More from Ken

Remember Ken’s fantastic layout? Well, if you don’t, it’s here.

Ken’s been kind enough to answer your questions and dig out an old video of his layout:

“Thanks for all of the compliments folks! Very humbling.

As far as some of the questions: Scale is HO, and in regards to planning… We didn’t have one. I started this in a very “off the cuff” approach and never looked back.

My son and I did a lot of what we called “playing checkers” , meaning we would try something and discuss and move things around a thousand times until we liked it.

This may not be a typical approach as we reinvented the wheel and had to backtrack many times. But we feel all the nights of the intense deliberation paid off.

The track plan itself came from my memory and my 42 years experience as a locomotive engineer.

I knew I wanted a double main, I wanted to do a little switching, but mostly just wanted to run a few trains for hours on end weaving and winding, over and under.

For the small size of this layout I am very pleased at how well the trains run on my pike.

Basic layout wise, I wanted a little industry, a little open country and some populated rural stuff…Basically a little bit of everything.

Again, for this size layout I think it all came together pretty well through a lot of blood sweat and beers.

As far as the scenery goes my son is an artist to the core and ridiculously hellbent on photo realism. He sees things that most don’t and sometimes loses me at hello.

From a technical standpoint: My trains are all DCC , and I can run 14 different units. I have run 4 at a time but usually run 2 main liners. One with 28 cars and one with 24, plus 2 lighted cabooses. And speaking of lights I have over 400 working lights on my layout, a nod to my 11 years on the 3rd shift.

I have 18 tortoise switches controlled by toggles where I sit and 8 live industry tracks. Now and again myself and some old retired hoggers will have a bit of an operating session, but mostly let the hours melt away as the trains keep a runnin’…

Thanks again everyone, and as I think of more detail I’ll post… Perhaps getting into the wiring, scenery techniques, etc. I’d be happy to answer any questions.



Stunning stuff from Ken.

And now another blast from the past. Remember Glyn?

Well his last post is here. Have a look at his progress:

“Hello Al

It’s Glyn again – although buried in work lately, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the excellent posts from our friends across the globe.

I hadn’t progressed much with my own layout due to work commitments and travel but am settling back into a more sane schedule finally.

I have been itching to get back into layout construction as I have so much to do. Watching Dave’s lengthy trains cruising long multilevel tracks made me re-think my own layout.

As you may recall I had a terminal station to the left, a service/maintenance and fiddle yard centrally and a small town station with several through tracks to the right.

The frustrating part was the terminal station – too short for some of the lengthy consists I need to run and the issue of turning steam locos easily .

I also could only run 1 train constantly in a long dog bone type route, interspersing shorter trains in between.

The obvious solution was to turn the terminal end station into a through station but that meant adding track and a major addition. Being a sucker for punishment and quite driven, I decided to take the bull by the horns and re-work the layout!

I converted a 16’x11′ layout into a 20’x13′ by adding a double main line round the back edge of the layout. This meant lengthening the terminal end station on the left by nearly 3′ into a through station looping around behind the old town up a slightly inclined ramp toward the rear of the layout.

The double track will then climb gently across the mountainous rear portion across Faller’s Bietschtal bridge (yet to arrive but ordered) then back around the right hand side of the layout down a gentle 2% grade back to the through station district line.

I modified the trackage on the right to create multiple running options for both long inter-city type trains as well as short district trains and heavy freight so it should prove far more entertaining for multiple operators to run locos.

I’ll be able to have 2 large consists running in opposite directions continuously as well as interspersing shorter rural passenger and smaller freight trains simultaneously – much more fun all round.

So this weekend, I wandered off to Lowe’s and a very kind fellow in the lumber dept ripped up a pile of wood for me and I returned home, burying myself in the basement for about 8 hours until I had the ramps built and new track set up roughly. I’m attaching pics of the progress.

I can’t do a great deal more construction on the rear portion until the bridge arrives for me to build but at least its taking shape. Thanks to Dave for inspiring me to commit to the re-vamp!

Best wishes







model train track plan

A huge thank you to Paul, Mark (Paul’s son) and Glyn. Really enjoyed today’s missive. Hope you did too – have a look at the comments below!

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.

