Joe’s basement layout

“My layout is in a small corner of my basement.

Instead of a 4×8 table, I decided to do so bench work and go around the walls.

As you can see from the photos it fit very nicely allowing me to actually go three levels.

It is all DCC with sound.

The railroad itself is just based on scenes I remember as I kid.

A train Museum in New Hampshire gave me the idea of the train and trolly park.

I painted and put decals all my engines.

The little town and train yard are just my imagination at work and I really feel that is the fun in building a railroad. Use your imagination.

All together it took me almost 6 months to complete.

I actually built it for myself but love the look of the grandchildren when they watch with eyes so wide open. You can’t buy that look anywhere.











A wonderful layout – and I loved Jo’s words too. Who can resist a grandchild’s amazement and wonder?

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the big day when you make a start on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

35 Responses to Joe’s basement layout

  1. Steve Roberts says:

    Nice one Joe, Lots of interest in a relatively small space. You must have worked like a beaver to complete it in 6 months
    Cheers Steve R UK

  2. Bullfrogeh says:

    What a great layout – and, in only 6 months labour. What will you be doing next ?
    I especially enjoyed the street repair scene. It made my eyes ‘leak’ !
    – dave in Ontario

  3. Frank Cortese says:

    I know that look! My grandkids and great grandkids all love Papa’s trains. Mine are not even half as good as yours. Congratulations!

  4. builder Kim says:

    You have a busy layout Joe. Look’s great. You have used all space wisly. send some more picture’s in was fun. thanks keep going .


    wow what a great way to conserve space
    lota detail and on 3 levels….
    good job Joe
    and I bet the grandkids really dig it!!
    keep it runnin dude

  6. Tom says:

    Your model railroad was built with joy and love. Your enjoyment and children; grand; great; wide eyed seen from their hearts; their excitement is your reward for a layout well done. My grandchildren are my pride! my joy!
    Thank you Joe and Al for sharing.

  7. Joe:

    Job well done……looks great and as you have said it “it lites up the eyes” of the most important viewers- ‘Our babies”. Thx for sharing and keep sharing your wonders with us.. Harold Jr. GPTx

  8. Perry says:

    Nice job! A lot of detail in a small space. You worked hard in the 6 months. Well done
    Greater Muttering and Cussing Railway Company

  9. John Parker Clayton, CA says:

    Very Cool… great tradition to pass on for those grand babies…
    papa train

  10. steven stclair says:

    Excellent work. Like the different levels and bridges. The town looks great.
    Steve Australia

  11. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great layout plenty of detail makes you want to go back and look over and over again my layout is just one level and one track but a bit of detail and your right the grand kids love it.

  12. paul Otway says:

    A ver nice layout.

  13. steve says:

    What a great layout, I am about to start on my American Flyer layout, it going in a spare room., just got to find the time to build it. Joe you did an outstanding job I love it.


  14. Dave says:

    What a beautiful job you did. My grandchildren and my son would be very happy to have a layout like this. Great Job!
    Dave Ober

  15. John Schlemme says:

    Hi Joe, Nice layout ! I really like the 1 picture of the LIRR (C420?) engine and what appear to be Bachmann NYCTA red Bird subway cars in the back round. I am still in the planning phase of my physical plant but already have a huge rooster of rolling stock in O, HO and N guage, primarily LIRR and NYCTA livery. I am partial to those 2 since i use to work as an RCI for the NYCTA and actually worked on R-27 and R-29 red birds. I currently work as a Master Mechanic – field operations Manager at the LIRR Babylon yard. Great to see Dashing Dan alive and well and running on other layouts !

  16. Rod Mackay says:

    I do find myself agreeing with that notice saying “WATCH CHILDREN” – proper little beggars, some of them, got to have eyes in the back of your head!

  17. Bob Miller says:

    Well Joe, you have put everything into this layout. If I was a kid (or even older) this would have to be considered a great layout. You have done a wonderful job of combining all the things model train guys want.

  18. Kenton says:

    Nice layout!

  19. jim morris says:

    Great !

