HO scale foam board bench work

John’s been back in touch. This time he tells more about his HO scale foam board bench work.

His previous post is here if you want to catch up.

“Hi Al,

John from Baltimore here.

On the last post you so kindly put up of my coal mine and lighting improvements, several people commenting expressed an interest in how the layout started and grew, and what the final track plan is.

The layout is now 2/3 of the way done from a scenery point of view, some fill in mountains right and left of the mine, and backdrop painting. I went back through pictures and put together sort of a timeline photo montage.

The first picture was the inspiration for my layout, the real Keddie Wye at the north end of the Feather River Canyon in the Sierra Mountains of California, my railroad transported the scenery to the East Coast of the U.S.A. in West Virginia. As mentioned at the beginning, I determined that most of the highly detailed work would be done in my wood shop, which is outside in a garage.

This meant that the modules could not be wider than the doorway to the basement of the house. Designing the modules and working out a track plan left me with a decision that 2 of the modules had to be built inside at the layout location, as they were too big a footprint and I had a storage island we wanted to keep which is under the mine mountain where I have storage tracks. So the storage tracks below the mine mountains, and the city module were built in place.

We never used the sink on the island (no idea why it was there) but wanted to keep the storage cabinets under the island provide. The mine and train storage tracks were built above the island, and the isle behind the layout is access to bulk food storage, also, the compromise with the wife for that access that gave me access to the storage tracks! A win-win.

Since most of the detail work in the city was done on the buildings, it still could be done outside and the buildings placed on the module inside, as an example the 3-stall roundhouse has kit-bashed building additions, air conditioning, water tower, added piping and a radio antenna on the roof, and were built in the wood shop. There’s no scenery on the storage tracks.

On the schematic, pink is the first bridge module, blue is the next town module, purple the storage tracks and finally green for the mine module.

Building the bench-work for the city module in place also gave me plenty of space for my modeling junk underneath, I use boxes and plastic bins. So far the only trains I’ve run are for testing the tracks for continuity and clearance for 85’ passenger cars. Wiring of the switches, signals and blocks to come soon as I can get to them. I tried not to repeat photos I’ve sent in earlier, but maybe a few crept in here.

John From Baltimore”

Keddie wye bridge

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

bridge module

bridge module

sample model train

backdrop art model train

HO scale bridge

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

HO scale foam board bench work

model railroad

model railroad

model train mine

model railroad mine

model railroad mine

model rairoad mine

A huge thanks to John for sharing his HO scale foam board bench work.

It’s been wonderful to see all his updates, and this recap really does show just how much busy he’s been. Amazing stuff, and I can’t wait for the next update.

Now on to Dangerous Dave who has been back in touch.

He sent this in:

“Hi Al, bit of a poor day here today so decided it was time to run a few trains and give the garden a rest.



That’s all for today folks. Please do keep ’em coming.

And if it’s time for you to start laying tracks again, don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

51 Responses to HO scale foam board bench work

  1. Alan Batcheldor says:

    Seriously impressive. Puts me to shame. I must get on with mine and avoid distractions.

  2. Robert says:

    I think he John done a great job it has obviously taken a lot of time and effort to achieve such a layout

  3. NJ Mark says:

    Fantastic! There are no other superlatives, just FANTASTIC! Cheers! NJ Mark

  4. I’m thinking of starting an HO layout for the first time. This layout of John’s is unbelievable. I only wish I had the space and knowledge to build something like John’s, maybe someday. Great job John hope we can see it when its all done.

  5. Eric says:

    I can only echo NJ Marks comment, superb workmanship,
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  6. Cary B says:

    Beautiful job John, the quantity and quality of the structures alone are to be admired and the scenery is quite awesome
    Cary New Market MD

  7. Don Poitras says:

    You have a great talent.You strike me ,as “A MAN WITH NO FEAR”Awesome work,Don P.

  8. dr. al says:

    beautiful John, great skill. keep us in the loop with future posts.

  9. Ron McCauley says:

    I am planning my next empire, which will be in a similar 400 square foot space. Would you please send me a copy of his track plan? I would really appreciate it. Thank you…..Ron

  10. george zaky says:


    awesome, creative and artistic talent supreme. Thanx for sharing all the pics and narrative for us. Hope you get some “machinery” running on that layout and you must send some videos.
    George from NY

  11. DJ from NJ says:

    WOW! Artistry and near perfection in model railroading, brought to us by talented John.

  12. LOVE all the bridges,,,that’s talent. Really nice layout! Farmer AL

  13. dan hulitt says:

    Well, John from” Balmore”, truly a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and engineering, worthy of printed documentation. Wished I still lived in Balt. County so I could see this!

    Keep us posted. I have an old B&W (16*20) photo of the B & O station with Camden Yards in the background if you need some photo decor.

    MN Dan

  14. Jim Johnson says:

    Nice job John. A very inspirational setup. I have 35 feet across the back of my basement just begging for a layout. Having seen what a fine job you’ve done, I may have to get off my duff and start construction.

  15. Jim says:

    An impressive layout for sure. You’ve captured some unique and interesting scenes here. It should be fun to run trains when you’re done.

    Jim AZ

  16. john Schaeffer says:

    That’s nice work ! Very Good !

  17. Bob Virnig says:

    Awesome! Wish I had the room to make a bigger layout your size.

  18. Norman Rosen says:

    Bridges are fantastic! Well done.

