Marcus’ Layout

“Hi Al,

I am a subscriber to your email post, and would like to send you some pics of my layout here in Sydney that I have been working on for the last couple of years.

I started building Model railways in the late 1970’s in the UK, and this would now be my third proper layout (much to my wife’s dismay).

The layout started out as a British Rail outline, but is now changing to a German/Swiss bavarian one! It’s about 4×4 metres and is very detailed (I think) with scratch built catenary etc..

I enjoy your site very much, and look forward to your response.

Best regards,


(Images are clickable)

“On that meat tray suggestion; if you use an airbrush to paint larger areas or any size area where Styrofoam is connected’ use ordinary flat house paint, or artist “gesso” to prime, and strengthen the binder of the paint. Too often people airbrush Styrofoam without sealing or priming, and it peels off or tends to show the “pellet” effect that comes with Styrofoam. Plus you can stipple the paint or primer with use of a coarse bristle brush to create texture i.e. stucco or stone.


That’s all this time. Thank you all for the comments on the ‘ebay cheat sheet‘ that keep rolling in. They really do put a smile on my face.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you take those first steps on your very own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

100 Responses to Marcus’ Layout

  1. John says:

    Tremendous pics and a great painting tip to boot! Thanks for sharing them fellows! I really like the pic of the tunnel with only the underlying structure (unfinished). That sort of thing is very helpful to the less knowledgeable of us!


  2. Jan says:

    Great going 🙂
    One comment… the house lights are too bright.

  3. Albert Weir says:

    Hello Marcus
    thats a nice looking job youve done very authentic

  4. Dennis Singham says:

    Awesome piece of work….so detailed oriented. If a person who doesn’t know about model railroad can be fooled as if it real ….you truly have a blessing talent. Dennis

  5. well done sir, with lots of attention to detail, good job

  6. Roland Burch says:

    Your pictures look so real. You have a great touch for detail.

  7. Troy Wetzel says:

    These are good photos look like the rean thing I’m impressed. good job.

  8. rayboy says:

    Wow what a layout can you come here and make mine as

  9. JD says:

    Great pics of Marcus’ layout…impressed..:O) J xx

  10. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Can we see more?

  11. Peter the Mackem Jones says:

    Brilliant layout Marcus a superb bid of modelling

  12. Robert Arnold says:

    Great photo work Marcus.
    You have excellent detail, extreme realism, and it is well laid out.
    Keep up the amazing work.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Robert from Canada.

  13. Navy J says:

    Amazing detail. And wonderful photos. While looking at the photos in larger size, made me feel I was actually viewing a working railroad. Excellent.

  14. sundaram says:

    That was a fantastic layout. Very realistic (including the spare rail by the side of the track). The painting is exceptional.

  15. Christine says:

    Wonderful layout. So real. Good job.

  16. LarryJohnson says:

    Fantastic layout Wish mine looked that good

  17. Colin Pryce says:

    Marcus, you have your ballast very realistic. On your BR pics it takes a second look to make sure one is looking at a model track! Very impressive realism!

  18. John B says:

    That’s very realistic! Awesome work!

  19. Ed Dunaway says:

    Amazing eye to detail, love the posters on the buildings and the mountains Great Job!

  20. Bill Fitzpatrick says:

    That’s a very fine job Marcus. Well proportioned. Not “too much” of any one thing. You can add or subtract details without any major rebuilding any still have a whole new look. The catenary looks fantastic. That’s way beyond my
    patience and ability limits

  21. Nice layout Marcus, congrats!
    Could you tell me where you bought/where the backdrops, they are exactly what I need for my On30?

  22. Neil says:

    The first pic has to be based on Harrow on The Hill on the Met line. For seven years from 1968-1975 I stood just around the corner to the left of the elevator door just about every day in life on my way home from school. Either by perfect modelling or pure chance it is an exact copy. I will see if I can find a pic of the real thing back then, I must have one somewhere.

