Model train bench work

Wayne’s been in touch with some impressive model train bench work:

“My first model train was American flyer under the Christmas tree around 1951.

As a little kid the only trains I had ever seen were the steam engines. For a small kid from the mid-west SD they were quite impressive.

About a year later I moved to PA, to a little town northeast of Pittsburgh. This is where I saw my first diesel engines.

Sorry to say they weren’t very impressive, they had no steam, no noise, no steam whistle, and no huge wheels.

Around three years later I earned enough money to buy my first HO scale boxcar.

I have been hooked ever since with HO. As time went on, I collected an assortment of HO fright cars, for the day I could build a layout.

Those cars came out, looked at, then put back into there boxes, and put away. As the years passed my box of HO cars were lost.

I joined the service at 17, did a tour in Viet Nam, got married, we had 4 children, and was buying a house in southern California.

This house had a garage that we didn’t use. My oldest son had a love for model trains also.

Over the next couple of years we worked on our layout. In 1975 we moved to Washington state.

The moving van held all of our belongings except the train layout. My son and I felt bad about leaving it behind.

Around 1990 I opened a Christmas gift from my oldest son. He had given me a HO scale model train set. Boy it was hard to keep the water works shut down on that one.

We took the set to a spare bedroom and set it up on the floor. It could only do a figure 8 but we sat there and watched it for hours.

I have more than 1 job going at the same time. I am learning the hard way on how to do this stuff.

A good one is to cover every thing befor you start slinging plaster, or you will be picking plaster out of the stonework on your portals.

Also dont put your cast rocks befor you plaster. They kind of go away. There is a number of things I have learned the hard way, but I am haveing fun.

I am having a little more trouble doing small things due to parkinson, but I have found there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

This layout will be coal, gravel, and agriculture. I still have ice house, meat packing, fruit shipping warehouse, and scrap yard, oh and roundhouse to make. Most of layout will have lights that I can control.

I have most of the plaster off of the stone portals now. Lesson learned if you dont want to spend hours picking plaster, you better cover it. Even old guys can learn. More later.

Thank you.


Model train bench work laying track

Model train bench work HO scale laying track

Model train bench work

HO scale laying track

Model train bench work

Model train bench work

Model train bench work

Model train bench work

model train trestle bridge

model train trestle bridge

Model train bench work

A huge thanks to Wayne for sharing his model train bench work. I’ve lost count of the posts where folk have real problems because their bench is not level, too high, too low, doesn’t give access… the list is endless.

I love the way he’s just got stuck in and picking things up along the way. But most of all, I love the way he’s having fun.

It all boils down to ‘your layout, your rules’.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and start doing, 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

56 Responses to Model train bench work

  1. paul says:

    i think this must be one of the best figure 8s i have seen
    very well done
    have even more ideas in my head now, not good

  2. Colin Edinburgh says:

    This layout looks so full of promise. The track layout looks exciting and a plan would be nice to see. The elevator is well done i just wonder about the size of some of the rocks they would probably weight about 1 to 2 tons in reality so would not be sent up such a delicate conveyor. Something we see a lot is the height of the elevated track. The elevated track is so high when you compare it to the houses. Most real elevated track would just clear a train below plus electrification cables for the lower track. The structure required to elevate a track to almost what looks like twice or more the height of the train would be immense and not a few widely spaced pillars. Think of a viaduct that even at a small increase in height is immense structure.

  3. Love that share. Love the pics. Wishing you and your son the best!!

  4. Jackie Quackenbush says:

    Like you I remember the steam engines from childhood, and my layout (when I get it finished) will run steam. I like that there are many different elevations. Hope to see it when it is finished. How about a track plan.

    Ms. Jackie

  5. Robert Brady says:

    Wayne why did you not mask off your portal entrance’s? Got a little messy there Bro! Also looks like you butted up against the walls. Can you reach for a derailment? Love to see the final results.
    The Critic

  6. Jeff says:

    You may not have covered the portals. But at least you covered the track before the plaster! Lol. I must say your buildings look awesome and that trestle is going to be really impressive when you finish it. These posts are always so inspirational. Great work and can’t wait to see more of it.

