Lionel Model Railroad taking shape…

Barry’s made progress with his new Lionel layout:


Here are some interim picture updates just to show you the progress but I’ve still got a couple of days left. Hope you like the looks of it.  I’m planning my next projects already and it will be HO scale and entirely layers of 2″ foam to achieve an extremely light weight layout with several levels of track and tunnels and bridges. 

I’m also going to start my own personal project that will be an HO scale and have a double track 48″ helix at each end and the lower level will stage an additional 6-8 complete trains.



Seeing Barry’ layout spring to life makes me realize how much I have to learn!

Anyhow, if you’re like me, there’s always here for more step by steps.



PS And don’t forget the ‘ebay cheat sheet‘!


49 Responses to Lionel Model Railroad taking shape…

  1. David says:

    Very nice work. It all is very real looking. Hope I can do half as well.


  2. david says:

    Nicely done Barry …that has really tacken shape in such a short time.

  3. jim says:

    love the simpliscity of it, looks great.

  4. jim says:

    just goes to show that all of the fancy switches and multi tracks are not always needed. hardly wait to see it completed

  5. jonathan says:

    Coming along nicely. Landscape and coloring are very pleasing for a simple layout.

  6. david says:

    could you tell me how two trains can pass each other

  7. Gwilym says:

    nice one how did you do the crossing of the 4 tracks it looks good ,
    i have justt took all my track apart to paint rust to the sides that
    took 2 weeks , and now trying to figure out where they set up

  8. mike gray says:

    It would be quite easy to run two trains on this lay-out. Put signals at the rail crossings, then a simple circuit relay to control the signal lights. Signals ( red/green)and power on and off to the intended train movement.It would become fully automatic, and look very real when running

  9. lubeoil says:

    Yep they live among us twin tracks ?

  10. George says:


    This is “O” gauge. All three rails are used for a single track. There is no passing. It’s a single figure 8 track.

    Here is a rudimentary explanation: Look at the section called “Three-Rail Systems”.


  11. john homer says:

    nice one barry carnt wait for it to be finesht it look verey good barry keep up the good work ,

  12. Kim says:

    wow nice job.looks realistic in deed.thanks for the photos

  13. Dr Bruce says:

    You could incorporate some storm-water culverts (for increased details) and show 2 or 3 dry runoff contours.

  14. Rick says:

    Now that looks like something I can do as a first timer. Small and simple. But I’m sure it is harder than it looks. Great job Barry.

  15. Steve Martin says:

    Hi Alastair,

    I was trying to workout if Barries Figure 8 layout is for 2 trains going in opposite directions, or for just 1 train that has the old 3 rail configuration. So I’m asking for your asistence and advice in advissing me as to whitch of my understandings is infact right or are they both wrong, so would you tell me what Barry uses his figure 8 layout for please!

    Kindest Regards,
    Steve Martin.

  16. Len Lainsbury says:

    Brilliant again ! But can anyone tell me exactly where I can obtain such dense polystyrene in the UK?
    I have only been able to locate the loosely made variety and find this below standard.

  17. Barry, you’re not just a nice guy, an engineer, a good friend, wonderful husband and father, but also a creative genius! Where did you get that from? Did you get a creative education next to your enginering one?

    Your Dutch friend

  18. LÉO says:

    Superb, superb, I wish I could be half as good.

    Question: there are black square in between the ties, I suspect what it is,

    although I never recall having this type of activator. Is it magnetic or

    what? I would like to known the na me and suppleir?



  19. Dingo says:

    Wots the third rail for ?????? Other than that it’s a great layout for a Fig. 8.

  20. paul ashton says:

    hi my name is paul just would like to know how dose the cross work ps i love your layout

  21. piet Pheiffer says:

    Very nice. our modelers in South Africa could do with some inspiration.
    keep it up.

    Piet Pheiffer
    Member of Emrig Model Railway Club

  22. Zachary says:

    Everyone that is wondering. It is a Lionel Train Track. It has three rails for an “O” gauge track. It is just a regular “Figure 8” layout.

  23. johnstuf says:

    It is looking better and better. Keep up the good work.

  24. Max Sarazin says:

    Nothing wrong with a figure 8 with a pair of switces connecting the two lobes. Can reverse direcction once, then back thru to reverse again. Love those slow backing moves. I’ve just described my Lionel in 1939. Adding a couple industrial spurs would help also.
    Max, Weona Railroad

  25. Max Sarazin says:

    Third rail is nice, insulate one outside rail and every wheelset closes the circuit – a switch, to operate signals, crossing gates, etc. If you don’t like 3rd rail you don’t like Lionel the great American icon.

  26. wayne says:

    Could someone address couplings (ie) what are the best couplings , how to adjust,& any other hints for my train not uncoupling prematurly


  27. Tom Burris Sr says:

    Reminds me of my figure 8 lionel way back when. But my only mountain or other relief was a styrafoam mountain.

  28. Mike Ing says:

    i would like to build a layout using the smallest guage model railroad available! consider once there was H.O. than N guage Now i think Z guage ! Nice job! mayby Ican build a Z guage figure 8 in a breif case!

