HO scale balsa wood buildings

Joe’s been in touch with his HO scale balsa wood buildings:

“Hi, several years ago i sent pix of my old layout, I have since moved and building a new HO layout here in Florida. I have less than two months into it so here’s some early pix.

All the buildings you see except for the one with the shops below and apts on top I built myself using balsa wood and pix taken from the internet via google images.

The roadway is convex using wall compound spread with a 3 inch blade. I still have to add an oil streak down the lanes.

The background views were taken from the internet and expanded using print shop as a banner.

The train station I built is in the middle of two 3ft passenger platforms.

I would estimate that after just 2 months work i’m about 20% along. Hundreds of trees to be added and more people. Street lights and telephone poles will be added soon.

System runs on dcc with Bachmann locos.

I will send more as it progresses!


HO benchwork

ho scale balsa wood building

ho scale balsa wood building gas station

ho scale balsa wood building

HO fire engine

HO sidings

model train track plan

“Hi Al, just uploaded part 4 of my re build on the layout.

In this video I show how I ballast, adding rust to the tracks, and a few tips…



A huge thanks to Joe for sharing his HO scale balsa wood buildings, and to Dave.

Joe’s flying along – two months and all this done already. Can’t wait to see more pics.

As for Dave, where does he find the time. He also keeps himself busy with his Koi pond and garden.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you decide to join in the fun, 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.

32 Responses to HO scale balsa wood buildings

  1. Robert Brady says:

    Hello Joe where did you get the WaWa gas station we have one in our town in Pompano Beach? beginning of a great layout GO GO HO!
    PS PM me on facebook,Robert Brady ( the older one )

  2. Larry says:

    Very nice! The modernity of this railroad layout is great!

  3. Question, how did you secure it? did you attach something to the wall???

  4. Greg says:

    Impressive layout beginning. Keep up the great work.

  5. Richard Wood says:

    Great layout with fantastic detail. I love the WAWA and Wells Fargo. Keep up the good work. Two months? Sweet!

    Rick in Maryland

  6. Roy Forbes says:

    Although I’m not into American style Railroads I do really appreciate the work and imagination that has gone into this layout. Well done. Keep it up.

  7. Vincent says:

    Great lay out, awsome work.

  8. Craig Tennant says:

    I have always wondered why the manufacturers of the people that we install in our layouts, all come in shiny paint colors. I am not aware of us humans wearing “shiny” clothes, having shiny hair and shiny skin. Why can’t they use flat, dull paint colors that would certainly enhance the reality of the layouts?

  9. Chuc’ Bartunek says:

    Great looking ,please keep submitting photos,how about a track plan?

  10. Don Jennings says:

    I like that layout and for only two month.
    I would have blocked the window with a sheet of plywood. That window will make the room much hotter in warm months. I hope this gets to you to fix that,
    Don Cary NC

  11. Rob McCrain says:

    Great layout, love the detail. It is a completely modern contemporary feel. I think that is what you were going for. Wells Fargo bank 🙂 I like it. Keep up the great modeling, Rob McCrain – Farland Howe.

  12. Allan J Jelinek says:

    Very nice Joe! I love the grass. Is that carpet?

  13. What is the floor space size of your layout?

  14. Warren Ferguson says:

    Terrific work for only a two months effort. I liked the handicapped parking logo on your “concrete”. Nice touch. Once you get the oil streaks on, it’s going to be so fine. Did you buy the Wells Fargo as is, or is it kit bashed with signs you added? Thank you for sending pics. Keep up the great work! Warren, AL, USA

  15. Hemi says:

    Joe, with 2 months in, your definitely lookin’ GOOD!!!!! What Bachmann loco’s you running????

    I wished I had just the bench work of my own layout up and ready to go. meaning the “area” its to go would be cleaned out, and not waiting for me! LOL

    Impressive amount of work, in such a short time! ~Hemi

  16. James Sulkosky says:

    Nice layout Joe keep up the great work.

  17. Antony says:

    Fantastic amount of work in 2 months with massive attention to detail. Loving it.

