John’s mine layout

“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

model railway coalmine

model train coal mine

coal mine layout

model train coal layout

model railroad coal mine

model train coal mine

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.

That’s all for today folks, please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to take your first step on your model layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here (still updated daily).

28 Responses to John’s mine layout

  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.

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