HO scale Amtrak

Larry’s been in touch. He’s having fun with his HO scale Amtrak layout in his basement:

“I enjoy your emails very much. Such wonderful layouts and how-to tips have inspired me. Your contributors have given me many ideas.

My first train set was a Lionel O27 0-4-0 steam engine, tender, box car, flat car, crane car and caboose at age 5.

Now retired, a HO starter set for around the Christmas tree rekindled my interest in model railroading. As the layout out grew too large for the living room, I moved the layout to the basement.

The 12’x15’ L shape layout is DC with 8 controls in 4 dual MRC Tech 7 Ampac 780’s, and 32 turnouts with wired controls.

There are crossovers between each of the main tracks, except the cable car and trolley lines.

The cable car line is DC, auto reversing with a station stop at both ends of the line.

The trolley line is DC, auto reversing with a station stop at both ends of the line and a mid Amtrak station stop.

There are 12 sidings. Each track and siding are electrically isolated at each cross over and siding turnout with individual block control. The tracks are numbered starting from 1 on the inside working outward.

Track 1 B&O Chessie System freight, 18” radius curves.

Track 2 Santa Fe freight with Pennsylvania Power &Light Ready Kilowatt coal cars, 18” radius curves.

Track 3 Amtrak that loops by Amtrak Station, 18” and 22” radius curves.

Track 4 Amtrak on incline loop that links lower and upper levels, 22” radius curves.

Track 5 Cable Car and Trolley line 15” and 18” radius curves.

Track 6 Amtrak Acela, with a Pennsylvania RR passenger train on the siding, 22” radius curves.

Track 7 German ICE, with a Thayls TGV on the siding, 26” and 28” radius curves, elevated track.

Track 8 German ICE, Intercity City Express, high speed train, 26” and 28” radius curves, elevated track.

The center area of the layout is a model of my family’s farm and local, small, rural village in Northeast, Pennslyvania.

On the farm, there are models of my home with the green roof and pond, my brother’s stone home with grey roof and horse barn, my parent’s white home, garage and red barn.

In the village, I have modeled a neighbor’s geodesic dome home, A-frame, green apartments, white home, log cabin home and Wesley Chapel Church.

In the back, right area of the layout is Red Rock Mountain, Ricketts Glen State Park and Kitchen Creek Waterfalls. The surrounding track area is symbolic of other distant locations. The nearest operating passenger rail station, Harrisburg, is 100 miles from home.


model train

HO scale Amtrak

HO scale Amtrak model train

HO scale Amtrak

HO scale Amtrak

HO scale Amtrak model railroad

HO scale Amtrak model train

Have you had a look at the latest ebay cheat sheet yet?.

A huge thanks to Larry for sharing his HO scale Amtrak. He looks like he’s been having a blast with his layout – and that’s what it’s all about: having fun.

I love the fact that a Christmas layout got him back in to the hobby too. Just goes to show, it doesn’t mattter how you make that start, just make sure you do somehow.

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

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if today is the day you start on your layout.



PS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

32 Responses to HO scale Amtrak

  1. Jonathan Scott says:

    Larry, good morning. This is quite a coincidence, my wife and I were in Eagles Mere, Sullivan County over the weekend for a wedding. You live in a beautiful part of the world, we drove by Ricketts Glen State Park. That name won’t mean anything to most people except for those who have who hiked the trail to see 34 beautiful waterfalls!! I hope you enjoy your trains as much as I do mine. As for operating passenger lines, you are absolutely correct. However in the early 1900s there were several narrow gauge lines leading to the town of Eagles Mere up the mountain that took visitors to the beautiful little village that had I think six Victorian era hotels. You can find where some of the trains lines ran as they are now hiking trails. Best, Jonathan

  2. Terry Miller says:

    WOW nice work. I’m interested in the able car/trolley line..where did you get it (manufacturer etc) and how exactly does it work?
    Keep up the good work


  3. Jack Bury says:

    Great layout, Larry. It is fun to recreate childhood memories on the layout. I’ve done the same thing on mine.

    Jack in Pa

  4. Kendal says:

    Great job on your layout. I’m in the process of finishing up my layout with a mix of passenger trains and freight trains with elevated tracks here and there. I hope my layout runs as good as yours.

  5. Lewis Brumberg Jr. says:

    Loved the layout,especially the fall foliage on the trees. Then another comment I can share is that the trains seem to be moving too fast. I think if you slow them down, it will be even more impressive. Finally, love the trolley going back and forth. I just happened to see another trolley doing the same thing yesterday.

  6. Jerry S says:

    Very nice, colorful layout! I love the way you run the trains too fast! I do the same thing with my layout.

  7. Chuck Wendt says:

    Larry, terrific job on your layout. How do you get to the inter part of your layout to fix things? I hope you keep sharing all the clever in-genius things you come up with.

