Kurt’s HO layout


I’ve been reading your emails now for about a year, and the many postings, along with several YouTube videos I’ve found, have been really helpful for the layout I started in the fall.

Like many of your contributors, I’m resuming a long-dormant hobby I started over 40 years ago when my daughter was a toddler.

I began with a Tyco HO set and adapted track plans from a booklet of blueprints the Atlas Co published on layouts.

To facilitate moving the trainboard, which we used on the floor only at Christmastime (as in my childhood with an O-gauge set of Lionels), I cut a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood down to 6’3” (ca. 1.9m) in length.

Several years later, after my son was born, I had a trip to W. Berlin, where I purchased a set of passenger cars and a diesel engine that the Italian company Lima made, these with German and Austrian markings.

I was only interested in running trains, so I quickly filled up the board with dual ovals, a siding, and multiple spurs, running up to 4 engines off two power packs and track insulators separating sections I controlled with Atlas Selectors. This time I wanted to add a control station with a track diagram, and that approach required relatively complicated wiring through a terminal block.

The setting is a village of half-timber buildings that could be anywhere from Troyes in eastern France to Maribor in Slovenia, but the DB markings on the engine and cars give it away as Germany, probably near Austria (one car has ÖBB markings).

The fictional town is called Müllerslust, based on a song, “Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust” [my translation is: Traveling is a Müller’s joy], and the town is therefore Müller’s Joy. Since I have no experience building scenery, I made many mistakes and adapted accordingly.

I started building a tunnel with a long, initially gradual, grade, but for a vineyard I wanted on the hill, I searched the internet and discovered how steep the vineyards in the Mosel Valley are—and I found the possibility of cutting the gradation to accommodate a road. The pictures I found online helped immensely.

The style of one building is a couple of centuries newer, and I have an anachronistic Baroque garden in the town center (though it goes well with the non-matching building, part of a lot I bought on eBay—thanks for that frequent suggestion). I’m now far enough along with Phase 1 to share pictures.

Phase 2 will add lighting, some of which will run grain-of-wheat bulbs on AC and others will run LEDs on DC. For the latter, I’m going to use an old mobile-phone charger, which will provide a constant voltage at an appropriate level.

As you’ll see from the photo of the control block, there is sufficient space to add switches for the lights or other things.

In Phase 3 I’ll add road signage. One problem I discovered with Faller kits, which I like for their detail, is that they sometimes require supplemental kits not identified in their descriptions. I have a two-track crossing that will eventually need sensors, and a park fountain that requires a pump to circulate real water. I now have the pump, but it’s not clear what sensors are appropriate.

I had read that Woodland’s “Realistic Water” often develops bubbles.

While we were on vacation, and the trainboard was in the hot garage, the last pre-vacation layer of “water” turned somewhat brown in the shallow pond. With subsequent layers the murkiness has diminished considerably.

For the deeper water (upper left in the picture), I added blue food coloring to the next layer; I used too much coloring, but I notice that in this section I don’t have the bubble problem. The picture makes it look like there are bubbles, but what you see is really a slight rise around the rocks (talus).

Do any of your readers have suggestions on how to avoid the bubbles? It seems the problem develops over several days; you don’t see it right away.

Best wishes,


I love that so many of us return to this hobby after decades away, and it’s still just as fun.

Now on to Dave. Sometimes I wonder whether I post too much of his stuff – but seeing as you all seem to enjoy it, as I do, I’ll continue to do so.

“Hi Alistair, here’s a video showing the corridor connection for the coaches and the rolling road problem sorted , but I have now just done a follow through for the coach connections , showing the HST done with these and maybe a bit of help showing how to fit the correct way.

This could be useful to any who intend buying some



New ebay cheat sheet yet still going strong

A big thanks to Dave and Kurt.

That’s all for today foks – I’m behind time.

Please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you think it’s your time to shine when it comes to creating a layout.

Keep ’em coming.



15 Responses to Kurt’s HO layout

  1. Jack Bury says:

    Your layout seems to be coming along nicely. Don’t know if you used foam insulation as a base, but my realistic water bubbles came from off gassing from the insulation. The water area needs to be completely sealed with plaster cloth to stop the bubbles. After I corrected that, no more bubbles.

  2. Paul says:

    Love the vineyards. I have seen them on the hillsides in France and Germany.

  3. Don Jennings says:

    Nice small layout. If I may suggest that you install a second single crossover
    opposite to the one you already have. That way a train can go from the inside track back to the outside track. THEN you may want to include a couple of blocks ( a power section) that can be turned on or off to stop one train.or the other.
    Good luck.

  4. Lynn Taubeneck says:

    I love this layout. Simple yet elegant.

  5. Bob Filipiak says:

    Good looking layout. I too have jumped back in and took the plunge into DCC. I also did a 4×6 to setup a double oval with two cross overs and two sets of siding. I would post an article if I knew how to submit it with pictures.

    Bob in Virginia

  6. Wayne McClelland says:

    Nice set-up Kurt, your problem with bubbles is easily overcome.
    When mixing liquid materials, ‘Stir slowly do not shake’ . This method is used when mixing Varnish to avoid bubbles.

    Wayne McClelland
    The Colonial from down under
    (New Zealand)

  7. Lewis B. Armstrong says:

    I have been away from the train hobby for a while and I would like to build the one in your letter head. Is there any way I can get a copy of it.

  8. dave sheets says:

    i’m building a dog bone style layout. I’m going to cut 4 inch pieces of 2X4 wood to support the elevated track. whats the best way to secure the wood so they’re all the same height?

  9. Cary B says:

    Great layout Kurt, the vineyards on the hill side are really a nice touch. Looking forward to future photos. Always enjoy Dave’s videos.
    Cary B

  10. Thomas Murphy says:

    I found Kurt’s master-piece stunning.
    Once again Dave ~ way-to-go!

  11. David Wooff says:

    You can never have too much of Dave. Long may his hobby pudding keep rising in Yorkshire !!.
    & Kurt, your layout is looking good.

  12. e.l. tolman says:

    where do i find the big kahuna deal? tried ebay without success.


  13. Ian McDonald says:

    layout is looking very good keep up the good work happy modeling is the best modelling.those trains look great Dave thanks for sharing.

  14. Robert Miller says:

    For water I now use 100% silicone over a painted base. It’s also good for waterfalls. I dry brush white paint to simulate waves and on the back of the silicone on my waterfalls.
    Be careful of fumes when making a large lake or long river.
    Also,once again I would like to make my pitch for battery powered Radio Wave controlled DCC Loco’s. No track wiring,almost no track cleaning problems.
    I use NCE but there are many other control systems available.
    Bob in Mississippi

  15. Kurt says:

    thank you for the many positive comments; glad several of you like the vineyard. In the opposite corner is a small field of hops. I agree with the comment about another crossover; it’s just that I didn’t see where I could put one. I’ll look again. Realistic’s water doesn’t require mixing, so I don’t think slow stirring is likely to be the answer. Using plaster cloth could well solve the problem, but of course I already have everything else in place. If I don’t find an easier solution, I must need to re-do this part. I’m really pleased that Dave’s posting on coach connectors is in the same link; I’ve been looking for such a possibility.

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