HO scale mountains

John’s been in touch – he’s added another module to his HO scale mountains on his coal mine:
“Hi Alistair,

John From Baltimore here.

The next module for my coal mine railroad is nearing completion, and will be moved into the basement train room soon. I had neck surgery a week ago, and will need to wait a month or so before I can really lift or move anything.

Anyway, this module will go to the right of the existing mine, photos and descriptions of which you’ve posted in the past. This module will pretty well conclude the scenery on the mine-side of the layout, just back-drops to the ceiling back there.

I’ve included a few pictures of what the module looks like “from afar” to give readers a perspective of how the module approach works. The mine cars are N gauge and resting on N gauge track, they are static and glued in place. The mine loco was cut down from an N gauge Plymouth shuttle loco, and “converted” to electric.

The left side of the module and the right side of the existing one is measured to pretty well fit together, so continuity of the mountains should work. This time I tried cardboard framework hot-glued together, instead of wood. Hope it works when moved, seems pretty stiff with the plaster on it.

By the way, I use 20 minute set-up sheetrock compound, make small lots and use it before it gets solid, and when the 20 minute clock goes off ya better be done with what ya mixed up!

The story of this mine is that it’s from the early 40’s before the other mine buildings (past posts) were constructed and still brings coal out of the mountain as needed when customer orders exceed the main mines output. I decided on an electric mine railroad and catenary, (adds detail and interest) after watching YouTube vids of coal mines.

The coal is loaded into dump trucks and moved to the more modern processing mine in earlier posts. Back in the day coal was left in chunks like it came out of the ground, and users like power-plants crushed it on their own, now coal is sized and sold to customer specification.

I’ll add to the dump truck roadway to connect and blend in with the existing mine and mountains when the module goes into it’s final home.

Thanks so much for all you do for those of us in the model-railway community, world-wide.


model railroad coal mine

HO scale mountains

mountain coal mine

Ho scale coal mine

HO scale mountains tunnel

model railroad coal mine

model train coal mine

HO scale mountains

Stunning stuff from John – my eye’s lit up when I saw his name in my inbox.

Fantastic pictures and can’t wait to see this module in his layout. If you want to see John’s story so far, his last post is here.

A huge thanks to John fo rsharing his HO scale mountains module.

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.

38 Responses to HO scale mountains

  1. Christine says:

    That’s a trip.

  2. NJ Mark says:

    Truly amazing….great, just great! Cheers! NJ Mark and get well soon!

  3. george zaky says:


    You humble us with your talents. Not enough adjectives to describe how awesome your work is. Hope you are well and healthy and thank you for your narrative and pics.
    George from NY

  4. Brian Moretti says:

    Not sure why someone would spend that much time on a scene that has no purpose but to look at it , should of took that talent and built a layout so you can use the mine not just look at it ..

  5. Cary B says:

    Very cool mine scene John, the details look amazing. Love the n scale mine loco and cars. All well thought out and brought to life.
    Cary B New Market MD

  6. Rube Simon says:

    Such detail! Incredible! Looks absolutely real!

  7. Mike Ilkenhons says:

    First class John. The attention to detailing, adding or showing little things makes the difference. Excellent use of colors and the grime and wear of that mine area. Keen eye for an overall picture. As I looked through the photos, Each draws my eye to a particular elements. Then as I went back through each, more detail and a new point of interest popped out. You do the kind of work that challenges the eye to find all those elements hidden in plain sight. Great job….Mike, Clermont , Florida.

  8. John S. Brunel says:

    Truly, a work of art, thanks for sharing. This should stand as proof that working on the railroad is a far more than just playing with toys. Thanks for sharing. It would be great to see some layouts that are 027 gauge, which is what I am working with.

  9. Mike Milliken says:

    Great modeling! Keep ’em coming.

  10. paul vogel says:

    Very nice work on your mine scene John….Thanks for the pictures !!! Paul….Ohio….. USA

  11. Nice work on converting an old AHM Minitrains Plymouth into a proper mining tram locomotive….

  12. Marklin ed says:

    Great, l always want to do a mine of some kind, this is true inspiration.

