HO scale buildings from scratch

Mike’s been in touch. He’s shared his layout and the HO scale buildings from scratch that he’s put together:

“Hello Al:

Here are some shots of what I have built in just over a year.

Benchwork is built and painted like furniture (my other hobby is woodworking) and blends in with the room decor (my wife’s influence 🤓). The layout is small by most standards, only 7’x7.5’ with a corner cut to hold my control panels.

All buildings except two are scratch built. I only buy what I am not able to make yet, primarily windows. That may come later since I make a lot of jigs to do other things. There are four buildings that use all or part of your technique. Photo copied wall materials glued to Matt board.

The barn on the farm is a building from your stock, made by my cousin. The other is in the area of the engine house. Can you guess which one it is?

I mentioned my focus is to encourage the beginner and intermediate modelers to be encouraged and try. Quality is a matter of some skill, ingenuity and patience. I learned much as I went. Not everything I built made it to a layout. Some were scrapped or revamped.

My layout now is working on details, adding to the character of the layout by creating interest in seeing the details that are not obvious at first glance. Half of my buildings are inspired from actual historic buildings I find driving around the country. There are so many great structures still standing in small towns that are not torn down yet.

Well, enough rambling..

Cheers mate and blessings to you.

Clermont, Florida”

HO scale

HO scale buildings from scratch

HO scale

HO scale buildings from scratch

HO scale buildings from scratch

HO scale

HO scale buildings from scratch

HO scale

HO scale

HO scale buildings from scratch

A huge thanks to Mike – I loved his narrative, I couldn’t agree more with him: it’s all about getting started. It’s also great to see HO scale buildings from scratch, especially when they are from the printable buildings range.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

Please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide, if today is the day when you get off the starting blocks and get going on your own fab layout.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

28 Responses to HO scale buildings from scratch

  1. James Marek says:


  2. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Mike A really nice layout. Lots of interest for the viewer. Love the model railway club building and interior. Your rock formations are particularly good. Perhaps you could give a master class to us on your technique. They are to scale which is something that a lot of modellers get wrong .Buildings are well made and interesting and well located on your layout. Although lots of interest the layout does not look crammed. If I had to make one comment the handrails on the steps on the 2nd last photo look way over scale. A small point but one that stands out when looking at the pictures.

  3. Excellent craftsmanship. An inspiration for all modelers. Shows you can put together a great show in a small space.

  4. Dave McClelland says:

    Well, just when you thought you have seen everything on a model railroad layout, Mike comes up with a railroad club building with his layout in it. What a clever idea Mike, I love it! Thank you for sharing your layout with us. Nicely done.

    Conductor Dave, Dayton Ohio.

  5. NJ Mark says:

    Beautiful layout. In the club house hang some Canadian flags. Trying to build someone’s interest? My wife is from Montreal and I bought some CNR and Canadian Pacific rolling stock to maybe get her interested in my hobby…it didn’t work even though her granddad worked for CNR. Cheers! NJ Mark

  6. Erick says:

    Nice Layout!!!

  7. Mike…
    All very clever and well done.
    Best is the model railroad club building with the model railroad inside.

  8. Dave in Maryland says:

    Very well done. It would be great to see a track plan.

  9. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. Weathering adds to the realism on this layout and your modeling skills are first rate. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  10. Frank Vazquez says:

    Cool layout. Everything looks very realistic when photographed. Also nice to know you’re in Clermont. I live in Orlando myself.

    I can relate to your concept of being selective and taking your time. Some people like to be fast and get up and running and add a little bit here and there while others work at it a bit at a time, but consistently. All good ways to go at it, but when you have limited funds, time and space, the slower approach can provide more involvement, greater development and hopefully more “fun time” for the hobbyist.

  11. Dan Hulitt says:

    Nice work indeed, and to follow up on Dave’s comment. Where are the trains in the clubhouse? ZZZ scale might work, or you could put a clubhouse on your clubhouse layout, and put a track in that…..like the nested Russian dolls. Humor aside, a very nice piece of work.

    And to NJ Mark, keep trying.

    MN Dan (former NJ guy)

  12. Rich Collins says:

    Key question from the Piney Woods of East Texas……. Does the model railroad layout in the model railroad club have a building for the model railroad club on it and a smaller layout in it??? And on and on to infinity ????? Inquiring minds want to know ! lol

    Beautiful layout.

  13. Robert Brady says:

    Nice layout, Eye catching.
    The Critic

  14. Michael Ilkenhons says:

    The layout is still in the detail stage. I have a few people on it for now to show scale. The SNT clubhouse was actually built for a young guy who has a YouTube site in Canada. That is the reason for the Canadian flag. I have as much as I can for buildings.

  15. Talk about going the extra mile on your layout! Man, I love the pic that shows us the interior. Especially, the interior that shows us a model train layout, that was cool! Awesome job!! I am impressed!

  16. Gerald Edgar says:

    any particular part of the ‘Q’ you are modeling?

  17. Cary E Price says:

    Great layout Mike! Loved seeing it, thanks for sharing. Cary in KY

  18. dave says:

    Some of the very best craftmanship I have seen, Realy great layout!

  19. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Wow Mike….. great structures and great detail…….good looking layout. I love the model railroad layout in the building…….. Nice touch. The wood pile next to the cabin was great and the weathering on the roofs I envy. Great layout.

  20. Michael Ilkenhons says:

    I appreciate the generous comments… Thank you. I consider myself a good amateur builder. I feel intimidated by the master builders for good reason. What is really important is the effort to do my best…and to help others do their best. I do not belong to a club yet, am actively looking for one. There is so much to our hobby now that require a tutor in the specific areas I feel weak in. The electronics is a challenge that only experts can help with. In the end, I am happy with anything that makes it onto the table… if not it goes away or is revamped. For all you beginners, have heart and as Alastair points out…Just start. Cheers.

  21. Stan Connelly says:

    Great attention to detail. I think a small layout with great detail is much more interesting that a large spread with a bunch of plastic store-bought buildings. One detail should be corrected; The US flag hanging on the left side of the interior of the railroad club should be reversed. The proper way to display the flag vertically is with the stars in the upper left corner. Otherwise, a job well done!!

  22. george zaky says:

    Awesome craftsmanship. You are very talented. The club building is beyond my capabilities and to make an interior so real takes patience and fine work.
    Big Al
    You’ve done it again Ollie!

  23. John Hauser, LINY says:

    Remarked well done Mike. Obviously a labor of love.

  24. Barry lipton says:

    What did you use for your trestle line? what materials etc.?
    Please respond to me asap
    Thank you
    Barry Lipton
    Md USA

  25. Don says:

    the upper elevated rails with the passenger train, to the log cabin all the detail is awesomely well done.

  26. Patrick Talley says:

    Mike has built & upgraded several buildings for the Lake County Model Railroad Club, and they are fabulous. His attention to detail is unmatched. In my opinion he is a Master Modeler, even though he doesn’t think so.

  27. robert dale tiemann says:

    really nice work.

  28. Johnny Yuma says:

    Absolutely one clever layout. I’m impressed. You might tell James that all the people were called out of town for a photo session.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *