Large O scale track layouts

Lawrence has been in touch again – it’s great to see large O scale track layouts.
“Hi Al

As always thanks for all you have done to keep us all informed of the layouts from many different people around the world.

A few years ago, a good friend passed away. He not only had multiple train layouts (in Pennsylvania in the summer and Florida in the winter) but he was a collector of trains.

The fall of last year his wife put all the O scale trains into an auction. I decided to bid on a few items and won some. To my surprise I got more then I bargained on.

At the time I had my HO layout. And I had put together an O scale layout to run a Rail King 2-6-0 engine.

This runs on a 32-inch radius curve. Here is the layout that I had at the time. The U-shaped layout (18 inches from the floor, future plans on HO above the O scale at 43 inches) in green was the O scale that was running and working on the scenery. The inside was the HO scale layout.

O scale layout

The items that I bid on showed the items but with a white background. So, there was no reference to size. That included when I went on line to see their typical cost as a reference to know how much to bid. The engine that I had ran on the 32-inch curves and was a 2-6-0 engine with coal car that is seventeen inches long.

Large O scale track layouts

I bid on two engines that were 4-6-2 that turned out to be 21 inches long. I picked them up at 30 percent of full price. These ended up taking a 45-inch radius curve.

So, this blew my initial O scale layout out of the water. I also picked up two engines with coal cars (one 4-8-4 and one claimed to be the Mattak at 2-6-6-2) at 35 percent of cost. Both of these takes a 54-inch radius curve (groan) at 27 inches long.

I also picked up the ‘Greenbrier’ at 25 percent of cost (purchase at dealer is $1,200) which is 2-6-6-6 and turns out to be 31 inches long (double groan). Great deals but my present layout cannot handle these three. The second picture shows the size differences.

I decided it was time for a major change. Trash the HO scale and save as much as possible. Upgrade the O scale to handle the all the engines.

I managed to save and clean up all the HO track. Save the building, trees, autos, etc. into storage from the town, mountain, farm, Ren Faire, and six level double track double helix.

Then using ‘AnyRail 6’ to design the following layout (picture # 3). Notice the addition between the original U shape layout. The inside track is the 32 inch radius. The next three tracks are 45-inch, 54-inch and 72-inch radius respectively.

O scale layout

The initial O scale uses three rail ‘ROSS’ tracks. I ordered all the rest of the track a little at a time from my local dealer ‘Rail Tales’. Got some in but with the pandemic and Ross being shut down and some workers having the virus they are now working on back orders (been waiting for a couple of months).

The next four pictures displays where I am at the present. No permanent building placement or scenery until the track is powered up and the trains run with 95 percent of the problems taken care of. That’s the fun of large O scale track layouts.

Large O scale track layouts

Large O scale track layouts

O scale layout

The O scale is 18 inches off the floor, so no working under the layout. My understanding is I need one transformer for each track. Have designed the control console but not built it yet. But the electrical layout I put together. The terminal board connections on the back of the control console are displayed next. One terminal board for each track. And due to the length of the bus lines I split the lines into four directions.

I was told I need feeder lines about every 8 to 10 feet. ROSS has track that have electrical connections, no soldering needed – yippee. With this data I can set up terminal blocks at every feeder connection point. Schematic displayed.

Using an extra tall facia board, I installed ‘split wire loom flex tubing cable conduit’ and terminal boards on the outside of the track.

The upper conduit will carry the 32- and 45-inch track bus wire. The middle conduit will carry the 54- and 72-inch track bus wire.

The bottom conduit will carry building lights when I get around to it. The facia board with cabling and feeder wire terminal boards is now displayed.

The feeder wires are connected in the picture.

The bus wire is gauge 10 solid (less magnetic hysteresis and lower resistance per linear foot but not very flexible) and the feeder wires are 19-gauge multiple flexible strands. A hole is drilled at each electrical track connections to feed the wires down and easily pulled to the front of the layout.

Large O scale track layouts

Large O scale track layouts

The length of each individual track comes out to roughly 1328 inches or just under 111 feet.

Is my math correct – –

actual inches = (1328 inches / X) = 2.4 track inches / (12 inches * 10 feet) = 66,400

then actual miles = (66400 actual inches / 12 inches) / 5280 feet = 12.6 miles.

Madison Virginia”

A big thanks to Lawrence for adding to the collection of large O scale track layouts – I can’t wait to see this one progress.

You can see more of his O scale here.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you’re are missing out on all the fun.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still updated everyday.

28 Responses to Large O scale track layouts

  1. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Lawrence. Arent you a lucky boy The physical size of your layout is very impressive as is the track layout design. Please keep us up to date with progress. I like many others look forward to watching your progress.

  2. Ben Hawkins says:

    Your 0 gauge layout looks great, give us an update as it progress This is a great E-Mail, I don’t see many 0 gauge articles.
    I am getting my 0 gauge Track, Switches and a lot more to get ready to start building in a few weeks myself.

  3. Great to have the room for 0 gauge , nice progres. will be great to see the completed layout

  4. Hi Lawrence
    Very immpressive!
    Please keep us up to date with progress you make with the senics etc.
    I like many others will look forward to watching your progress.
    Also a possible video?
    BR Peter

  5. Rod says:

    A huge effort to go to, but I’m puzzled that you end up with just running round and round in circles. In so much space you could surely have just used large radius curves, which the smaller locos would be just as happy on, and had sidings, yard and engine terminal to play with?

