N scale canyon layout – Mike’s

Mike’s been in touch with his N scale canyon layout:

“Hi again Al.

Started this layout in March after I sold the Seattle Pacific Science Center Show layout. That was HO scale, Copper Canyon is in N scale (Think I forgot to mention before,sorry).

Layout is on 3 hollow core doors with a sandwich of foam topped with thin veneer. From that point it’s pretty much all foam. Carving tools and track laying.

Then comes the plaster wrap and plastering. Moved out of house to train shed for finishing. Originally was 2 doors with 3rd added later to include the sawmill and ocean waterfront scene. It has a mainline with continual running and shortline that runs off the main with a short consist with switchback operation to make a complete loop back to the main.

MRC basic DCC with 3 controllers.1 for each consist…Keeps it fun…. And now it’s time for it to go away to make room for next year’s show…. It takes me about 9 months to complete a layout up and running…All for now….


N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout

N scale canyon layout:




N scale canyon layout




Now on to Paul:

“Hi Al,

I visited the Scottish Model Railway Exhibition in Glasgow this weekend, and came across T Gauge

If anyone hasn’t the room for a larger gauge layout, they could try this.

The rolling stock is very small indeed. See attached picture.

All the best, and thanks for keeping the community going.


model train exhibition

A big thanks to Mike and to Paul for sharing his N scale canyon layout – Paul’s pic reminded me of quite a few of the layouts on the site that really are tiny. The suitcase one always sticks out in my mind.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

model train answers

41 Responses to N scale canyon layout – Mike’s

  1. Rod Mackay says:

    T gauge is very clever but haven’t yet seen any pointwork or indeed any T gauge train running at less than warp factor 7, no doubt in time the technology will improve dramatically but I would think twice about it at the moment. You can have a small but very satisfying switching layout in N scale which will be far easier to see, detail, clean and operate, in not much so much more space, or if you’re really pushed for room and have a bigger budget there’s Z scale.

  2. I like what I saw and want something in that size and category. What’s the price tag for something of that size to be built? Thanks in advance for reading and responding to my msg.

  3. Don J says:

    great looking realistic mountains and structures.
    one comment== place coal mine off of mainline by tunnel.
    make a separate run around track for the mine would be better and look better also.
    good work

  4. Ben Hawkins says:

    I would like to see a Video of your layout running, Anyway, Looks Great.

  5. Somchai Chantananad says:

    Mike’s layout is superb i am into American N scale and would love to have this layout or one very similar.

  6. Lee Barry, CEO LZPMRR says:

    wwhere can one buy a “T” gauge set with track, engine ,cars and power pack. I have seen videos of them but have only seen one and that was in 2014 at Nat’l Model RR Show in Cleveland,Oh. There was one set up. I have asked several people about getting one but everybody says they are not available. It is my understanding they run on the same principle as the the old Lionel Magnatraction. I have seen a video/commercial showing one of them T track trains going “up a wall and then back down. Try that with your Z,N,HO O or G sytems, hell most won’t stay on the tracks on curves at a high speed, especially if the outside rail ain’t elevated. I am only interested in a new, never been out of the box set, but will look at other ones.

  7. Don Stanley says:

    Impressive!, all in 9 months and then start again, Impressive!

  8. John Berger says:

    That’s awesome!

  9. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Answer: There is actually only one mainline runaround for the passenger train, all other tracks are short-line delivery/pickup. For the ones that asked, this layout is available for sale so that I can recoup funds for next years show. I don’t know contact rules for Al’s site here but will add my tele number and see how it goes. 360-420-7479. Thank’s to all who left comments, Mike

  10. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Added coment: This layout is expandable also to create a larger more detailed one. Also what I forgot to mention in the dessertation is that all the waters are Envirotex, slightly colored with the ocean water having seaweed and sand. Mike

  11. sure a hell of a lot of round hay bails where are the hay fields being all I see are mines and mining equipment and do not tell me that’s what they got off the land after clearing the forest away cause that’s bullshit ant you know it lol but nice layout but crowded as a most are that we see lol / hell I would hate to repair any of them locos or cars with my big short stumbie fingers lol

  12. Eppi Santiago says:

    What a remarkable layout, amazingly good.

  13. Helmut Eppich says:

    Excellent pictures. Reminiscent of “Model Railroader” Magazine coverage. Loved absorbing all those great images of different layouts. Pleasant memories.

  14. Helmut Eppich says:

    These are excellent pictures, reminiscent of those “Model Railroader” Magazine photo layouts. Was always interesting to see the differences in style of each railroad setup.

