HO mining layout – John’s

John’s been in touch with the latest pics from his HO mining layout:

“Hi Alistair,

John from Baltimore, Maryland USA here.

I now have the left side of my layout started. As you may recall, this is going to be a coal hauling railroad set in the mountains of West Virginia, only my mountains are going to be more like the Rockies, that is more bare rock and steeper sides.

The left side also has a number of storage tracks that will be under the mountains and the coal mine, those are in and I can now run trains completely around the U shaped layout.

As I did with the bridges, I’m building the mine and associated other buildings, a electric utility switch yard and some smaller industries as modules in my wood shop to be carried in and placed on the layout, the rest of the scenery is to be constructed around them.

So the first of these modules for the left side of the “U”, the coal mine structures are completed, and will soon get a ton more details as they are placed on the layout.

One may notice that these are pretty banged up and not clean and shiny buildings. Coal mines are dirty. The roads around them are dirty, the vehicles around them are dirty. Yep, one might say mining and transporting coal is dirty.

The kits for the mine started with the Walthers Cornerstone coal mine, and their gravel mine, and several small kits. I chose those 2 main ones because they were both modeled with corrugated steel sides. I love kit-bashing and working buildings into a scene.

I added windows to the gravel kit, and moved the suggested layout of the buildings all over the place, and added a dump for coal brought to the mine by trucks. The trucks give me the chance to model some roads cut into the mountains.

The track diagram of left-and center sections of the “U” has green for the tracks that are under the mountains and hidden, and purple for above ground tracks which are visible, yellow are the bridges I sent in pictures of some time ago.

I’ll be sending in some pictures as the mines are installed and the left side starts to take shape.

John from Baltimore”

HO scale track plan

HO scale benchwork

HO scale railroad bridge

HO scale engine shed

HO mining layout

HO mining layout

HO mining layout

HO mining layout

HO mining layout

A huge thanks to John for sharing his HO mining layout. As You all know, I do love seeing a layout come to life from the bare bones of the bench.

Not long ago I put together my first ever backdrop. You can see that here.

Well, here’s the second (I pretty much put it together on the comments and mails from the first one).

I’m really pleased with it, but please do let me know what you all think, I’d really appreciate that.

Click to enlarge it:

model railroad backdrop

It’s 18″ by 144″.

Just like the other one, to print, just put the file download on to a CD or memory stick, take it to any office stationers (Kinko / Office Max) and print it out on a smooth, self adhesive, vinyl with UV inks and a matte finish. Job done.

If you’d like to grab this back drop before it goes in the store at full price, you can grab it here for just $7.

model railroad backdrop

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

26 Responses to HO mining layout – John’s

  1. Bob says:

    One of the best coal mining operations I’ve seen. Great layout!

  2. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Outstanding layout , great detail .
    Thanks for sharing

  3. Great work John. Unbelievable detail. So realistic makes you feel that your looking at a real coal mine. I guess that’s the point. Wonderful.

  4. James F Ervin says:

    Fantastic layout by John/Baltimore Al, Thanks to you. I’m well into
    my 80’s and building a HO layout in my Attic 16′ x 60′. Benchwork is 46″ high
    and roof rafters come into play at 58″ high. Leaving me about 12″ for wall scenes.
    On John’s 3rd scene (trestles w/ rock backdrops; gotta love that one. I intend to
    download the open-field scene available. Do you/will you have a similiar scene(s)
    of rock face mountain backdrop apprtx. 12″ hgt? Please walk me through the
    process of downloading to a memory stick for printing. Many thanks and g’day to

  5. Dan Hulitt says:

    John, great work for a “Balmore” guy, or anyone!! Too bad don’t live in Randallstown anymore, as I could then see it up close. I could almost hear the sounds of the mine.

    Al, as to your backdrop, very nice! I started sneezing as soon as I opened it up, ha ha.

    MN Dan

  6. John Reynolds says:

    Great issue ass usual. Coal mine truly amazing.
    Love the new backscene… Will probably be getting it as soon as my bank is happy with me again.
    John from Cali

  7. NJ Mark says:

    Great layout and the DETAILS!!! Thanks and cheers! NJ Mark

  8. Rube Simon says:

    Wonderful 2nd backdrop, Al!