  7. Looks awesome…. that’s the great part of this hobby… you never stop learning and it’s never really finished…. enjoy the time spent together…. moments become memories…. Richard of Oklahoma

  8. Stephen Fetzer says:

    Impressive wood working.

  9. Mike Bifulco says:

    Thanks Wayne! Great photos, very instructive and helpful at a time when I need the help. Keep ’em coming.

  10. Rob McCrain says:

    Wayne, this is a superb layout. It is well thought out and very well executed. Great job. Rob McCrain – Farland Howe

  11. louie says:


  12. Rick says:

    Beautiful blending of curves!
    Ref: plaster, I’d give up saying, “Uh, it’s a winter railroad”, but you’re a better man than I.
    Parkinson’s might be Nam related, earned benefits may be due to you.
    All the Best,

  13. Sweet Layout!!

  14. Mike says:

    Wayne… great story. That is a terrific looking layout. Benchwork looks superb, track work is nicely laid out with buildings that fit the terrain. Great job.

  15. Awesome work.

  16. Harold from Florida says:

    You didn’t mention the line of work you were in, but “architect” would be my guess. The framing and build of the infrastructure is not amateur by any means. Great job!

  17. Dave M says:

    Great that you have the space and such a big layout after waiting all those years for this. Keep up the good work and send in some pictures later to show the progress which we will be interested to see.

  18. Greg Schaefer says:

    Great story Wayne. There’s a song in there somewhere:

    Trains are big and black and smokin’ steam, screamin’ at the wheels
    Bigger than anything there is, at least that’s the way she feels
    Johnny Cash, “Texas 1947”

  19. I would love to see the track plan itself. Looks like the space i have and am beginning to design my layout.

  20. All well done.
    Colin Edinburgh… The layout is very American. Things are a bit different here. Also the builder is in Washington State, High mountains and trestles are the norm there. The kind of viaducts that seem to be common in England and Europe are so rare in America that they border on the nonexistent.
    The layout design is well done, I do have a concern about reaching any derailment in any tunnel though. As to slinging plaster, I have done all those mistakes and learned the hard way!

  21. Wayne
    your layout shows your hard work
    looks great
    bob from florida

  22. Great work, keep it up!

  23. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Wayne…….send more pics when its done (although, its never really done….always changes).

  24. Where in SD did you live. I’m from SD’

  25. Choochoo52 says:

    Fantastic start. Love it! I would hate to get into a plaster fight with you, could be dangerous. LOL

  26. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!

  27. Bob Bouskill says:

    Really nice

  28. This fellow really knows what he is doing. This will be a gotgeous layout when done.

  29. Fred says:

    Blimey that’s certainly a mega build and loads of pics

  30. Dick Rohn says:

    Every part of that layout is beyond amazing!! Well done!!

  31. Jim Robinson says:

    Mammoth, ambitious project! My hat’s off to you, Sir! I’m anxious to see more.

  32. Bob Muhme says:

    That is really nice layout you’ve got there. Coming along nicely! Enjoy the time with your son!

  33. Craig Northacker says:

    Wayne, Welcome home. I am guessing you know but Parkinson’s and Parkinsonisms are presumed results of Agent Orange. I encourage you to go for 100% if you have not done so. There are excellent benefits. Please feel free to reach out.

  34. Ed Lustigman says:

    Looks really great thanks for the inspiration

  35. Joe Graffi says:

    Looking good, Wayne! Even though I grew up in Los Angeles, we were ½ mile from the SP Alhambra yards. Lots of “Cab Forwards”, etc.
    I used to fall asleep every night hearing the late night passenger train leave the Alhambra station, pass by our neighborhood and whistle its way toward Union Station in LA.
    I LOVE steam! and model it exclusively. Your layout is quite ambitious and you have done a great job so far. Like they say, “It’s never finished”! there will always be “tweaking”.
    Thanks for sharing!