  23. StJohn says:

    excellent detailing

  24. longovince says:

    Fantastic and oh so real looking. Your lights are probably the right intensity but to expose for the other low light detail the lights can sometimes be over exposed.
    Great Job

  25. James Quirk says:

    my wife wishes I would finish my layout like you have done. Fantastic!

  26. JR Gray says:

    Great pictures and an extraordinary layout… Once my layout is finished, I hope people will say it contains the same detail of your layout… Thanks for sharing… Yes, Can we see more please.

  27. chris says:

    outstanding detail, thankring with usyou for sha

  28. Gordon s from AUS says:

    you are the man

  29. Cord says:

    Beautiful, Marcus. A couple of these pictures make it hard to believe it’s a model.

  30. Barry. in Devon says:

    Hi Marcus, you have a keen eye and a believable layout.
    I noticed that a lot of your rails have gaps at the join. Is the gap on both rails and is it to cause a clikity clack. Would love to hear a train running over them.

  31. John says:

    Thanks for your efforts

  32. paul Otway says:

    it looks impressive

  33. casey says:

    Wow! Did you guys happen to notice how clean it is in Marcus’ layout? I’m hoping to find a cheap apt. to rent there so I can move 🙂 Outstanding pics 🙂

  34. Tracy Brown says:

    Really cool

  35. Andrew says:

    Would be very interested to know how to make the catenary from scratch.
    Stunning setup

  36. Andrew Tillbrook says:

    Truly stunning detail and great to see the tunnel under construction; I am weighing up the options to construct a hill and tunnel and this has given me very helpful ideas. The realism of the scenery is terrific. I noticed one comment about the lights being bright but wonder if this more to with the level of exposure with the camera?

    I look at this photos with my 7 year old son – all I can is that I have a real challenge to come anywhere near the authenticity!

    Thank you very much for sharing your work

  37. Tom Oliver says:

    Just a minute, I have to pick my jaw up from the floor! Absolutely brilliant layout, and photography. Great effort!

  38. D.Milburn says:

    Real nice i had to take a double take cause some of the pics looked so real!

  39. Tom says:

    Marcus … fantastic pictures … fantastic layout … and just one more word … FANTASTIC!!

    Ed … great tip!

    Thanks to you and Al for sharing.



  40. A great layout the detail is outstanding, love the tunnels and the mountains look so real.the line up of the cars look superb.

  41. Lawrence Phipps says:

    A great layout the detail is fantastic. Love the different levels of the track, As shown Mother earth is not flat something we should all bear in mind when building a layout.

  42. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    Great layout, superb detailing and great ideas for us novices.

  43. Rod Mackay says:

    Seems a shame you’ve decided to go German since you were doing British so very nicely, but that’s half the fun isn’t it, been there, done that, what’s next sort of thing? I think that one long girder is doing very well to hold up that whole hill though, maybe something more tunnelly called for? Cheers,

  44. Bedros Anserian says:

    Amazing and so natural. Good job, and thanks sharing with us the layout.

  45. robin biles says:

    It simply does not get much better than this!. Thank you.

  46. mike Mike says:

    Great layout, anymore pictures to come.

    keep up the good work that you have produced.

  47. THOMAS says:


  48. Larry Bates says:

    Nice layout Marcus,
    Great Detail work. I have to ask,
    The motor car with the #’s: HKH 1810
    in image: IMG_0779
    Is that a Jaguar?
    I have been looking for ine of those for years.

  49. Eppi Santiago says:

    Very impressive. Good job.

  50. Marcus Doling says:


    Thanks for your observations Rod regarding the single girder supporting the mountain! This is still work in progress and will probably include a part tunnel portal.

    The motor cars are from Oxford Diecast. And the car on the right is a Mk1 E-type Jag (I think) They are really well detailed and not that expensive. I actually think they suit HO scale better than OO scale, but I may be wrong!

    Regarding the British versus German/Swiss theme, I’m now having second thoughts on this! I’ll take some new photos with some British rail rolling stock and a bit of re-arranging of the scenery/backdrops etc and see what you all think.

