HO scale box car scratch build

John’s been in touch with his HO scale box car scratch build:

“Dear Mr. Lee…

I believe I sent you a set on building an On30 gondola from card. If I am mistaken, please let me know as I can send those also.

Here is the beginnings of the boxcar build. I have now built 8 cars from cardstock and I will soon be moving on to a locomotive (or two) and a caboose (brake van for those across the pond).

This is the beginning… A boxcar from a box…

This is the box and squaring up the salvaged material.

Also the beginnings of the frame.

Note, I double the cardboard for some applications, four times for the side sills, and up to eight for others.
I use American pennies I find on the ground for weight… 24 for most 18 fro other.

These are “Old School” models… What is not seen is not detailed either.


John from Cali”

ho scale box car

ho scale box car

ho scale box car

ho scale box car

ho scale box car

HO scale box car scratch build:

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

HO scale box car scratch build

“My name is Anton Bruce Sr, I’m 59, and I live in Burbank, California, USA. I have been a “train nut” since I was…about 13? I have had layouts in one form or another, but I had not had one in several decades – no room for it!!! Until about a year ago…

I NOW have a layout – just a 4′ x 8′ HO layout that my grandsons have been “helping” with. I figure that a simple 4×8 will give them a taste of the hobby, and let them know that yes – this whole “train thing” (to quote my wife) can be a whole lot of fun if we work on it together. They take pride in it, and of course they just like to see the trains run. My younger grandson (he’s 11) thinks it is “so cool”. All three of us decided on the track plan, and the scenery is mostly their ideas – and their work. I left the more “serious” work, such as electrical wiring, to myself. Gotta be safe, you know…

Granted, I and my grandsons are nowhere near the ability of some of your contributors, and the layout is nowhere near “finished”, but hey – we do our best and have a boatload of fun doing so. And when you’re doing this with the grandkids…isn’t THAT the whole idea?


4x8 HO layout

4x8 HO layout

4x8 HO layout

model train layout

model train layout




model train engine house

model train locomotive


“Hi Al.

I have sent you a few photos of Megan, my half size Savage Little Samson traction engine.

I have a friend over from the UK who is a steam enthusiast and fellow model engineer so as the sun was shining and it was very warm here in Brittany we decided to have a steam up. Very pleasant tootling around the country lanes. We only saw one car all afternoon.

I have nearly finished “Elsmia”, my second Little Samson which after tests will be for sale if anyone is interested.

Once finished then concentration on the 00 Layout. I insulated the loft space this morning to keep the place warmer over winter and cooler in the summer of course.


Roger in France”

steam traction engine

steam traction engine

A big thanks to Anton, Rog and to John for sharing his HO scale box car scratch build.

I loved Anton’s pics – purely because making a layout is fun – but making one with your your little smashers, what beats that?

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if Anton has inspired you, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

21 Responses to HO scale box car scratch build

  1. Richard Sommery-Gade says:

    Great work, leaves me in the dust.

  2. Mark Jarvis says:

    Anton, dont appologize, the watch word is FUN, hope your grandchildren continue to think its cool to enjoy a model railway.


  3. Martin Gliddon says:

    Tried that thingy with grandchild. Took him up to the loft where Baleria resides. After one minute of seeing a train go around, that’s about one lap, he shouts out, “make I go faster Grandad, make it crash”.

    End of visit,

    Next grandchild is one, so I have a little more time to wait for the next experiment. Now if there were Zombie or The Hulk it would have made a difference, he still would have wanted to see a crash though. Boredom in 5 minutes…

  4. Randy Hinke says:

    Tractor is way way cool. Did you make it fro scratch or a kit? Nice train set up.

  5. BullfrogEH, in Ontario says:

    If ‘crashes’ are what currently interests the grandie – then, perhaps he could become involed in helping you set up a scale ‘crash’ on the layout. He may just need some ownership of your ‘shared’ play-space. ‘Sharing’ may be the starter !
    – Dave in Ontario.

  6. Paul Vogel says:

    Hey John, Looks to me like you and your grandsons are doing some fine work together. With your grandsons at your side you can’t miss. Paul Ohio USA

  7. ChooChoo52 says:

    WOW! I think it’s fantastic. If you have some spare time I could use a few lessons and HELP!

  8. Martin Gliddon says:

    Thanks for the input Dave from Ontario, but honestly he has the attention span of about 2 mins. Now give him an iPad, and he will watch anything or okay games till the sun goes down.
    Sadly, I don’t think, no matter how many crashes or how much I would like him to be involved, he just finds other things more interesting. Maybe in a couple of years time. Who knows!

  9. Ian says:

    Well done Anton. Wish I could find the time to make a layout for my grandchildren.
    It’s great that yours were involved in the making of the layout.

  10. I love it , just the way I hope to get my grandson into the hobby if my son moves them into my mother-in-laws home with a big attic that we can fill with lots of
    track and scenery ! and I will introduce him to HO scale and keep the N scale
    stuff for my own play toys !

  11. Ken Stramel says:

    Great job, what a talent you have.

  12. James Maitland says:

    Love the traction steam. Always wanted one but my Dad decided not to purchase a Case in the late 40s. Bummer. The box car reminds me f some of our rolling stock at the B & O RR Museum. Wish I had room for permanent layout. Then of course I “Play” with 1:1 scale

  13. Don says:

    Some great looking stuff and love the originality of the boxcar and lokey!!

  14. Linda says:

    Anton, You have the right idea about just having fun especially with the grandsons. You’re building more than a train display, the bonding with the grandkids and building wonderful memories they will always remember is the most important thing. Keep up the great work.
    Linda, PA

  15. George says:

    Having fun is what its all about guys , it is always better to have the younger ones in on the fun ! Or some of the older friends to help is not so bad !
    it seems the younger ones are very talented now to .
    Keep up the great work guys , and thank you for all the info you have collected Al .
    be well and stay safe Sir !

  16. Mike RICHARDSON says:

    Anton, I think you and your grandsons did a super job on the layout. Ya’ll keep up the good work.

  17. great boxcar and a nice layout

  18. Susan Cannon says:

    Anton, your layout is awesome! It is wonderful that you are sharing the experience with your grandbabes. It will provide memories that will last their lifetimes. Be sure to take pics of them with you doing your thing so they’ll be able to look back in future years. I would suggest that you at least inform them of the electrical side of things so if they want to get into their own designs later, they’ll at least be familiar with what is involved.
    I’m going to presume that you ONLY have grandsons, and no granddaughters, or at least the gals have not expressed interest in being involved. To all granddads out there, be aware that some girls do like and would be happy to get into the “train thing” with grampa.

  19. Will in NM says:

    Anton, you did a beautiful job of getting a lot of railroad and interesting features into your 4×8 layout and doing it with your grandsons makes it all the better. You will need to get rid of that silly automobile in the garage so you can expand the train stuff. 🙂

    Roger, I love your steam tractor. You are obviously very talented at building things.

  20. Erick says:

    Looks great.!!! I hope mine turns out that good.

  21. Dave Karper says:

    Roger, please trade places with me!!! John, you are the ‘King of cardboard!!! Now, don’t forget Mr. Lee’s printouts when you build your railroad. Anton, if the grandsons want to build something for the railroad, Mr. Lee’s printouts are a good place to start. They can be built straight from the prints, and later can be detailed as their skills improve.

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