Mike and Arnie’s stunning updates

Mike is up first today:

“I’ve been adding details in sections over the past 3 months. some of the additions are scratch built ( the bridge over the stream, some of the trees, the chain link fence and the guardrails)

I worked on the downtown area adding additional trees, people, cars, and some animals. I added some great HO scale neon signs. Each one has multiple animation sequences. They look great and add a bit of realism.

The park has been fun to work on. I added joggers, kids flying kites, ducks and swans in the pond and a few other touches like the flag. In the farm and mountain sections I used some real rock , plaster, and shaped and painted foam. Some of the elements are not exactly to scale but I think they look ok.

I use Bachmann EzTrack and their wireless dcc controller. Ive enjoyed the ease of operation and the realistic lighting and sounds on the locomotives. My next additions will be lighting and crossing gates. I’m not an electrician so I’ll be looking for some help with this part.



















And now more from Arnie:

“Hi Al,

While you were working on the update of the blog, I was working on a new video. I think it will go well on the new blog though it’s a bit unusual for the time of the year.

That is, it’s a video on my newest steam locomotive acquisition – the Berkshire #1225 which was built in 1941 and is still in mainline excursion service. Despite it’s being well known as an excursion train, it came into renown when it was used as the prototype for the steam locomotive in the Warner Bros. animated hit movie, “The Polar Express.”

This video is my rendition and simulation of the Polar Express excursion train in a fictional plot; that is, the Polar Express excursion train’s visit to the Susquehanna Valley and Gulf Summit Rwy (my N scale layout) at the onset of the year-end holiday season.

I hope you and the readers will find the video as enjoyable as I did in making it.

Thanks again for all your hard work on the new blog and my inclusion in your Hall of Fame.


Well, what can I say, other than it should be me thanking Arnie for all his contributions and expert advice over the years (particularly so with this).

Please do keep ’em coming, folks.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.



74 Responses to Mike and Arnie’s stunning updates

  1. john popp says:

    Sure wish I had a little of your talent. All that have sent ideas , they are great. Keep it up. John

  2. Bill S. says:

    Arnie, You are an artist. I think your layout is by far the best I have seen yet. I thoroughly enjoyed the video. It must have taken years of hard work to accomplish this.Keep up the good work. Bill from Delaware.

  3. Brian Carroll says:


    I would like some assistance with regards to starting up my model train hobby. I have not bought anything as I am not sure where to start. I want to go DCC immediately, and also do not have much space initially to build a track. I need some good advice on where and how to start this hobby. I am looking at HO products.

    Brian Carroll

  4. Guy says:

    Best I have ever seen,,,,,unbelievable

  5. BernardS says:

    Hib and congratulations to you on this wonderful POLAR EXPRESS The amount of detail and effects take my bbreayth away .Well done again, book me on the Express sometime it would be a real please=ure
    once again WELL DONE from Bernard in england

  6. ken says:

    love the pictures and video of coarse cant forget that it makes the viewing much more interesting

  7. Dave DeCarlo says:

    Arnie, I think the detail is outstanding.
    Thank you. Dave from Pittsburgh Pa.

  8. tom pemrick says:

    what a great video and what a layout ..thanks for sharing it to us rr nuts …what size is the layout and where are you located ?

  9. Gary O'Connor says:

    Love your eye for detail, I especially love the park.
    Arnie, great movie. It looks like you had a lot of fun making that and it was certainly enjoyable for us.
    Great ideas from both of you, thanks heaps.
    Gary in Australia.

  10. builder Kim says:

    Hi Mike. I have a way to make those non working crossing signals to working.or least operate like the real ones.

  11. dan o says:

    yea another ez track user we are few a far apart we should form or own club great work , lot of stuff , thanks dan o the hill of arkansas

  12. Jack says:


  13. Lynn Taubeneck says:

    Great layout Arnie, and I am glad to see that you are giving proper credits to the musicians and companies that own the rights to the music. This is an important, and legal, detail that most videographers overlook. And for Mike do a Golden Key search for electrical and you will have a trove of posts that will help you with your wiring.