    Best regards,


  51. Bud says:

    If you showed your photos to someone and aksed them if they could tell which town they are the person wouldn’t know it was a model rr!
    As with everyone else your photos look real. The picture of the 4 cars in the lot do not look like “toy” cars? And the poster on the wall in back of the cars of the woman modeling a bottle of water also looks like a real picture/poster.

    I’m very impressed with what you’ve done!

  52. Dr Bruce King says:

    Hi Marcus
    Further to Rod Mackay’s observation re your very long free span tunnel entrance girder, I offer the further comment. The depth of the girder (handrail) is in a realistic sense too small unless one postulated hidden post-tensioning cables. Being a steel structure however, in contrast to structural prestressed / post- tensioned concrete, significant visible strengthening to cope with the post tensioning induced compressive forces need to be allowed for.

    On balance, to be in keeping with a sense of realism, a flat arch or double cantilever design would provide a more economic design solution.

    Of course a midspan support column will answer both the need for practical economics as well as a simple fix of your supperb model.

    Furthermore and either case, I believe the bean ends would need to be supporte by either a structural steel or appropriately sized reinforce concrete abbutment which would also be visible. My the length we go to to achieve realism!

    And keep up the excelent modeling, it is a pleasure to view

    Dr Bruce

  53. Ed Clark says:

    AMAZING doesn’t seem adequate. Your close up pixs themselves are amazing!

  54. Bob Macdonald says:

    Excellent detail,,,,one the best I’ve ever seen and that includes a lot of clubs with resources that the average guy can’t touch. You are an artist of the first degree.

  55. alan boulter says:

    what afantastic layout.your attention to detail is superb

  56. Thomas A Wurtemberger says:

    Well done Marcus
    It’s particular nice to see a German/Swiss style layout I can learn from.
    I have a whole wall unit full of builddings, Fleichmann and Roco engines, rolling stock and track, unfortunately do not have enough room for a layout in my home in Sydney, however I plan to move to a larger home in 3-4 years time and constandly remind my partner about my plans for a decent layout in order to prime her for the event and hopefully will have soften all resistance by then. 🙂
    Best Regards Thomas

  57. Roland Burch says:

    Hi Marcus,
    You have done a great job on your layout. I know my will never look as good as yours. The layout looks so professional. Send more pictures.
    Best regards,

  58. Steve says:

    Fantastic layout. Detail is astounding. I am jealous.

  59. jim morris says:

    outstanding. Looks real

  60. colin says:

    Sorry I forgot to say my layout is N gauge. the things I need help with is the wiring. I hope to hear from some one soon.
    thanks colin

  61. Peter P says:

    Great job Marcus, you seemed to have well and truly pushed the plausability button with your work. I have some Bemo HOm equipment and am very intetested in how you made your catenary system. I know it can be commercially aquired but it is too expensive and no where near as satisfying as building your own! Would you care to enlighten us on you methods please?

  62. Ian Carruthers says:

    That is absolutely excellent, especially the station! That does look real! Thank you!

  63. shadowman says:

    Marcus, WOW………..From the U.S.

  64. Jim says:

    Your modeling is fantastic!!! Super detail and very realistic. You should be very proud of your talent.

    Jim AZ

  65. Rich B. says:

    What I notice is not overly detailed or cluttered but the right amount. Using the “good enough” theory the railroad actually looks very realistic, the perfect “busy”. Must of used a photo shop, appears to be actual outdoor sunlight look with fading, fogging? Just what you’d expect a rail fan to snap….


  66. Peter Waring says:

    Outstanding attention to detail, it gives us mere mortals something to aim at. Thanks for sharing this with us. Peter…

  67. Cary B says:

    Awesome Marcus!!! Thanks for sharing

    Cary B

  68. STEVE COTTLE says:

    Wow Marcus the best!!

  69. STEVE COTTLE says:

    Michaelangelo of model railroading

  70. Jerry Michnewicz says:

    Exceptional to say the very least!

