Very small model railway layouts

Laurence has been in touch – he’s added to the collection of very small model railway layouts to the blog:

“Hi Al,

I’ve been enjoying your site for a number of years now and noticed that a lot that has been published have been very large model railways.

Although they are absolutely brilliant models not everybody has the room for a large layout.

Also I feel it’s a bit daunting for someone new to this great hobby.

I’ve included a few photos of two builds I’ve done to show being small doesn’t have to be a boring flat layout.

The first pictures are on a base of 5ft x about 3ft 3” with the sidings.

The second is 5ft x 3ft I built for a severally mentally handicaped young lad. It was built to keep it simple as not to confuse him with points, lights and switches ect.

Although it’s quite basic with a tunnel and water fall gives it that little bit more interest.

With this size layout I put on castors so it can be slid under a single bed when not in use.

I hope these few photos can give a few people some inspiration to give it a go.

With a bit of imagination and possibly the help of your “How To” book there’s no limit to what they can achieve.

Best Wishes,


5x3 model train layout

5x3 layout

very small model railway layouts

very small model railway layouts

very small model railway layouts

very small model railway layouts

5x3 model railway

5x3 model train layout

5x3 model railway

00 scale model railway

model train railroad

A huge thanks to Laurence for adding to the very small model railway layouts – he really does demonstrate something I’m always banging on about: it’s not lack of space that stops people creating a layout, it’s lack of imagination.

You’ve just got to roll your sleeves up and have some fun.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your own layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still going strong.

40 Responses to Very small model railway layouts

  1. James Malins says:

    I think this is really good and it works well because Laurence has not fallen to the temptation to try and cram too much in.
    I wonder though if using smaller locomotives and rolling stock might look better; this was prompted by the penultimate photograph.
    But then again who am I to comment I haven’t even started on a layout.

  2. Bill in Virginia says:

    Just shows you do not need much space to have a super layout with great scenery. Size does not matter. What matters is having fun with the space you have! Nicely done.

  3. David Friar says:

    Laurence does in amazing job of showing how bigger is not always better. He also shows that simple, for someone who may not fully understand things, can still be wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Rich B. says:

    Knew a much better use existed for dining room table lmao. I could get involved with such a layout but much more than keeping freight schedules. Buildings, vehicle scenario, sharks in lake; all types of things to maintain an operating session.

    I do have problem ingesting some of the under table wiring distribution photos, not good. Started career building aircraft wiring harnesses, just opened my eyes to things most hardly notice; but like to see the electrical expanded with the modeling also.

    Regards, Rich

    Regards, Rich

  5. Eric Rayner says:

    Very good looking waterfall and river. Plenty to see in a small space. Good Job Laurence.

  6. Well done with your small layout Lawrence …can be just as much fun as a large layout , and this is ideal …Dangerous Dave

  7. george zaky says:

    Great craftsmanship, planning and creativity. What gauge?
    George from NY

  8. ken says:

    Very creative and well done. I really enjoy knowing small is beautiful.

  9. Very impressed, you show a lot of detail and the layout it’s easy to manage. I noticed there’s a lot of traffic with all the trucks. I like your use of lighting. And I love the waterfall! All good things on your layout are easy to do. Like it was said, just roll up your sleeves and let your imagination go! Thank you for sharing

  10. John Reynolds says:

    Small layouts can be a lot of fun

  11. Marv says:

    Creative – Imagination. The operative words. Where can we find this? I know watching what others are doing. Great layout ++

  12. Rube Simon says:

    Fallen tree by the waterfall – nice touch; clever!

  13. Jim AZ says:

    Very nice. I’m a big fan of landscaping and your modeling skills are truly remarkable. The water features are obviously the focal point and are quite realistic. Great work.

    Jim AZ

  14. Laurence Johnston says:

    George its standard OO gauge

  15. Keith Pittman says:

    B9oth of these layouts are brilliant in showing what can be done in a smal space and I think that you should be commended for biulding one for a youngster who will love it but cannot do it himself, Thank you.
    Keith Pittman

  16. Gregory Taylor Mills says:

    Great job the waterfall scenery, hope I can do as well some day.

