HO scale loop

Ken’s been having a lot of fun with his HO scale loop – have a look at Godzilla!

“Hello Al,

I like you decided recently to get back into model railroading. After all, I’m retired now and it’s only been 50 years since my last layout!

Boy, I wished I had a photo of my little goofy layout. With raising a family and building a career, it’s almost inconceivable that I managed to keep anything leftover from my childhood layout, but somehow I did manage to hold onto 3 little shack buildings that were on that layout. I’ve got them placed in my new layout for sentimental purposes.

I’d like to show you some photos of what I’ve done so far on phase 1. I’d love to hear comments good or bad on what I’ve got so far.

This layout is proof that not all train layouts have to be prototypical, nor do they have to be “point to point” switching layouts in order to have fun with them.

My layout is an HO scale that has evolved since its conception around the holidays last year.

This first phase is built on a 5-1/2’ x 10-1/2’ table. It does raise some challenges if an issue does arise that is out of my reach, but nothing a “reach extender” can’t handle.

My original design was going to have three or four small industries for me to putz around with. But I found Woodland Scenics Built-up structures and my mind started going in all kinds of directions.

Out of nowhere a little town that I call “Willougby Junction” (named after my favorite Twilight Zone episode) was born. It is modeled in the 50’s – early 60’s time period.

Phase one has only one small fueling depot in the upper right corner, and a train depot at the left to stop and pick up people from the neighboring towns.

Phase two will have more industries to monkey around with.

It is basically a freelanced double oval with an added “town loop”, and an arrival/departure track that leads to and from the yard.

I have 11 turnouts all controlled by Tortoise switch machines and my homemade control panel.

The entire track was laid with code 83 Atlas Flex-Track. I have about 8 or 9 bus feeders supplying ample power all the way around. It’s taken me since early January to get to this point.

I think the beauty of a continuous running track is when you get a couple trains on opposite ends that are speed matched at say 15% power, you can sit back have a glass of wine (or your favorite beverage) and enjoy the movement and listen to the clickety-clack sounds as well as the prime mover sounds when they go up and down the grades.

I’ve only had a couple people come over and see it, but they are amazed at not only the trains, but the town, the landscaping and all of the small hidden things that takes a while to find.

For example, I was looking out at the back of the layout and there’s a place where I have a couple deer hanging around. I wanted to a have an eagle perched on a tree. I found some eagles online that were printed with a 3-D printer.they’re not much higher than 1/4”. I had to paint them of course, but they came out beautifully.

There is also a “Bigfoot” up on the mountain near the cabins. But you have to search to find them. The pond was quite ambitious. It took 5 separate pours of epoxy (almost a gallon) to complete it! I practiced with the epoxy by adding a swamp at the upper left side. I have some deer down by the swamp too.

I grew up in Flint, MI and the only trains running there were Grand Truck Western trains. So it was natural to pick up a Grand Trunk locomotive and some Grand Trunk rolling stock. I even added some Hobo’s to a 40’ box car with a sliding door.

All in all, I’m enjoying my new found hobby and wanted to share my story.


P.S. Try to guess who this VIP is with the 1st Lady? The presidential limo and security detail might give it away! LOL This was as close as I could get to him with my telephoto lense. The crowds were quite large in Willoughby that day!

HO scale loop

model railroad led lights

model railroad track side scene

model train houses

model railroad gas station

model railroad lake

HO scale loop

model railroad turnouts

model train sidings

model train car track

model railroad godzilla

HO scale loop

HO scale loop

HO scale loop

HO scale loop

HO scale loop

A huge big thanks to Ken for sharing his HO scale loop.

I absolutley loved the Godzilla pic – it’s all about making your layout your own!

In fact, there’s quite a few layouts on the blog that feature Godzilla. He’s a popular fella.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, just like Ken after a 50 year gap, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

47 Responses to HO scale loop

  1. James says:

    Cool 😎

  2. John says:

    Brilliant detail. Well done! Personally, I like the cameos of real-life situations on a layout rather than a layout crammed with track. Since my wife, who was so much part of my railway, died nearly three years ago, I have hardly looked at my layout (which Al featured on this blog). Seeing the details on this layout makes me feel that maybe it’s time to get back to it.

  3. Kevin McArdle says:


  4. Brian Rockey says:

    Some nice little touches Ken and a spectacular backdrop.
    Would that be JFK, that security guy is really on it speaking into his wrist communicator!!!
    Best to all
    Brian, Wokingham UK

  5. Eric Kopittke says:

    I must commend you on your work so far with the layout. The little cameos bring interest to it, Well done!