  20. ~~~Mike~~~ says:

    Do we have a plan or layout drawing to see how it all fits together? Looks very “busy” – no wast space!

  21. Bridget says:

    That’s terrific, however, what measurements did to you use? How wide and long did you make your layout? Here’s my delimma, have a tight space for train table in sons room, 7`by 20`, room is rectangular. Want to do like you did by going along the walls. How should I begin? Can anyone guide to where I can start?

  22. eric7 says:

    Excellent eye for detail. Escpecially the road scene and town centre.


  23. bob shipley says:

    Great job! Love the LIRR Geep too!

  24. Neil Feder says:

    One complaint I have with most of the layouts posted is that they don’t send in a diagram of the layout. Can you get a diagram for the layout. I am interested in doing an around the room display. Thank you

  25. Dave Massimi says:

    Joe…a great looking layout… please send lots more pictures !
    Am sure your grandchildren are in awe of your magical ability to create something so interesting and wonderful…way to go Grandpa Joe ! Enjoy the layout and your grandchildren for a long time !
    Dave, in New York

  26. Gene Pinson says:

    I don’t understand the people (like Neil Feder) that ask how to build a layout in a particular space? Each space has its own challenges and they should have the imagination to visualize what would fit in that space. If not, how can you do the difficult things that are required to finish the layout, such as wiring, scenery building, elevations, etc.. My problem is trying to decide which option, of many, to build. Much like “dangerous Dave” as he builds a layout and then tears it down to build something different.
    So as not to be critical of Neil, allow me to give some suggestions to his 7’x 20’ room.
    You could split the room into 7’ x 10’
    You could elevate the layout above the bed and furniture on, either, the long wall or around the entire room (which would be really cool).
    Gene @ pocono lake PA, USA

  27. steve joyce says:

    Love the lighting. Bought a bunch of that Woodland Scenics just plug stuff so I hope I have the same effects

  28. Fantasic Layout… Since it is BIG and also 100% DCC….. Is there anything being done for train location? That is my current biggest problem.

  29. KenG says:

    I love the warmth of your layout, and what a great idea having a train-trolly park! A nice way to store your extra locos!

  30. Tim says:

    Bridget, you have to decide on what scale to model first. Thats number one! Ask Al about previous advice given, many good suggestions submitted. Most RR’s redesign their track layout several times before settling on one they like. Start small or modestly. Design so you can add more table length. Loops require space and the scale you choose will determine bare minimum length and width of table top. Peoples lives change. If you moved it out of that room, can you deconstruct parts OR destruct the train table entirely.
    Start sketching room with what you need in room, bed, dresser, closet, door openings, desk, toy box, walkway, etc etc. Note electrical outlets and lighting locations. Best advice is to just start sketching room and then decide what space can be made available for the trains. Just get started. Smile.

  31. Will in NM says:

    Grandpa Joe, What a fun and interesting layout you’ve built there. Quite a feat to have accomplished so much in just six months! I have seen much larger and more complex layouts that look “sterile” in comparison to yours. Using your imagination to guide your layout has created a warm and lovely place for both you and your grand kids to enjoy. Keep up the good work and please share more photos when you can.

  32. Léo, Qc. Can. says:

    Tim, very well said for Bridgett, all I have to add, that are plenty of good layouts magazine in your local hobby store, the staff are knowledgible and gret for advices.

  33. Erick says:

    Pretty Neat.!!!!

  34. Ben Zlotnick says:

    All in 6 months.. WOW

  35. Mr. Ron from So. Mississippi says:

    John Schlemme, When I left New York City back in the late 50’s, they were still running bug eyed DD1’s and E-6 Atlantics. Now at 87, those engines are still my favorites. I started a model of a DD1 in 1-1/2 scale, but ran out of room, so I started to build it in 3/4 scale. I built 1/2 of the set but other interests kept me from building the other half. The DD1’s always fascinated me. I would watch them go by in Jamaica. They would rock from side-to-side when viewed head-on. I would even go to Penn station and watch them. I remember the ozone smell when the contactors would close.

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