Mark’s stunning layout

“Hi Al. Thanks for the kind words. Here is some more info. Feel free to edit it for size and reader interest.

The layout, physically located in the Las Vegas, NV area is a freelance fictional short line RR “Sweetwater & Thunder Mountain” which shares track rights with the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads. The time frame is roughly from the 30’s & 40’s which allows Steam operation through approximately the late 70’s for medium Diesel Power (depending on what I feel like running at different times) The inspiration comes from the Sierra Nevada Mt. Ranges along with the Alaska RR. Lots of tunnels, bridges, granite rock, trees, vegetation, sheer cliffs etc. It has five major towns, Sweetwater, Eagle Mt., Sheridan Yards, Thunder Mt (which is the connecting point to Dunsmuir, CA) Boyd City (hidden) and several whistle stops – Red Rock Station and Camp Carroll. There is an operating turntable and roundhouse in the SW Yards.

The layout is in an area approximately 22’ x 20’ which includes the workshop area. The construction is open grid with risers starting at 4’ and rising to 5’ for track and just over 6.5’ total for scenery. It is basically an around the wall scheme with a free standing 4’ wide peninsula which allows operators to “walk the canyon”. The scenery is all done using plaster cloth over pillows of newspaper and using real rock from my back yard along with some molded and rubber rock. There is one elongated helix and one standard helix both hidden under mountains. Our favorite saying here is “What happens in the Helix, stays in the Helix”.  However, I do have emergency access. I have some guys over and we can actually run timetable operations with a full passenger service in about 6 hours Fast Clock Time or 1 hour real time.

Electrically, there are five control panels located in strategic areas so local switching can be accomplished along with mainline passenger and freight service. Nickel-silver, code 83 rail is used throughout with a minimum 18” radius (this fits the smaller wheel base equipment timeframe) All turnouts are electrically thrown using Tortoise machines and most coupling/uncoupling is done with under track magnets. Control is accomplished using North Coast Engineering, is all radio controlled DCC with hand held throttles. 98% of all motive power is DCC and Sound equipped.

One really cool feature is that the Sweetwater Yards are designed to not only function as an operating yard, but can also be used as a John Allen inspired “timesaver switching puzzle” You’d be amazed at how moving 4 boxcars around into proper locations with a stopwatch running and bring grown men to their knees with exhaustion! Model Railroading is FUN!

Cheers!

Mark”

(1) Sweetwater Tower 1

(3) UP ERG Trestle Twilight

(4) Kylie Junction Tower Final

(5) ERG Trestle Final

(7) VT Final

(8) Tri-Tunnel Area Close Up

(9) Western Pacific Caboose 1

(11) Sheridan Tunnel 4 Final

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Sheridan 1

Shop 1

Sweetwater 2


An amazing layout. Hope you enjoyed that as much as me.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Best

Al

PS Want three times the content? And to search through the archives – that’s every post since day 1? You need the Golden Key.

63 responses to “Mark’s stunning layout”

  1. jeff says:

    Great layout

  2. Ji m says:

    Beautiful layout. Fantastic wood trestle. Western country scene is what I would like to do also.

  3. CAUFFMAN says:

    BOY I THOUGHT I HAD BUILT A NICE TRESTLE. THAT IS A FANATIC JOB

  4. James Stevens says:

    Now this is what I am talking about when I say, “Detail can make or break a layout.” The detail in your layout is stunning. It makes me miss my layouts and the days when I could work on mine even more. Great job Mark.

  5. Mark Allen says:

    stunning work Mark !!

  6. longovince says:

    Seriously Amazing. Congrats on a great Layput.

  7. Mike Street says:

    Just one word, STUNNING!

  8. Jon says:

    Beautiful, one of the most detailed, realistic layouts I have ever seen. Attention to detail is just amazing. A stunning layout. We need videos. Great job.

  9. Ken S. says:

    One word, AWESOME!!

