Vintage lionel train layouts

I do love it when vintage lionel train layouts are in my inbox – Ed’s sent me this and I love it:


I found your site about a year ago after my step-son was given his grandfather’s Lionel’s from 1936. I told him if his grandmother gave them to him, his grandfather passed away 9 years ago, that I would build a platform for him.

He has Cerebal Palsy and is in a wheelchair, but wanted to do something to honor his grandfather. These trains have been in boxes for over 50 years. I had only ever put a piece of plywood on the floor when my boys were little with some track in a circle going around the Christmas tree.

I checked out every post you had and read all of the advice. I also looked at a ton of UTube sites on building platforms. Well after getting over my fear of taking on a project I knew little about I set out to build this platform for my step-son. I’ve enclosed pictures from beginning to end, ending with a video if I can figure out how to post it.

Thank you for all of your posts and advice, it helped more than you know.


vintage lionel train layouts

vintage lionel train layouts

vintage lionel train layouts

lionel train

vintage lionel train layouts

vintage lionel train layouts


Seeing the other Bob’s use of printed stone wall, I thought I would share my attempt. I printed out the Stone Wall in black and white multiple times and used them to cover the two ramps leading up the overpass I added to my layout.

The first two pictures show the ramps in progress.

printable scenery

printable scenery

The last two pictures show the completed ramps and overpass and then I added my weathered Walthers Cornerstone Reliable Storage and Warehouse.

I have converted all my Atlas turnouts with Tortoise motors and am in the process of wiring them to the new control panel. When that is finished I will turn to adding scenery and buildings to my expanded area. I hope to create a video with my GoPro when the new section has scenery and more buildings.

printable buildings

Bob, Virginia”

“Hi Al, been a bit hot this last week or more to go in the loft to my model railway, so had a day out on the North Yorkshire Moors to day and of course the Railway, always good to give a bit of inspiration for the layout…and well what better to do than go out and get some real steam ideas.

Deb and myself enjoyed very much.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

That’s all for today folks.

I particularly liked Ed’s post, it’s great to add to the Vintage lionel train layouts – fantastic stuff – but a big thanks to Dave and Bob too.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you start on your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



29 Responses to Vintage lionel train layouts

  1. Terry Miller says:

    It appears Ed used wooden pallets to support his table. If so, what a great idea. they’re often given away free and placed as he did, make a strong undersupport system.

    Idaho USA

  2. svet vykrest says:

    Thank you very much for the video,Dave ,it`s fantastic !

  3. george zaky says:

    Great job. Now support big Al’s cause and line the countryside with some of his buildings. Have to see those old trains running.
    Cant wait for the updates. Great layout.
    Heartfelt thanks. I can smell the countryside.
    Big Al
    Great post!!

  4. Bob Shipley says:

    Bob in Virginia- great job. The overpass looks great.

    Ed- great looking layout. Very nice.

    Bob in NY

  5. David Coelho says:

    Thank you for showing the LIONEL layout.
    Since I do O gauge, I don’t care to see HO layouts because of the differences in table top size needed. So please, shoe more articles and photos using Lionel track systems.
    Thank you


  6. john Berger says:

    What did you use on top of the poly for the mountain? The white stuff….Thanks John B

  7. Mike. says:

    Great filming as always Dave, we watch NYMR on their cameras, but we miss out on all that you have captured on film..

  8. Stosh Polodski says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jim AZ says:

    Ed, you should be very proud and pleased with your great looking layout. I really like your use of the foam board to create the landscape features and your unique use of pallets to build a deck. Great work and thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  10. Old wooden pallets, in the front room, on a cream coloured carpet! Does Ed live on his own!!