  29. For Wayne: Re: couplers – If your trains are using the “old style” hook/horn (I am assuming HO) you will want to switch to any of the newer style “knuckle” couplers. Kadee, being a major brand, but many company’s are now producing them. For these couplers to work well, they need to be mounted to the car body and NOT the truck (wheel set). Most derailing problems occur because of the pulling on the couplers. This occurs mostly when pulling longer trains or trying to back up a train through a turnout (switch) or on a curve.

  30. Hunter says:

    Barry: Thanks for sharing!

    Was the track on board or the foam. If on foam, how did you attach and stabilize?

    Thanks, MCH

  31. Swav says:

    For all my two rail fans, how do you make a reverse loop without using several DPST switches to manipulate the polarity of the tracks? The Lionel operators dont have that problem because the center rail is always the power rail. More information available in books and online.

  32. Greg Pierce says:

    The Japanese are now producing trains smaller than Z it is T-Gauge which is 1:450 as opposed to Z scale at 1:220.

    To olur friends ‘down-under’ do you have 3 rail O scale available?
    The layout depicted is using Lionel ‘FasTrack’ which is similar to ‘Unitrack’ concept inthat it incorporates the track with plastich roadbed that snaps together.

  33. Nick Murphy says:

    I think this is fantastic as I,m new to this wonderful hobby when I first saw the first pictures I thought this isn”t much and then these pictures what a differentence the scenery makes I would love to get intouch with the guy in South Africa as I live here allso and I don’t have a club near me,well done Barry.

  34. Bob Bouskill says:

    I have been in this hobby for sixty years and I find the questions astounding. This is Lionel three rail track. Perhaps Lionel is not as big in Europe. Lionel train run on alternating current and reversing the trains is accomplished by a relay type switch mounted on each engine. Lionel calls it an E unit. The outside rails all carry the electricity for one side of the circuit. The center rail is insulated and has the other half of the circuit. The engines have two rollers on spring arms to pick up power from the center third rail.

    The crossing is all insulated so no electrical considerations are needed. You just need to feed power from the transformer to one outer rail and the other wire goes to the center rail. That is all there is. The track with all the ties rather than Lionel sparse looking ties with only three ties in almost every ten inches is made by Cargraves company. They have a website.

    I understand this project is to be sold on eBay. I am very interested to see how that goes. Best of Luck Barry! Oh yeah, I almost forgot, love your work on this project.


  35. Mike R says:

    Barry, I really like the layout you decided to go for, excpesially since you will be selling on E Bay. You kept everything simple, and no rise higher than your foam. I have done a few layouts myself, and just wanted to say even when it looks so basic and small, they can still be a pain in the bottom. Patience and planning are always keys to a succesful layout. Good luck with the finished product, and cant wait to see the final photos. Keep on Rolling. Mike

  36. Ron Lamb says:

    Thank you Barry
    You have given me some grteat ideas.
    Also nice to create your own ideas not just buying them off the shelf and cheaper!!.

  37. John Reynolds says:

    amazing work and fast too!

  38. Ed Dunaway says:


    Been a Huge Lionel Fan since the late 50’s
    Your layout brings back a lot of memories
    of one of my first layouts way back when.

    Your layout has come a long fast Nice Work………
    Can’t wait to see more Great Job……………

  39. Joel says:

    Barry, I have just started again after many, many years. I seen your model and thought that this would be a good way to jump into the water again. I used your pictures as a model and inspiration. It only took me a month to complete. I would like to share the final results, how can do that?

    Thanks for the inspiration, Joel

  40. Dave says:

    What sort of tools do you use to carve and shape the landforms from the insulation?

  41. jeff says:

    I didn’t know 3 rail was still around or could look this good. Gr8 stuff.

  42. Tracy Watts says:

    I Am So Grateful For All The Helpful Tips You Provide!! I Am 51, And I Have Been A Model Rail Road Junkie, Since Grade School!!! I Have Had Many HO Lay Outs In The Past, But Now I Am Trying my hand at N scale. So far I Love It, But I Would Love Some Ideas On Any Layout Designs You Might Have For Me, As I Just Moved, & Am Starting A New, N Scale Layout.
    Thank You, Soo Much, & Happy Holidays!!

  43. darrel wright says:

    Just goes to show that less can sometimes be more, great work

  44. Angelo Del Bosco says:

    Nice job!!! New comer to serious train layout projects and the 2″ building foam idea is great. Opens up a word of possibilities using 4+ layers. Excellent

  45. Jim Keiper says:

    I appreciate these photos. I learn something new every day. Thanks.

  46. hcg says:

    It’s really a nice annd useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with
    us. Please keep us up to date like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  47. Jim Logue says:

    Really like the design of mountains.

  48. Skip L. says:

    It’s really more of an American toy train layout than a complicated modelers project. I’m a toy train fan myself (Marx trains mostly) and also enjoy simple track layouts for running my older 1920-1950’s era trains. I don’t think tho that I would put all that landscaping effort into decorating a simple figure 8 plan, as just watching an old antique train run round and round is enough to put one in a meditative state… (Or, sometimes known as, ‘asleep’? ;>})

  49. Antony says:

    Simple but beautiful. Cracking job well done.

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