  14. Mark J says:

    Mike, I am loving the park. Looks like a great place to spend a Sunday with the kids.
    Arnie, do you think the Polar Express might cross the pond? If so, sign me up for tickets. Your scenery is great, and the back story just lends even more credibility to the whole thing. Worthy of the Hall of Fame, which is a great idea by the way Al. Keep up the good work.

  15. Frank says:

    Arnie, great story loved the vito. The layout is fantastic.

  16. mike vassar says:

    Great layout I loved it . thanks mike

  17. Len says:

    Excellent ride on your route -fantastic layout and videography – by the way 1225 is just a few miles from me – just had an all day excursion this past Saturday – 1225 just keeps the rail fans happy – it still does the POLAR EXPRESS every December –

  18. Paul Hennessey says:

    I’ve found this site most inspirational. This post is one of the batter ones. I’ve been working on my own Polar Express for some time. With the help of my grand kids, I’m brought back to a more pleasant time when I was watching my Father build his layout. Now, using his same layout, I’ve enlarged it and received construction ideas and most importantly, young smiles from the little ones as they stare in amazement and create stories in their minds.
    Thanks for being there and allowing me the chance to see the wonderful creations of the contributors. I’ve used many ideas and will be sending photos when the disarray is more in tune with a more appealing visual experience.
    Once again, this old man thanks you from the bottom of my heart (my little ones also thank you).
    Keep them coming. Paul in Bradenton Florida.

  19. Peter says:

    Arnie, great layout. Great production. Thanks peter.

  20. david howarth says:

    Great video Arnie of this Popular Steam Train on your layout . and Mike great work you have done there …Dave

  21. Mike DeMuyt says:

    Great pictures Mike, and a stunning video Arnie!! You guys have talent beyond comprehension. Thank you so much for sharing. I can only hope to get it half as good as you two.
    Mike D.

  22. Ray says:

    Haven’t seen that much detail in quite some time. Bravo Arnie, job well done…

  23. Dave Bower says:

    What a brilliant video Arnie, a great deal of hard work. I really enjoyed it thanks.
    Dave B.

  24. Peter Jones says:

    Simply fantastic Arnie a joy to watch as always and as always more ideas to use on my own layout. Thanks

  25. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hi Al,
    Thanks for the posting.

    I want to praise Mike for all the work he’s done on his layout. Looks like it’s a hopping place. And if you continue to add enhancements like lighting, sound and animation, it will without a doubt multiply your layouts appeal.

    By the way Mike, I have a DCC test oval/bare layout using all Bachmann equipment, including E-Z track and the E-Z Command Dynamis DCC system for both N and HO scale testing. So, Keep on Crackin’ partner!

    I want to also thank the readers for their praise and positive feedback on my Polar Express video. If I may, I want to answer a couple of questions that were asked:
    > The layout is N scale and it is 8ft. x 5ft.
    > I’m located on Staten Island, NY – USA
    > It took 2 years to build the fully operational layout back in the early 2000s. And enhancements and additions/modifications were and are made as needed as time goes on.

    And lastly, to Brian Carroll. If you are new to modeliing and have limited space, I would suggest perhaps N scale. You can double your effective modeling scaled square footage! But before you do anything, do research on what you’re interested in modeling (locale, era, rolling stock…) and be patient and take time with every step of your project. Mistakes can be very costly in many ways.

    Thanks again to everyone,

  26. Edward says:


  27. Ron Schultz says:

    Always fun to ride the train . but there were some of us that really missed eating on board .When you sell an extrusion and have the dinning car in the consist. you need to keep it there for what few people you do have . My ticket was “Meal included and I didnt get it . the meal should have been served before the dinning car set out . was there
    not a place to set it out later???

  28. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great photos and very good video the way it is presented makes your layout look bigger then the actually size nicely done.

  29. Bud Alkema says:

    Brilliant layout and brilliant video!!
    When anyone asks what I have in mind for my layout in N scale, I will say ” something about half as good as Arnie’s”

  30. John Parker Clayton, CA says:

    Very nice production Arnie, it will be a useful example for my video coming soon…
    John Clayton CA…

  31. paul Otway says:

    great city scene

  32. THOMAS says:


  33. Kenton says:

    The level of detail is awesome!

