10×14 HO scale layout – John’s

John’s been in touch with his 10×14 HO scale:

“Hi Al,

I was made aware of your site from Hall of Fame member Bill, and have enjoyed all the updates!

I thought I ought to give back, and share some updates as well.

I am currently building a 10×14 HO scale layout set in Richmond, Virginia in the late 1950s.

I focus on freight operations, with a medium sized yard in which all trains originate and/or terminate. I’ve also got a focus on realism, from the track and structures to the backdrop and scenery.

The layout started as a small shelf designed for switching, and my own experimentation with various modeling techniques, built on 18” bi-fold closet doors.

One 18” panel serves as a shelf for the layout; folded and fixed to 90 degrees, the other panel serves as the backdrop.

When I decided to expand, I designed the yard and incorporated my previous switching layout as a local destination serviced by trains from the yard. I’ve used multiple bi fold doors similarly as the layout has expanded. These are all simply anchored to the wall using fairly heavy brackets.

If you think your viewers would be interested, please do share with them. The short video linked below shows the progression of the layout from the original shelf, through the expansion into much of the rest of the room.

This shot shows the bi-fold door forming the original shelf and backdrop, with 1” insulation foam installed on the base.

10x14 HO scale

After a year or so, I’d been running trains, ballasting track, and had been building a few structures. Others still mocked up.

10x14 HO scale

These next two shots show a small embankment I made on the end of the shelf nearest staging.

10x14 HO scale

10x14 HO scale

This is a scene showing my scrap yard, kit bashed loading dock and crane and scratchbuilt scrap pile.

10x14 HO scale

These next two shots show the shelf as it looked when I decided to expand the layout, and re-locate the original shelf to some new benchwork.

These shots show the new home for the original shelf, on some open grid benchwork with room behind for staging.

10x14 HO scale

Rock face is in and some landforms are ready for trees.

10x14 HO scale

The beginnings of the scenic forms here tying into the original layout and hiding the entrance to staging through the backdrop.

10x14 HO scale

The onus of the expansion was the yard. I laid track pieces and templates on the floor in the space and designed the layout around this yard. During construction, it became obvious I needed a bit wider of a shelf for the yard and while I was at it, I went from 5 to 7 classification tracks. By this point, I’d also repainted the sky a lighter shade of blue.

10x14 HO scale

A huge thanks to John for sharing his 10×14 HO scale. It’s wonderful seeing a layout being built from the ground up, from pretty much three shelves.

If it’s shelf layout you are after, there are lots on the blog, here are a few more:

HO scale shelf layout ideas

HO shelf layouts

HO shelf layout

HOn3 Shelf model railroad

HO scale track plans for shelf layouts

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here, if you want to stop dreaming, and start doing.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

46 Responses to 10×14 HO scale layout – John’s

  1. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Superb item on progression as model railway takes hold.

  2. Peter Waring says:

    Great narrative Bob, I love the way the railway took over the room as it grew from small beginnings. Look forward to seeing more of your railway in the future. Thanks, Pete.

  3. John Frye says:

    I hope to see some of my Alma-matte, the RF&P, the first railroad I worked for, and Acca Yard stuff in your Richmond layout. Good job and good narrative. looking forward to the next update.

    John from Baltimore

  4. Greg Frary says:

    Wow! One of the best videos yet! Love the sequence video. Please do updates as they happen. Thank you

  5. Karl Gruca says:

    great setup, nice and neet too, i’m working on redoing mine, and will sends some pics on progress. i have a query,what is an easy way to remove insulation from led lights, charlie.

  6. Robert Brady says:

    The beginning of something BIG! Gallon of elmers 10 gallons paint. Holly samolly Alright. Carry on Robert….
    The Critic

  7. That is fantastic!
    The original Bi-Fold door — And then incorporating that into an ever growing layout. It reminds me somewhat of the “Cat Mountain and Santa Fe with its “dominos” construction. The Idea of a large layout built as a collection of smaller modules.

  8. Mike Balog says:

    Hi Bob:
    Great Layout, Construction Narrative Step By Step… Question, with many people using that Pink or Blue Insulation Board for a Layout Base. What is the Noise Level associated with using it when running your trains on track mounted on top of the foam insulation boards? Also how about just making a frame with cross piece runners in the middle and then putting the foam insulation board on top,,, wouldn’t that lower the overall weight of the finished layout?
    From Mike in N.H. U.S.A..

  9. Henry Alexander says:

    Very nice. I always enjoy the “before and after” pictures such as the small embankment in pictures 3 and 4. In several other pictures I noticed that you have precision 1 x 2 x3 blocks stacked in a corner of the table or placed on lengths of track in the yard under construction. Does this mean that perhaps in another life you are a machinist or Tool and Die Maker?

  10. Wes Eakin says:

    So what happened to the contents of the orange and blue box beneath the first section of layout in the second picture?
    GREAT slide show!

  11. gordon valentine says:

    Bob, yuor use of byfold is a great idea.