    Chuck W. Michigan

  8. Dan Hulitt says:

    Your note brought back memories of Eagles Mere and Ricketts Glen, as I spent my college years in Williamsport, going to Lycoming. As to your rail operating speed, those ICE trains move very fast indeed, and the Santa Fe freight seemed proportional. Nice 61 Impala convertible. Me mum had a 62 SS. You have a lot of action packed in there, and now I need to get back to mine.
    MN Dan

  9. Ron Nelson says:

    Nice layout but it’s not Lionel so slow them down a bit. Run really good. Ron Florida

  10. Hemi says:

    THAT is OLD SCHOOL and brings back GREAT memories from a time past! THANKS for taking me back to my childhood with how you went about your basement layout!

    NICE work as well and GREAT choice of how you went about it!!!!!! ~Hemi

  11. Cary E Price says:

    Great job Larry- enjoyed the video very much. Hope you’ve got plenty of safeguards in place to protect the pedestrians from those bullet trains- man those things are fast, great fun to watch! Cary in KY

  12. Allan says:

    Absolutely Awesome job. I wish I were that creative. But guys like you will help with that. Thank You sir.

  13. Jerry B says:

    I agree that the trains should be fast running, Especially the passenger trains. Beautiful job!

  14. Great layout. How is the crossover between the two loops wired?

  15. Gary says:

    Wow…… love all the color and love those high speed trains……

    Great job……..

  16. steven waltmire says:

    Beautiful. I got my first train at 4 (1953) – a Marklin O guage 040 with 3 passenger cars. Had an HO layout about 1963-1966, and am now just beginning to work on plans for an ON30 in my basement. Hope I can do as nice as you have done with yours. Appreciate the pics of sequential growth stages

  17. daniel gwizdak says:

    Lots of track and too fast trains, Scenery is awful and no thought of
    making it look real. Such a waste of a large area. Looks like it was
    put together in a hurry.

  18. jack says:

    i can understand the bullet trains running fast but not just this layout witch is very well put together run there trains at a high rate of speed i don’t get it but i run ho scale so maybe it is different with bigger scales

  19. Bill Holt says:

    Nice Larry, Good Layout .

  20. THOMAS says:

    Very nice train Layout … and I enjoyed watching your trains run !

  21. Robert Brady says:

    Must be fall eh ? add more houses near the church area to make it looked lived in ,more green shrubbery would work to. People we need people strolling around ! Very nice layout .
    The Critic

  22. Brian Rockey says:

    Hi Larry
    I think it’s a great layout and you’re obviously enjoying yourself. You are the controller, so carry on running them as fast as you like. It’s great to watch so much movement, and the scenery is just fine, especially the quantity of trees as in many areas in reality. A lot of modellers neglect to include the density of trees as its difficult to blend off the shelf model trees physically together, not withstanding the cost.
    I’ve built two layouts, one in N and the OO gauge and wish I had included an end to end auto reversing tram car. Maybe I will do a modification to one of the layouts if I can get it through budget approval – LOL.
    Best to all
    Brian, Wokingham UK

  23. George Zaky says:

    First I’m so jealous of the space you have, second the Acela & ICE are meant to zoom around- awesome. The layout is very nicely done and has an extensive inventory- 32 turnouts- Wow. Great theme behind it, especially the farm.

    I am surprised Big Al let a nay sayer in- When you’re not too bright-keep quiet or open your mouth and remove all doubt. Larry you didnt deserve that remark. Keep at it and let’s see any progress because you’re never done.

    Big Al- thanks

  24. Andy Evans in Washington state says:

    Daniel G. Nice observation…totally useless and obviously intentionally hurtful.
    Such a joy to have folks like you with internet access.

  25. Rich B. says:

    Closest thing next is a roller coaster ride to track layout. This brings me back to a retro 1950’s layout. Exactly what trains are supposed to be, the landscape is as it should be- toyish, things just didn’t look real at all but who cared (sure did then though).

    Actually when did the realistic factor ever get into this hobby. Must of been with John Allen, seemed the exception then, Varney, lifelike and Plasticville all the standard. This was as good as it got and not to forget hi-rail track lmao.

    So let’s get to the point… I really like this and wouldn’t change a thing, to go this direction and retain an entire theme and era was a privilege to view. If meant to be that way or not.

    Regards, R

  26. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice. busy busy. lots to see. good job

  27. Lee Kerschner says:

    If those trains are running at scale speeds the real trains must be doing 300 MPH.

  28. Harold a Plucienik says:

    I’m amazed that the trains stay on the tracks at that speed especially around the curves.

  29. Philip C. Pridmore says:

    Larry, you have a great setup. Just ignore the criticism as they probably have never seen real high speed trains that run in Europe. Even in England the freight trains run faster than most American Amtrak trains do.
    Keep up the good work, Phil.

  30. Jim AZ says:

    Like the Amtrak units and the trolley system. Great to have so much space.

    Jim AZ

  31. John Philip Ruetz says:

    Like your fast trains. I remember in I think it was the late 1950’s the New York Central in northwest Ohio had a short stretch of track that tried out some 100+ MPH trains. It didn’t last very long. It was fun to see a fast train for a change.

  32. Benny Rosario says:

    Awesome, it’s great to see trains doing exactly what they are supposed to do move along and fast,keep them rolling great job thank you for sharing it with all of us.

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