Model train town with moving cars

Dick’s been in touch with his model train town – complete with moving cars… and ghosts.

“Hi Al,

Been too long I need to get back on the train and ride. Soooo here we go.

Dick Stern (old Taz) here, I’m sending you the working pictures of Chapple Train a Rama.

This Train a Rama was set up in the depot here in town to celebrate the 100th birthday of our town.

All the trains in the train a Rama train are all Mr. Chapple’s.

When Dick was asked to set this up in the depot, I told him I would help him with the town.

He said to me then wouldn’t it be neat if we could have moving cars in that town.

So, I came home and worked on two tables that would match the size of his tables that he used to set up the train.

The tables had to be made like a hollow core door to keep them from warping in to lay flat. The pulleys were made out of tempered Masonite. The bearings I used were made from copper pipe and copper couplings.

The cable is 1/8thinch aircraft cable and to keep it tight I used a coil spring to fasten the two ends together.

One table had two large pulleys on it and the other three pulleys between the pulleys I used PVC water pipe cut in half as a trough for the cable to ride in.

The cars were then hooked to the cable with paperclips at first. Then I had to go to a thin piece of tin so that it would ride in the slot.

The police are powered by barbecue spit motors. The gear ratio and speed seemed to work out just right.

The cars and trucks were made from scrap wood. I was going to use plastic models but I wanted a lot of them and that would have gotten way too expensive for me.

I went to our museum which is one of the largest in Montana. There I got pictures of a lot of the older buildings. Some are still standing some are gone.

I tried to pick out the most unusual ones we had in town at that time. The design of the cars and trucks came off of Internet pictures of that era. The airplane may be a little new for that time but I thought it was a good idea.

The model train town buildings are all made out of cardstock. I printed out siding and brick to put on the outside of them. The windows and signs we’re all done on the computer. The buildings were built so that they fold down and are easy to store.

I had a hard time coming up with what I was going to use for people, ended up using old clothespins. You know if you have moving cars you have to have people in them.

On the layout, you go past an Indian village, the Indian village was made by schoolchildren from here in town. Their teacher is a good friend of ours. She was an art teacher.

When it was time to tear it down, we went to one of the local banks who had an open room in the corner with two large windows. They allowed us to set up the town and two tracks going around the outside of the town.

In October of that year, still didn’t want to tear it down after one month so we talked him into letting us use it for Halloween.

At that time the gondolas the pickup trucks, and the trucks all got loaded with candy pumpkins.

The plane was replaced by a flying ghost. There was also a ghost chasing one of the trains. When it came up close to December, we talked him into letting us use it for Christmas. At that time the plane got changed to Santa Claus and his reindeer.

The gondolas were filled with presents. Snow was on the roofs of the houses and scattered around the scene, the pickups had Christmas trees in the back and some of the cars had them on the top. I made horse drawn sleighs and sleds for the kids.

We couldn’t come up with anything for January so we had to tear it down and put it in storage. We have been asked to bring it out of storage and set it up for Christmas again this year. That is a large layout for two people to set up! We’ll just have to wait and see as we both are having a hard time getting around.

Thank you, Al, for all you do to keep this website open. It’s always fun and exciting to see what everyone is doing out there.

I’ve gotten a lot of ideas of things that I want to do and things that I want to change. Thanks to all of you!!


turntable for cars model railroad

trucks for model railroad

turntable for model railroad

model train town pulley for cars

turntable to pull model train cars

benchwork model train town

benchwork model train town

church model railroad

model train town

model train town

model railroad locomotive

model train town

model railroad freight

model train town

model railroad track locomotive

model railroad trucks

scratch build trucks model railroad

model railroad car

model train freight

scratch buiult car model train

model railroad truck

model train tractor engine

model train train tractor appiance

model train father christmas

model train town scratch built people

model railroad freight

A huge big thanks to Dick for sharing his model train town.

What I like best about this post is the raw, undiluted fun and enthusiasm that comes across. Anyone can see how much they enjoyed this layout.

What’s more, you may remember Old Taz from his last post where he added car lights on his N scale

Here’s a pic of his layout to jog your memory.

N scale car lights LED

And you’ll also note ‘Old Taz’ is in cahoots with Mr Chapple (also called Dick), who you may remember from quite a few posts, like this one.

Here’s a pic of from one of Dick’s posts too:

That’s all for today folks.

A great big thanks to Old Taz for sharing. Hope you enjoyed it as much as me.

Please do keep ’em coming.

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

Oh – and please do leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you all think of this one.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

19 Responses to Model train town with moving cars

  1. Ray Suckling says:


  2. Richard HULL says:


    A few observations.

    1.You obviously have more time than me.
    2. You are obviously more talented and craftier than me.
    3. Nice stuff – makes me question myself as to whether I can incorporate such technology in my evolving layout.

    Best regards from Brisbane Australia


  3. Greg Marples says:

    Thank you for showing us all some good old, hand made, mechanically ingenious modeling! This special layout is not only delightful for children, but warms the heart in all of us who tend to get bogged down in plastic and wires and DCC and 3D printed precision.

  4. Pete from Michigan says:

    Wow! I am always impressed with the ingenuity the members of this group of people have. such a wide variety of skills and innovation. As I read the daily comments and view the pictures, I am always blown away by the variety of the wide range of skills shown. What a fabulous way to start my day.

  5. Terry Miller says:

    That is so cool!!!

  6. Holy Moly, the talent is unbelievable, you guys have truly given the hobby a “fresh path” your love for this hobby shines out!!! How about some live video??? Thanks

  7. George Zaky says:

    What a Hoot!
    Every article should start with the scale- the reader shouldnt have to guess.
    I so loved this! A noble mission, the locals can enjoy this, ingenuity galore, other things move not just trains, budget minded, everything scratch built, and an enjoyable theme. Farm implements, people from clothes pins, vehicles all hand made-awesome.
    I know what it takes when you reach “extreme maturity” but your contribution is an inspiration to All and very much appreciated by your peers- Carry on. This was a Great post! Bravo!

  8. Louis Frederick Caputo says:

    Ingenious . . . true craftsman . . . would love to see those trains AND cars moving!

  9. Brian Olson says:

    I have just one word. CREATIVE!

  10. Robert D. Bouskill says:

    Fantastic job both in planning and in execution. Well done!

  11. Al Otis says:

    So cool! Loved the ingenuity and craftsmanship!

  12. Erick says:

    Pretty neat.!!!!! I hope mine turns out that good.

  13. Bill in Virginia says:

    What a fantastic layout!! Complex but elegant in design . Please share video as you can. Would love yo see everything in motion

  14. I always say home made is always better. Boy, you guys proved that!!! Great job. Hope you can find a more permanent home for that layout!!!

  15. Bob Amling says:

    Fantastic!! We’re you a mechanical engineer in your working life? You’re an inspiration to all of us that want to bring life to our miniature world.
    Bob in NJ

  16. That is beautiful work ! You can feel the passion in his work.
    Amazing indeed.

  17. Allan J Jelinek says:

    You sure are talented.

  18. Mark T. Pianka says:

    You did a great job!!! Very n ice.

  19. Fantastic job both in planning and in execution. Well done!
    Loved the ingenuity and craftsmanship!
    You can feel the passion in his work.

    Again well done!! Peter Rothwell

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