More model train scenery tips

“Al —

I did do some professional enlarging for one backdrop, and just a plain 8X10 for a small piece.

You can see two of three panels for which I took the pictures, and had them enlarged to 30”
poster size. I then cut away the actual sky in the photos, and glued the posters to my back-
drop, made of 1/8 inch masonite, which had previously been painted blue.

To take the pictures, I stood in the ditch in the middle of I-90, and took one to the left, one to the middle, and one to the right. I made sure there was “overlap” of the three exposures (Yeah, it was a 35mm camera, years ago) so that there were no gaps.

The other was a shot down a busy street, and that just fit the roadway in one town. There was a little “massaging” of the image by a friend who used Photoshop.

Sadly, I don’t have a saved copy of that one.


“Hi Alastair,

Here is my Model of the shack in N gauge printed out on photo paper and glued with PVA

I am a quarter way through this project The Shack works a treat on my mountain top

In my N Gauge Coffee table setup

Hope this helps


Thanks Rog – you can download the same shak here. Al.

“Hi Al, here is the last “quirky” layout I will be making for a while. It is N gge made in the old briefcase I used to carry to work in the Copperbelt mines in Zambia in the 1980s.

The trucks are supposed to be Euclid R45s. The two matchbox models are very old, 50 yrs+ from my childhood. When it is all folded up the conveyor tower and chute go into the open pit.

Runs rather well. The ore wagons are converted Farish grain wagons.


Thanks Duncan. A hat railway, a toilet railway… and now a briefcase railway! There is no end to your talents 🙂

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide, if today is the day you start your railroad adventure.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

60 Responses to More model train scenery tips

  1. Roger says:

    ALWAYS nice to see Dave’s progress. Remember folks – we’re not professionals – we’re amateur enthusiasts – and it takes courage to submit our ideas and work to websites with photos and videos.

    This is the friendliest site on the web and reason why I contribute. Guys like Paul Otway – who ALWAYS writes in with pleasant words of encouragement for every contributor – are the life blood of the site and keep the enthusiasm going.

    Lovely stuff, Dave. Keep them coming.

  2. Nice idea Rog , the cofee table top layout

  3. Rob Billing says:

    Ok i see it has arrived must have got hooked somewhere, LOL

  4. Tom says:

    This site to me is like a worldwide model railroad club. Al I cannot wait to see the next installment of what someone is working on and contributing to the site. I Like what Roger says. It is true.

    The contributions of each person their sharing experiences and knowledge is a treasure trove that each of us can use on our own model railroad. It is all because they take the time to care and share.

    Thank you Bill, Rog and Dave for this installment and sharing
    Thanks Al for all you do to make this possible.


  5. nichael cerantola says:

    David, just wanted to say that you are doing a sterling job and look forward to every installment or update that you post. I am a beginner but through your updates i have learnt much about modelling and am just beginning to start a layout of my own. My uncle purchased a rurale rambler set from Honby when I was 2 years old and have just found it recently. I wanted to let you know that watching your updates gives me the courage to give a go myself and hopefully be able to come out with a worthy layout for everyone to enjoy. Keep up the good work and thank you for those updates.

  6. Roland says:

    I always enjoy Dave’s layout and train trips.
    Bill, you did a great job. What state is I-90 in?

  7. Sherrill says:

    Hello, Al.

    I began following your blog on January 2nd this year and love to receive each installment. It is such a pleasure to read the many contributions and to learn how to create the environments. Thank you to Al, Dave, Duncan, Bill, Rog, and the wonderful contributors to this website.

    It has been incredible to find a place where a complete novice can watch, listen, and learn. Your ideas, accomplishments, and conversations are always so positive and given with great generosity. From the smallest layouts to the largest, most intricate sets, we can all enjoy the love, patience, and intelligence of the builders.

    [ Has anyone else noticed that Dave included Dr. Who’s Tardis in his village next to the lovely new fishpond? It is at 2:53 into today’s video and later at 7:54, where it is on the left of the Café parking lot behind the pergola. I hope that the 10th Doctor was visiting Donna Noble! ]

    My current activities are completely focused on Jacob, my grandson, who will be four in November. I’ve been buying him Thomas the Tram Engine and his friends, various sets, books, and videos since his last birthday. We spend hours with these wonderful wooden models on the Island of Sodor.

    Al, you have created a very special gathering place with your blog.

    Thank you so much for your time and caring!

    Sherrill Pacific NW, USA

  8. Bill says:

    I always look forward to the new videos, photos and tips. I just started my first model railroad a couple of months ago. When I was a kid I had an HO race track that was decked out with lights, buildings and scenery. Always wanting a railroad set though and being disabled and having the time to put into it, got me thinking. Why not combine the two! I designed a layout on my laptop, along with some signs and billboards promoting the weekend races. So far all’s going well. I’ve got limited space but made an ‘L’ shape setup and once I work through the details and finishing touches I’ll have a video up. Thanks for all the helpful inspirations.

