HO Walthers industrial substation

John’s been in touch again – my word he’s been busy. This time he’s added a HO Walthers industrial substation.

And it looks fab too.

(His last post is here.)


My latest on the West Virginia Energy coal lines is attached.

The mine module sent in to you before is now almost done, there will be another smaller mine constructed and connected to the right of the one pictured here.

I added a power substation, it’s a HO Walthers industrial substation kit but with all the buss-bars attached, tedious work, no wonder they don’t include them.

I worked as a lineman for the power company just after high school, so kind of know where the connections should go. Also the stock kit is on a rectangle base which I cut to fit the space I had.

The wire on the big towers is bead-string, and the green wires (static lines and the power lines to the mine) are Berkshire Junction EZ Line. The chain-link fence is lace ribbon from a fabric store, and the posts for the fence are bent copper wire.

Like most West Virginia back woods lines there is an abandoned siding someplace, even the switch to get onto it has been removed.

On this siding sits the first locomotive the W/V Energy people acquired from New York Central, a majestic Hudson, now rusting back to nature and glistening in the morning dew.

The back-head of the boiler warped when the mine owners kid wanted to be a “locomotive fireman” and fell asleep while the train was running another loaded coal train to the Chessie interchange, letting the water in the boiler get too low. The engineer dumped the fire to the roadbed, setting 3 cars of the following train alight but avoiding the disaster of the boiler exploding.

The entire episode embarrassed everyone, and killed the engine. They dragged it to the unused siding, and didn’t even empty the tender! No one dares to suggest the thing be cut up for scrap. The owners son, seldom out of his underwear, is now selling internet advertising to on-line war game concerns from his condo in Elkins WV.

Also notice the newly painted water tower for the town of Craig. The high school industrial arts class painted it, and it received a full page article in the Craig weekly paper, “The Coal Dust Current.” The art work did, however, not interfere with the town getting revenue from the Cell Tower attached to and removing the sanctity of the arguably artistic tank painting.

I added a few pictures of overviews of the layout, some have been seen before, some new. Of note is the lighting I’ve added. One picture is of the whole room, another of the lights over the bridges. I get the string LED lights designed for car/van lighting, they run on 12 volts and have sticky backs and are available as little squares or ovals.The light is white, but can be compensated for with the colors used on the layout. One challenge these strip lights conquered is thew shadow the bridges cast on the back-drop when taking pictures of them. The lights positioned directly over the back-drop fixed that problem.

My next work will be to fill in on the right side of the mine, and then the tedious wiring starts in earnest (sigh) slow work. One part of modeling that I like is seeing what has been done at the end of the day, wiring kinda looks like it did when ya started.

Regards, and keep up the great work you do!

John from Baltimore”

model railroad wooden bridge

model railroad wooden bridge

model railroad wooden bridge lighting

HO Walthers industrial substation

model railroad mine

model railroad mine

HO Walthers industrial substation

HO Walthers industrial substation

model railroad train room

model railroad water tower

A huge thanks to John – absolutely stunning stuff.

Love the theme and the back story he’s put together, it really does help to bring a layout to life.

That’s all for today folks, please do keep ’em coming

And why not make today the day you take the plunge with the Beginner’s Guide? Why should everybody else have all the fun? It’s all about making that start…



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet here.

35 Responses to HO Walthers industrial substation

  1. Ron Kehl says:

    Nice job!!!

  2. Cary B says:

    Beautiful layout John, the power station detail is outstanding. Great looking layout especially those bridges
    Cary from New Market MD

  3. Dick says:

    I am 80 years young and just getting started in HO. Been collecting track, trains, and buildings for over 50 years. If my layout is half as good as Johns I’ll be a happy guy..

  4. Eric says:

    Definitely an eye for detail there John, looks excellent, well done.
    Eric Leeds (UK)

  5. Scott says:

    Beautiful work thanks for the story and the pictures

  6. Bill Holt says:


  7. Benjamin Wright says:

    Looks great! I like how you put a rusty out-of-service steam loco next to the power station!

