Laurence’s model train layout

I got this in from Laurence. I think his layout is just stunning.

“Hi Al,

thought your readers might like to see my layout. I started to build it for my grandson last summer, but I’m afraid I got carried away a little bit.

The layout is OO on a 6’x4’ plywood base. The tunnel and rocks are made of insulating foam which I found to be great to work with and when painted looks very realistic.

I wanted it to be busy but not overcrowded, so I tried to give enough space for different parts of the layout, ie: quarry, farm, station and manor house.

There’s still more to do, but there always is when you build something like this, you always find that little bit that’s missing. Hope your readers enjoy my efforts.

Yours Truly,


I think Laurence night time pictures are the best I’ve ever seen. Just superb.

One more thing – have you seen the most popular section yet?

There’s pages of tips in there – and of course they are coming in all the time too.

But if you can’t wait and you want to get stuck in, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



printable buildings

82 Responses to Laurence’s model train layout

  1. walter buckingham says:

    it looks grate the detail is well again grate have a few moor years be for i get close to this well done

  2. dave says:

    Nice layout Laurence`s , good pictures also

  3. ArizonaDave says:

    Splendid detail!. Beautiful detail.

  4. kenny clarke says:

    awsome i wish i could get any were near as good with my eferts

  5. H F says:

    Wow, grreeaat concept, layout, detailing and photography!

    American questions:

    What is OO scale numeriaclly?

    Where does it fall in progression Z, N, HO, 027, O, G?

    Is your foam, spray installed or sheet stock?

    A good width stream to separate your farm from quarry would be a natural.

  6. George Muich says:

    The layout is amazing, cnnot believe he did thid in less than a year. Keep the good stuff coming. I really enjoy other fols ideas.

  7. robert pairs says:

    Very nice. Makes me wonder what I could in “N” scale.

  8. Al Ballok, Waukegan, IL says:

    Great layout!!! I love the lighting that was installed. Looks very professional!

  9. Robert Arnold says:

    Excellent work. Superb detail. Plenty of activity
    You forget it is on a 4 x 6 layout.
    Very Well Done.

  10. charles tabor says:

    very nice layout you never really finish on such a great hobby.there is always something to do.just have fun and enjoy.we seniors here are rebuilding a track layout after one we did have,like starting over only different and learning much more.still working on the bigger one i have two layouts one much bigger than other i recently mentioned.both in my large apt.i have model train gear all over,lots of stuff i find a hole i fill it.lots of engines,rolling stock.and all the stuff you need to make it real.we love to play all we can.morning til night.ENJOY HAVE FUN thk u crt/friends

  11. jim says:

    its awsome, nice job, hope the grand son does get to play to!!!!!

  12. Bonny aka Granny Toot says:

    Great detail, Laurence, and lovely night scenes. I can’t believe the whole thing is just 4’x6′. I’m working on a barely 4’x4′ layout for the grandson (so he won’t be so impatient waiting for the 4’x12′ main layout). I’ll print off your pictures and refer to them for some of my scenery. Thanks for sharing.
    Bonny aka Granny Toot

  13. Laurence says:

    Hi F, I believe OO gauge is similar to HO. The insulating foam is 2″ thick slab, glued to the board using pva glue. Many thanks for everyones encouraging and very nice comments.
    Best regards, Laurence.

  14. Mark Conner says:

    You ROCK Grandpa!!!

  15. Larry Barz says:

    Sometimes small says it all.
    Great job I hope your Grandson enjoys playing
    with it as much as you must have enjoyed building it.

  16. chris says:

    very well done, love the detail and the night time photos are superb. Always great to see what other folowers can do

  17. I think the layout can be described as simply, a 5 STAR PRODUCTION!

    Many thanks,


  18. TOM says:


  19. Paul Hennessey says:

    Good show Laurence! I’ve recently obtained the “toys” I grew up with. My father passed last year. Your efforts are beautiful. I hope to emulate them and many others. To keep me in check, I have a 10 year old granddaughter whose vision on life keeps me young. Model RR is a great way to retire.
    Best to You and Yours
    BTW: they call me Pepaw

  20. aLex says:

    OO? what scale is that?

