Joe’s first layout


Im new to model railroading and i really love all the tips, and pics of everyones layouts !!

thought i might share some pics of my first modest attempt at a layout of my own, every thing is hand made from the trees to the telephone poles, it is just in the begining stages, keep in mind i rent and did not want to make something permanent, in case i decide to move !!

so i am making it a floor model and making it so it can be taken apart very easilly.

thanks for all the tips and pics


“Hi Al , just done a few changes again , and added a new small station for the DMU, also a good tip showing some tufts of grass ready made and easy to install on the layout



A great tip from the talented Dave.

That’s all for this time my friends.

Please do keep ’em coming. Just hit reply to any of my mails if you have something you want to share.

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.

53 Responses to Joe’s first layout

  1. Donald Kinscherf says:

    Joe I really like what you did especially to the is not excessively complex like many of the beautiful layouts we see here and has the basis of a great layout when you move to a more permenant residence like you own place…kudos to you

  2. Gordon says:

    Layouts such as Joe s dont come better than this so called “first attempt Hearty congrats on a job well done C ant wait to see how Joe could improve on the best
    Would love to see his track plan

  3. George Archer says:

    I also rent where I am living and was unable to take a full size sheet of plywood into my basement. I was lucky enough to find a layout that someone was selling that consists of two interior doors that were mounted on folding table legs and when pushed together make a 72″ x 84″ layout. It originally consisted of 5 separate circuits with two sidings one of the circles is elevated with a bypass. I am now reworking the tracks so that all of the loops will be joined and a train can run on any of the tracks but will be wired that the can be run separately.

  4. Bob J says:

    Hi Joe,
    Outstanding! I am also working on my first layout, and seeing yours really inspires me! Thanks!

  5. bob says:

    What a great job. I was able to raise and lower my layout but, wish i knew how to build mountains and put all those switches on my set, bob.

  6. Michael Roosmann says:

    Joe, Very clever. When I got my grandson interested in R/R, it was a floor layout w/o the scenery. He loved it. Michael

  7. builder Kim says:

    Dave didn’t want to say anything.Your traffic is traveling on the wrong side of the

  8. Mike Mattei says:

    I would really like to know what software does Dave us to produce his videos?

  9. builder Kim says:

    Joe that is a great layout.Joe I did poles as well.Maybe you be interested in seeing them.Maybe give you an idea.The ones im talking about are street poles.I will resend a photo to Al.So you can check them out.Keep up the great work looking very nice.Thanks for sending in your photo’s.

  10. Matt Jackson says:

    Very clever idea, Joe. Completely portable and can be easily integrated into a permanent layout.

  11. Al says:

    Joe, great job should work well for you. Keep up the nice work. Love it for first time I would not have guessed it.
    Best to you. Al

  12. BernardH says:

    Some really great scenery there, what an inspiration.
    Keep up the good work.
    Good Luck, Bernard

  13. StJohn says:

    wow what a great layout and conceptual design…and the detail work is priceless…by that I mean one cant purchase THAT kind of scenery…and the modular setup is just what every ‘renter’ needs!!
    good show and keep on railin’

  14. Pete Evangel says:

    Joe, I am very intrigued by your telephone/power poles!! What did you use for the “transformers” (those white circle thingys)? Nice looking detail on your floor model. dont short change yourself, this looks great.

  15. Hello Joe! Nice layout and I am in the same way, renting. I have a basement and a garage but it is very small, as well I do not anything that is attached to the structure. The floor is a great idea if I can get these old bones up off the floor as I did twenty years ago. I have a few questions about your scenery. The shape of the scenery’s foundation is a “L” shape, made of what material? Masonite, wood or cardboard? How are you attaching each modular section together. Am I correct to say each section is to be considered modular and connectable? Overall what is your dimensions of the layout and each basic section of scenery? Great layout, thank you for your ideas and assistance. Regards, Ray A.

  16. paul Otway says:

    Joe your railway looks neat so far. if you want buildings theere some good good ones which you can download free from the internet.

  17. Greg Rebman says:

    All of your scenery is excellent and is not overdone as I have seen many time. Your telephone poles are very realistic. What did you use to make them?

  18. great work Joe. scenery looks good. keep on modeling. thanks for the update Dave you make it look so easy.