  12. Ruben Simon says:

    I live in the woods so trees are special to me. I have never seen more “real-looking” trees than those in the 4th photo. Spectacular. Please tell us how you made that little section, trees, shrubs & grass. Thanks!

  13. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Great space, great plan and some great modeling skills. Have fun and hope to see more. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Rich Wentzel says:

    Very nice video showing the progression. My only criticism is the blue sky is too homogenous. Use some lighter blue in areas, maybe a cloud or two with some grey mixed in and if you want to get some relief from the flat appearance use cotton balls or tear pieces from cotton batting and glue it on for clouds. The cotton can be left white or ‘weather’ in greys.


    WOW! Spectacular!

  16. CARL ANGDAHL says:

    Beautiful work. I could almost smell the grass and trees they look so real. Really enjoyed the progression video. Wish I had done that for my layout. Hope to see more.

  17. Roger Ringnalda says:

    Fantastic layout and development on your expansion John. I loved your written narrative and video, including the music. I see many ideas here that I would like to use, but I am not the artist you must be (painting your backdrop) and I have never seen anyone come up with better and more realistic grasses and trees than yours. You must have many talents that become apparent in your video. I HOPE to SEE MORE Soon!

  18. Gerry Keffer says:


    This by far the BEST presentation I have seen on this site. It actually makes me want to get started on a layout again and I’m 71 years young.

  19. George Moffatt says:

    Great layout, great presentation. Two questions: How did you make those trees, and how do you keep things so neat?

  20. Joseph R Zacharko says:

    Just awesome Al! Just awesome!!
    I really enjoy watching everyone’s layout here grow into beautiful spectacular model railroad scenes.
    Even if my model railroad is half as nice as yours, it still will be spectacular!

  21. Bill in Virginia says:

    Great layout John! Really enjoyed your narrative and as always enjoy the thought and detail you put into your layout.

  22. Bob Yarger says:

    I’m not a model railroader, but as someone that spent 30 years working in railyards, your model work is quite convincing. Not toylike at all.

  23. Jon Hafstrom says:

    John, What brand of HO track do you use? -Jon

  24. Charles Eyster says:

    This was absolutely the best ever video / photo array ever seen by me on this blog. You go far beyond all of the rest in completely showing A to Z, nuts and bolts, start to finish (if that’s even possible for model railroaders?). Seriously, I started out by seeing your scale modeled, then a progression of photos with what you have done. Then, to cap it off, this stupendous video. I tuned the music out, to fully concentrate on the details in the photos. Absolutely the best, well so I thought…… then you top this off with a series of Youtibe videos.
    You may be one the final straw to break up my marriage! Now, I’m going to binge watch the videos tonight! Thank you ever so much! You have a great display and an exceptional presentation of it. It’s much greater appreciation when you see the stage by stage development of it. Thank you for making my day!

  25. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Great presentation…….. great ideas for the layout………looking forward to seeing more…….

  26. louie says:

    2 x 4 x 6 blocks are also very handy.

  27. Léo Noury says:

    I am out of breath, it is abostutely amazing from begenning to the end.
    What talent you have to built and teach. .

    I have been a technical instructor in Northern Virgina in 1972/1974 for a major copier company. Loved all the time, I lived there.

    Where is that Lionel box on the floor, I may be interested?..

    Again great worr, really impress.

    Montreal, Québec, Ca.

  28. Joe S. says:

    When I read you were modeling in the 50’s and Richmond yard my heart took a leap! My Grandfather retired from more than 30 years with the Southern Railroad, retiring as the General Forman of the Richmond Maintenace Yard. I hope to see some SR cars and engines as you continue your buildout. Excellent work; love the details and explanation and look forward to more.
    I am just starting my layout in O scale, which takes up way more room than I imagined and will be a lot simpler than yours, as I am building for a 6 year old to play with it.

  29. John Arthur says:

    Thank you all for the comments and encouragement!
    Couple questions about my layout connections came up and I’ll do my best to answer here. I’ve represented Hermitage yard with connections to Acca and points North, and via the SAL to the South in staging. I run a turn between the Southern Railway at Belle Isle Yard and the C&O at Fulton Yard, each with foreign power, originating at those yards in staging, exchanging cars in my yard, and then returning to staging.
    The trees were made from Scenic Express Super Trees.
    The Lionel Box seen stowed under the layout has been mine since I was a child, it is a Southern 2-8-2 Mikado I run at Christmas with my sons.
    I find the foam board to be adequate at noise dampening, though all my locomotives are sound equipped so it may just be that I am not hearing it anyway.
    I agree with the comment about the sky, and first went a lighter blue but have since begun installing a photo backdrop. the Blue was a placeholder just as the brown paint on the ground is until I get to scenicing that section.
    I use the 1-2-3 blocks as I saw another modeler using them on Youtube, they are heavy and square, very useful as weights and guides for structure building etc. I am not a machinist!
    Most of the turnouts are Micro Engineering Code 83, and the track is Atlas Code 83 superflex.
    I hope I answered all the questions – will post an update soon!

