trains can run in automatic mode, and with the addition of engines being operated manually in the other sections I mentioned, the layout offers a lot of action when four operators and the yardmaster are present.

The layout was designed and built so that it could be disassembled into 13 sections. All wiring at section boundaries has Hitachi type connectors. Photos demonstrate a portion of the circuitry associated with the CTI system, which is essentially a local area network. It shows how I dealt with the varying voltage requirements of my accessories, which draw 3 volts, 4.5 volts, and 12-14 volts. Instead of installing a huge number of resistors, I simply stepped the voltage down from 12 volts for each application. This saved huge amounts of time when wiring accessories.

You will notice an open rectangle in the center of the layout. This is where the town, with automated streetcar service, is planned to be. I have not yet decided if I am going to complete this section.


27x10 HO scale control board

27x10 HO scale controller board

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Had a look yet?

A big thanks to Joe – a huge layout!

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if Joe’s inspired you, don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here



38 Responses to Joe’s 27×10 HO scale

  1. Tony says:

    Absolutely amazing!!!!!!!!!

  2. Doug Tanzer says:

    Oh to have the money and of course technical skills and space to do a layout like that. Wow

  3. Nick says:

    Do they come in diffrence scales like z scale anf 1:29
    G gauge

  4. christine says:


  5. Brian moretti says:

    How long is the bench ?? Why are the lights so bright and why so many layout is 38×12 at its longest and widest points with four loops that can run four trains at ones .. it’s been featured here so look for it .. it will have many real operation in coal and the electro magnet Crane ., it will have a 130’ turntable and custom built round house God willing I will get that all done .. I do run steam and diesel

  6. mark Allen says:

    Joe, thats exceptional, beautiful work.

  7. Leon Venter says:

    Hi Joe, this is very impressive. I’m getting more and more inspired to start packing out my train.

  8. Werner from downunder says:

    What a wonderful design and layout. The craftsmanship is superpe. Not like my Spaghetti bowl of wiring.
    If I may make one suggestion: Take a lesson in how to film a lovely layout like that.
    A shade over street lights would take the glare away during the night running.
    Top Job

  9. Cary B says:

    Absolutely amazing layout.
    Cary B

  10. Dominic Nicosia says:

    That is absolutely astounding !!!

  11. Jim says:

    Wow, state of the art operation!!! Fantastic operating scheme, very sophisticated layout!

  12. Jim says:

    State of the art operating system! Very sophisticated design and interesting action on this layout.

  13. I really like this layout. Every aspect of this layout has been carefully thought out. My only wish is that the videoing could be improved. Slower panning yields more clear and focused pictures. I love this layout.

  14. Bruce Webb says:

    great layout but you need to slow down your camera movements I mean a whole lot please do post more.

  15. Thomas Murphy says:

    Enjoyable visit to your layout, Joe. Love to see more!

  16. paul vogel says:

    Hey Joe…….All I can say is what a wonderful layout you have. Super good workmanship and very neat work. Good imagination also. Paul in Ohio

  17. Warren Ferguson says:

    Absolutely a wonderful layout, Joe. The technical skills you display are nothing short of superb. How did you go about designing and building your control panels?
    Thank you for sharing. I’d love to see more videos! Warren AL, USA

  18. Harry Monokian says:

    Beautiful layout, would love to see the track plan.

  19. Davi Schaffner says:

    I agree on the video taping, going to fast without imagination….Wish I was mechanically inclined, but I’m not….I’m more of a landscaper, and loved most of what I’ve seen, except for some of the trees. They don’t look real…..But I think you have a fantastic layout. Wish I had the capitol to do something like that….Good job!

  20. Rob McCrain says:

    Great layout, really fun. One should not wave ones camera around too much when filming. It makes the viewers car sick. You can get a very inexpensive tripod from China. I would like to understand more about the controls. What a really fabulous layout.

  21. Patrick Cancilla says:

    I think you’ve built a fantastic layout!

  22. tom in az says:

    Great job hard to believe Makes my work look small. I have a question! What do you use to make roads for your cars? I have tried several ideas and not happy with mine. Thanks so much for sharing. Tom in Payson AZ

  23. Harley Peterschick says:

    Looks great. Sounds great. Fantastic job…

  24. Louis F. Caputo says:

    Yes, a fabulous layout, but I have to confess being quite overwhelmed by it all.

  25. Gerry says:

    What an awesome layout. I’m a computer guy and I love controlling things with computers. My only question here is, “Where’s the fun in watching your trains just run around by themselves? Where’s the interaction with your creation? How do you run an OPs session using your computers?”
    Don’t get me wrong, I think what you’ve created here is great but I’d only make something like this if I were taking it out on display or opening my doors for people to come see it…

  26. ANDREW SCHYHOL says:

    Please more video! How about some steady shots of buildings and scenery. Some steady shots of passing trains so we can see motive power and consists. It would be awesome to see movements through your beautiful track work!

  27. Allen Montville says:

    O.M.G That is THE most impressive train layout I’ve ever seen. Its hard to smile with your mouth hanging open but I think I did. The lights are amazing. The lit up vehicles are amazing. Even with the shaky camera it still blew me away. Plus the whole thing is HUGE!!!!!! I’M IN AWE!!!!!!!!!Farmer AL

  28. My thanks to Joe, I have been looking/considering CTI for over a year but could never find a good video of it in operation. Needless to say I want it know more.

  29. David Hannan says:

    Thank you for sharing your stunning layout!
    The computer wizardry is beyond me but hats off to you sir!

  30. Don Bartletti says:

    You are a technical and aesthetic master with this layout. The night effect is a mindblower. Like a number of you admirers have noted your video can use some improvement. Don’t try to shoot the whole video in one take – even Spielberg doesn’t do that. Set up a perspective, on a tripod and shoot 60 seconds. Let us see the trains coming and going. Then pick another perspective and shoot for awhile. Mix it up with some wide shots and some close to the tracks. You want 10 clips for a 10 min video. The shift from one scene to the next is called a cut. It’s instantaneous. 99% of the appreciation for your masterful work comes from sharing it – with videos. Do it right.

  31. Ron Cadman says:


  32. Danny says:

    Joe. Very good and thought out lay out. Any chance of a trai drawing. Like to see a track drawing of underneath. Who have you set that up. Again very nice. You will improve with practices onthe video Danny Australia

  33. Jim says:

    Nice layout and run by. Oh to have that kind of space. Most envious. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  34. NJ Mark says:

    I have been working on my layout which is much smaller for 31/2 years and am nowhere near done! Beautiful scenery and great, nice and neat wiring! Cheers! NJ Mark

  35. David Klekovic says:

    This was one of the best ones yet

  36. Kelvin Bland says:

    I have just spent about two weeks tracking down a short circuit on a simple analogue layout that turned out to be a screw through two wires! Therefore I can really appreciate your control wiring although it scares me to death. Brilliant layout.

  37. Clay Short says:

    Being from the West Texas oil country, I love it when I see a layout with
    oil, “motif”. Great job!

  38. Richie D. says:

    Thanks for sharing. Nice work all round.

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