  19. Joe Gennari says:

    FANTASTIC!!! Just Amazing! What talent and skill!!! WOW

  20. Jim Turner says:

    John, my wife’s Wow attests your success on this one! We have taken that Feather River drive to Lake Almanor- one of America’s spectacular scenic routes-and you have got us both wanting to go back. Your replicas of the old WPA trestles and bridges in the Sierras are perfect. Jim. SoCal

  21. Robert Brady says:

    Patience is a necessity which you obviously have quite a bit.Don’t forget to show us a finished product. first photo on post looks absolutely life like.Great work.

  22. Wow This is amazing thanks for sharing with us I’m going to share it to my new Facebook group TRAINS ACROSS THE WORLD my gold behind the group is to bring everyone together in this world to share the love of this hobby in one place from railfanning, how to videos, layout updates, photos and anything about train’s

  23. Hemi says:

    WOW!!!! The bridge-work looks AWESOME!!!! NICE job man! Keep up tyhe great work on what looks to be one GREAT layout!!!!!

    Surprised your not modeling the B&O being from Baltimore!!!!


  24. Very impressive. Heaps of good ideas.

  25. Jim MacLean says:

    Unbelievably awe inspiring layout John. Those trestles are really something! Jim from CB.

  26. Wm althaus says:

    Excellent work! The bridges are fantastic. Well done. Bill in Virginia

  27. peter a pearson says:

    I have my table done its not as big as yours but you have given me a lot of hints with your layout thank you peter

  28. Mark T Pianka says:

    out standing layout!!!!

  29. Earnie Smalley says:

    Great work. I love those trestles. An awesome layout. Great inspiration

  30. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Wow, very nice.

  31. James Malins says:

    Just Great

  32. Richard Dono says:

    Wow .Makes Me want to get back on my Lay out. Thanks Richie Richmond Hill N.Y.

  33. Peter Briggs says:

    John and Dave are in the top echelon of railroaders how wonderful that today we can view their works and layouts courtesy of Alister efforts and time. Dave, saw your little WBC bee hives – bloody great mate!!! Attention to detail is breathtaking.
    Thank you guys, i am sure i speak for many when i say how satisfying it is to view your layouts

  34. James Marek says:


    Excellent, awesome, fantastic, outstanding…what more can I say?

  35. Steve says:

    Oh my !

  36. Roger says:

    Planning and execution are awesome
    Bridges are fantastic
    Great modeling
    Seeing the track schematic would be fun

  37. David T Chrest says:

    I too would love to have a copy of his track plans. I won’t use exactly as he did but I am working on drawing up my layout and I saw a few things in there that really made take a look and think I might like to add. It is fantastic. Thank you.

  38. Fred Gevalt says:


    Fred Gevalt

  39. Mark T. Pianka says:

    John Outstanding job!!! That is NICE! what else can anyone say Well done!! Like the HO Lionel PRR Passenger car on the rails.

  40. Ron Schultz Marion Oh USA says:

    Nice layout and as for seeing Dave’s it always a pleasure . the rain ran him inside from the garden I awake this morning to the rain falling from the kitchen ceiling .. Now to find the hole in the roof > My trains will have to wait awhile..

  41. Vinnie From Staten Island says:

    Absolutely superb craftsmanship. It’s good to see his underpinning design.

  42. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!! I wish i had the space to that idea.

  43. Ken G says:

    Very nice layout, and so much detail.
    I’ve driven by Keddie Wye near Quincy, CA and it is a sight to see. And, more than likely I’ve been over it. Back in the mid-60s when I was a kid we took the California Zephyr Feather River route from California to Chicago, so more than likely we went over it back then.
    Also, if you ever get out there, in Portola, CA (also along the Feather River) there is the excellent Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

  44. Marklin ed says:

    Great bridges, just wonderful layout. Can’t wait too see more.
    Marklin ed Cairo N Y USA

  45. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    Astounding work! Wow!! It is inspiring. I am speaking of both John and Dave’s layouts.
    I always enjoy Dave’s layout as everything is so believably realistic. As many times Dave has uprooted parts of his layout and rebuilt, it is always so good, his trackwork is so good too.
    And John’s layout….wow. We are blessed to see what everyone has to share because of Al’s work as well.
    Dick from Hardin Mt USA

  46. Rod Mackay says:

    Keddie is just awesome.
    And Dave, what can i say? “Are you aware you’ve passed a signal at danger driver?” might be a start!
    I do fondly remember the Deltics, even just moving in and out of the loco yard at Kings Cross the noise was amazing, it seemed to go into you through your feet and your lungs, not just the ears.

  47. Bill in Virginia says:

    Beautiful work from both John and Dave! I definitely enjoy see the results these two have from putting their labor of love together . Well done both of you 😃

  48. Bill A says:

    Still shaking my head in amazed wonder, John. You are a true inspiration.

  49. Graeme Waters says:

    It doesn’t matter how bad my day gets…it is always improved when I see one of Dave’s videos. I, too really enjoy his layout. Mine is on the way and one day, when its in some kind of reasonable state I will share photo or two. Not surprisingly, it is very heavily influenced by Dave’s masterpiece.

    best wishes, Graeme (Bendigo, Victoria, Australia)

  50. Thank you Al and members re my short video , just got my computer back after some repairs so was unable to comment using my Phone …Dangerous Dave

  51. ScenicsRme says:

    John the trestles are outstanding and I love how you have utilized curved turnouts. Curved turnouts are definitely under utilized, yet they are so practical and useful.

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