  19. Tad Heath says:

    I’m in the same boat as you are. So I’m build a what I call a portable box layout. Its a shipping box 3’X4′ with wood framing inside to support it from flexing in anyway. I’m having trouble with my track plans cause I only have so much room and I don’t care if its not all flat. So if anybody has any track plans that would help me bounce of it I would appreciate it big time!!! thank you!!!!!!

  20. Rod Mackay says:

    For three by four Tad you can only really think N or Z gauge. There are some very nice little layouts based on narrow-gauge industrial or quarry railways using OO9 or HOe (HOn2 if you’re in the US) and I saw at our local exhibition the other day a set of ‘Feldbahn’ track and train set which made a mine railroad in HO scale but with what looks like 6.5mm track (representing about 18″ or 2′ gauge – beautiful! I was very tempted.


  21. Nice way to have a layout that you can lift if you have to move Joe, and in answer to Mike , I use power director 12 by cyberlink for editing my vids ..

  22. Jeremy Slack says:

    Great layout Joe! I sure wish I had the resources to build a layout as sophisticated as yours! I am actually getting ready to start up a project here in hot and sunny Utah I plan to buy a warehouse when I have the funds and I plan to build a hopefully humongous layout so families could come to one location to look at trains and not drive all around our city. If anyone is interested to help me build this layout when I have the resources I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

  23. chris says:

    Lovely job, don’t short change yourself, keep up the excellent work

  24. Dave, you are truly inspirational, with your Northern humour and skills you make it look so easy and yet others can easily follow your example. Well done.
    By the way…..your traffic is certainly on the correct side of the road for UK. It’s the rest of them that have got it wrong!! Ha, ha!!

  25. Max Dosser (Australia) says:

    I agree with Norman Backman. Inspirational !
    And the traffic is also on the correct side of the road just like here Downunder ( Oz )
    I love the ginger bread man popping up.
    sent Wednesday 7th May at 11.06pm

  26. Peter Jones says:

    Fantastic first attempt Joe, you have done a great job, looks great. Keep up the good work. Peter the Mackem

  27. Steve from Exeter NSW Australia says:

    Fantastic stuff again Dave. I marvel at your prolific talents! Love your videos.

  28. John Reynolds says:

    First: WELL DONE!!!
    I love the portable scenery…
    When I was living in an apartment, I built very portable layout 4’x8′.
    Actually, the layout was built in 3 sections, the two end pieces were 2’x4′ and one side was 18″x4’… I also had a “drop in place” bridge to complete the loop.
    I used folding “office” tables to support the end sections and both the center section and the bridge were suspended between. I used clamps on one side and the bridge had a “nest” to drop into on each end.
    John R.

  29. Curtis says:

    Looks great Joe! you’re a natural.

  30. joe says:

    hello again,
    I just wanted to say “THANK YOU” to all the reader’s, for all the very nice reply’s and encouragements, I have since bought my own home and had to take down my layout…it was quite easily done… I’m hoping to get a real platform started at my new home soon..
    thank’s again joe

  31. joe says:

    and also a huge thanks to ( Al ),, It was very exciting to open my email and find my layout in the post!!

    thanks again joe.

  32. john baldwin says:

    would like to know where dave got his black five from please

  33. Ken says:

    I look at these benches and think one day I will have the space to build something this big and with the scenery

  34. Ken says:

    is this HO or O gauge

  35. Fred Svoboda says:

    The scenery in basic modules that sit on the floor is a great idea for a layout that can be taken up and moved around.

    BTW, the middle (floor) area could easily be covered by a grass mat or two. These are easy to improve in appearance by spray-painting on different shades of flat green and brown, and still can be walked on, with a few buildings added for interest, and then rolled up when the space is needed..

  36. Jim says:

    Dave, your videos are always great and very informative. I too have used those tufts of grass and they are very effective.

    Jim AZ

  37. Rich B. says:

    Very nice. Particularly like utility poles but should only have transformer (gray barrel) to step down voltage. The scale size would suggest enough KVA to feed a coal mine (kilovolt amperes, xformer rating thing). Anything goes though.

  38. Gary Gordinier says:

    As a beginner, I’m really impressed.

