Mardon’s layout

“Hi Al.

Hope your doing well. I have found what others may find really useful in an old VCR I tore apart.

That silent worm gear with motor in there. This is a silent gear and runs very slowly.

This motor is the perfect worm gear to set up a engine turn table. It has to be silent as it is in a VCR. Here is a photo of it.

That gear the worm turns, can have a short post attached to it and up threw the table to a turn table.

Also its a very strong motor to use say a track cleaner or other projects.

The other pieces found in the VCR as well can use them as car loads. sort of remind me of that atom smasher they have in the ground.VCR is a thing of the pass but holds some good recyclable stuff in there.

Gives others ideas right. so what ya think Al.”

“My name is Mardon Callanta from Manila, Philippines.

35yrs ago, I experienced my first train set – a Tyco HO Amtrak set bought in San Francisco while we were there vacationing.

Since we dont have hobby train stuff here in the Philippines – it took me 4yrs of summer vacationing in the USA to gather various tracks and building kits.

My mom lent me her table tennis ping-pong table to set up my HO set and everything was really crude – just a bag of lichen and wire for trees, crudely painted grey on the table to represent roads, a white styrofoam mountain that looked more like a building structure than a mountain, a few unpainted building kits and the tracks themselves.

Thats about the totality of my train experience back then. This lasted for a couple of years, then everything was boxed for good. I think that box was thrown out by one of our maids back then.

35yrs later, I started to go back and try model railroading again. I went for N scale, so layouts could be smaller than HO – and also because I dont have ample space for a 4’x8′ layout anymore.

I started looking into Japanese N scale last March 2013 and got hooked by subscribing into JNSforum – a forum for people modeling Japanese scenery, buildings, etc. Kato became my brand of choice for my tracks and trains which really have an abundance in choosing my concept.

I would like to share with you my first decent layout after getting back into model railroads again.

Its been 35yrs since I’ve owned anything related to model railroading, so please excuse my meager attempt.

I enjoyed your website and have been inspired about doing a small railroad layout and hopefully share to your subscribers as well.

This 30″ x 48″ layout is called Byodo-In 360! The Byodo-In temple became my focal point because of how it was situated like an island around a pond.

My design concept was to replicate the walking path of the actual temple in Uji, Japan – but using train tracks. It is still under construction and it seems there are still many details to add.

Here are some pics and a youtube video (please pardon the poor quality of the video)

Mardon Callanta
Manila, Philippines”

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Should I add the parts for Kim’s track cleaner?

Please do keep them coming.

That’s all for today’s missive my friends.

And if today is the day you decide you want to join in on all the fun, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

51 Responses to Mardon’s layout

  1. Well done Mardon .nice little layout

  2. Donald says:

    What you have is a fine layout…I like how the Temple is the main part of the layout and the Japanese gardens around it

  3. Mike Street says:

    Great little layout Mardon, I especially like the Japanese style track support and the fact that your layout is a sort of ‘figure of eight’ with the trains going past on different levels/tracks. Mike S

  4. Michael Ankerson says:

    Nice little layout. Well done…


  5. Charles Dugnolle says:

    ….and the backdrop with the mountains looks great

  6. Roland, in Nashville says:

    You have a great layout, Mardon. The Japanese garden is a very good touch.

  7. Rob M says:

    Very nice layout and a very interesting story. I am glad you came back to modeling. Send more please.

  8. Steve says:

    Very cooooool. My dream is to have a layout like this. Time money and space keeps me from it.

  9. THOMAS says:


  10. Bob Miller says:

    Well done Mardon, I picture you sitting back with a cool drink watching the trains go by.

  11. Jim says:

    Wonderful job. I especially liked the green water around the temple, it looks just like the lake out my back door.

  12. 'Nother Grandpa says:

    Yes, it is a small layout, but there is nothing “meager” about the effort. Well done, Mardon!!!

  13. Archie Y says:

    I have got to remember the idea of using old vcr parts. Thanks for that idea. And the layout was great!

  14. Jim in NC says:

    Quite different from the Western layouts I’m accustomed to, but very pleasantly so. A nice evocation of Japan.

  15. Ronald Jones says:

    I liked your layout with good focus, more importantly I enjoyed your story.
    Ronald Jones

  16. Toni Olivar says:

    You have nothing to be pardoned about, for you have created an interesting and nicely crafted layout Please keep up the good work.

  17. Greywoulf says:

    Has a nice sense of the Japanese simplicity style to it, almost like a rock garden…

  18. Ed McGinley says:

    very nicely done and your backdrop is great too. Congratulations

  19. Alan Williams says:

    BEAUTIFUL. Simple with the temple and garden – just like the Japanese temples and gardens that I remember from Japan.

    Great idea about using the motors from the VCR – very creative.

    I’m working on getting back into modeling after having a train board in 1964. You give me inspiration.

    (While living in northern Thailand years ago, I ran my trains using flash light batteries – fun.)


  20. very nice layout good to see a train running.

  21. mike says:

    Mardon`s Layout.


    Great layout is there any possibility of obtaining a track plan of this layout.

    I would like to do the same layout myself,if i could get a copy of the plan,i would be very graetful.

    Mike M

  22. dave says:

    Cool layout in a small space the temple and station could be a great area for lighting for night scenes too the greenery around the temple colored indirect like they do on landscaping in real life gives me ideas for my garden railway .

  23. allan c says:

    well done its a great little layout well detailed you should be proud my layout is just beginning 8×4 ho and I have bare table so good on you

  24. p streeton says:

    well done, very nice good change of layout .wish you all the best for the future.

  25. David Thayer says:

    I enjoyed the Japanese layout especially the temple, gardens, tori gate and the background. I taught for two years at Zama H.S. outside of Tokyo in the 1960’s. Also, I climbed Mt. Fuji.

  26. loved your layout was a little problem with the voloumn as none on video and this end works ok

  27. Einar S Pedersen says:

    Very interesting layout. Great to see one that is totally different than what many of us model. Did you scratchbuild the temple? Great job – thank you for sharing.

  28. paul says:

    Hi mardon,im an english man living here in the philippines been here about 6 years now.i was a bit more lucky than you in the respect that i had model raiways back in englang so when i decided to move here i packed up all my train stuff and had it shipped over.i now have a layout here in my house

  29. Jagy Pattur says:

    I love it.
    I live in Oahu in Hawaii and we have a full size Byodo In Temple duplicated in concrete painted red with a pond of Koi fish in the front. It is the most beautiful place to visit on Oahu.
    I hope I too get into N gage lauout sometime.

  30. MICHAEL GLASS says:

    Loooooooove your layout & the garden is a perfect touch.

  31. Jim says:

    A very interesting story and a very unique layout. Really love the backdrop and the Temple. Great work.

    Jim AZ

  32. Michael Flanagan says:

    What voltage do these VCR parts run on?

  33. Cary B says:

    Very nice layout. Love the backdrop and especially the main focus of the temple surrounded by water. It looks very peaceful. Keep up the great work.

    Cary B

  34. Robert Shuman says:

    wonderful track plan and interesting scenery. inspirational! Keep going!!

  35. Mike says:

    Wow…. I was just starting planning (started but delayed 1yr by an accident) your layout has a lot of inspiration to me – should I continue or not, if you have then why not, thanks for sharing

  36. Can I use these print outs with o gauge trains.

  37. Warren Ferguson says:

    Beautiful layout, Mardon! This is the first I have seen in the Eastern style, and I’m blown away. The serenity of the temple, bridge and surround is wonderful. Thank you for sharing with everyone! Warren in Alabama

  38. Leo Hoonakker says:

    Mardon thanks for sharing your beautiful layout. Leo Oklahoma

  39. R. Olivarez says:

    Dear friend, You have nothing to say that you are sorry about. It is a fine video of a beautiful layout. It was well planned and nicely creaed by a person who just got back into the hobby of model railroading. My hat is off to you sir.

  40. Ross Johnston says:

    Great job Mardon! I enjoyed your video. Thankyou. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide, Australia

  41. Lindsay McIsaac says:

    Hi there, those motors from VCRs are getting a bit scarce these days, BUT, don’t forget any Printers you may be about to throw out. they may have as many as 3 or 4 motors in them, most with a collection of gears attached. As for voltage, they probably normally run on 6v, but try them on a single battery (1.5v) if that’s too slow use 2 batteries, you’ll soon find what voltage you need, I don’t think you’ll need to go past 6v (4 batteries). Good Luck.
    Lindsay in NZ

  42. Antony says:

    Beautiful layout. Can’t say more, I’m just going to watch it again. Ant

  43. GEOFFREY KERR says:

    Wow Mardon. You just opened a new concept for me. Everyone has mountains, fields, circuses, harbors, factories, drive-in movies BUT this is the first Japanese layout I’ve seen on this site. As an american retired in Portugal, now my concept for my future layout will be representing multiple countries across the layout.

  44. Will in NM says:

    Mardon, For a first attempt at building a layout after 35 years you’ve done a fabulous job. I loved the temple as the focal point of the layout and the green water in the pond was perfect. My only suggestion for improving the layout would be to use some scenic materials to camouflage the bases of the buildings where they meet the train board.

    Also, the VCR motor and gears idea is pretty clever. I wish I’d heard it before I gave away most of my old VCRs. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for regarding either your layout or the video quality. I really enjoyed seeing both. I am still working on a layout that I started building in 1997, so in comparison, your progress is amazing. 🙂

  45. Jim Cox says:

    I love your layout! Your track plan looks simple but actually is well designed with continuity of visual interest in mind. You have successfully created a miniature model representing both the physical side and the spiritual side of Japan. Congratulations,.

  46. Bob Flemings says:

    Great job, beautiful layout, very classy and functional. Congratulations,

  47. jacin says:

    WOW very simplistic clean track plan, works well very very nice ,

  48. Butch thornton says:

    Very nice and neat layout. Looks like fun to watch . And own.

  49. matiSon - mSm says:

    You have a very nice layout. It looks like a peaceful and relaxing place that I would be happy to exist in. The temple is impressive. How was it made?

  50. Stephen Hill says:

    Mardon everyone has pretty much said it all , ditto to each . You have a wonderful , relaxing and most enjoyable layout sir . The buildings , especially the temple are amazing . It you created that from scratch then you are even more amazing . Very very cool layout . I feel better already just watching the video is relaxing .

  51. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Mardon……are you kidding me…….that is one beautiful looking layout. Great work……love your track work.

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