42 Responses to More from Ken

  1. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Very nice,like the music too

  2. Rod Mackay says:

    Very nice chaps, even liked the music on the video! Is that you trackside with the scooter Ken?
    Glyn, German trains aren’t necessarily all that long, lots of interesting through services ran over secondary routes with say a light pacific and six. Less is often more as you can appreciate the whole train passing through the scene, not just emphasising how confined it is by going out of sight at both ends.
    By the way, watch those Artitec and other cast resin kits, I believe if you have to sand them for a fit, the fine dust can be carcinogenic, take precautions.

  3. Rafael Delgado says:

    Nice job!!! I like to know who’s brand is the turntable? How did you wired the turntable to the rest of the track?

  4. paul Otway says:

    very nice ship

    Paul From ozzie

  5. Ian Mc Donald says:

    amazing stuff ken and Glyn the video and pictures are very inspiring I found points of interest for my small layout which I can adapt. Ian Australia.

  6. Glyn says:

    Thanks Rod – I appreciate the warning about the Artitec model resin vapour – it is pretty noxious stuff. Thankfully I didn’t have to do much sanding but it doesn’t take much work to create a pungent odour. A well ventilated work space is essential.The resin also needs a bit of acrylic priming before painting to get a better finish. Your comments on German train lengths are well taken. I just have a couple of longer consists like the Rheingold set and another 5 car set accompanying the new DB18.537 digital that were too long for my original station so had to come up with a plan to accommodate these longer trains.Always a good excuse to make things bigger and better – and so goes the disease that is model railroading!!:) Happy modeling to all.

  7. Glyn says:

    The turntable is Marklin’s latest digital model in HO scale. It can be run digitally from the main controller or using a manual control panel supplied with the turntable. Power is supplied via a pair of wires from a bus line under the layout. Full digital control requires an additional decoder that you have to purchase. I’ sticking with manual control for now. Regards, Glyn

  8. Dave ewing says:

    Liked the view of the round house and especially the long trains.
    Dave in Eden NC

  9. Werner says:

    Hi Al, I Have been enjoying you posts for a few years now and working on my “N” scale layout whenever I can. Sooner or later, when I think I am finished, I will get around to send a video of my affords. In the meantime I have a request: On your “Leave a Reply” page after the red asterisk could you state : “Please list the scale of your layout”
    Very often it is hard to see what scale the layout is. Often other people have the same problem.
    Regards Werner (From Downunder)

  10. Jim Moe says:

    Glyn it looks like you are well on the way to a great layout. Ken, amazing layout, I am partial to the Soo Line since I worked for them as a brake man and engineer from 1992-97, before leaving to work as an engineer on the Union Pacific. It wasn’t the Soo that I wanted to leave, but rather the cold Minnesota weather. I really like all the details on your layout and the city scenes. I am also modeling the Soo but in 1954 in Northern Minnesota and North Dakota, with a series of modules since I have to keep mine portable for now.

  11. Gary says:

    Very nice layout Ken. Good detailing with trash in the roads etc. Good job with the lights in the buildings and street lights. Everything looks great. Could you post who plays the music or name of tune that plays while watching your video? Thanks,

  12. chuck67 says:

    Very well done! I like the “some of everything”. Looks are great & the little artist, running amuck helps.

  13. I wonder if the lights go dim in your town when all that equipment gets going at one time guys , may I ask how much money either one of you have tied up in
    track and rolling stock so far ? I’m just wondering . and my wife thinks I’m out of my mind for spending money on my hobbies . she would not finish watching the video because iShe said it would only make me want to spend more time and money building toys !
    She is right about that and I may be sleeping on the floor under my RR for a couple of years ?
    I need a new larger house and garage before this is done !

  14. Cary B says:

    Thanks to Al, Ken and Glyn for the posts. Love both layouts.

    Cary B

  15. Keith says:

    What kind of track roadbed are you using??

  16. Arthur Bedford, Kungs Lynn U.K says:

    It’s great to see all these layouts, and it is inspiring me to get down to it. We have just aquired a new car and it is too tight a fit into the garage for safety, so surprisingly my Wife suggested I move all my railway stuf down into the I am always complasining about the cramped and cold conditions in the loft.I required no more convincing and the great move has started. As it progresses I will keep you posted

  17. Andy Olsen says:

    Ken, I suspect that your comment about your layout construction “going through lots of of blood, sweat and beers”.also had lots of blood sweat and cheers. Well done.

  18. Steven Joyce says:

    Enjoyed. I like how Glyn set up his turntable. I plan to include one in my future layout and this was kind of how I was thinking to do it. Nice to see it done like that makes it easier to plan. Looks like a Fleishmann or maybe Marklin turntable. Got the Fleischmann for a great price off of ebay last year.