  6. Mike Street says:

    Lawrence what a great space for an O gauge layout, not sure your maths are correct though. I don’t model in O but according to info on web 1/4″ = 1 scale foot
    Therefore you multiply your total real inches by 4 to get scale feet.
    That equals 5312 feet which is about 1 mile in real life.
    No doubt some folks will disagree with my calculations 😄
    Still will be a great layout though
    Mike S

  7. Robert Brady says:

    YO Larry, No O go back with HO!
    Ho looks more authentic O gauge looks more toyish. Well to each there own. Good luck.
    The Critic

  8. Jack Masarie says:

    Always a pleasure to see the work of fellow “O Scalers”. Yes, some of us just
    “can’t give up on the big stuff”.
    Shlack in NC

  9. John Dougherty says:

    Hi Larry I am doing the change from O gauge to HO , I have a lot of rolling stock, buildings and houses and scenery , if your interested in anything I am willing do some really good deals or trading for HO stuff. Thank you John

  10. lawrence castell says:

    yes i thought about a complete turn around. With a 72″ radius that makes a 144″ for a 90 degree half circle. Add space on the outside of a minimum of 2 feet each side comes to 16 foot circle. That is a 10 foot diameter circle in the middle that will be difficult to access OR 6-8 hole in the middle with a lift or swing bridge for access. Remember the track is 19 inches off of the floor. Decision equals no loop. The final plan is to have the HO layout above the O layout at about 40-43 inches off the floor. The N layout at about 50 inches above the HO layout off the floor. This will keep my busy for years.

  11. I agree with Mike Street about his math.. I have a degree in math.
    Lester, GA in the good ole USA

  12. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Nice looking layout cant wait till its done!! Good Luck!! Seen many O scale layout that look just as good as HO, But remember its a toy so enjoy!

  13. Bill Sammons says:


    Very ambitious and impressive. I live in C-ville. Would like to be in contact. After years away from model trains am now starting on building a new layout.

    Are you actually just using the foam board alone as a track base or are you putting it down on plywood first? Hard to tell from the pictures.

    Also can you clarify how you used the six layer double track double helix in the HO?

  14. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!!! I wish i could have mine that big.

  15. Douglas Palmeri says:

    Larry; Good Luck with the upgrade – I am just starting a Lionel based O gauge layout. My layout is approximately 8 feet wide by 20 feet long. I am running all 060 radius curves because all of my engines require a minimum of 054 curves with the exception of one engine which runs on 036 radius which I have set up as an interior layout. All of my track is connected however due to the size I will run two transformers to provide power. I am using Lionel Fastrack with their Legacy Control System and WIFI and Lionel engines to simplify the overall operation. I prefer the size of O gauge but it definitely demands more space. Good luck

  16. Sheldon. PHOENIX. 🇺🇸 says:

    WOW ! Wonderful space for lots of trains.
    I envision back problems in your future…..

  17. Léo Noury says:

    Hi Laurence, you could run all smaller locos respectively on all larger curves for more flexibility of operation. Just a Though.

    Great work with plenty of possibilities with such a large set up for .

    Looking forward for new progress.

    Robert, my guess is that you have not seen what’s in store in O gauge, sure it is not toyish any more.
    Québec, Canada

  18. Bruce says:

    Appears your layout is about 24′ x 60′.
    I am envious of the basement space you have and so much unclaimed by your better half.
    I need to drag my rear into my lower area and begin my 10′ by 60′ space.
    Have all my O Lionel in boxes since I have moved and am just getting ready.
    Take your 2 longest “cars” and some of your Ross or Gargraves track and for each diameter, lay a curved piece aside a curved piece each of the desired radius. Place the two cars next to each other on the 2 tracks. Move them back and forth so they do not touch and verify that your two radii are appropriately spaced apart.
    Your plans are valid for a great amount of joy.
    I can envision tunnels, bridges, rivers, towns, etc.

  19. Victor Koyano says:

    Hi Lawrence. You are much luckier getting locos cheaply. I just lost $67 on auction because power pack had a broken main switch! Auctioneer said it was my fault not asking if it worked! The BBB said they don’t do small cases, get a lawyer! So, be very careful online. Buy from a known dealer. Many sellers are on your spams.
    Nice layout.

  20. I like O scale (not to be confused with O gauge a.k.a. similar to Lionel that are a toy) since it is so detailed in 1:45.O scale need larger radii than O gauge toy trains. Am I incorrect?

  21. Bob Beard says:

    Please don’t call tenders, “coal cars.” This from sentence that begins,” I picked up two engines with coal cars..,,”. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be too critical (here I am guilty of one of the worse sins of the hobby – being too critical – my apologies). Coal cars in the U.S. are either hopper cars or high sided gondolas). Tender are what carry the coal (or oil) and water to supply the locomotive.

  22. Larry says:

    What a great change over. You have inspired me to dump my HO setup and go O. Currently I have two set up one of each, Time to build the O up.

  23. Andrew Aves says:

    Love the low seat on casters for working at such a low level – Andrew in Oz

  24. Louis F. Caputo says:

    Description of the wiring for this layout is astounding to me! It just seems so mind-boggling that I wonder if it’s possible for some of us non-electrical engineers to grasp and put into action! Kudos to Lawrence for his magnificent vision!!

  25. Dan Williams says:

    I’m still in planning stages but am working on a HO main layout with N gauge “up in the mountains” around two sides to be “off in the distance”. I’m near Richmond. Doing HO as I will be combing my trains and an HO slot car track.

  26. I always wonder why people build these large displays. I am planning on converting a room (13′ x 12′) into a display. Then, I would offer scheduled train shows and collect funds for Wounded Warrior. I wanted the display to offer an opportunity for children to interact with the display outside the tracks. Has anything like this been done?

  27. Care B says:

    Hello Lawrence
    That’s one very impressive O scale layout. Your narrative was excellent. Keep up the awesome work and Model On
    Cary B New Market Maryland

  28. Joseph says:

    Very nice layout. Appreciated an article on O gauge. This is what I run, and I don’t find many articles on this gauge. Thank You and keep them coming. Enjoy

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