  17. Dave in Ontario says:

    A marvellous layout and done for as very worthy impetus. Thanks for sharing, with us and for him.

  18. Victor Koyano says:

    Wonderful usage of space. I get tired of tycoons showing huge layouts with downtown New York and Skyscrapers ten feet tall…Now l need to figure out how to put Oscale 54 inch two rail into a 9×16 room. Thank You.

  19. Size means nothing. Enjoyment means everything.

  20. Robert Brady says:

    Love the falls and the brook. Mountains look realistic great job.Quite a bit of stuff in a small area needly arranged.
    thumbs up!

  21. Robert Brady says:

    The last pic by the water fall Put a picnic bench and people.

  22. Hemi says:

    VERY NICE for a small layout! NICELY done Waterfall too! GREAT job over all! The scenery is impressive and all comes together very well too!

    Keep up the GREAT work and enjoy! ~Hemi

  23. JIm Noel says:

    Thanks for this wonderful and small layout. Those of us who have to build small for whatever reason now have a layout to admire.

  24. Jerry Suits says:

    Laurence— Great waterfalls! Wish mine was half as good.
    Jerry in Colorado

  25. peter says:

    this is the space I have 6×3 your site is very helpful thank you

  26. Dave Ewing says:

    Hey, Laurence,
    Great looking layout.
    Especially the water falls.

  27. Ronald Miller says:

    can you inform us how you did the water fall and river? need to do something like that on my layout.

  28. Jim Robinson says:

    The water feature in your second layout is one of the best I’ve seen. Most modelers don’t have enough “white water” in their waterfalls, and if you look at real life waterfalls, they’re almost totally white. Great work all around; but I particularly appreciate your water feature.

  29. robert dale tiemann says:

    i like it. good ideas. thanks.

  30. Don says:

    love the river & waterfall, well done

  31. Bruce Schrimpf says:

    The mountain with rhe water scene is very effective!

  32. Brian Olson says:

    The only limit is the size of your imagination!

  33. Glyn Jones says:

    Very nicely done layouts and the idea of creating a simple but interesting layout for the handicapped young man was brilliant- what a great act of service and something that will probably bring him enormous joy! Glyn from Santa Fe.

  34. John Birch says:

    Well done, Laurence and I agree with James – you haven’t tried to cram too much into the layout. A number of the layouts featured by Al show layouts crammed with track which is far from realistic.
    My layout has been featured by Al and is quite large (approx. 3.5 x 2.25 meters) but circumstances are such for me that I am now considering downsizing. Your layout, Laurence, shows that small can be very effective.

  35. Dave A Bellian says:

    That water feature is stunning realistic, really a great job.


  36. Steve Ruple says:

    Both layouts are awesome, you don’t need much room to have a nice layout with plenty of scenery. I think the lad will love his layout and have a wonderful time with it and the water falls really set it off along with the scenery, well done !!!!

  37. Stefan Larkin says:

    Essential tremor has taken away my model rail building ambitions. 50+ years working with behavioral health makes the purpose of one of your small layouts seem like a wonderful big endeavor.

  38. Spencer Parrish says:

    Great 5′ x 3′ layout. But A4 and Coronation locos will not run on first radius curves.
    Using second radius curves, the layout with the 2 outside the curve sidings will mean the layout will have to be at least 3’6″ or 3’9” wide. With that said, at 3′ wide the are many many locos Victorian/Edwardian era locos that will run on first radius curves and still have an interesting operating layout.

  39. Dr Jon says:

    A lot of cool things in the layout so congrats!!! The negative that caught my eye was how clean the roadway was… Not realistic! Get some character and I thihk you have sopmething very special….

    This is one of my pet peeves… Tone down your buildings, roads, cars etc to get them to look more realistic. Now you will have something really special….

  40. Don says:

    well done

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