  19. Ron Robbins says:

    I really enjoy seeing other peoples layouts. Gives me some good ideas. Thank you

  20. Lou in Chile says:

    Well done. I am just starting and it gave me some great ideas. Thanks

  21. Mike says:

    Ken’s layout detail is stunning – loved the video!

  22. Bob Leiby says:

    Great job and I love the round house. Was the round house self designed or purchased? I have S scale American Flyer and interested in a round house for my layout.


  23. Brian says:

    Nice work gentlemen I have a little bit of work to do before I show my project only been on it to It’s only two months old

  24. Robert Brady says:

    Im so jealous now going to run into my train room and start tinkering. I’ve been wanting to put a siding in for months.You guys just enthused me.

  25. Gary Mitchell says:

    Great video

  26. Michael Foster says:

    Ken, any information on the lights and how you wired them. Are the street lights on a different circuit than the buildings. how many resistors did you use with 400+lights!

  27. Joe Napoli says:

    Like your style. Layout already looks terrific.

  28. Ross Johnston says:

    Great layout Ken and I really enjoyed your video. The detail was excellent too. I would love to see a copy of your actual layout as I would find it very interesting.
    Glyn! I found your extension interesting too. I am building a layout in a 20 x 18 shed and I hope to send some photos for comments soon. Thankyou both for sharing! Cheers Rossco Adelaide, South Australia

  29. Thomas says:

    Loved you video and thanks so much for having your trains running !

  30. Jeff Seabarkrob says:

    Thank you for posting Ken’s fantastic basement layout. It made me smile and think about my past HO layout when I was a young teenager. Showing the various sections of town and country was perfect. I will share this with my grandchildren so they can understand what hobbyists from the past and present did/do for entertainment. Way better than sitting in front of a TV screen with a game controller in your hands.

  31. Ben says:

    An excellent example of vision, imagination, creativity, skill, and desire. In other words, “WOW!!!”

  32. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Glyn. I wonder if your missing a truck here. Dangerous Daves layout has changed not so long ago to having more realistic sweeping curves particularly on the lower level. It looks like you could have the opportunity to do something similar with your new track layout. Sharp corners, I think should be avoided, if possible particularly on long runs and especially at the ends of long runs. It looks like you have the space to experiment with the sweeping curves idea.

  33. jack masarie says:

    GREAT. REAL railroader turns model railroader. He’s been there. done that,
    and has the overalls to prove it.
    “Shlack” in NC.

  34. ernest eaton "Jim" says:

    Two excellent layouts. I like them both and really like the roundhouse. An old saying “Head for the roundhouse Nelly they can’t corner you there”.

  35. Jim L Robinson says:

    First of all, Ken, great layout, with fine detail. Second, loved your camera technique–too many folk “fly by” with a video camera. Finally, I appreciated your “long shot” of the whole room. In the forest vs. the trees debate, I’m a both/and person. Kudos for a good layout AND a good video representation.

  36. Will in NM says:

    Ken, Great Video! I especially liked all the little vignettes of activity that bring the layout to life. Also, the detailed and lighted interiors in your town buildings were very well done. Your layout just went up another notch on the best layouts ever scale. Thanks for sharing.

    Glyn, Wow! It must be nice to have the space to almost double your layout size without having to move to a new house. Your changes will make for better running operations. I especially liked the way you put your turntable and engine servicing facilities on the peninsula in the center of the layout where it is both accessible and a focal point of the whole layout. I will keep that design concept in mind when I start planning my “big” layout once I’ve emptied out more of my workshop building. I salute your courage to make such a major change to an already fine-looking layout. I guess Dangerous Dave has rubbed off on some of us.

  37. Erick says:

    Pretty neat layout, I hope mine comes out as good as yours.

  38. Don Henry says:

    Very nice layout.

  39. I watched the vid three-four times, not just to soak up the fantastic details of your layout but also hear the toe-tapping music. Thanks for your contribution to a really neat website.


  40. Brian Olson says:

    Well done! My 6×12 N Scale Layout also designed “off the cuff” and great fun to operate with two main lines and several industries.

    One suggestion for future videos and to anyone who is taking advantage of the television studios we have in our pockets these days, is to hold your phone horizontally instead of vertically when shooting video.

    But again, great work.

  41. Bruce Young says:


  42. Bob says:

    Any possibility of seeing the track layout ?

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