  13. John Birch says:

    Excellent! Great detail and colour.

  14. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    Great modelling! Keep showing us more!

    North Wales

  15. Choochoo52 says:

    Very talented. Wish mine looked like that.

  16. Robert Dickson says:

    Very impressive. Get better soon. Looking forward to the complete project.

  17. Mike RICHARDSON says:

    WOW The detail is so realistic and beautiful. John, you are a very talented person. Great job. So glad you shared with us.

  18. James Malins says:

    I am in awe of this work. I just hope that when I finally start my project that I shall be able to get even close to this standard

  19. John F Down says:

    I Love coal mines for layouts! Good job!

  20. Rob in Ann Arbor says:

    In response to Brian’s remarks, some of us really like building scenery. It’s a really enjoyable part of model railroading. I’m always amazed at the layouts that are mostly track, but in this hobby, it’s very much a to each his own kind of thing.

  21. Jerry barto says:

    That is Awesome!!

  22. JW Snyder says:

    An excellent blend of engineering and art!


    Absolutely Incredible! Now I am going to rebuild my mine scene out of sheer embarrassment. You set a new standard for me. Thanks

  24. Bill Lane says:

    Very impressive, rather awesome. You humble many of us.
    I hope you recover in the given time. DON’T RUSH the therapy.
    Thanks for the inspirations.
    Chicago Bill

  25. Frederick Gevalt says:

    This is the kind of studied, highly weathered, and very convincing visual accomplishment that only the best dioramas and model railroads share.

    Bravo! I’d really like to see the rest of your layout. As to the people who don’t understand why it has value because it ONLY can be seen and not USED, I would say spend a day at the National Portrait Gallery, the Met, or any of the great museums in the world. Clearly Brian is missing out on the real joys of modeling, which is too bad. But equally clearly, John has captured the artistry of creating three dimensional visual vignettes that “speak to us.” And I, for one, am glad he has!

    Get well. The world needs more of your work!

    Fred Gevalt

  26. Bill Holt says:


  27. dennis frank perri says:

    Really nice job, love the detail and it’s unique design, makes me want to start my own layout again, Dennis

  28. steve barrett says:

    Fantastic job John. It almost makes me want to tear mine apart and start over again.

  29. john says:

    You did a good job on it.

  30. Franklin says:

    Great job! The dirty the coal mine the better. Most people use a processing plant or tipple and call it a coal mine. You captured the scene very well.

  31. Jim Robinson says:

    Nice. Convincing.

  32. Rich B. says:

    A+ with both blogs this morning. Both Mountain scene’s out of this world, possibly off into infinity. Love the mine operations, maybe actually worked there in past life? Who wants to run trains when you can rebuild the Earth lmao?

    Am thinking there are many more of these underground gems out there at this point. Also what at least I would look forward to reviewing ALL the time. No problem seeing same more than once, many different photography angles. A few others maybe need to remain hidden. Mine on this list of coarse- too many real life predicaments out there 🤩…


  33. George Zaky says:

    Like Big Al said ” his eyes lit up ” when he saw your submission, I too cant wait to see what you brought to the table. MDD’s ( modern day DaVinci’s) like yourself and others continually show us mortals how its done. You are an inspiration to all of us and like DaVinci your technical contributions had a great effect for which i will be forever grateful. 👌
    If I’m not mistaken you placed this diorama on your awesome layout.
    Hope you are well and keep truckin.
    Big Al
    Coffee, John, and Glyn’s work, Awesome. Great morning. 😊

  34. Brian Olson says:

    Good job creating “gritty!”

  35. Tony Weisbecker says:

    Now thats some real work such realism and over the top great looking .

  36. Steve Ruple says:

    WOW !!!!!! So awesome John, that’s so cool !!!!! I can’t wait to see that in place on your layout. I hope you have a fast recovery.

  37. robert dale tiemann says:

    thats really cool. very nice work.

  38. Sam H. Maryland, USA says:

    I am in the Baltimore area also. If you need a hand, just send me a message. I would love to talk trains with you. I love your scenery.

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