  71. Barry hespenhide says:

    Fantastic the realization almost looks real. Job well done.

  72. Dale Popula says:

    I cannot find the words to say how wonderful this layout is.
    I would like to see the track plan to put the picture into perspective.

  73. Warren Ferguson says:

    Outstanding work, Marcus!

  74. David Hannan says:

    Marcus, the photos are so realistic! You should be very proud of all that hard work!
    Dirty Dave

  75. David A. Massimi says:

    Marcus… An incredible model railroad ! The ONLY thing it doesnt do is SMELL like a railroad !!!
    Thanks so much for sharing it with us!
    Dave, in NY

  76. Pat says:

    Really really liked the tunnel and surrounding hills … of the most realistic I’ve seen ….. well done

  77. Marcus , your layout is a stunning build , well done ..Dangerous Dave

  78. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Very nicely done.

  79. Jim Coulon says:

    One word: WOW!

  80. Steve Joyce says:

    That is some really really nice stuff. I am ginning up to finally start my layout. Going to be Germany in 70’s and 80’s…lol because that is when I bought a lot of my stuff. So great to see a simlilar era. I may have to put fake caternaries up they really enhance the scenery ..seeing how my TEE engine was electric

  81. DJfromNJ says:

    Marcus, you are a tough act to follow. Congrats for presenting a fabulous layout. You have raised the bar. Thanks for sending your work for all of us to appreciate.

  82. george zaky says:

    Incredible layout and craftsmanship. Would love to see a broader view and perhaps a video. I think that a lot of people would like to know how you created those catenary systems.
    George from NY

  83. David Trigger says:


    Your work is superb. Congratulations.

    I am a UK based, chartered architect and am accustomed to professional modelmakers’ work but your’s is ‘up there’ with the best !

  84. John says:

    Awesome detailing…have me a few ideas for my layout.

  85. Marklin ed says:

    Hope your safe from the fires.
    Great layout I didn’t see any Bavarian wagons? I’m a big fan of the Bavarian era.

  86. Steven Teiger says:

    Great modelling!
    Can you tell me how the station canopy was made?

  87. Paul Dobosz says:

    I’ve been struggling with how to do a relistic Swiss alpine theme in a 4 X 8. I’m a first time layout builder and don’t have a lot of experience to draw upon.

    The combination of foothills with tunnel portal and alpine backdrop is ingenious. I really appreciate the photo of it under construction which clearly shows how the final scene was accomplished ….. THANKS !!

  88. Fantastic detailing, I love that you included the Odeon in there. I’m trying to include more Art Deco in my trolley platform

  89. Ruben Simon says:

    Except for the extremely bright lights, it’s like being there. Very, very nice!

  90. anthony j palomba says:

    ” outstanding “

  91. Ronald Swolley says:

    Beautiful work. Someone else said it … it’s almost like being there. The photo angles enhance the appearance of reality. Outstanding.

  92. Nothing short of an amazing, stunning, detailed and beautiful layout! —- GREAT JOB!

  93. Outstanding! Was wondering can Marcus share a how to on scratch building the centenary system. It looks so real.

  94. David says:

    What realism, I have read all the comments on here, and would like to add one to them, and that is, I WOULD BE DEAD CHUFFED IF I HAD DONE A LAYOUT LIKE THIS, end of.

  95. Great job on all aspects, especially the details, however, I wish you would have put what gauge you are using.

  96. Mr. Ron says:

    An excellent layout. I too would like your methods for building catenary.

  97. Bob D says:

    jJust awsome!!

  98. Neal Jeffrey Perry says:

    Incredibly realistic!

  99. David from Utah, USA says:

    When I go out the shop today and look at my unfinished layout, your pics will still be in my head and i will have to be satisfied with the knowledge that i have neither the time nor the skill to ever come close to what you have created. You have my respect and admiration but words fall short of describing what you have done, especially in “N” scale. You have shown me what true detailing looks like. thank you for sharing.

  100. william james palmer says:

    very nice detail well done

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