  39. Warren Ferguson says:

    Super job you’re doing, Joe! It’s hard to believe it’s ” a first modest attempt”.! I haven’t gotten the first piece of track laid so far. Please send more pics as you progress. Maybe a video of some trains running? Warren, AL, USA

  40. Charlie Hagerty says:


    It’s a very good setup. A more detail that I might have thought for your 1st layout. Very good job


  41. Tom Sawyer says:

    I love Dave’s videos. But I am thinking that he is addicted to remodeling. How long does one layout last before a remodeling ? He should go into business building layouts for others.LOL

  42. Joe says:

    You have provided numerous tips and how to lessons on track work and scenery as well as reviews on new products popping up on the trade. I don’t remember seeing anything about the buildings that you have on your layout. Are they scratch built, kit builds or ready made?. Where do you shop for them or are they something that you have had for years and therefore are not readily available anymore? Appreciate any advice you can provide.

  43. steve Joyce says:

    Modular scenery !!!!!! How brilliant !!!! Great job Joe

  44. Mike Street says:

    Joe, I must be missing some photos as I can’t see any vehicles at all only excellent scenery and trains, brilliant solution to running trains in a rental.

  45. Jerry Treich says:

    Very nice job, Joe! Great modeling skills. Interesting that you decided to include transformers on the telephone poles. That’s a detail I don’t recall seeing on other posts that included telephone poles (though I might have missed them)! Hope you have many hours enjoying the building and running of your layout!

  46. Outstanding as always Dave
    Inspiration as i have G scale outside as well as inside.
    I would like to know how long you have been doing this and about the amount (In US Dollars/hate to convert) you have in all of your stock, remote’s, buildings etc.

  47. Tom Osterdock says:

    Wow nice layout, surprised to see it on the floor. Great job on the scenery. I got a 5×10 layout in my 10×13.5 rm. broke it down to 4 30″x60″modules. so it can be taken to train shows now. I will have it in my 12′ trailer after it is finished. I plan 6 roll around modules taken after the Olympia series on the Model Railroader video +. You might want to check out their series as a way to make it portable but at a usable height to make working and moving it easy. You can get video + at a very reasonable rate of 2.25 a month.

  48. NJ Mark says:

    Joe, your floor layout reminds me of my brother and I with our first layout some 60+ years ago. We would set up in the morning add a tunnel and some buildings and stay on the floor for hours! We were just kids but the joy of model railroading always stayed with us. Thanks for the memories. Cheers! NJ Mark

  49. Will in NM says:

    Joe, Congratulations on making such an interesting start on your fisrt model RR. It looks like you’ve got the scenery construction well in hand. You’ve done a fine job on your power poles. Just one thought occurred to me: There usually isn’t a tranformer box on every pole. Generally, one transformer will serve multiple users.

    The main thing is you’re having fun building your model RR to suit your tastes — not anyone else’s and you’ve got some trains running. Keep up the good work and we look forward to future installments from you as your mdoel RR progresses.

  50. Joe! What a fantastic idea. All too often we lock ourselves into others thoughts. I can;t wait until you are able to expand.

  51. Bill says:

    For apartment dwellers with standard-size front-door clearance to deal with (when considering the size possibilities for an N or Z scale layout), I’ve found your largest table-top size (or module) is 78 x 39 (roughly 2 x 1 meters). This is when you cannot walk it straight out the door due to a tight interior stairwell descent, that many 2nd-floor garden apartment renters face. Here you must stand it on end going out your front door to utilize all available height clearance and then turn it 90 degrees. The height of permanent scenery also need to be considered for this turning clearance. In my tight situation, I’m restricted to a absolute maximum of 79 x 40 inches and my depth-of-board, from highest rock formation to the bottom of a 6-inch oak side-skirting panel (to hide under-board wires and switch motors, etc., from view), is only 25 inches. This is when the arc of the turn is considered factoring in protruding stairwell banisters , a fire extinguisher box, etc. If you plan carefully, you should be able to get quite a large table-top board or module out of a tight apartment. (Be sure and vacuum up all your loose track ballast before standing your layout on end!)

  52. Fantastic first attempt Joe, you have done a great job!
    Dave, great as always! But i think a bit of weathering is needed all round!
    Perhaps you could show us all how to do it your way???

  53. Every home/apartment layout will eventually be moved. Your heirs will thank you. Old guys think this way.

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