Model train theme

John has been in touch. He’s had a marvellous idea for his model train theme.

“Hello Alistair

I’ve been reading your posts for some time.

I’m finally getting on to sending you some information about my modeling. I’m a semi-retired architect from Boston, MA USA.

I had an N-scale layout in the 1970’s. It was something a colleague of mine and I did to pass the time as we were working for our respective firms designing the sign system for the Atlanta’s MARTA. Things ended up in boxes until last October.

I’ve been a fan of the Bermuda Railway for a long time and thought it would be a perfect model train theme. My late wife and I used to do a week in Bermuda in October fo quite a long time.

That’s when I learned about “The Old Rattle and Squeak,” described as the most expensive railway ever built.

It’s a terrific railroad to model, because, in its 26 miles, it had two tunnels, three major bridges, many trestles, and an urban waterfront.

Well, last October, I decided to take the plunge. The first order of business was creating rolling stock.

A Bermudian had commissioned a designer to create models of the bodies of a motor coach, two frieght vans, and two passenger cars. Shapeways makes them.

I found two Tomy trolley kits that fit the motor coach and the freight vans. Then I found couplers that are independent of the bogies.

With a lot of fiddling, I managed to put together a motor coach.

Using that learning experience, I made chassis for the passenger cars and finished them with bogies and couplers.

I’ve learned now that I should have painted my pieces before assembling things. I also found a source for custom decals in Canada to complete the appearance of the rolling stock.

About a year ago, I designed a room-sized layout. I haven’t built that yet.

In the mean time, I designed a small – 24” x 30” (60 x 75cm) – layout where I could prototype the elements that will be needed for the room-sized venture. I call it “2-1/2 acres,” because that’s its size in N scale.

I dug out my boxes of N scale material from the 70’s to start my build. That was at the end of 2019. As of this beginning of 2021, 2-1/2 acres is almost done.

I’ve followed the advice of Kaustav Chatterjee to make most everything by scratch, but I’ve rounded out the landscaping with some super trees and some bags of ground foam that were in my box of track.

The layout is DC, because I’m using my equipment from before.

Thanks for maintaining your website and blog. I look forward to reading it every day.


model train theme bermuda

model train theme bermud

model train theme bermud

model train theme bermud

model train theme bermud

bermuda N scale

bermuda N scale

Now on to Arnie:

“Hi Al

Have been a model railroader since my early years starting with Lionel and going to HO and then N scale. Living on the other side of the pond on the west coast of Florida.

Below is a new startup from HO to N since my wife wanted to share the room.

The layout in on a 6 food by 30 inch table and the foam under lay makes it 75 inches by 32 inches.

I wanted a long straight run and by doubling back with elevation I got what I wanted.

Below is a track layout made with Scarm track designer and some pictures of my layout and model board and small work bench. Enjoy.

When I have my backdrop up and the trains running I will try sending a video.


model train track plan

N scale

N scale

N scale

N scale

N scale

A big thanks to John for sharing his model train theme, and to Arnie too.

If you’d like to see some of Kaustav’s posts (who John mentions), his weathering one is here.

And his scratch built barge is here.

It really makes me smile when folk write how the blog has helped – I hope it’s inspired some of you in some way, but most of all, to make that start.

I know I keep saying it, but it’s the start that stops most of us.

That’s all for this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And dont’ forget, the Beginner’s Guide is here if today is going to be the day you grab the bull by the horns.



21 Responses to Model train theme

  1. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Hey John and Arnie I sure enjoyed your layout articles. Your layouts are both great setups. Anxious to see see what you both do next.
    Your articles inspire me as I continue to work on my layout as well.
    I sure do thank Al for his labor of love to keep this site going.

  2. Robert Brady says:

    To Arnie, Wouldn’t it have been more conducive to drill holes for those green wires
    or any wire as opposed to just gripping and ripping? Regardless if they’re being covered or not. Neatness counts in model rail roading .
    The Critic

  3. Kevin McArdle says:

    Love the Bermuda railway. Makes me thirsty for a dark and stormy or a rum swizzle at the Swizzle In. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sid Pratt says:

    Looks great!

  5. Alan Ulrich says:

    John, spectacular job on Bermuda Railway. I’ve often thought about trying to model that. I grew up in Bermuda ‘50s and early 60’s so the railway was long gone but the trail remains. Still enjoy a bike ride on the trail when I go back. Great job with the cottages and scenery too!

