Michael’s N scale on a door

Michaels been in touch – he’s built his N scale on an old door.

“Hi Al –

Thanks for sharing your regular stories & photos.

Here’s a photo series on my N-scale layout, built on a hollow core door.

It’s now in it’s third location as we’ve moved through the years. My main modeling interest is HO and Lionel O, but the ability to work in a tight space with smooth running equipment makes this N gauge system a different experience.

Because of the hollow core door, I was able to “pop up” the town in the center and also include a waterway, without elaborate scenery construction.

The setting is a typical Missouri small town on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. My first train ride was when I was about five, on the “Missouri River Eagle.” Growing up in St Louis, the MoPac was a constant presence, along with the other lines that intersected there.

Their original cerulean blue and gray paint scheme was very eye catching.

My Dad and I used to take a four block walk on summer evenings just to watch the “Texas Eagle” pass through our neighborhood, beginning its long journey southward.

I remember Alco PA locomotives hauling a long consist of coaches, sleepers and a diner.

A small crowd would gather in the evening, just to watch this majestic train pass.

The locomotives are LifeLike, the passenger cars ConCar and an assortment of Kadee and Atlas freight cars.

thanks for sharing


Normal IL USA”

N scale

N scale

N scale

N scale model railroad

N scale model railroad

“Hi Al

Thanks for the emails.

I am not new to n scale model railroading, my father introduced n scale to Australia in 1962 and modelled European until 1975 when I moved from O scale to N Scale and together we built an extensive layout used for exhibitions over last 40 years.

I model Canadian Prototype the post-war years to modern-day around the Great Lakes.

Dad modelled Nth America NYC/B&O along with his own label T&S (Tiers & Stramish) – this allowed him to freelance with anything and Sister joined us in Mid 1980’s modelling Soo Line & B&O & Chessie System.

Dad passed away at Easter and have been going it alone ever since having inherited his entire collection including layout rolling stock books etc. I am involved in LaTrobe Model Railway Club in Gippsland Victoria and also Warragul Train Shed and Drouin Men’s Shed where there are 00 British Layouts.

I am currently building my home layout from scratch incorporating parts of the exhibition layout that have survived. The layout is based on Modrail which was developed by Dad and a Retired Royal Engineer Gordon Duncan for N scale and HO Scale.

My tip is for Ballast use builders sand (Don’t ever use Beach Sand due to salt content) dry it out in the oven on a baking tray when the wife is not looking. The higher the heat the darker the ballast will be. You can then apply as Woodlands Scenics method and its a lot cheaper particularly if you have a large area to ballast. You can also colour the sand using powdered paints.

My second tip is to collect silver birch branches and twigs they make good timber loads for flat cars and work well if you are (pouring a resin) river/lake/waterway and want to have some logs floating or submerged in it.



A big thanks to Don and Mike.

I thought Mike’s pics were fab – so much packed in to a small space without looking cramped.

That’s all for today folks – but please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is the day you start your model railway journey.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

24 Responses to Michael’s N scale on a door

  1. Martin Green says:

    Great stuff Mike. I’ve just retired and I’m returning to the hobby after a 30 year gap. Boy, how things have changed! My big problem is where the heck am I going to fit a layout. Never really considered N but your work is a real inspiration. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Looking forward to a great New Year!

  2. James says:

    man… it looks good !

  3. Larry M. says:

    Well done!

  4. NJ Mark says:

    Beautiful job. Great attention to detail. Happy New Year and Cheers! NJ Mark

  5. Bob Zimmerman says:

    Nice layout Mike..
    Be nice to see a video.

  6. Scott big kid... says:

    I’ve played with n gauges every sense my grandmother from Vienna sent me a few sets and lots of track almost 50 years ago.
    Always love the detail of n gauge over the rest. I also have recently retired and plan on playing with my trains again.
    The first 60 years of my childhood have been fun…
    LOL. Hope everyone has a great New Year…

  7. Brian Evans says:

    I too am going to be retired soon and I am planning on building my own “n scale” layout. Building a 28” x 12’ corner Layout with an additional 28” x 6’ L shape.
    Not completely new at this as I had a small HO set as a kid. I love this web page as it gives such great ideas.
    Thank you folks for allowing me too participate with you!