  11. Ed, If that is your first try, I give up. Very nice. If you care to try your hand on mine come on over.

  12. Robert Brady says:

    Great mountain scape

  13. Being a forties thru early sixties Lionel O gauge guy myself, great so see this O gauge lay out! The young man is very fortunate to have someone build all this with him. Ed would appear to have some back ground in working with his hands, and with his head. Great effort. Garry

  14. Dominic Joseph Radanovich, Milwaukee. says:

    You’ve done a colossal job with this layout. What a brilliant idea to use old pallets for the supports. (The supports and frame work for my layout came from old wooden organ pedal pipes which I cut apart into planks and then to the sizes I needed. It’s great to conserve good wood!) I hope Your son (and You, too) get many years of enjoyment from the old Lionel trains. They are truly beautiful. Your mountain area and the plains area are quite beautiful. I would love to see the trains in motion.

  15. Ken from PA, USA says:

    Ed, if that was your first attempt at a layout, great job! It inspired me to start the mountains and tunnels on my own layout.
    Bob, nice ramps one your roads.
    Dave, always nice to see and hear a steam locomotive at work.
    Thanks Al for maintaining this sight. Always enjoy what shows up from all the modelers. Ken from PA, USA

  16. Robert Rolfe says:

    Ed a great use of pallets, nice to see someone thinking outside the box

  17. Dan Hubecky says:

    Is this Lionel O gauge? Where is the center 3rd rail?

  18. Jim Maitland says:


    Great start. Yes it is nice to see the larger gauges now and then.. Everyone posted has done great things. My O gauge & standard are on display shelves since I only run them at Christmas time. I “play” with 1:1 scale most of the time at the B&O RRM

  19. Norman says:

    Dave, you could always introduce real steam into your layout by buying a Hornby 00 Live Steam loco and controller.

  20. Ian McDonald says:

    great get started photos. great pictures of the ramp. great photos and video of the day out. thanks for sharing.

  21. Hank Lambert says:

    Very Nice! I am a complete beginner and have just started laying out my first train layout, an N-scale small town. I was having trouble deciding how to do my small mountain with a tunnel for two tracks. I love how he did his mountain tunnels and now I know that is how I am going to do mine.


    I thought Lionel had three rail track. Very nice work though.

  23. Norman Lawrence says:

    To Bob in Virginia
    I also am in the process of converting Atlas over to Tortoise motors. I appreciate that the switch points remain in position and the added plus of the extra internal contacts will help with signaling. Several more left and then can focus on the control board. The local train club uses Tortoise machines controlled from a dispatcher’s tower during their operating sessions. Check them out at Miniature train club of York, PA. They have been a great help to me along with Al’s posts in getting my own layout up and running.
    Norm in York, PA

  24. Cary E Price says:

    Great build Ed! Sure your grandson and you will have a great time running those 50 year old trains. Can’t wait to see it- send us a video. Cary in KY

  25. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    ED…really nice work, it is very pleasing to study the landscape and the pallets give a strong support. I built a large train shed/tunnel for our riding scale trains using pallets several years ago. Really cost effective. Are you able to reach in the back side of the mountain to retrieve cars if they derail?
    Bob I like your work as well, the overpass is coming along nicely. I see you are a musician too?
    Dave…I sure enjoyed your video as always, great stuff. Of course like the music too.
    Some made mention of Ed’s 3 rail track not seeing the 3rd rail. It is obviously there, I wonder if they may have glossed over the pictures quickly and was looking at Bobs pictures thinking they were Ed’s pictures yet. Anyway, Ed’s 3 rail track shows up very clearly.
    Like Al, it is always fun to see model railroads get started. And see progress along the way.
    Dick from Hardin Mt USA

  26. Gee, not only do the Brit’s drive on the wrong side of the road they quire often pull from the wrong end of the loco. Charlie from Seminole Florida

  27. Jim Turner says:

    I’ve never been choked up by a RR story before, Ed. A true labor of love. I pray you and your son have many great times riding the rails together. Will you be able to rig it so he can man the throttle and throw the switches?

  28. Stephen White says:

    Great footage Dave, thanks to you and crew. Can ANYONE tell me how the driver can see what’s ahead, in a steam engine running in REVERSE?

  29. Orvan Gene Hatfield says:

    Al, is it just me. Why are British trains so nice and clean, when all the America trains are dirty?

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