HO sawmill layout update -Joe’s

Joe’s been back in touch with his HO sawmill layout – you’ll remember his last post from this.

“Hi Al; These are all since January:

HO scale workshop with LED lights

As in the past, I spent time during the winter putting lighting in building and around the “town”. This is the power plant for the saw mill and planning mill.

HO scale sawmill at night

East end of saw mill.

HO scale downtown scene

Downtown San Juan Creek, NM

HO scale train station waiting

Interior od San Juan Creek station

HO sawmill layout

Planning Mill. (As mentioned before, I create most of my own decals, this is one example

HO scale model railroad oil storage tank

United Cold storage, Och’s Oil Distributers

HO scale staging yard

West end of the staging yard, Terry Lumber Wholesale and one of my ‘scratch built’ billboards with my own decal.

HO scale town scene

Looking east. Obviously, the streets ‘buckled’ during the winter. They have been repaired!


HO scale factory at night

HO scale sidings

HO scale forklift and carriages

New forklift at Grants, NM

HO scale steam train freight

HO scale store night time

Al’s General Store

HO scale street

Newly repaired and detailed streets through town.

That’s it for now, Al.

Keep them coming!


A huge thanks to Joe for his HO sawmill layout update!

Can’t wait to see the trains running on his layout. Superb stuff.

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.

model train answers

38 Responses to HO sawmill layout update -Joe’s

  1. james hunter says:

    reminds me of the past days where i flew a lot in business……………most of the travels were after dark…………your layout reminds me so much of the small lighted towns that were 22 thousand feet below my window…….so cool………

  2. James Malins says:

    Superb layout.

  3. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Wow, making ‘light work’ of lighting – looks great

  4. Colin edinburgh says:

    Street scenes look really good. The lighting is particularly effect in your dusk photo. I appreciate that in total dark the lights would pool as in your layout but fir me they are just too bright. Perhaps you could set up where dusk is full power and dark is a reduced voltage just to soften the light. You’ve done really well with the back drops. A very clever use of the actual scenes on them. Basically a distant sky. Works well in your setting. The buildings are well made, decorated and grouped .

  5. James Marek says:

    Excellent work and great pics!

  6. Rich B. says:

    I like this layout, shows that less is more scenery-wise. Plenty of detail, things are to scale without stray boulders in roadways or other (sloppy landscaping). A few other recent ones featured….they’re what nightmares are made of.

    Regards, Rich

  7. Robert F Brown says:

    One of the nicest looking layouts I’ve seen.

    The street repair reminds why this is such a great hobby. There’s always something to do or do better. The hobby touches so many skills sets and disciplines.

    I really like your street lights and traffic signals. I have looked at a bunch and have not found anything I wanted to buy. Can you post as to the brand and where you found these?

  8. Red says:

    I love the fact that your streets buckled in the winter just like real streets do!

  9. Erick says:

    Looks great keep up the good work.

  10. Al Allison says:

    Very nice layout and great details.

  11. jon slawik says:

    Well done.

  12. John Bullock says:

    Great detailing!

  13. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Joe……impressive……great detail and lighting. I like the fact that it is a western US setting without a lot of green foliage and trees. Nice job.

  14. Incredible work…
    Now I know the next skill that I need to learn, LIGHTING!
    Really amazing with the “night pictures”.

  15. Joe Graffi says:

    Reply to Colin Edinburgh: All the lighting is on “bus” terminal strips. The outside lighting is connected to the same bus as interior lighting (3 V.).It would take a lot of work considering the amount of re-wiring I would have to do but i have considered separating the outside lighting and putting a resistor in line.
    Then, there are the “sign lights” that are integral with the building lights. I would need to install resistors in the wiring inside the buildings.
    — Maybe next winter!

    Thanks for the comment

  16. Joe Graffi says:

    Reply to Rob’t Brown: All of the lighting is 3 v. I use 2 “AA” batteries in a holder wired to a SPST switch.
    All of this lighting is through eBay. The company is “We Honest”. I had my doubts at first so ordered a small pack of lights. So far, nearly 100 lights later, only 2 “duds”!
    During the Pandemic, I had to wait 6 months for the shipment. Glad I ordered in Sept.!