  15. Dr Bob says:

    Nice detailing of your scenery, should be quite a sight when you’re finished. I have seen the layout a few times at the Pacific Science Center with my grandson (school trips, etc). Very impressive! What made you go from HO to N? Keep up the great work!

  16. Bob says:

    Really like all the red dessert sandstone. One of the nicest layouts I have seen with respect to making use of relief.

  17. Dan Marso says:

    My layout table is only 4X8, HO . Would think about converting to N , but D&WRR has so much invested in HO , it would be prohibitive, to replace all the HO stuff. I can’t even imagine building a layout every 9 months,! But going to train shows and selling the layouts is great. We don’t have many shows in New England any more, several of the shows have closed, which is sad. Thanks for the great pics, and all the tips !

    Dan Marso

  18. nice layout
    excellent detail
    look fwd to your next
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  19. jJIM OREILLY says:

    ho is my gauge how many man hours did it take you to do it.

  20. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Reply to “Round hay balls”….Like to know where you found them as the layout has none…and for the “Hay field”…look behind the small tent-shaped shed…my goodness!!!….Dat’s hay agrowin dere…And the language needs a little clean-up…Reply to “Why HO to N…I do a different scale for each year’s show…Thank’s again for all the added comments…They are very appreciated…Mike

  21. michael brookman says:

    Looks like Mike has a good idea: build and play, build and play, build and play. Like many, I started my layout years ago and only have some track laid! I might try a door layout just to finish one and have something with which to play! Good job, Mike!

  22. deon says:

    great job mike it never fails to amaze me the effort people put into these layouts

  23. Ian Mc Donald says:

    what a great effort in 9 months to do all that, detail outstanding. very good photos.

  24. Jim Sulkosky says:

    Looks Great

  25. Ron Jamieson says:

    Spectacular detail. Would love to see an overall photo showing how the 3 doors fit together.

  26. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    REPLY TO 3 DOORS TOGETHER…First two doors side by side attatched on underside by three 1X4’s glued(Liquid Nails)and screwed….Then door on ocean end same way end to side…Then ocean end cut to suit….Send me your email and I will try to get a couple pics from underneath layout….A little hard to do a it is setting on a table…Mike

  27. DAN says:

    REPLY TO PAUL. IN THE 1950’S IN THE US I started a TT GAUGE layout, then later joined the Air Force.
    In the 1970’s in Southern Calif. I saw a hobby shop that was selling tt and i bought a set. They said companies were going to try to restart tt gauge products. I did research and found TT is very popular in Europe and even in Russia.
    I still have my tt set and plan to use it with my MARKLIN HO three rail AC train set . The tt would be a narrow gauge lumber business .

  28. Helmut Eppich says:

    Fantastic job! Great layout and detail on the entire set. Especially all the realistic scenery. Excellent photography work with those camera angles and shots too!

  29. Bob From Towson says:

    Mike, Congrats to you! I have S-scale AmericanFlyer trains and believe me that is small enough for my tired eyes and shaky hands to work with. I envy anybody that can model such small layouts…its incredible!!!

  30. Bruce in Denver says:

    Fantastic layoutt!!!! What did you use for the mine track rails?

  31. Robert Brady says:

    Mike; Photo # 11 A little cross bracing is in order. Have to keep the uprights from swaying. I realize there’s tracks underneath but u can raise the cross members to allow the spacing between the loco cabs to the underside. Just saying.
    Very interesting layout.
    The Critic

  32. Brian Rockey says:

    Wow Mike! That’s serious canyons!! Not a lot of those here in the UK, LOL
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  33. Peter from Adelaide says:

    Hi Mike

    Just wondering if choosing hollow core doors for a baseboard was ideal? You would need to drill holes through both layers for wiring (and occasionally the cardboard core in the middle) and then poke the wire through both holes. In my experience wires often bend after the first hole and it becomes hard to feed through to the second hole. Did you find a way around this?

  34. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Mike. Lots to look at. Mountains realistic but the track layout looks so unrealistic. I have never seen such a bundle of tracks coming out of a mountain side and splitting. I appreciate that this was a show model and you were trying to squeeze as much as possible into the layout. On scale your timber bridge supports look way over scale. Again a good display model.

  35. Will in NM says:

    Mike, Very interesting layout and amazing that you can create a new layout in just 9 months. You are obviously very adept at dealing with three-dimensional space in order to plan and build a layout with such diverse elevations. I would recommend some cactus and/or other vegetation in your red-rock mountains. Take a look at photos of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico or Nevada and you’ll see that even deserts have quite a bit of weeds and other vegetation.