  34. Ben says:


    Where did you get your fire truck in the village? Mike?


  35. Marty says:

    Wow !!! Arnie, that was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time! Your a 10 in my book Arnie. Thank you so much. Makes me sick that I took down my layout,(HO) it was 40 in total length went thru two room in my basement and had two levels, has forty engines and over two hundred cars. Boy you have got me excited!!
    Shawnee Ks.

  36. Peter Boston says:

    What a brilliant video. One can but dream.

  37. Max Dosser says:

    Absolutely Brilliant. I’m only nit-picking but an engine crew and passengers in the coaches would be the cream on top.

    Max D

  38. John Deamer says:

    hi guys you have both deseved you,e hall of fame fantastic modelling thanks

  39. christine says:

    Was this shown last year at this time? Anyway, weathering is needed way to clean looking.

  40. Norman Backman says:

    Arnie, that is just fantastic work all round. The layout, the scenery,the total package is truly outstanding. And then there is the video!!!! MARVELLOUS.
    Best wishes and hope to see some more soon.
    Norman in UK.

  41. Glyn says:

    fantastic from you both Mike and Arnie – I always enjoy watching your updates. Beautiful landscaping on both layouts and impressive running characteristics Arnie – thank you again for the inspiration you provide for us all. Glyn

  42. joe says:

    EXCELLENT….very nice video…..and Very….Very nice scenery……..WELL DONE

  43. David Murray says:

    Very scenic with a lot of detail. However, I would like to see the railway tracks fenced off from the surrounding area. This is something I’m very keen on with my Elmton layout.

  44. Michael says:

    The level of detail is really nice to see an American layout. I’ve been looking at the incredible detail by UK modelers for quite some time but now I see that we have some really nice modelers and it’s refreshing to see. Beautiful layout lot of fun. Thanks for showing us

  45. Mike Pettruzzelli says:


  46. Grant Barrows says:

    Mike, Wonderful layout and appreciate the work that you put into it..just wondered if after the excursion we could stop in Great Bend for some donuts. Grant B. Pa and FL

  47. Mark Piznik says:

    Only one word can describe what I was lucky to watch: AWESOME!!!!!

    Keep up the great work and inspiration. NJ Mark

  48. Excellent craftsmanship…!!
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  49. WOW!. Talk about impressive! 🙂

  50. Ross Johnston says:

    To Mike and Arnie all I can say is Wow!!!! What fantastic layouts. Your photos were great Mike and the detail incredible. Arnie your Polar Express Video was fantastic and I really enjoyed watching it. Thankyou both for sharing your layouts with us common people. All the best for the Festive Season. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide, South Australia

  51. Phil Saruk says:

    A magnificent Layout ! Everything is perfection to the Max!
    I do have one issue and that is: why have a track crossing where you have an end of track Train Stop; next to the Fire House. The Fire truck is stuck in that spot with no way to get out. I think I would have shortened or lengthened the track and put a actual crossing there and would have maybe put pavement through the tracks to keep the roadway in front of the Fire Station. I can remember in my youth the South Shore Commuter Train’s tracks would go right into Downtown South Bend, Indiana to leave and pickup passengers; why create a mystery and have something that makes you wonder. It’s like looking at a Photo and wondering where both hands are; the viewer should not have to guess or think about things like that. I feel they should be displayed in a way that would be feasible to function. I understand that Model Railroads are a Fantasy but if you try to create so much realism why not go the extra and make it that much more realistic.

  52. Ron Nelson says:

    Arnie that was superb what talent really enjoyed the video. Thanks again Ron from Jensen Beach, Fl

  53. Richard Sommery-Gade says:

    Wonderful escape, beautiful scenery, AAA production. Thank you for a memorable journey.