  21. Bob Carter says:

    Lucky Grandson

  22. Gerry says:

    Fantastic, and all on 6×4.

  23. Will Smith says:

    would lke to see a track plan

  24. Bill says:

    From what I can tell from research, OO = 1:76 scale. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

  25. Jim Long says:

    Amazing details. I hope you grandson gets many enjoyable years model railroading.

  26. Ian says:

    the layout out standing the lights something i would like to copy that station just looks good night or day would like more photos or see it on utube

  27. paul Otway says:

    very nice layout

  28. Offshore Ant says:

    I’ve seen this layout up-close and believe me the photos only do it some justice. It is AMAZING. The detail of the moss on the rocks, smoke from the engines, mud on the trucks and the puddles at the farm gates is outstanding, you should be proud. Only if you see it for real you can then appreciate the level of detail is unlike anything you’ve EVER seen. A true artist!

  29. Great layout and photos, Laurence. Such attention to detail. Now come on, be honest! “Built it for your grandson?”. ??? !!! We all know you had a fantastic time building it. And I bet you play with it even when the grandson is not visiting. I know I would. Go on Admit it!. We’ve all been there. And one more thing. In model rail there is is no such thing as “getting carried away”. The correct term is “Having Fun”. Hope you have inspired your grandson to take up the hobby. With a layout like that, who couldn’t be inspired. Great work!

  30. fred says:

    Amazing, your layout fantastic.

    Fred ( RSA )

  31. Rod Mackay says:

    OO is 4mm to the foot, whereas HO is 3.5mm to the foot. It’s supposed to be because OO is old enough that the bodywork had to be large enough to accommodate the early electric motors. HO is more accurate – in OO the track gauge scales up to just 4’1 1/2″.
    Kits and so on are often sold as ‘suitable for OO/HO’ but very few are, if you put some OO scale motor vehicles up against HO ones, the difference is dramatic.
    I built a 6×4′ layout for my son, he was very appreciative but in truth had more fun with an old set of Triang Transcontinental we were given, as he could put it together any way he wanted, round the carpet, under the bed etc, and not fret about breaking anything. The 6×4 did end up getting a lot of use though – he and his friends later took up serious wargaming thanks to Games Workshop, and the layout was a constant battleground for orcs and wargs and Lord knows what else!
    If starting again for grandkids, I’d suggest keeping it simple, robust, and with scope for development or related play round the tracks.

  32. Sid says:

    Well Done Lawrence, Very beautifull detailed work , Very impressive for its size my friend, A lot of work in such a short period of time, I only hope my sons and mine come up to that or very near standard….
    HO comes just before OO gauge, I do know that OO gauge = 16mm to the foot when building to true scale and im not certain but HO comes in at 14mm to the foot…. For those who read this comment lol please don’t hang,draw and quarter me if I have the 14 mm wrong lol as its my best guess….

    Keep up the cracking good work Lawrence, and it would be great if you would keep us up to date with your progress on your layout…


  33. Frank says:

    Very Nice!!

  34. Jim J says:

    And he did this in less than a year. Sure puts me to shame after many years of construction.

  35. Ben Bryon says:

    Terrific layout. I , must ask how old is your grandson as I would like to build one for my grandson, however, at 4 years old everything he touches he breaks.

  36. Bruce Berens says:

    Great looking. Embarking on my own with several grandkids. Two grandaughters in particular love crafting. When posting pics and descriptions of model railroad layouts, it would be useful to state the scale. All that on a 6×4 has to be something less than 027 which I work in. Surprisingly, this us a very common omission. Thanks, B

  37. Bob Smith says:

    I’m agreeing with Al, you’re layout not only offers great appeal but simplistic operation as well. Love the detail!

  38. Methuselah says:

    Yes, I agree the night-time photos are great! And what a lot of activity you have squeezed into only 4’x6′ (roughly 200′ by nearly 300′ to scale). I like the way the scenery flows into the background photos. Very realistic.
    Good show!!

  39. perry says:


  40. Allen says:


  41. Karl says:

    I have 2 4by8 sheets of plywood in a 90 degree angle and run a027 scale i bin working on it with my 7 year old grandson but a long way from your setup my imagination are not that great. I love your pictures ,great job.