    Paul, T-scale really? I can barely work with HO scale and gave all my N scale equipment to my brother because it was too small for me to use any more. 🙂

  36. Mike Balog says:

    For Mike: Absolutely Amazing Canyons and all the trestles, bridges on the layout. (1.) The Details kept your Eye Focused: (a.) Trestle Bents,, the contractor who built them for the RR, Skimped the Cross Bracing,, Oops..(b.) The Mine on the other side of the Tunnel ~ Big Safety Issue… If you dropped off a car or string of cars to Load, ANY train coming thru that Tunnel Would NOT know if unless you had signals and Traffic Control Routing by Radio and Block Control.. Accident waiting for happen. Suggestion.,,, move the Mine further away from the main, install a stub switch and a siding just for the mine or a run around track. (b) The Farm,, You could add some more Fields,, across the tracks on both sides…and farm fencing by the main like.. fencing for the animals especially so they don’t wander off or get hit by the Trains. Could put a dirt RR Crossing over to the road so farm vehicles can assess the other fields. (2)(a.) The Big Mine on Stilts,,, where the conveyor goes across the canyon, That Mine building that looks like a Barn,,, Could be supported by 60 deg. angle Bracing against the side of the Mountain… instead of LONG TALL Poles with no side bracing… How would the contractors get those poles there? (b.) Liked the Mine RR Tracks coming out of the Mountain with the mine carts.. Reminds me of one of the Indian Jones Moves… a little more bracing for the tracks.. And a Tiling Pile past the end. (3.) The Sawmill,,, Great Detailing,, really liked the Mill Pond with the submerged and floating logs.. (a.) Could you add a couple of RR Cross Buck Signs by the Road going over the switch? (4.) Rural Town or Village.. Is there room for a small rural village or town, with some buildings on the sides of a street with a RR Station, Water Tank, track gang shed, Loading dock? (5.) Indian Village, could be on top of one of the Canyons,,, (6.) Old Prospectors,, can have a few of those in the streams or rivers panning for Gold,, or a Mule Train with Prospectors with Pack Mules along a trail..(7.) Wild Animals,, maybe some of the Bears can come out of hibernation ? Deer, and Moose in different places,, like down by a river taking a drink… (8.) Vegetation, guess it must be a new Invisible Species Discovered… would make a National Geographic Magazine Special. Some Ground Foilage, moss, tumble weed, grass, weeds, etc. Especially along the river banks. (9.) The Harbor,,, Like the Algee – seaweed floating on the water,,, (a.) Put up a Want Ad for Fisherman, Dock Workers,,, And (b.) a narrow barge for what ever the mine is handling. (c.) The Shipping Company, needs to ask the supplier for a more of a Boat, pointed Bow, Spar Pole, a main pole on the deck behind the Wheel House. Some Rigging for block and tackle to move cargo on or off. A light on top of the Wheel House, Old Tires and marine rope on the sides and front of the boat. Could you add some LED Lights for the various structures around the layout, RR Crossings, Road Signs, (10.) Over ALL an Excellent Job in planning, construction. I Like the Expanse of the Old Western Canyons the layout represents. and your patience is displayed in the results… ~ Mike in N.H. ~

  37. Kelvin the Celt says:

    To Peter of Adelaide. You need to get a short straight length of stiff wire and pass it through both top and bottom holes. Then lightly tape your electrical wire to end of stiff piece. Pull stiff wire back and it will bring your wire with it through both holes. This is how Electricians do it. Cheers Kelvin.

  38. Charles Eyster says:

    Mike you have a fantastic layout, and to think build and rebuild! I’m one that’s still trying to rebuild with a 45 year hiatus.
    Thank you ever so much for making this so interactive with the comments being made. I am in the states and by the time Al’s posts arrive in my early morning, comments are many. I very rarely see comments and questions addressed by the authors on such a spontaneous basis! Thank both you and Al for the entertaining and educational posts!

  39. Andrew Aves says:

    Great modelling, would love to see a track plan
    Andrew in Oz

  40. Skip Odell says:

    speed modeling sounds like work not enjoyment.

  41. Frank Juhasz says:

    Can someone tell me why most of you guys put foam down on the plywood. I can only get 2′ x 2′ squares where I live. Also how do you keep the track down as I guess nail won’t hold it. You can answer me direct at my email address. Thanks

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