  18. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Very nice set up. Every time I read and see how everyone has there set up gives me good ideas. Very soon I will be working on mine. Just an up date to everyone I do suffer from a very bad back. Three surgery’s down and I hope and pray that this will be my last surgery. I will be sending pictures and track plan once I get started. Just a low down of what I have, two zw’s, about 19 070 switches. I am getting track on and off when I can. I also have four o gauge Loco’s and an old F7 with dummy center & F7, water tower, and a lot of cars, building’s. I am still finding trucks & cars. The room I will be running everything in ( Mancave ) is a 10 X 10 room. You will be able to walk in the middle. I estimate the the tables will be sectional 2 X 3 tables, ten of them. That leaves me with two corner that will be open for a double main line, in both corner Bridges. People like Joe help keep me going. Thank you Joe. I can’t wait until I get started. Wish me luck folks and Thanks to all of y’all. One more C T and it off to surgery. Thank you for keeping me going guys, I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks SDG

  19. Peter briggs says:

    Dave as regards your track weathering, if there ever was a model railway nomination for an oscar, you’d get it for your track!!!!! so many great layouts are spoilt by unrealistic track. So enjoyable to get glimpses of guys layouts, you must be motivating hundreds!!!!
    And a big thnak you to Alastair for his full-on hosting, without which we’d be lost.

  20. Corrie says:

    Good day, I also have one of those shinny tracks and want to weather it , especially the ties and ballast between the tracks, is there any body who can give me an method of doing it.

    thank you

    Corrie Lock (South Africa)

  21. Dwight in Toronto says:

    We don’t have WaWa gas stations here in Ontario (or anywhere in Canada, at least not that I’m aware of). And note that they use a flying Canada goose logo.
    This is interesting because Wawa is a small remote town in mid-northern Ontario, famous for it’s Big Goose roadside attraction that looks just like the gas station logo, and appears to be flying over the Trans Canada Highway. I wonder what the link is?

  22. THOMAS says:

    A BIG Thank You to Dave … I like to see your trains running !

  23. Tony, Kitty Hawk NC says:

    Great stuff Joe and Dave!
    I’m originally from Philly, love Wawa! I was interested in Dwight’s question about the Wawa logo- here’s what their website says- “Wawa” is a Native American word for the Canada Goose that was found in the Delaware Valley over 100 years ago. Our original Dairy farm was built on land located in a rural section of Pennsylvania called Wawa. That’s why we use the goose on Wawa’s corporate logo.
    Looking forward to hearing more about your progress!

  24. Great job Joe in only 2 months! — you are a craftsman for sure! — love the layout and keep us posted with your progress!

  25. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Joe………….Looking good….. I will be waiting to see future pics.

  26. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Hey, Tony in Kitty Hawk … thanks for the enlightenment. It seems that it is purely coincidental that there are TWO identical place names, so far apart, that clearly chose to honour the Canada goose! If you are so inclined, google Wawa Ontario to see what I was referring to regarding The Big Goose statue.

  27. Will in NM says:

    Joe, You’ve made a lot of progress in just two months. I’ve been working on my Christmas layout for 23 years and it’s nowhere near as finished as yours. That was a really cool idea to use photos from the internet of the various buildings to construct them. I assume they’re paper photos pasted to the balsa wood framework to create the the three dimensional buildings. How exactly do you get them adjusted to the right scale for your layout?

    Dave, Nice to see you’ve got most of your layout back together after the run-in with the big sledge hammer. That was a great tutorial on ballasting and weathering trackwork. I enjoy all your videos so keep ’em coming.

  28. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi Dave. Track weathering tips much appreciated. Your layout changes have been for the better. The long sweeping curves are a huge upgrade and something we should all try to achieve on a countryside main line track such as yours. It gets rid of the Hornby catalog front cover unrealistic picture which looked so unrealistic.
    Whats next?. you always appear to come up with more and more improvements/upgrades.

  29. Thanks re comments on mb layout wit the weathering etc. should be nearer to completion in. couple of weeks , ….then the fun begins ? ..Dangerous Dave

  30. Gerald says:

    I love watching Dave’s instructional videos but I’m lucky to pickup about every tenth word because of his strong accent. Nevertheless they are always informative.

  31. TOM WALKER says:


    love the wawa station!!!…great detail….even the street price sign!!!….we have them all over in penna….

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