  9. David Ryder says:

    Great layout! I live in Ellicott City and would enjoy seeing what you’ve accomplished. I’m getting ready to start a 4 x 8 and would really like to get some hints.

  10. Russ says:

    Excellent mine scene. Great job weathering! Coal mines and coal railroads are very dirty. Railroads in general are dirty.

  11. Gene Hildebrand says:

    Hey John, from Baltimore, MD,,,,,,This is Gene from Hagerstown, MD.
    Great Job. My wife is from West Virginia and I lived in Charleston, WV and Parkersburg, WV for several years and worked all the coal mines in the state.
    I really like your layout COMPLETELY and you are doing a very good job on it. I wouldn’t worry about the scale of the mountains. Most people really don’t know the size of those mountains. Take you time and make a very great layout when finished. I’m sure there are a lot of people, like me, that want to see it when it is finished. Good Luck. Gene

  12. Wm Althaus says:

    Great layout John. Looks like you’ve done research on mining operations. Really enjoy how you’ve done that area of your layout. Great bridges as well

  13. James Sulkosky says:

    Layout looks great.

  14. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    Outstanding! Great work.
    Mal (north wales)

  15. Garrick Roy Forbes says:

    So impressively good and detailed.

  16. SorenES says:

    Great mine layout! Very enjoyable weatering. That mining operation must give a massive output to keep the train service well occupied! The new backdrop is beautiful! No repetitiveness – I’d buy it, if my layout wasn’t set in very mountaneous surroundings. So I suggest a third backdrop depicting The European Alps/Rocky Mountains, e.g. 40-50″ high (you can cut excess off from the bottom). SorenES

  17. Terry Anderson says:

    Fantastic looking layout. So intimidating to this first time, late in life hobbyist. I live in Severna Park and would love to see this up close some day. I’m just starting a 5′ by 11′ layout in the basement.

  18. Greg Schaefer says:

    Hi John, I know that this idea is pretty late in the construction phase, but you have plenty of room for a “loads in, empties out” operation. Build a coal consumer on the side near the camera. You already have double tracks running through the mine. Put a power plant (or something) at the other end of those tracks and hide the tracks between them. Eastbound trains will push a string of empties into the mine, where they stay hidden on track 1. A Westbound train will pull those empties out of the power plant to be delivered back to the mine. An identical loaded train will be pushed into the power plant on hidden track 2. Another train will pull the loads out of the mine, to be delivered to the consumer. It makes for pretty real operation. (And your scenery is pretty real already.) Nice work!

  19. Joe Graffi says:

    Wow! John, that is really looking good! I had a similar track plan in mind when I thought I might have to forego setting up my 12’x8′ HO when we moved.
    My plan was smaller as it was designed to fit a 10′ x 10′ room (but that’s another story).
    We bought a house with a 25′ x 25′ shop so there was no need to start over. All I did was re-assemble the 4 modules and finish the landscaping.

  20. Bob From Towson says:

    Hey John!!, Fantastic work buddy!!

  21. Robert Brady says:

    Great job I especially love the trestle / mountain scene The coal drop looks so realistic.
    The Critic

  22. Brian Rockey says:

    Wonderful modelling of the coal mine buildings John.
    Best to all.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  23. john kirkpatrick says:

    Hello Bemore john You are an artist at the detailed sceenery. Love the entire layout. I’m from Baltimore also: Parkville

  24. Rob McCrain says:

    Great weathering on the mine buildings. This is a really nice layout, built with skill and planning. Rob McCrain – Farland Howe

  25. David Schaffner says:

    Wow! great job in weathering the train tracks and I have to add the mining operation looks so natural. Love the downward video shots of the mine.
    A realistic layout. Love it.

  26. Robert Hughes says:

    Great pics and layout. I am gathering information on a coal mining project for my layout. Being I already have two of the buildings you mentioned. Walthers Cornerstone New River MIne, and part of the Glacier Gravel kit, I would like to know some information on how you kitbashed them. Many thanks in advance.

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