HO scale coal cars

John’s been in touch again – this time with his HO scale coal cars.

(His last post is here.)

“Hi Alastair,

The HO scale coal cars and coal mine module is 99% complete, and the only work left is construction of the mountains joining this module. Due to the leaning over to reach required, I didn’t finish the mountains adjacent this module, too much trouble planting the trees and other landscaping.

I added a track-eye view at the suggestion of someone commenting on an earlier post. By the way, thanks to all the folks who commented with their kind words and great suggestions that my emails have gotten, they mean a lot to me.

The pictures are of an early morning at the mine, a bulldozed has blown a hydraulic line and the crew is busy getting it ready for service. It’s late summer, trees have not started their fall colors.

The next module, about 5% done, is a main power sub-station and the towers feeding it, it will be to the left of the mine with an old, barely adequate oil facility for fueling the mine equipment and the WV Energy locomotives. Next to that will be an abandoned track with rusting, deserted equipment.

Thanks Al, for all you do,

John from Baltimore”

HO scale coal cars train

HO scale coal cars

HO scale coal cars and bridge

HO scale coal cars

HO scale coal cars:

model railroad tunnel

model railroad bridge

“Hi Al.

I really enjoy all your emails. I am a retired astronomer and a very active model railroader. I thought it be fitting to add an observatory to my layout. Also you can see amateur astronomers getting ready for a nights viewing.

The main building is scratched built and so is my observatory. The two observatories on top of the building are made from clear plastic Christmas decorations that twist in half and were painted a flat white with Humoral paint.

They are 2 1/2 inches in diameter and the big observatory is made from a 4 inch clear plastic Christmas ball, it also comes in two pieces. I had to cut the large ball for the open slat so the telescope could be seen.

At night there is a red led to show the interior of the large observatory. The main building is made of a cereal box and the base of the big observatory is made of the same cereal box material.

Most of my buildings are scratch built because the buildings were not available as plastic models.

However I do have many plastic kit buildings on my HO layout. I also made the telescopes that the amateurs are looking through.

Al I hope you like these photos I have sent and I would like to hear some comments.

Al all the best to you and keep the emails coming.

Best to you and all the modelers out there.


HO scale observatory

model train observatory

model railroad observatory

HO scale observatory

HO scale observatory

Ho scale figures

A huge thanks to John for sharing his HO scale coal cars and to Dave too.

Love what Dave has done, because your own layout can be anything you want it to be. And it looks great too.

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.

27 Responses to HO scale coal cars

  1. Ray Suckling says:

    Love the observatories Dave, I thought that I was the only one with observatories on a layout even though mine is still in a very early stage. Like you I had to scratch build them and modeled them after my own and those of 2 other friends, they are located at Leyburn in Queensland Australia. I will have to take an image and post it for you.

  2. paul rudnick says:

    OK. WOW! Incredible detail work. No smartphone games I see. Very nice.

  3. Awesome work on the layout. Furthur advanced then I will be.

  4. David Massimi says:

    John and Dave,
    Excellent work ! Scenes look great…thanks for sharing them with the rest of us.

    Dave, in New York

  5. Cary B says:

    Hello Alastair,
    Thanks for posting both John and Dave’s layouts. They both deserve a huge shout out for the fine work displayed

    Cary from Maryland

  6. Bob Davidson says:

    Both the mine photos and the observatory are great. The observatory is beautiful and shows a great deal of immagination. Great work 😊!

  7. Sam Forman says:

    Holy c**p!! You guys are unbelievably remarkable. I wish i had my first Lionel set from around 1945

  8. Christine says:

    I love the Observatories, I’ve been into trains and Astronomy all my life.

  9. Franco428 says:

    The observatories are a fantastic idea. I have several telescopes that I use and adding an observatory on my layout is mandatory now that I’ve seen what can be done. The construction note were valuable and the images were awesome.

  10. John says:

    I LOVE your observatories. So well thought out and constructed. They will be a HIGHLIGHT of anyone who enjoys your layout. You awaken new ideas for me . . . if I just make time to actually do them 🙂

  11. Jerry Suits says:

    John—Very nice rustic coal mine and trestle! Dave—nice observatory!
    —Jerry from Colorado

  12. Dave in Ontario says:

    A very impressive mining structure; and, so very well blended into the scene, with the accompanying bulldozer. The telescope stations are quite unique, and clearly demonstrate that our own individual personal backgrounds can be easily intertwined into almost any model RR layout.

  13. James Herald says:

    Great imagination to do an observatory, and all the detail work on the coal mine. Way to go, guys!

  14. Wonderful work, guys! “Balmor” has no sites like that, but it looks pulled from a mountain photo calendar.

    My late astronomer friend, Edgar E. has a couple comets to his name, and I know he would approve of your wonderful telescope model. He built a 16″ scope for his backyard viewing in Colorado.

    MN Dan

  15. Bill Clark says:

    John and Dave
    What a great layout you have both constructed. John, the mining reminds me of what I have seen in Montana where I was born and here in Utah that I now live. The rock work you have done is amazing. I love the Dozer being repaired.
    Dave, I have several telescope, but need less light pollution here. You large observatory look incredibly real from a distance, and then close up they both knock my socks off.
    Thank you for all of the work you two shared with us.
    Bill in Salt Lake City N scale

  16. Mark says:

    More photo’s please! I am from england so my loco’s and rolling stock might look out of place on a lay out US style, but hay who care’s! Have given some ideas great work thanks mate.

  17. Ernie Stammers says:

    You Guys are the best, not only with what can only be described as super superb modelling but what great back stories too, you certainly put my O scale modest shelf layout to shame, thanks for the pictures guys. all the very best from The UK

  18. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    John and Dave, your scenery looks great. John, Like how you have all the guys working on the dozer getting it fixed to work some more. Dave, love your Observatories and the people checking out the telescope’s on the front lawn. Great work you guys. Keep on railing.
    SDG, Saint.Petersburg Florida

  19. Peter Waring says:

    John and Dave, really impressed with your modelling themes and the high standard of your modelling, I think I will try and shoehorn in an observatory in one corner of my layout, but a coal mine is out of the question due to space, I will have to wait for more space to become available (never happen😂). Well done guys and thanks for informative and enlightening posts. Regards Peter…

  20. Don says:

    One of the best layouts I’ve seen. Great Job! Would like to see one or more of your trains running for a few minutes!

  21. Dannofive0 says:

    Just WOW! Really cool.

  22. Ramsey Arnold says:

    John from Baltimore,
    Awesome original buildings and scenery. You are an inspiration ‼️
    Ramsey from Montrose, CO
    San Juan Model Train & Historical Society

  23. Bill Holt says:

    John, awesome layout, excellent detail.

  24. Chris Sylvester says:

    Love the telescopes they look great!!!!! Awesome idea!!!!!!!

  25. Brian Rockey says:

    Always great to see something new cropping up on railway layouts – great work Dave.
    Lovely detail on the mine John, well done.
    Regards to all.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  26. Graeme COLEMAN says:

    I love the observatories Dave, I will be sure to find [create] a hill on my progressing layout to include one. A great idea.

  27. Will in NM says:

    John, Great mine scene! Did you build the mine from scratch or did you kit-bash it from commercial mine kits?

    Dave, I love the telescopes! you’ve done a remarkable job recreating the look of modern telescopes. I had never thought of including telescopes in a train layout, but I will have to now. I’ve been an astronomy fan for most of my life and my eldest son, Eric, was an astronomer at the University of Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea.

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