  8. Jonathan Scott says:

    John, this is such great stuff. My dad was born in Wilcoe, WV in 1912. My grandfather had to general stores. One in Wilcoe and one in Welch, the County seat of McDowell County. Those were thriving times with the timber oil and gas adding to the coal mines to create an amazing economic environment in the 1920s and 30s. An amazingly hard-working group of people combined with the trains to keep the economy going. Pops two general stores Had loaded pistols hanging up every 12 feet behind the counters! The stores were open 24 seven 365 days a year to service the coal mine workers. These were back in the Hatfield McCoy days. My dad saw the last Hatfield McCoy killing when Sheriff Sid Hatfield was shot in the court room Steps of the court house in Welch. Many people think this is folklore. This is true. These were rough times in a rough place with wonderful hard-working people. John you’re absolutely Captured the essence what is now a shadow of its former self. WELL DONE. Jonathan

  9. Rolf Gehlhaar says:

    Fantastic modelling! How many life – times? Thank you for the pleasure, Rolf.

  10. Hi,
    I think you do great work and I enjoy your pictures

  11. One word, Impressive.

  12. Rube Simon says:

    So lifelike – incredible!

  13. The power station is amazing, as are the bridges! Beautiful photos of it all! John

  14. Rob McCrain says:

    The power station is a unique and very well modeled area. Great modeling.

  15. Dave Meachum says:

    What an outstanding layout, I use to live in Pennsylvania near the hard coal fields, and remember all those things, great job. Dave

  16. Bob Bonnett says:

    WOW!!!!! What more can a guy from Towson say??? Hey John , what did you use around the outer edge of your layout?? It looks loke plexiglass but you got it to curve somehow……I would love to know….TCA# 02-55263

  17. Warren Ferguson says:

    Wonderful work and a great commentary! Thank you for sharing.
    Warren, AL, USA

  18. John Frye says:

    TCA – the plastic around the edges are little hand guards, and for locomotive derailment floor dives. It’s 3/16″ and is heated where the bend needs to happen with a heat gun, then formed to the bend. Only takes a minute to harden again. The trick is to not burn/bubble the plastic, but a little practice and it works well.


  19. Jim MacLean says:

    WOW!!!!!! What a fantastic layout John. Incredible detail & wonderful pictures. Jim from CB.

  20. Christine says:

    A lot of work went into that layout. It’s wonderful.

  21. Chris Warr says:

    Awesome job, Well done!!

  22. John Brutcher says:

    Good story about the Hudson John

  23. Jim Kellogg says:

    WOW just WOW

  24. Richard Fath says:

    Great job on the power sub station. Do not see that modeled to often on layouts, but I want to put one on my layout. I downloaded your sub station photos for reference, since now a days if you are seen photographing a sub station yard you are liable to get arrested or questioned as a terrorist.

  25. Joe Nap says:

    Terrific looking layout.
    One of the nicest I’ve seen.
    Great rusting on bridge structure, etc..

  26. John says:

    Your last comment about the wiring is so spot on! Wonderful creatively conceived artfully executed layout.


  27. Stephen Fetzer says:

    Nice touch throwing the cell tower in the mix. forward thinking. Maybe a Capitol Charleston layout next? SF

  28. Linda says:

    WOW. Awesome job. Love the details, especially the owner station, mountains and the bridges. Keep up the great work.

  29. Roger Ringnalda says:

    Great layout John andf I love your power station addition. I have a question, how did you add what appears to be a continuous “plexiglass” or acrylic protective shield around your layout as seen in picture #9? It looks like it is one piece that is bent at the corners to fit the layout. Can you tell me how that was done, I would like to do something like that without doing seperate pieces for each side. Thank you, Roger Ringnalda

  30. Don says:

    Very impressive! Great job! I’m wondering how long it took you to get to this point? Do you have room for expansion?

  31. Love the backstory and the great detail. Well done, John!!!

  32. What a wonderful job on your layout and I love the scenery backdrops I noticed at a lot of your track joints you didn’t put ties I was just curious why? And I do love the power station as well the blue thread is awesome for the power wires I did black thread on mine ho one years ago but I wish I could have brought the layout with me but it didn’t happen I had to be rushed out of my house because of the bank.

  33. Art in New Jersey says:

    Absolutely beautiful detail. Great job.

  34. Robert Brady says:

    Love the layout ,love the realism.
    The Critic

  35. George Zaky says:

    Your skills never cease to amaze. So appreciate the time and effort for the story and the pics.
    Big Al
    John said thanks for the great work and we agree. Your great work to show us great work.
    It dont get bettern that.

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