  17. KenG says:

    I really like your layout and particularly because of the sparseness of the tracks, and that is feels like it could be real.
    Too many layouts, in my opinion are just so full of trains and track that circle the “town” I can’t help but thinking, Who would want to live there?

    Nice jib!

  18. bobP - says:

    Paint your track.
    Shiny track screams “toy”.
    After the test of the effort, finish the job

  19. Nancy from Lilliwaup says:

    WONDERFUL!!! Don’t we enjoy a terrific hobby?? This is another source of inspiration! Thank you

  20. James Johnson says:

    Excellent work.. I’d best get cracking on cleaning my basement and see if I can put some of this inspiration you’ve generated into action. I’d love to create a layout as fine as yours.

  21. Frank says:

    Your layout really gives the impression of wide open spaces. It’s full of tracks and buildings and trees and other things, but it looks like a large layout which is very cool.

    Frank in Orlando

  22. Bill in Virginia says:

    Really nicely detailed layout! Like your s energy and lighting effects

  23. Jim Kennedy says:

    Love the lighting. For those like myself who are new to this construction, schematic and instructions (if possible) would be greatly appreciated. I am sure such things are out there somewhere but this is impressive.

  24. ken zufan says:

    now that guy can do lighting , hats off to you .

  25. Roy from Texas says:

    Joe your layout is a inspiration to try to build some scenery on my N gauge that I I have moved so many times I lost count. Italy. Germany and a few places in the states before settling down in Texas! 20 years in the Army. Had my layout taken apart to move it and the house burned down but Installation fell on the boxes and saved most of the rolling stock I had collected for 50 years. Cleaned it up and still got it going now. Building a 3 1/2 x12 and have been running trains for my grandson

  26. Jim T. says:

    A general Q: Why are all these manufacturing facilities always so clean?

  27. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Really appreciate those street scenes and the lighting effects. I’ve incorporated several of those buildings on my layout too. They really enhance the layout. Again, a nice bit of modeling. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  28. This is a beautiful layout. I like the sparseness as it is in many old New Mexican towns. Your little church though looks more like a Vegas wedding chapel than a viable parish. Being a New Mexican town named for Saint John, I would have made the church a Spanish-type mission. In most instances the church was there before the town sprung up. This could be “La Mision de San Juan en el Rio” (Not to be confused with San Juan Capistrano!) I like the frost raised street. So much like here in the Wisconsin reality.
    Thanks much!
    D.J.Radanovich, Milwaukee

  29. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice layout. i like the lighting.

  30. Brian Olson says:

    My previous layout had lighting just about everywhere including cars. Opted to go daylight only with my new one but if you have the patience it’s worth it as we see here.

  31. Norm says:

    If ever there is a candidate for enrollment into the Hall of Fame you’re the one. Great layout

  32. George Zaky says:

    Really great work. Very pleasing to look at and nicely planned. You did a great job on the lighting and I for one wouldnt change a thing. A layout is never finished so please keep us up to date.
    Much thanks for a nice submission.
    Big Al
    Cheers! Nice way to start the day. Merci

  33. Joe Graffi says:

    Thank you, Colin: The ‘too bright’ issue is one I am addressing. I have a similar issue with my ‘turnout’ indicators. I have added resistors to dim them some but I am considering a variable (volume style) resistor to dim the lights. That being said, I may just add a lessor voltage power wire to the other pole of a D.P.D.T. switch.
    Thanks for the observation!

  34. Joe Graffi says:

    Bob P; track IS painted. Only the tops of the rain are not for obvious reasons.

  35. Steve Ruple says:

    Very nice layout and scenery detail, great job.

  36. Ray says:

    Great detail, well designed lighting. 👍

  37. John V says:

    Very tastefully done and your lighting is terrific.

  38. william janmes palmer says:

    love the lights

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