  6. Robert Brady says:

    Beautiful layout. Because of the background which makes it look like land of the lost I’m going to name this town (the town of Ugg) Great Job!
    The Critic

  7. Stephen Hill says:

    Ken , amazing , superb even . Great job indeed . Wonderfully detailed and not over done . Great job on the back drop , that’s hard to do and you nailed it sir. Just an overall really nice layout . 👍👍

  8. Jim Landing says:

    Ken, wonderful detail.
    Thank you, Jim

  9. Glyn Jones says:

    What a great layout Ken. Beautiful blending of your backdrop into the scenery of the layout and for someone who hadn’t done this for 50 years your modeling skills are excellent. Well done!

  10. Eric Kiehl says:

    Ken what a great piece of art, fabulous job. I love all the scenes and the detail of the layout. Great job .

    Eric the Retired Firefighter
    St. Louis, Missouri area.

  11. Tom Appel says:

    This is great!!! The night lighting is very good and highlights everything very well. The backdrop really adds realism to the layout. Where did you find the backdrop? I have been looking but have not seen that one.

  12. Terry says:

    Very nice ! Much more detailed than my s gauge layout. Granddaughters enjoy all the action accessories on my s gauge. Your details are amazing.!

  13. Jerry Treich says:

    Fantastic job on your layout! I hope you have many hours enjoying it. I have heard that if you rub just behind Godzilla’s left ear bump, he starts to purr-rumble and won’t trounce all your hard work or chomp your passenger trains! 😉

  14. George Zaky says:

    What an awesome layout. Great narrative too with stuff I feel is so important to another train guy. Fabulous city, great scenery, awesome backdrops and when you dont know if its real or fake then you’ve banged it. Since you fed the hungry fans you now have to submit a video- mandatory formation.😊
    Big Al- good one

  15. Jack Bury says:

    The layout is great. I like the lighting you’ve done. The background blends seemlessly with the layout. I’m truly impressed.

    Jack in PA

  16. jon slawik says:

    I’ve been around model railroading since the 1950’s and have never seen a backdrop blend in as well as this one.

  17. DICK Stern says:

    Wow beautiful layout well done

  18. Tony Weisbecker says:

    Looks fabulous not sure if you built the trains around the town or the town around the trains . Lots and lots of detail , great job .

  19. James J says:

    Very nice detail work! I like the JFK scene…nice touch!

  20. robert dale tiemann says:

    look out ita godzilla, and is that jfk? nice touches

  21. Dave A Bellian says:

    The town looks awesome ! Great job !

  22. John Derr says:

    Dear Ken, Wonderful layout and scenery. I am just like you. It has been 40 years since my last HO layout and 70 years since my childhood American flyer (I am 87). I am prototyping the Bodie Benton RR out side Yosemite and an extension of the Carson Colorado RR in CA. I love scenery and I have built many Find Scale, Bar Mill, Foscale, and Sierra kits. I don’t like wring so I have to find someone to do the wiring. I am lucky to have a small cabin 10×12 to fit in the layout outside of Yellowstone. Anyway, the best of luck and thank you Alastair for this forum

  23. David Friar says:

    Awesome work. The detail on the gravel road and the creek is amazing.

  24. Susumu Inoue says:

    A beautiful model. One of the best background, it blends into the foreground model so smoothly. A great number of people and extras that get people’s imagination going. It seems to me that the model is complete, nothing more to add.
    Great work!!
    I live near Flint, MI

  25. Mike Balog says:

    Hi Ken:
    Wanted to Thank You for Sharing Your Very Inspiring Layout with us.. Hope my comments my be helpful to further you along.(1.) The Background is Fantastic ~ Outstanding… could have some town or City in the distance to give an illusion it is connected by rail with your community. (2.) The Left side of the Overall photo showing the Station. You could ADD a Curved Station Platform in the space between the tracks where the station is and the 1st Curved Track in the photo to the left for Passengers, OR (3.) Place a Narrow Station with Platforms on each side where the Town Name is in front of the row of buildings there now. You could Move the Garden with the Town Sign to the Left.,, where the space is between the Town Hall and the Town Station. (4.) OR you could Swap Places, and Put the Gas Station where the RR Station is now, and Put the RR Station where the Gas Station is now. (5.) The Only RR Crossing you have is where the Gas Station is… Should either have Lights/Gate Controlled or have Signs with a Shanty with a Crossing Gate Guard there. (6.) Further up towards the Yard tracks you could Put a Water Tower, Diesel Fuel Tank for Locomotives,,,, (7.) At the End of the Yard, to the right, You could Put in an Engine House for storage / repair of your locomotives….instead of an open air shed. Have a cross over switch just before that. (8.) The Night Scenes are Great,,,, The Street Lights in the front of the town along the tracks could have some sidewalk around them. (9.) Appreciate the way you have the roads and sidewalks laid out… with corners instead of “Straight” intersections. (10.) Liked the Autos and Trucks on the Layout, sets the Period very well. Keep up the good work Overall AAA Plus From Mike in N.H. on Father’s Day.

