John cracks on

“A few more pictures of “Terrapin Yard” at the current level of progress…

The hill is a partial view block to hide the “rabbit hole” where the train ducks out of the main scene into the “fiddle yard”/ It is a foam core board base that was covered first in blue painter’s tape and then “brown shopping bag” pieces soaked in 40% (more or less) PVA. That was then covered in sifted decomposed sand stone..

As to the “no excuses” theme… I can only work on this project for about 30 minutes per day.. Occasionally I get a full hour. Unfortunately the annoying process of attempting to earn a living so I can pay my bills cuts drastically into the time I have available for modeling.

I hope you enjoy my little updates…








Today I worked on the fiddle yard area and made mock-up structures for that area.

The board fence begins finishing the back of the yard area. It is one of several items I have been building with
coffee stirring sticks. They work out to about 2×12 boards in 1/4″ scale and a box runs about $3.00 here in the US.





If you would like to know more about my removable hills/mountains (such as where I got the idea (Model Trains Magazine, US, early 1950’s), why I use them on most of my layouts, or how I build them, please feel free to drop a line.

One reason that I love these small layouts (I seem to be building about one per year) is that they provide me with an opportunity to try new ideas and refine old ones. So far this project has two new things I am playing with: the first is that it is in On30, the second is that this is the first time I have used photographs to embellish the backscene.





I hope you enjoy these updates.



A fantastic series from John. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Please do keep ’em coming – just like the comments on the ebay cheat sheet – latest one is here

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



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

14 Responses to John cracks on

  1. Bob Wilson says:

    Hi Guys,
    What John is saying about old ideas is about right. Some times if you take a step back, you will see that there are some things were easier to do the old way , rather than over thinking of how to do it a more complicated new way.
    Great looking layout John, hope all goes well .
    Bob (Fatcat) Wilson.

  2. Ron Schultz says:

    moveable mountains or back drops , great idea
    and I have some areas on my RR that I can try some .

  3. sundaram says:

    Very innovative and cost effective. Keep up the good work John.

  4. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    Terrific job John, yup, can’t wait to see the next steps. Small can be so much bigger than big, and better too. Micro scale layouts are very popular.

  5. caw1 says:

    I look forward to seeing the complete layout some day. John, just keep working, your day in the sun, (retirement), is coming. Then you will be able to play to your hearts desire. Layout is looking good. Innovative way to make a mountain. I like it.

  6. Richard Joseph says:

    Hi: I love this site and all the updates. pictures, etc.. I am paralyzed and I thought that building a railroad would be a great hobby for me. I am thinking about N gauge to keep it small, so I can reach everything. I have also been thinking about building a layout that would be contained under a glass coffee table, about 3′ x4′ or so. I thought the top of the table could be hinged to allow for access and the controls could be mounted so that they fold under the table when not in use and would come up to at least table height (or higher) when in use. I would have about a foot of depth under the glass to work with for landscaping (a small “mountain” so I could have a tunnel for example) Ever seen anything like this?? Any good layout ideas.

  7. Cameron says:

    Great progress John. I really like way the composition is unfolding. Can’t wait to see more posts. Cheers, Cameron.

  8. Ian Mc Donald says:

    looks great like hearing the old way of making things.

  9. THOMAS says:


  10. Susan Cannon says:

    To the comment about building a table layout:
    I think that model railroading is a great hobby for ANYONE! I hope you dig in!
    If you are able to search Alastair’s site, there was a gentleman who did that very thing – build a small scale railroad in a glass-topped table. I forget if it was N scale or Z scale. But it was gorgeous. Another poster built one in a bar, if I remember correctly. Search the internet for “tabletop railroad” you will find plans for small scale areas. Good luck!!

  11. Mike Street says:

    Great little layout, scratch built track as well by the look of it. In reply to Susan, I remember that layout in a bar top, quite big, HO I think if it’s the same one.
    Mike S

  12. NJ Mark says:

    I never thought to use blue painters’ tape to construct a mountain. Great idea. Cheers! NJ Mark

  13. Robert Prouse says:

    Some wag once said, “Work is the curse of the drinking class”. I think one could also say, “Work is the curse of the model railroader!” Having dreamed about a model railroad for many years, it was only retirement that allowed me to proceed.

  14. dewaine says:

    hello its fun to look at the trains and layouts, i was wondering if it would be possible to have a thumbs up button for things on this site.

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