  54. Andreas Kilian says:

    I have to admit I’m a bit jealous about all the talent that’s out there modelling railway layouts. Perhaps this is one reason why I’m taking a different approach. My layout is more open spaces with just a few buildings. Sort of: mine takes over where many ofl the others end, except mine is really utopic. Poor at painting, my landscape colouring can only be found on the galaxy that’s even further away than the most distant one we know of today.
    Before I go away for a winter break (who wants to spend an entire winter in Nova Scotia, exposed to (bloody) Nor’Easter storms that leave 6-8 foot drifts in the path of wherever you need to go?), I try and send a couple of update pics.

  55. Ken Stramel says:

    What a talent you have. Everything looks so good and real. Keep it up.

  56. Franco says:

    The video was proof positive that y’all are dedicated to the Railroad, regardless of scale! Outstanding production!

  57. Robin Hallam says:

    the detail in seemingly little things that make an outstanding layout

  58. chris says:

    What fantastic detail! I saved some images to enhance details on mine!

  59. what scale are you using

  60. Gerry says:

    Very nice layout and photo’s Mike.
    What can I say other than magnificent! My question is, “What did you use to video this show and what did you use to edit it?

  61. Gary W Cooper says:

    I loved it all!!! Very inspiring thank you

  62. Joe Nap says:

    General Observation…..
    In the great majority of layouts that I view on line I see the exact same plastic structures – no matter what the scale. This is a small compliant.

    Thankfully, there are a few alternatives.

    I can’t bare to see another street seen with the same sad plastic buildings. It’s appears that the great majority of us (including me) owe our model towns to the same boring developer. The result of this uniformity is that the effort which goes into the rest of the layout can be easily overlooked even though many of the other elements show ingenuity, hard work and look great. Thankfully, viewers of your site see a lot more than the obvious and appreciate every element.

    PS. Plastic towns make life easy; but, it also makes it boring.
    PPS. Thanks to your work.

  63. Bob Richards says:

    Very inviting. I wish I lived there. Your work appears to be meticulous. I suspect you had a lot of enjoying hours planning and implementing your ideas. I am envious.

  64. Hemi says:

    VERY NICE!!!!! I LOVE the layout, and the whole dedication of the work done and then toss a “Polar Express” excursion into it? VERY NICE!


  65. Rich Wentzel says:

    After seeing the photos and the video I have made up my mind.

    FOR SALE: Assorted O, HO and N scale trains, power supplies, housing and scenery. Make offer.

    Absolutely fantastic layouts in all facets of detailing. The video is beyond incredible and the back story is so realistic. Kudos to both of you!

  66. Joe LaMantia says:

    Absolutely outstanding video. I watched it numerous times just so I could enjoy the total experience. I hope I can devote as much time as you have creating your layout so mine can have some resemblance to what you have so masterfully put together.

  67. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi Arnie Great layout. Well done. Thanks for the video. Just looking closely at the locomotive it appears to be a bit sticky when moving slowly. It probably wants run in a bit. I also noted that the loco appears to limp along i.e. it appears to rock from side to side I wonder if it has a oval or off centre wheels?.

  68. Bob Vysinka says:

    Outstanding layout with top notch Hollywood video! Unreal talented job, very well done! I do have some questions if I may. What engine and cars did you use in making the Polar Express in N scale? On the layout what was the minimum radius used on the journey of the Polar Express? Sorry for the questions and thanks for any answers. Bob

  69. Erick says:

    Pretty neat.!!!! Mine is going look something like that winn i get done on my board.

  70. Absolutely gorgeous in both instances. WOW!

  71. Hi Al – just checking in to see how you’re doing. Certainly hope that things are calm in the UK and with you and family. Heaven forbid things in Ukraine escalate to the point that NATO military involvement eventuates given the psychopathology of Putin.

    But on a brighter side; just want to say thanks for your periodically giving new life to my earlier video submissions. Hope the blog’s ‘family’ of model railroaders still enjoys them.– Arnie

  72. Bob Muhme in Michigan says:

    Great job Mike, looking really nice!
    Arnie, great video, and your version of the GSL/SV RR is superb! I live not far from Owosso, Michigan, where a 1225 lives on, taking passengers to Clare and back.

  73. Gerald Edgar says:

    The triple waterfall is unique!

  74. robert dale tiemann says:

    i like it a lot, good work.

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