  9. Sheila says:

    I enjoy all the postings on this website. Thanks to everyone.

  10. Toni says:

    Regarding Tom’s comment of this site as a worldwide Model Railway Club. One major reason that I have this e-mail go to my oldest e-mail account and the first one that I log into when I go on-line.

    Being a single woman in a male dominated hobby, I’m curious as to how many other women are into Model railroading/Model Railways that leave comments, suggestion or tips here?

  11. Cord says:

    For anyone with any interest at all in model railroading (as we Yanks call it), it would be quite impossible to get fed up with Dave’s railroad.

  12. gordon brown says:

    hi there check the metal conections on your DMU are making a good contact and hopefully your lights will work.

  13. paul Otway says:

    Thanks guys. I like what was done with the suitcase.

    A model railway can also be built in a Tv cabinet, Just remove the works from it.

  14. TOM says:



  16. ken potter says:

    Love the briefcase layout, well thought out.

  17. 'nother grandpa says:

    always enjoy Dave’s videos. I am curious how he managed the flashing Cafe sign.

  18. Roberto says:

    Duncan’s suitcase absolutely fantastic. Particularly – as Al says – the backdrop in the lid. I must’ve missed the railway in the toilet: how did that work?!

  19. Jim in Miami FL says:

    I LOVE this site! As a child in Florida we grew up with an “O” gauge scale Lionel, and as a teenager I built an HO scale. It’s been quite a few years, and now, I own my own condo, and I am planning an N gauge table-top for my living room. And THIS SITE – is absolutely the best.

    The creativity, brilliance, and the words of encouragement I see here have really emboldened me to make my own layout. So in the [hopefully] NEAR future, I expect to begin some occasional active contribution here. Meanwhile, THANK YOU for great and tangible “comeraderie on this site! Best to all, worldwide!

  20. I enjoy this site. Keep up the service, thank you.

  21. aldo says:

    nice pics im still at the lab stage no download cardboard or back ground yet takes lot old parts build 60 yr old train set but i taking als sight with strong looking at how to deal with the land scape the bush ideal i do have that . thanks al if i do paper buildings i will do snaps for this sight

  22. Christine says:

    I love steam trains, big, small, when I was a kid I had a lot of them. I’ve been thinking of going to G scale and doing a big layout.

  23. hi can dave confirm if the sound on his class 47 is the Bachmann sound as I am thinking of adding one to my deltic and class 24 diesels which sound great..

  24. Jon Holland says:

    I was wondering if any other people caught the Doctor’s Tardis at 2.50, but someone else did. The question is, is that a kit or scratch built? Thanks.

  25. Art B. says:

    I am looking for an over-the-tracks pedestrian bridge similar to the one on the last layout. I am in the uSA, but will be happy to find one anywhere. Art

  26. Roy Bastiman says:

    Dave what a wonderful layout
    I have been avidly following your various posts on the building of it and indeed the wealth of tips
    Best wishes to you on this project
    As a ‘video guy’ may I ask how you shoot, edit and upload the videos you show us?
    The reason I ask is that when expanded to full screen the picture is horizontally stretched, showing as a letter box with a wide black stripe at the top an bottom, making the layout, locomotives, and vehicles look wide and squat

  27. Steven P says:

    To who asked where I-90 is located. It runs in many US states. I live in Illinois near Chicago & it runs into the city & then out west…That would be on the other side of the POND!!

  28. John Collado says:

    Hi all… I have a question, was that “Sir Topum Hat” in one of the photos? You know, the boss from Thomas the Tank Engine.

  29. Bumper says:

    Does anyone have a layout ln “0” gauage, ? Granted it wouldn’t look like Dave’s for it wouldn’t have that much space to put every thing on.

  30. Darrell Smith says:

    Awesome job, Dave !! A lot I have learned by looking at the videos of your layout. Thanks

  31. andi says:

    Wen you have a min I need help I’m setting up a layout apex 10ft 10ft I want a fiddle yard posts end to end or may be continue s mixed I would like two pos three line cheer andi b

  32. Richard says:

    Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas and layouts that you post.
    However, on this last one of Dave’s, I could not understand exactly what the site was to Google for the Signs/Pictures he was talking about. Unfortunately, I just can’t understand him at times. It’s probably my old brain not working. Could someone share that site with me? Thanks

  33. Ross Johnston says:

    Another great video Dave! However have i missed one or 2 as you seemed to have changed your layout significantly? Still great stuff and you always give me ideas for my forthcoming layout. Cheers! Rossco Adelaide, South Australia

  34. Peter says:

    Dave, why are you filming through a letterbox? I can’t watch that video, it’s stretched sideways? I love watching your layout videos, but you’ve changed the format. Change it back!

  35. Gene Fricks says:

    The Tardis would seem to be a great candidate for a cut out design.

