More HO scale layouts

“Hi my name is Herb from Melbourne Australia miss.

Not much too talk about,& i don’t model any spefic era as my son is austic.

But we get out there & have a great deal of fun & father son bonding time & i believe that’s what’s life is all about.

Plus we get out from under my wife’s feet well that’s all for now.

From Herb & Rick in the land down under.”

model train turntable

model train layout

model train room

model train platform layout

Now on to Jim:

“Hello Al, again.

Thanks for the daily info and stories from your readers.

I wrote my first story to you about 8 months ago. I had started on a small HO scale layout with an up and over design in December, having just retired from a teaching job and having some space and time to begin this project.

I’m enjoying the work (work?) and consider this both a challenge and a welcome journey.

The inspiration is the real world Pipers Lagoon and Shack Island in Nanaimo, British Columbia, my wife’s home town.

The curves have 18-degree radius and the grades are 3% up and 4% down running counter-clockwise.

The base of this railroad is a 1 meter plus (4 foot square) foam pallet that once held a new dishwasher!

I had gotten this far by October but the track was not reliable. You can see there are no straight sections in this design.

The curvature and grade is always changing. Using Atlas flex track was a challenge because it tends to spring back to straight, not holding the curve as shaped. I had several bad track joins and could see no easy way to smooth them out, so… let’s start over!

HO track double loop

I decided to bite the bullet and redo the track. First step, scrape it clean!

HO track double loop

And then clean up the now bumpy roadbed, make it ready for new track.

HO track double loop adding tunnel

This is with new Micro Engineering track which can be curved to the desired radius and will hold its shape well.

HO track double loop

I got started on some buildings and scenery. Then I was able to clear out a 2.5 meter (8 foot) closet for a permanent home for this little scene.

HO track double loop buildings

Here is a view of the new location with some mountains and a few “Bob Ross” happy clouds in the backdrop.

You can see “Shack Island” on the left of the lagoon, and the fictional town of Pipers Corner over on the right.

I’ve tried a few HO kits as well as your print out buildings which are perfect for this scene.

HO scale double loop

Next, some real clouds, thanks to artist and friend Tom Devine who was visiting for a few days.

HO scale double loop

I was dissatisfied with the mountains beneath the clouds so made some changes to my work, not Tom’s.

HO track doubel loop with backdrop

Still not happy, so another try…

double loop railway with backdrop

And the current, final version. I modified the mountains a final time but kept the overall outline. Tom returned and “touched up” the clouds using some black and yellow paint to add some “drama” to the scene. He also framed the mountains with some very distant tree lines.

HO track railroad double loop

It’s a compelling look and I hope he will come back soon a time or two as there is more black and yellow paint to add to that gathering storm.

At my pace of progress, I think it will take 3-4 years if all goes well but I see this more as a marathon than a sprint.

I’ll send updates when there is some progress to report.

With thanks, Al, for all you do to keep this great web site running…


A big thanks to Herb and Jim.

I do agree with Jim’s take on this hobby too:

“At my pace of progress, I think it will take 3-4 years if all goes well but I see this more as a marathon than a sprint.”

Going at your own pace is so important – who wants to rush? Just enjoy.

Lastly, if you don’t hear from me over the next few days, don’t worry, it’s just me putting my feet up because it’s so quiet.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout justl like Herb and Jim, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS Lots more HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

13 Responses to More HO scale layouts

  1. David Howarth says:

    Herb your father and son layout is just then ticket and besides you both enjoying this great hobby its also a place to escape ….and Jim you keep doing at that pace , no good rushing things ..i tend to do and find needs some alteration shortly after …

  2. Stephen Hill says:

    Herb and Rick , that is a great layout , I like all the different trains and locos … what a collection . Wonderful father and son hobby … I’m glad you have that . I have a friend whose son is autistic, he , my friend , discovered model railroading was one thing that drew his attention and helped him negotiate his autism . Perhaps there’s something to that . Nonetheless… superb job !

  3. Stephen Hill says:

    Jim , that is an adorable layout , very relaxing and great tones of color. I love that it just loops around but you’ve managed to get a lot of magnificent detail into that . Really would like to see it go round , believe I could sit all day and watch .

  4. Brian Olson says:

    Love the Roundhouse. My N Scale layout has a 6 stall building and it adds so much operational fun.

  5. TJK says:

    Herb, nice layout. May both you and your son spend hundreds of enjoyable hours running your trains.

  6. Don Stine says:

    Herb and Rick, I’m not sure what to say other than “AWSOME FATHER” and precious son. I so glad you found something that you two enjoy together.
    I visited Australia when in the Navy. Loved your country but my ship wanted to me to leave with – Go figure Mate. Keep up the good work and most of all stay happy!

  7. George Zaky says:

    Herb & Rick
    Great layout. The setup can play switching & car swapping for days on end and no end to an imaginary train operation. Great for Dad’s mental escape and son’s mental growth. It’s like a broken drum- you cant beat it.
    What a sweat scene. Nice to have talented friends.
    Big Al
    Take a well deserved break. Recharge those batteries!

  8. markus muetschard says:

    Herb, very impressive Roundhouse… and I like the ‘Throne in the Center’! – markus

  9. NJ Mark says:

    Herb and Rick,

    Model railroading without fun is a complete waste of time. Modeling with your son is more precious than gold. Keep up the great work,

    CHEERS! NJ Mark

  10. EARL S CORY says:

    The secret to Atlas flex track is to stager the joints between sections. There are a couple of YouTube videos on how to do it, but none on code 55. Slide one of the rails out about 10 to 12 ties. Also, from the fixed rail of the second piece of track Remove the spikes from 5 or six ties near the end of the moved track and from under the fixed rail end. Insert a rail joiner in the area and slide the rail on to it. Join the two fixed rails. Now slide the movable rail through the spikes to the rail joiner. You now have joined two flex tracks that will curve with now kinks. If you are one of those that solders track, then you will may have to remove some ties below the rail joiners.

    Adding feeders (droppers) to code 55 flex is done very easily. Look at the bottom of the track, you will see parodic blank spots under the fixed rail. Using a sharp knife, cut the web on each side of the track to remove two ties. Using your sharp knife, scrape the bottom of the track between the two ties until there is a noticeable brightness change in the metal. Place a dab of solder on the cleaned spot, no need for flux, the metal is clean. Solder the end of your feeder wire to the rail with the end of the wire pointing out. Trim off any extra wire from the outside of the rail. The two wires can now be positioned so that a single hole in the center of the roadbed is all you need. Ballast will cover the wire going down the hole between the rails and ties. Use the ties that you removed to place under the tracks at the solder point.

  11. Brian Messenger says:

    Herb and Rick, love the Star Wars collection on the right hand side shelving – from another Star Wars fan (I have a four foot Storm Trooper standing at the entrance to my train room.
    Excellent work you are doing with your son, keep it going.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy in Knysna – RSA

  12. John Hauser, LINY says:

    Very nice layout. A father and son project is a wonderful place to spend time together. I started my RR with a single vision, trying to replicate my dad’s layout, when we were children. Add a grand-son and several grand daughters and it has become a continual work in progress. Between you and your son this will evolve over time with many additions and changes, all resulting in a wonderful experience that is not only personal but creates lasting memories. Thanks for sharing and happy modelling!

  13. william james palmer says:


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