  36. Bob Ruder says:

    I am a newbie to N gauge. I am 80 and have not “played with trains” since I was running a 027 gauge Lionel at about12 yrs old. I have my Kato train, 6 cars, Kato track and switches and will be starting on my 6 X 4 ft layout soon. I have lists of wood and foam made out and will be heading to Lowes next weekend.
    I must say Wayne has a super-looking project going, and I can’t fathom the work and size of that layout. It will be awesome when finished …for sure!!
    I have been watching so many how-to videos for a month now, but mine will be nothing like the awesome layouts I have seen here on this website. WOW.
    Wish me luck and I hope that money-tree of mine don’t die! .:-)

  37. James Uhlig says:

    Great layout, well planned, going to give you many hours of enjoyment!

  38. William Swenberg says:

    Hey Wayne; I’m in Arlington, WA where are you? I’m doing HO, NOn3 and will be adding HOn2. I have 2 4×4′ square tales and will be adding more for the HOn2. Probabley4x2 or 3′. It is India where they have lots of gages. My phone is (360) 435-2908.

  39. We all learn by doing, and yes, we’ve all made many mistakes. Loved the story behind that “figure 8”. My first train was also an S-guage American Flyer. In fact, I still have it ( I’m 79).

  40. Great work, Wayne! I also received an American Flyer (Silver Bullet) for Christmas when I was 5 years old in 1953. I still have it plus many more AF engines and cars. Got my first HO train (F7 AA B&O pax) in about 1960. I am currently building an HO layout (circa 1950) in a 10 by 30 foot shed. I do love steam more than diesel, but diesel around the transition period is wonderful, too, Keep up the great work! Looking forward to more photos as you progress. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great Story , good luck my Veteran Brother, Your layout has a great start!!
    God Speed!!

  42. wayne w. watts says:

    I want to thank everyone for your kind and thoughtful comments on what I am trying to do. I think that I can reach any derailment’s from underneath. The rocks are way to big, but I checked with the mining engineer’s, they said that this is super extra lightweight rock. they said it is used for ballest on skyhook’s. ( Ha Ha ) I would like to say “welcome home” Nam brothers. No matter how old you are its never to late to build that train layout. Thank You. Hot Springs, SD. & Bow, WA.

  43. Robert Brady says:

    Reach derailments from under layout ? How old did you say u were? I’m 72 can’t get my butt under my table. Lol Good luck young fella.
    The Critic

  44. Ips says:

    Thanks Wayne for sharing. Excellent job. Keep it going.

  45. Mr Ron from South Mississippi says:

    I think of a layout as an experiment that never comes to completion.

  46. Robert Brady says:

    Ron from Miss
    Mine came to a completion golf came in to my life . I’m in South Fl. wife passed had to move now no room.

  47. Brian Olson says:

    I so appreciate model railroaders who take the time to document the evolution of their layouts. So many tips and tricks we can learn.

  48. jeff w says:

    Love the layout!! As well the lifes journey to get to this point is a very neat story!

  49. Jon says:

    Would LOVE to see a diagram of the track plan!!

  50. robert dale tiemann says:

    really nice layout. the mountain scene is cool

  51. Steve Ruple says:

    Wayne, the layout is looking awesome, keep up the good work and enjoy.

  52. Daniel says:

    Fantastic !!!!

  53. Richard Ridgely says:

    As far as the tunnel portal…. just make it a winter scene…. nuff said

  54. Jim Turner says:

    I can’t get over what you’ve accomplished despite Parkinson’s! Normally I’d say well done. But I’m thinking…miraculous! Either way, beautiful. Your son, and by extension his son, have a talented, resourceful, determined role model.

  55. Dr. Jon Blake says:

    I am very new to this scene but I am smart enough to appreciate great planning and of course, awesome work! Keep us updated on your progress… By the way, how did you convince those that live with you to take up this amount of space?

  56. Rod Charlton, NC says:

    Wayne, wow! very nice & ambitious layout. I wish you great success. Also, Welcome Home!! By all means file a VA claim. Viet Nam extended tour ‘64 & ‘65 exposed to Agent Purple then Agent Orange. Disabled but still enjoying the American Flyer trains that I received when I was 10 & 12 plus all that I “accumulated “ since then. I see no reason to change to anything else at this point I am planning to build a larger layout now that I have more space to run more & longer trains plus operating accessories. My existing “Christmas” layout is compact displaying 5 trains with 2 operating at once. All the best to you. God Bless

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