  42. Andre says:

    Whai is the size? Is it HO Thanks

  43. Job well done from the background painting to the front of the layout. You have great balance in what I’ve seen. Your lighting scheme is well organized and seems to reflect well. Keep up the great work Grandpa….I’d be a proud grandson to use and display this layout.

  44. Ken Bridge says:

    Wwooo. What an awesome lot crowded into a 6 x 4 layout. Makes my efforts look like a child’s attempt.

  45. rick k says:

    Been working feverishly in my garage stacking and piling stuff so I can start to assemble many boxes of HO I’ve collected over the years. What a waste of time after seeing what you have done, I’ve had enough space for months now! LOL.
    I’m very impressed and am archiving these photos.
    THX. Rick canada.

  46. Bumper says:

    What is a good good cleaner, what has been found the best way to clean ” 0 ” gauge Lionel train tracks and wheels of ” 0 ” gauge trains. Allot of conversations concerning N,Z H0 ,OO, and wonderful videos on there trains and layouts Are there any “O” gauge hobbits. Would love to hear your sizes of houses , people, cars, trucks. Where to build or buy firehouse, library, bank, police station,townhall. Is there any one who builds those buildings like Als son. Please write in comments


  47. Marlin L. Stevens,Sr. says:


  48. kevin says:

    Almost life like, brings back an era and memories gone but not forgotten!…………..EXCELLENT LANDSCAPING AND PATIENCE FOR DETAIL……:-):-):-):-)

  49. Steve masters says:

    Superb atmosphere with a small project, the lighting is especially effective. Using simple and uncomplicated products show what can be achieved within a relatively small time period. This is inspirational to others thinking about starting up.
    Well done

  50. Jim R says:

    Great photos, fantastic layout. Just returned from train travel and your photo of the 2 loco’s in the shed at night with the lights and night lighting, make your tracks look so very realistic. Wonderful!

    Jim R

  51. Tommy says:

    despite it’s small size, the detailing is excellent and well thought out. My favorite view is the rock cut (pic 6). This should keep his grandson happy for years

  52. Vic Heffren says:

    Great layout The night shots are beautiful THANKS VIC

  53. Dienzel Dennis says:

    I love, love, love the first engine house picture with the light shinning off the silver rails. That is so, so, realistic. Again, I love it.

  54. Cary B says:

    Awesome Laurence, love the lighting effects. Your layout covers all the bases.

    Cary B

  55. John Renard says:

    That’s cracking work, Laurence. I too am working on a 6×4 OO layout (also for my grandson, you understand . . . !) and hope it turns out half as good as yours.
    What did you use for the puddles? And where did you get those realistic figures?

  56. robin says:

    All this on a 6×4 and running OO scale. OO scale is a British scale, american runs mostly Ho. The one thing these two scales have in common is that the track gauge is the same , both being 16.5 mm or .648 of a inch.

  57. shain1611Jim Julian says:

    Great layout, which I’m sure took a great deal of work. I too am interested in some “O” gauge layouts, along with the types of buildings and other add-ones as well. I am 71, lost me wife of 44 years back in August and want to do something now to keep me busy…. Great job over all as well for this website, thanks

  58. shain1611 says:

    Great layout, which I’m sure took a great deal of work. I too am interested in some “O” gauge layouts, along with the types of buildings and other add-ones as well. I am 71, lost me wife of 44 years back in August and want to do something now to keep me busy…. Great job over all as well for this website, thanks

  59. shain1611 says:

    Love the detail and the realism of your layout..

  60. Vernnon Gittens says:

    Beautiful layout Laurence, i am new just started last month so I am looking for some ideas.Need information on DCC wiring for HO scale .

  61. Charles ZEIS says:

    Awesome. Every post I’m influenced by. I’d like to post pics of my layout I’m new at the hbby working on my ho layout for 4 months on and off. My grand dad was a loco enginer for the nickel city line Pennsylvania back in the day. Man he had a lot of stories. Thank you guys for everything.

