Mike’s HO scale layout


This is a HO scale layout consisting of 3 separate zones. Farm, Village and Mtns.

There are 2 bridges, 2 tunnels and lots of interesting things to see along the tracks. I use EZ track. It’s just easier for me to work with.

The platform is L shaped 4X8X6. DC powered.

I used plastic, laser cut; self build (balsa) and paper houses and buildings. A little bit of paint makes them look more realistic.

I purchased a bundle of paper houses I saw in your emails. They were easy to assemble and add a nice touch of realism.

The roads are made from a Woodland Scenic kit.

The little details like the billboards were made from actual billboard pictures I found on the Internet. I reduced them to the proper scale, printing on photo paper, and attaching them to a painted balsa wood frame.

Mountains are made from 1” thick rigid insulation, stacked, glued, cut, shaped and painted. I also added some natural stone; plaster tunnel portals, and paper retaining walls. All topped off with some mosses and grasses I bought at the craft store.

The farm scene is my favorite. The farm house is paper, the store is laser cut and the barn and silo is built. I added a lot of little touches like the wheat and corn field as well as the plowed earth.

I topped it all off with people, animals, fences, gravel roads, vehicles and a few other items to make it fun.

I added a few more pictures.



HO scale layout

HO scale layout

HO scale layout

HO scale layout

“Ground charcoal makes great scale coal…………keep breaking it till it’s the right size….then use the dust mixed with white sprit to age the rolling stock..

Dry cleaning hangers(plain) can be cut to make telegraph polls (solder cross bars) fence posts etc.


“I use thrown-away charcoal filter elements (like body shop respirators use) stripped open for REAL looking coal in coal hoppers.

It is light weight, and an exact match for coal. It is a might large for N scale. but looks great for HO and larger scales.


“Hi Al , after a few more adjustments have now uploaded part 7 of the new layout , some have asked re fitting points motors , I shall try to cover this in the nest update , I wanted to get all the track sorted and running good before starting adding more lights and point motors.



That’s it, we’re done for today.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you startle your loved ones with your new found love of all things trains, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

44 Responses to Mike’s HO scale layout

  1. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    Fantastic Dave,how do you do it? The new layout looks really good. Do you put all your point motors above or below the track?
    Thanks again for the update.

  2. Man you are a great benifit, I would like to know where do you purchase your trains, why I see they are very expensive. I really have learned a lot from you.

  3. Nice looking layout you have built there Mike , and to answer Willie , I use the surface mounted points motors , I shall show fitting them as soon as I get to that stage …

  4. Ed Clark says:

    Mike, love what you have done. I used E-Z Track on my new N scale layout. One of the reasons is that when I get it ‘finished’ I can unsnap the track and easily reconfigure the whole layout.

  5. Toni Olivar says:

    Dave, you are amazing. You pack much into a limited area and it all makes sense. Quite the imagination you have. Keep it coming.

    Mr. A. Lee
    How would I send you pictures or videos of a work-in-progress? I would like to share images of my first ‘N’ scale layout and allow your readers to make comments and suggestions.

  6. Al Good says:

    Thank you for allowing a visit to your Railroad.
    Al here in the US, State of Oregon near UPRR MP 613, Jasper, OR

  7. Rob McCrain says:

    Mike’s layout looks great. Many fascinating details. Dave has made amazing progress.

  8. Thomas Meleck says:

    Fantastic. Thanks for the review.

  9. tadheath says:

    That is so cool!!!!!!!!!!! I want to do a small town with a McDonalds in my layout but I’m having a hard time finding McDonalds box cars and tractor trailers……so if anybody can steer me in the direction or has some….please email me. Thank you!!!!!!

  10. Don Rowland says:

    Another source of coal for HO layouts is at the commercial office cleaning companies. They have a black granule product they put in ash trays. If they still allow smoking in your office, take a look. I got a coffee can full from our cleaning crew. It is the same as the granules you find on of roofing shingles.

  11. Joe Gray says:

    Another great video… After watching this one, I can’t wait for the next.

  12. THOMAS says:


  13. THOMAS says:


  14. Bernard Hallas says:

    Another great video from Dave, He must spend a lot of time working on his layout. I am intrigued by the vehicles on his roads. I have seen some of them to be bought from some UK places (I am in Canada), but would appreciate knowing where he found the 30’s, 40’s 50’s & 60’s vehicles in such a wide assortment of types. There are ERF trucks, AEC trucks & Bedford trucks as well as buses of all types. They really add atmosphere to his scenes.

  15. Marcus Doling says:

    Great layout!

    Dave’s done more in a month than I have in over a year on my layout! I love the Blue Pullman snaking into the tunnel in the video. Cheers, Marcus

  16. Bernard …the cars and trucks are mainly from the corgi range , Hattons here in England sell a lot of these and do post overseas

  17. Harry says:

    Great tips and I want to order the houses when I start my layout. Was wondering, how did you make your Haystacks?
    And Haybales? They look real. Wanna put a farm on my layout.
    Thanks Harry

  18. Ray Appenzeller says:

    Dave you are doing a wonderful job with your layout! I enjoy your updates and creating a beautiful miniature world with trains! Thank you for sharing it with all of us enthusiasts. Regards, Ray Appenzeller USA

  19. Hi dave. your lay out is great. I enjoy your videos as always.Is your lay out in your attic?

  20. PETER says:


  21. Christine says:

    You have to do weathering, because without it, it just looks like a toy. It needs that realistic look. Weathering can be fun to do, learn from it by photo’s of trains and from studying what’s in your day to day life. In no time you will get good at it. There’s books and videos to help you start out. Little is more when weathering.