  10. Tom says:

    Part of America in miniature … how wonderful!
    Enjoy your model railroad forever!
    Thanks Mark for sharing … thanks Al for bringing the railroad to us.
    best regards,
    Tom
    PS: That wood trestle bridge … the mountains … rock outcroppings … my favorites and in that order. Nicely detailed and neatly done. I was in Vegas
    for a week really enjoyed my stay. Weather was fantastic! Sierra Nevada Mountains are beautiful and majestic!!

  11. George Bauschelt says:

    The best I’ve seen. Scale, colors and detail make the composition. Great work.

  12. Stuart says:

    That is stunning, wonderful to look at. well done

  13. StJohn says:

    fantastic layout….’open grid’ construction….terrific..my fav kind of build……and the scenery is over the top…foliage is extremely life-like…..what a stunning layout and the time/period detail is perfect!!

  14. Mike I says:

    Fantastic ! I live in a small condo,so I’ll have to build in”Z” scale

  15. Michael says:

    Takes my breathe away!

  16. John says:

    Wow! Very nice! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Bob Rickert says:

    Wow!!! I am in awe. What a fantastic job Mark. I love the detail even right down to the local KFC. You have done a splendid job of putting your layout together and I hope you get to set back for a moment and enjoy it. Well done.

  18. ANDREW BURTON says:

    That’s real funny Mark my wife and kids see this and ask me why doesn’t yours look like that it’s better than cool it’s ice cold.

  19. Bullfrogeh in Ontario says:

    A fantastic layout !!! I’m currently constructing a 16′ X 16′ area for my next RR, and yours has provided further motivation to get underway. Your mountain construction is particularly enviable. And – ‘Thanks Al’ – for keeping the window partially open !

  20. John Gibson says:

    Wonderful layout. Gives us all something to strive for.

  21. TJ says:

    Very, very nice Mark. How about a movie?

  22. Bill says:

    Great layout but I’m puzzled by the KFC?

  23. Chris says:

    Amazing layout. Very impressed, the scenery and attention to detail is awesome.

  24. Robert Gevert says:

    One of the most detailed model RR’s I’ve seen in a long time!! Bravo!!

  25. john wisnieski says:

    Absolutely SUPERB !

  26. John Bos says:

    WOW is right! And this layout begs for a video Mark. A supreme example of a great layout.

  27. Bobby says:

    Great looking layout. Your attention to detail is right on. Keep it going.

  28. Gary O'Connor says:

    That is simply sensational!

    The detail is stunning. I love it all but the abandoned coal mine is my favourite part.

    You have inspired me to strive for a lot closer to perfection than I have been achieving so far.

  29. Dave Croley says:

    Very impressive layout — I can not imagine the work that went into creating such a beautiful work of art.

  30. Ralph says:

    What a splendid layout, I particularly like the abandoned tunnel and grounded maintenance car. Gives me some ideas for using some junk box stuff.

  31. One great layout,I can see you put a lot of work in to it.

  32. You have one great layout. Makes you feel great,when you step back,and look it over. Great job.

  33. OUTSTANDING JOB . LOOKS VERY GOOD.

  34. MadDogBurger says:

    G-Scale? Looks like built in your Garage – What size layout are you doing? AWESOME JOB – Great Detail
    I’m just starting one – Inside & Out, Like to get some tips….
    Thanx, Mad Dog Burger

  35. MadDogBurger says:

    Love to see more pictures of ur Layout – for ideas
    Mad Dog Burger

  36. CHARLES D KETCHUM says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO DO SOME OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE BUT I WOULD LIKE TO DO IT IN A CIVIL WAR SETTING I KNOW BACHMAN MAKES A NORTH AND SOUTH TRAIN IN HO. I WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO RUN 3 OR 4 TRAINS AT THE SAME TIME, WIRING AND SWITCHS WOULD BE A BIG PROBLEM FOR ME. THE BUILDINGS YOU MAKE LIKE THE OLD CHURCH WOULD FIT IN FOR THE TIME PERIOD DO YOU EVER MAKE LOG CABINS OR OTHER BUILDINGS OLD SALOONS LIVERY STABLES THANKS CHARLIE

  37. Tad Heath says:

    You should pat yourself on the back and you really should he proud of yourself cause that is a perfect layout!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. THOMAS says:

    A VERY NICE LAYOUT.