  6. george zaky says:

    My vision of all you guys into N scale is you wear full electronic magnifying eyeglass gear on your heads and computerized exo skeletal devices on your fingers to screw something together microscopically. I dont know how you do it.
    Arnie- like your layout.
    John- Awesome- love the theme and what you created. Cant wait till you do the big layout.
    Be well & safe
    George from LI,NY

  7. Krish says:

    Hello Arnie,
    What a nice table layout! Could we please know which tracks & piers have been used. Given the small space available, it makes so much more sense to use modular stuff for ease of building.

  8. The miniature take on the Bermuda Railway is a fantastic bit of modeling.
    I too wonder how you N-Scalers and especially Z-Scalers do what you do.

  9. George Heighington says:

    I encountered William Kitchen, who as a youngster worked on the Bermuda R.R. which ran the spine of the Island. William’s father was in charge of the Bermuda R.R.. William wrote a book on the Bermuda R.R.. It was not published but a 2-3 page article was generated. William came to Canada, prior to World War 11 and as an Engineer, he was in charge of the boat building between Midland and Orillia. He did investigate the explosion of a Fairmile Boat ( sub chaser) in Orillia. My uncle Russel Heighington ( father’s twin brother) survived the explosion. William Kitchen was a member of the Toronto Society of Model Engineers. There was one model of a steam operated railway crane, which I borrowed for display in the Walter Stewart Library. As William it was only junk. Ironically model engineers work on two levels- when complete ,it is junk or when complete ,we need to protect the model

  10. To the Critic
    I did it that way si if I change the layout I din’t have a table full of holes and just change the grass paper.. I plan to put bushes and trees around to cover the tears in the paper. I planned ahead.\


  11. Ray Bailey says:

    Arnie – Great job on sharing MRR room with the wife…a challenge in it’s own.

    I have been a modeler for years – loved model trains since i was two years old…now I am sixty and love track design.

    I use Atlas & SCARM for my design and I was very interested in getting a copy of your design in SCARM format if possible.

    Atlas & SCARM use the same design format, however, Atlas does not have the large library as SCARM – I got the license for SCARM with Train Control.

    I am still Interested in getting an Atlas license but just not in a rush.

    For those in question mode – Atlas & SCARM will read each others format (designs) with no issues that I have found.

  12. Alan says:

    John super layout and a Kato convert excellant

  13. Erick says:

    Pretty good layout.!!!

  14. Terry Miller says:

    Arnie: Perfect presentation: track plan/photos. I love SCARM and have both it and Atlas track planning tools but SCARM works better. I do have questions however because it seems to me that an engine hauling a load of freight cars is going to get trapped as it tries to unhook them on the dead-end tracks. For example: if a train is going right to left on the layout (RRXing to sw 45,0 it seems there is no way to get the engine BEHIND the cars and push them into the dead-end stubs at SW 7. without blocking the main line while the engine runs around. Also going right to left (sw45 to RRxing) looks like a very long runaround across the viaduct & bridge before the engine is in the correct position. Maybe I’m missing something,but congratulations on the layout.
    Idaho USA

  15. Bob muhme says:

    Arnie , great start. Coming right along. John, most realistic rocks and ground I’ve ever seen.

  16. Ben Shay says:

    Fun! Great job.

  17. John,

    I like the layout. Just three things are missing, the gals in bikinis and rain barrels are two. And the third is that remnant of Flagler’s RR, the RR bridge to nowhere that once spanned two islands.

    A pity the monster cruise ships now bypass St. George, which once was a lovely place to shop. Now everything for sale is from the US or China, no more of the delightful imports from Britain.

    George (no relation to the saint or king)

  18. Cord says:

    Ah, memories of chasing chameleons and getting mud on the roof, (from which all the drinking water came!), and dark & stormies at the White Horse in St. Georges at a more advanced age! I often wondered what a railway crammed onto that little island must have looked like. Wonderful job, John!

  19. Glenn Kindred says:

    I love reading about the many themes. I have been forever hung up on the “Shady Rest” theme (1920s-30s era) because I can blend stems and diesel without being too awkward and the RRs were driving the country. Someday maybe I’ll try something new but until then, I’ll keep looking at these posts.

  20. Kurt F says:

    John, I’m an architect as well and am now kicking myself that over the course of my 40 year career I didn’t build little N-scale models of all the buildings I designed or worked on along the way. It would have been so easy to do at the time, we had the CAD plans and the modeling materials sitting around for the taking. If I had done so, now that I have some time for model railroads I would have a couple dozen models of my career’s work to populate the countryside. It wouldn’t be a model railroading theme, but it would instead be a history of my life theme. How much fun would it be to have model trains circling around models of your personal “greatest hits”?

  21. robert dale tiemann says:

    really good layout. good job.

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