  26. Mike Matejka says:

    wonderful – I like the night lighting, backdrop and wonderful small scenes — that’s what draw viewers in to really love the detail. Well done

  27. Alabama Mike says:

    Ken, I really enjoyed your layout. I am amazed at the detail in your layout. The pictures were great. You did a super job on you layout.

  28. Andrew Aves says:

    Superb Ken, you blending of the model into the background is awesome

    Andrew in Oz

  29. Will in NM says:

    Beautiful layout Ken! I especially liked the gas station scene and your amazing wrap-around backdrop. Did you paint the backdrop yourself or is it commercially available? My only suggested improvement would be to ballast your track instead of leaving the cork roadbed showing. You’ve done an amazing job in just a few months. May we ask for a video soon?

  30. mike tate says:

    I love the Mr Kenedey pic, Your attention to detail is a very nice touch. It must be in the early 60’s. Kudos NICE WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. GaryM from Long Island says:

    I am still looking for the BIGFOOT

  32. $100Bill says:

    The scenery is top notch. Suggestion: rolling stock is too pristine and could use some aging to top off a great layout.

  33. Noggin says:

    What a great layout from Ken! This has inspired me to get back to mine which stalled a couple of years’ back when things (mainly getting point motors to work) caused some frustration! My dad built my first layout with me way back in 1972 and I have very fond memories of that…so I’m keen to get back to mine to cretae similar memories with my grandkids! Thank you Ken!

  34. Jim Turner says:

    Ken, every one of your pics made me smile: lights, backdrop, ducks on the pond. Not to mention Jack and Jackie and Godzilla. 50s-60s for sure. “Next stop Willoughby!” Super choice of town name; did I miss the band playing in the gazebo? Just don’t jump off the train! Brings to mind another TZ: how come they keep stopping at the same station?

  35. Ken Holbrook says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words. I actually had no idea how this was going to turn out. Many people commented on the backdrop. I could never paint something like that myself. It’s a mural of a European landscape in Cumbria England called Side Pike to Heaven. I purchased it from a UK company called WallSauce.com. There are hundreds of murals from all kinds of theme, and of course the sizes are all custom to your specific measurements. Someone mentioned that I should ballast the track instead of leaving exposed cork roadbed exposed. I didn’t use cork, that is the actual ballast I purchased from Arizona Rock & Ballast. I didn’t realize it looked like cork. I mixed three different rock types together to get this Midwest ballast look that we see here in Michigan. Yes, the rolling stock is pristine. I’m just nervous about weathering them, but I know it would add a tremendous touch. I may soon give my hand a try at weathering. Thanks again for all all your comments. What I’m finding is the model railroading community is extremely helpful and enjoyable to talk to. Video coming soon. Thanks again.

  36. Jeff Holbrook says:

    The creative juices that run through our brains is a testament to our relatives from days gone by.

    The toothy Godzilla pic is a keeper!

    My favorite element of your set is the lighting. Being a self taught photographer I can appreciate the lighting to any art project.

    Well done brother!!

  37. Dave Karper says:

    Ken, have you checked Mr. Lee’s printout structures? I think with your skill and ability coupled with your imagination you could do a fantastic job constructing any thing you could want.

  38. Steve Kurtz says:

    Ken, looks pretty good
    The lake is wow! The cars and buildings look great. The yard is well planned. Thanks for sharing

  39. NickK says:

    There is a lot of great detail! Nice one!

  40. Ken Holbrook says:

    Thanks for your delightful comments. I sent this link to my brother a while ago and saw that he had commented on it. Sadly to say this was the last communication I had with him before he passed away. It was good to read it.

  41. robert dale tiemann says:

    very good detail. you added godzilla, love that. really cool layout.

  42. Steve Ruple says:

    Beautiful layout, lots of scenic sites and well designed.

  43. Jack says:

    Still looking for Bigfoot but he is illusive

  44. John Philip Ruetz says:

    Love the beautiful background. It goes real good with the layout.

  45. Glenn Dean Holden says:

    Love the background0 and Godzilla– what an interesting touch!!

  46. Ben Shay says:

    Yep! For me, the Godzilla was the perfect topper. Great job Ken!

  47. Kevin McCloskey, Sr. says:

    Hi, the car on the outside lane is a 1954 Pontiac Chieftain 2 door, I would like to buy this from you at reasonable price, the reason is that was my first car, I would also pay shipping.

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