  8. Ralph Samples says:

    That’s a really nice looking n-scale on a hollow door! Even if it is only a rough drawing, can you please share your track plan. Thanks so much.
    Ralph in Eureka, Missouri, USA

  9. Tony Kitty Hawk, NC says:

    Nice job Mike! And excellent photos!

  10. paul vogel says:

    Very nice layout Michael. Thanks for sharing. Paul Ohio USA

  11. Ken G says:

    Great layout in such a small space! It shows that if you go down in scale what can be done with such detail — on a door! Fantastic!!!

  12. Steve Kanner says:

    Great looking layout. I am semi retired and want to build something for my grandchildren. I for not have a lot of room and this layout looks great. Can you send a rough layout plan.

  13. Scott J says:

    Mike, great looking layout! I hail from Arlington Heights in Chicagoland, and have been through Normal on my way to Oklahoma, where I attended OU. I’m sure you’ve been to Union, with its Railway Museum, complete with old steamers with drive wheels that were taller than my 6’6″ frame! There’s also a guy with his own HO layout near the area that my dad and I visited which required a separate building it was so huge. At the time (nearly four decades ago), I had my own N scale layout in the basement of my parents’ home, and I’ve resurrected it from the ashes using the original Atlas stock, which I now pull with DCC locos on an updated layout in the basement of our Upstate New York summer home, which I plan to expand to double its current size. Since I built the first 4 x 8′ table, I’ve finally settled on the final plan after three “construction” phases, and have, with the aid of SCARM, come up with the plan for the second table, which will form an “L” arrangement. Fortunately, the wife is fine with my taking more of the basement real estate, but she doesn’t venture down there much, except to store things like seasonal knick knacks..Hah! Great job, Mike, and happy modeling!

  14. Mike Matejka says:

    Thanks for all the positive comments. Ralph Samples asked for a track plan, I never really drew one. But this might help — dimensionally, the door is 32 x 78 inches; The outside curve is 30″, the inside 26″ There is a 22″ radius curve off the inside line that climbs to the cutout, 22″ as it rises, 19″ at the top, with a factory siding; the upper cut-out and raised area is 19″ x 44″. It is elevated 2.5 inches; there is also a factory siding off the inner curve on the lower level, next to the cut-out where the river is. Someday I should sit and sketch it out!

  15. Mike Matejka says:

    And another thanks to Scott J – The Illinois Railway Museum is a great location — not sure if it’s still there, but in a building in town was a great HO layout, based on the Chicago & Northwestern. When traveling in Illinois, don’t forget the Monticello Railway Museum and in Missouri, the historically significant National Museum of Transportation collection. If you are passing us in Bloomington & Normal, Illinois, stop by the nationally accredited McLean County Museum of History. Last year I was the guest curator (three years of research) on an exhibit called “Working for a Living,” which features over 80 individuals, including 11 railroaders. There is a touch screen set system to view an extensive photography collection from the 1900-1950 period of the Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops in that exhibit.

    Thanks again to everyone for your positive comments!

  16. Mike Cafferata says:

    Great memories Mike. My grandfather and I would walk up to the MP mainline near the Morganford Rd. overpass and watch the 2 Eagles fly by in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Brought back great memories.

  17. Barbara says:

    Hi Mike,
    Any chance that you could sketch a quick diagram for us?
    I am temporary custodian of my son’s N scale trains (he has moved interstate and they are all stored here) and I reckon that a setup on a door would be manageable for me to do -a size that I am sure I could fit somewhere in the house!
    Many thanks, I love your setup.

  18. John says:

    Well done, Mike. It’s great.’

  19. Brian Olson says:

    Love the way the town overlooks the layout!

  20. Rich B. says:

    Doesn’t get any better, all the right stuff… just thought being a door, could put the hinge pins back and use for closet vertically when not running RR. Where do I think this stuff up??

  21. robert dale tiemann says:

    i really like this setup. nice job.

  22. Steve Ruple says:

    Nice layout and pictures Mike.

  23. Lawrence Ripplinger says:

    re: 2nd photo from top, MOPAC train. I remember a really long time ago when a cousin and I were under that bridge near the tracks when one of those MOPACs came flying through. /Scared us a lot but what a memory! I was born and raised in South St. Louis many years ago. I call Oregon my home now. A nice layout! Brought good memories back!!

  24. Gerald Edgar says:

    GREAT Landscaping!!!

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