  30. Will in NM says:


    That is the best layout progression video and photos I’ve ever seen. Your friend Bill also does a great job of showing his methodology and results. Using the bifold doors was really clever. I’ve got several sets of bifolds but they’re louvered so not useful for layouts.

    I wondered too about the noise from laying the track directly on the foam board. I just set up my test layout using Atals Tru-track that is pinned to the foam board and it seems quite noisy, although some of that may be due to the True Track’s plastic roadbed. You are oviously very organized and have all the right tools for your layout construction. I think I’ve only seen one other layout room as neat and tidy as yours. Keep us posted with your progress.

  31. Thomas Everest says:

    The picture of the crane loading scrap is the reason for this comment. In the past others have had a similar scene. I am retired from a multiple location in multiple state scrap corporation. As an idea for two different types of scrap loads. We had a baler that baled sheet type into bales approximately 2′ x 2′ x 2′ (1′ = .61 meter). The baler sat outside of building housing all of the pumps & motors to operate. Small control booth on roof for the operator. Crane in rear loading scrap in hopper. Crane in front loading bales into RR gondola cars, or swing around to load into semi-trailers. At the other end of the yard I worked at, we had a shredder. Again the shredder itself sat outside a large building. Big conveyor had all kinds of junk cars, washers, dryers going into shredder. The building was full of conveyers that seemed to run every which way. Around the other 3 sides of the building had conveyers sticking out piling up the separated metals. Pile of steel & iron, aluminum, copper, etc. Also one pile of what we called “fluff”. Fluff is what’s left over from anything that isn’t metal. To imitate a load of shreds, would look like a load of granulated coal, except painted with various metallic paint colors, instead of black. If you are curious enough, you can use Google Earth to view a satellite view of 3101 Maumee Ave, Fort Wayne IN, USA; to view the part I worked at. Just for fun, I worked in the building the RR tracks run into from the baler. Tracks had pit inside building so our mechanics could work and maintain our switch engine.

    Alastair, I too look forward to your website everyday and was able to find a way to keep it up and going.

  32. Alabama Mike says:

    Wow, great layout.

  33. Glenn Lapkin says:

    Just terrific, glad to see and follow the great progress in your layout. Keep up the good work and stay in-touch.
    All the best

  34. Alabama Mike says:

    Great layout. Plenty of new ideas for me. The pictures and video were great. I really enjoyed seeing this very much.
    Thanks for sharing

  35. Cary B says:

    Hello John,
    The layout is awesome, your detail work is great. Like the evolution of your layout from bi-fold door switching to railroad empire. I’m going on YouTube to sub your channel
    Cary B from New Market AKA cbgadget

  36. Terry Miller says:

    Re: staging area behind the backdrop. Is it accessible by the operator or do you have a camera that’s aimed at that area to see where the cars and engines are? How do you handle a derailment in that area?

    Terry/Idaho USA

  37. Stephen Graham says:

    Very nice video and appreciate you sharing your progress and steps of the build. I think it may have inspired me to get back to doing one myself.

  38. Louis Caputo says:

    A true craftsman at work! John is obviously meticulous and focused, BUT without losing sight of the big picture — layout assembled in sections and yet all is integrated into a beautiful flowing scene. John has more than the required patience and deserves our utmost support in presenting his work to all of us.

  39. Charles J Eyster says:

    Super layout and the step by step really has opened my eyes to some fantastic ideas to try. I love the watch parts scrap heap and love the suggestion of another reply to build a baler nearby. Super forum to learn and share. Thank you all!

  40. Charles Garvin says:

    Must be a machinist as I recognize the 1-2-3 blocks Very well done.

  41. THOMAS says:

    Does anyone actually run trains or do they just keep making miniature movie sets?
    I feel like I am just wasting time here … I run my trains and don’t put a bunch of effort into much else !

  42. John Bullock says:

    John… simply fantastic… love the evolution. The slide show helps put things into perspective for many of us. Step by step!

  43. george zaky says:

    Those young-uns dont know yet how lucky they are until they’re 50 and will always fondly remember your input.
    Miles of track and the vibes are immeasurable. Cudos to you. Your work is astounding.
    I hope you keep sending updates.
    Big Al
    Another mind blowing display of talent. You’re a magnet! Thank God!

  44. george zaky says:

    You brought up a major topic here. People are like ice cream-they come in all flavors where most are great, some plain, and few yukky. Perhaps you may be in the plain category but you’re still ice cream. This blog shows them all and every one of them is delicious ice cream. So just admire the talent, artistry, brilliance, and very hard work and totally enjoy running your beauties with whatever memories and be happy.
    Beer sometimes enhances-
    “Of course I crash them! Why else would a grown man play with Trains!”.. Gomez Addams. 😂

  45. robert dale tiemann says:

    lots of track, wow. looks really good.

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