  36. tom says:

    Many ladys model railroad. Just jump in and enjoy with us old guys. good luck Tom in AZ

  37. Dennis says:

    the log train was too loud in the vido

  38. Linda says:

    Dave, You are so incredibly talented. Not only with the layout but also the video recording. Awesome job. Love it.

  39. Linda says:

    Duncan, You have such unique ideas, very clever. Keep up the wonderful work.

  40. Linda says:

    Bill, Great idea, nicely done.

  41. Martin says:

    Where does he get all these ideas from?

  42. JIm says:

    I-90 runs from Seattle to Boston. All the way across the northern United States.
    Washington, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts.

  43. John Renard says:

    Someone said he couldn’t understand Dave when he said where to obtain signs / pictures through Google. He simply said, “Google ‘model railway signs’.” Sure enough, if you just do that you will find hundreds of free signs to download.

  44. Ken says:

    How do you do the flashing signs too cool

  45. Bob Walker says:

    Hi Rog (Roger?)… interesting ‘benchwork’ you’ve got there… is that a patio chair I see holding up one end of your coffee table layout? -Bob W, NH, USA

  46. William Norton says:

    I really enjoy your videos. Although I don’t have a proper place to actually build a more permanent railway, you do give me plenty of ideas. Looking forward yo taking over one of the kids bedrooms after graduation in about 3 years or so! Keep them coming. Thanks from us in the USA.

  47. steve Joyce says:

    love that backdrop of the interstate hgwy. Have to get my happy rump over to Germany and do that on one of the autobahns so I can do that

  48. Danny Marso says:

    As always Dave’s video is great, every modelers dream to have an “Empire” like
    That! Those tiny layouts are so creative, wonderful work. My layout is only 4X8,
    But I will have fun,and that’s all that counts. Still a work in progress, I left the
    Hobby in the late 70’s,so it’s a long road back, with a lot of new technology.

  49. Estella Wyatt says:

    Hi, Al and fellow railroaders,

    I haven’t seen anyone else post this, so here goes:

    Does anyone save those Silica Gel (Do not Eat) packets? If you are on good terms with your favorite Pharmacy, you can give them a jar to fill with. It’s also a good way to recycle as well, as they throw away a lot of them everyday.
    Sort them out, paint them with a non-water based paint, and you have sacks and sacks of sand, large dog food, lawn fertilizer- well, you get the picture (which I don’t have, pictures, that is)

    This should work well with O scale, On30, and HO, as well as any similar scales. They are cheap, and a good source of other ideas. Thanks for listening!

    —-That On30 gal from So. MD

  50. Kevin says:

    Dave likes his trains long and noisy. Really brilliant work.

  51. Andrew Aves says:

    Hi,thanks Al and everyone for their contributions. I too must have missed some of Dave’s updates as I did not recognise much of his amazing layout. Dave perhaps you would kindly post a revised track layout . Andrew in Oz

  52. Cord Reynolds says:

    Fed up of Dangerous Dave’s layout??!! Never!!
    Does anyone know of any Märklin HO modelers in the Pacific Northwest? I’ve started a layout and need all the help I can get!

  53. Tulie Will says:

    Thanks Al for all the great scenery tips. I really enjoyed this video of Dave’s layout more than many of his others because the trains were running at slower speeds — not just racing around the tracks at high speed. Dave does a fabulous job of editing his videos. Perhaps one day he’ll share some tips about how he does all the neat video tricks and titles.

  54. hello all, ihave a question, How do you keep the dust and stuff off of the train layouts? i’m 77 and have all my lionel trains from when i was a kid in the50s and 60s ,but never had room to set up .if i last long enough maby i will, youall are very encouraging …

  55. Charles says:

    I am in need of some electrical advice. First layout in 40 years and I’m wiring for a lot of LEDs. Not sure how many I can runs off of one or two (if necessary) transformers. Is there a simple laypersons calculation for this. Would like one or two per building. I put cardboard “floors & walls” in each to create shadows and additional lighting variations based on positions of lights. I see these “distribution centers” on eBay. One says up to 29 LEDs. Is there a wire distance to consider in the calculations? Very curious and in need of advice. Thank you in advance for any comments and guidance.

  56. Jerry Lodge says:

    I notice that on the scenery printouts that OO gauge is 100%. I worked with O gauge and standard gauge. What are the printout measuring size for O gauge and standard gauge.

  57. James Keister says:

    Like the I-90 shot. To me, it looks like a section of the area I live in. I could be wrong, but is that section between Albany N.Y. and the B1 exit in Renssalear county ? I actually live by exit 24 where I-87 thruway changes into I-90 thruway, and I-87 Northway begins, in Guilderland.

  58. Rev. Andre Gregoire says:

    Roland, I-90 begins in Boston Massachusetts and ends in Seattle Washington, that’s over 3,000 miles.

  59. Jackie says:

    I love this site and all the information shared.

    Also Check out Alastair forum!!!!!!!!

  60. Bill, one of the best photo backgrounds and disappearing road solutions I’ve ever seen!

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