  62. Raymond Beale says:

    Really nice layout with great lighting. But what about lights for the passenger cars themselves? Is that an option?

  63. Diane Hill says:

    Bumper. Best thing I found for cleaning track is Scotch Bright

  64. Joseph Sessa says:

    Very well done. I have ben away from train modeling for years for a myriad of reasons and knew nothing about these cardboard structures. If these are all photos of those type structures I would love to learn more. Al I ever had were those kits made by Pola which are excellent but very expensive as well.

  65. Peter Theodore says:

    You crammed a lot in such a small space and very well done!

  66. stan brosch says:

    I have a H.O. lay out on 6 x 4 plywood with multipul tacks up fpr sale along with trains, buildings etc…all for $400.00,, im in n.w. Austin texas,

  67. stan brosch says:

    I also have a lionel lay out with 100 ft of track, locomotives, cars, transformers all for $700..00!! I am in n.w.Austin ,tx

  68. Wayne Stirland says:

    is the backdrop hand painted its really good or is there somewhere I can download similar to print and glue to board?, great layout the engine shed is fantastically lit, well done.

  69. Hi Folks, Quick question for you. I’m a little confused. This is the first time I’m using atlas code 100 silver flex track. Where does the movable rail go in side or out. Some people say out side some say in side others say it don’t matter. Al you know your stuff so what ever you say is the way I’m going. Thanks for your guidance. Joe.

  70. Michael Petersen says:

    OO is 1:76 and HO is 1:87. To me, the visual difference is negligible, especially in structures. HO can run on OO track and vice versa.

  71. Tom Durham says:

    Your scenery, lighting and structures are excellent. Can you post a video of your trains in motion? Great work, Lawrence.

  72. John Robb says:

    Such an inspiring set of pics. Excellent results. You have set the bar high there with that effort. 👍

  73. Nick says:

    Laurence, can you publish the track plan. Thanks

  74. Al: Three cheers for the service you provide. It took me a while to get the drift of
    English terms ( bonnet/trunk) . One thing I’ve noticed is that English layouts are
    museum quality in detailing. It speaks well of the patience that the English have
    always had ( I’m 79 yrs old ). Please keep up the good work and I will look
    forward to having your printed buildings. “grampa RJ “

  75. Laurence, your laylot has a lot to say about you great done. AS much as I have seen and read about rock and tunnels as how they were made, way is it that you are the only one that came up useing the insulating foam to make your rocks? Seems to me that others made there rocks, hills and the like the hard way. I really like your layout, you lot did your self. The best to you your GrandSon. Ern.

  76. P.S. I forgot to say that it doesn’t matter what scale one would make a layout, just as long as it turns out right.

  77. val says:

    laurance your layout is very impressive to say the least . I’m impressed as how you carved the foam for your hills and such.i can see what a marvelous job you’ve done . I will be putting the foam on my layout soon, like mountains, hills and tunnels. but I haven’t much experience in carving the foam to look like rocks and such. I’d appreciate any tips on how to carve the foam,so it’ll be more realistic. I’d appreciate any tips and photos as to make the foam more realistic. again great job laurance on a job well done thanks val in Utah !


  78. val says:

    hi laurance this is val again, as I mentioned earlier I was greatly impressed as how well you carved the foam, so that your results looked very hopeful that when I start doing the foam on my layout, that the results like yours will turn out as great. again I’d appreciate any tips and or photos as to how I can carved the foam so that my mountains can look as realistic would be greatly appreciated. thanks again on a job well done val in Utah !!

  79. Roy Roberts says:

    Beautiful lighting on the engine house.

  80. Stephen Hill says:

    Amazing! What astonishing detail . I’m in beginning stages of my first adult model railroad , my original imagination paled greatly in comparison , thank you for insight and encouragement , tips and such . I’m excited to start my scenery and townships , the trains are magnificent but I’m realizing the true challenge and skill is in the modeling . Thanks again for the inspiration and tips . Hope to submit my photos one day soon .

  81. Tom Danieli says:

    Laurence you have done a superb job in such a small space. I hope that I can do half as well.

  82. bruce wilson says:

    I particularly enjoyed the nighttime engine-shed!

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