  22. Roland Burch says:

    Great layout Mike. I also use EZ track.
    Thanks for the pictures, send more.
    Roland – Nashville

  23. Paul Boehlke says:

    Mike, I like the bales of hay. How did you make them? Paul

  24. Roger says:

    Dave show me how to get all train running on all tracks at the moment I have only one train running and a layout with 3 sets of track

  25. Rob McCrain says:

    I really like this layout. It has more than industrial scenery. I really like that. Rob

  26. John Gabriel says:

    Dave you are so creative. I can’t wait to show this clip to my Grandson.

  27. herb says:

    When I was a kid, I am 78 I used to hang out at Lionel Headquarters 15 E 26th st

    They let me operate a great layout I did not get a set of trains until after ww2

    Expanded some and my Son took it all when he maried and moved to Fl

  28. good job, dave. i’m learning from you and all. i’m starting my 6th layout myself. it’ll be different from all the others and now I have to decide my new motif. terry witkowski, stevens point,WI

  29. Cary says:

    Hey Mike, the farm scene is my favorite too (at least from the pics provided) The rolled hay bales are the perfect touch. congrats on a great eye!
    Cary in KY

  30. Cary B says:

    Nice layout Mike, farm scene my favorite also. Always look forward to Dave’s videos.

    Cary B in Maryland

  31. Ron Schultz says:

    i really would like to know the dimensions of Dave’s RR. guessin maybe 25 X 80 feet .?

  32. Mike says:

    You can buy roofing granules in a variety of colors (without the roof) from roofing companies. I got a five gallon bucket for less than 20 dollars. I sift through a window screen or sieve to get different sizes. Another source of coal (charcoal) is used water filters like Brita makes. You have done a great farm!!

  33. Warren Ferguson says:

    I have seen bags of real coal from the Conway site for sale on eBay. Is there any reason not to buy that, and have the real thing?
    Dave, tell me the story of the kitty cat (on the roof?) at the end of your video, please. There has to be an interesting story there.
    And again, thank you for sharing your wonderful skills.
    Mike, you’re doing a beautiful job on your layout. I love the signage on your general store and post office. I remember Old Gold cigarettes, too. My brother smoked them until the company went out of business.
    I’m wondering how you created your hay bales, too. They look perfect.
    Does anyone have ideas about making the old rectangular bales with baling wire ties? My era is prior to the big round ones. Warren, AL, USA

  34. Kenneth Seegert says:

    Dave, I am amazed at what you acomplished over this layout. I just enjoy all your imagination and sharing with us.

  35. David A. Massimi says:

    Mike, your layout looks great ! I will join the others asking for more photos!
    I hope you enjoy it for a long time.
    Dave, in NY

  36. Robert Brady says:

    Dave when you buy rolling stock and the like do you buy a piece at a time or several? Take the oil tanker cars for instance did you buy the lot or a few at a time or one or two at a time
    Thanks Bob

  37. george zaky says:

    Love your layout. Please send more pics and videos.
    From a fan across the pond. Many thanks. I really appreciate everything you show here.
    George from NY

  38. michael chissler says:

    Thanks for all the comments on my layout. I’ll answer a few questions I received,
    1. The McDonalds building is a kit. I worked for McDonalds for years and collected all sorts of trucks and other McD accessories. most can be found on eBay.
    2. I made the hay bales with balsa wood, coated with glue, then rolled them in static grass.
    3. I also have a few youtube videos, just search, H&D Model Railroad and H&D Model Railroad Helicopter Tour. These videos are from another layout I built a few years back…no particular time period more of a freestyle approach.

  39. Ron Schultz says:

    nice RR enjoy it as one day you will be changing it I my self am running my 4th HO railroad . yours is the first i have seen with a “ballasted ” tressale…

  40. Robert Brady says:

    Dangerous Dave that steam engine must be mighty strong to be pulling 9 passenger cars.Quite fast I may add.

  41. Elmer Banks says:

    Excellent use of the printouts buildings. And weathering and kitbashing is a great part of the hobby. Need more photos. Watch the lighting and shake.
    E. Tony. Aliquippa. Pa. (American Indian for “I love trains”).

  42. Great layout and imagination!

  43. Charles Eyster says:

    I enjoy these tips posts everyday. I’m still at the “got to get started stage” for my second burst of model railroading. In checking some boxes the other day, I found one of my old house lights that I built from scratch. All it took was some thin gauge copper wire, a paper clip, an old flashlight bulb, a thumbtack, and a small piece of wood! And there you have it, a light for an HO structure.
    My how times have changed with LEDs and such. Just thought that some of you would like a glimpse into the past as a DIYS person in the early 1960’s.

    Darn it won’t let me share a picture of it?

  44. Frank DiFranco says:

    Great layout pristine work.
    question where did you fine the boats for the river scene been looking but having no luck

    again excellent job.


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