  39. Sam Pennise says:

    Hi Mark – A wonderful job resulting in a great looking layout. Is it possible to get a diagram of your layout? You have several scenes I would love to incorporate into my layout and having some plans with dimensions and elevations would help.
    Once again, great job. You should be very proud!
    Sam

  40. Ed says:

    Great work Mark. Hard to get good modeling that shows well at track level. Our local club has a picture gallery. We are just getting started and take inspiration from this web site. View us at: ncfrailroadclub.weebly.com

  41. Bullfrogeh in Ontario says:

    What a magnificent layout. I too have an abandoned mine site; but not as nice as your presentation. I especially enjoy that ‘exposed’ helix – a great way to present some excellent quality trestle work.
    Thanks Mark, and Alex, for sharing great pieces of genuine modelling ‘art’ to us amateurs. – Dave

  42. George Ross says:

    OUTSTANDING !!! A LAYOUT TO BE PROUD OF.

  43. Jan B says:

    Marvelous!

  44. Joe says:

    Wow !!! what a wonderful layout with natural beauty lots to learn and thanks for sharing with us

  45. paul Otway says:

    It looks so realistic.

  46. Robert says:

    I got to say this is one fantastic layout & you should try to do a video of it, would be nice too se the trains running, thanks for sharing.

  47. Jack says:

    Mark. Fantastic layout. Can you show the track plan?

  48. Ron Schultz says:

    very nice . as to the “fast clock. time I need some one to send me a copy of the scale time in HO. example 1 hr = ? HO 1/2 Hr = ? 15 min = ? 10 min = ? and o
    down 5-4-3-2-1 ??

  49. Robbie Ganzer says:

    Great layout.
    Al thanks for the e-males this year and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Robbie

  50. Chris says:

    That’s one very serious train workshop you’ve got there. Looks pretty organised too – puts the rest of us to shame!

  51. sundaram says:

    Breathtaking, stunning layout. The trestle bridge is a magnificent piece of craft work.

  52. Don Rock says:

    I copied the picture of the Portal at the side of a mountain for my O Gauge. It turned out better than expected. Then I glued it to the 4″ construction foam I used for the mountain. I’ve done several scene settings like this, but this is my best to date.

    DR

  53. Austin Wilson says:

    Outstandingly very well done layout. Super amazing.thanks so much for sharing the stunning photos. Love it and I really don’t know if I ever create a layout like this one. Merry Christmas everyone. Austin in Eastern Canada.

  54. Tommy says:

    Some of the best that I’ve ever seen !

  55. Bedros Anserian says:

    Very nice and real looking scenery. Good job. Thanks and wishing you Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

  56. steve albee says:

    absolutly georgous, you are the lebron james of the model railroading scenic world. the best of the best and ive seen some nice stuff

  57. Dan says:

    Wonderful layout. I live about 100 miles south of Las Vegas on the Colorado River and have learned to love the desert. I hope your layout continues to get widespread coverage.

  58. Jim says:

    Some really great and realistic modeling. Great work.

    Jim AZ

  59. Rick (in Tomball Texas) says:

    Great layout. I am building my layout in “N” gauge with a lot of details like yours. You have given me some great ideals. Thank

  60. David McClelland says:

    Mark, it’s a work of art!!

    Conductor Dave, Dayton, Ohio.

  61. Charles Hagerty says:

    The attention to detail is specular. You are a true craftsman. Well done.

  62. Peter Theodore says:

    great work Mark! Nice everything. 2 rail ‘O’ myself. Thx for sharing. Peter in Virginia

  63. Hemi says:

    Absolutely GORGEOUS Layout man! NICE job on EVERYTHING!!!!!! VERY impressive! LOVE it. needs more STEAM on it tho! HE HE HE HE

    Keep up the GREAT WORK! ~Hemi

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