Shelf layouts

I have a few shelf layouts for you today – and a suspened one too!

Let’s start with John, who has kindly sent in more pics of his layout from yesterday:

“Dear Mr. Lee,

Thank you again for your site.

Every time I look I get new ideas…

The embedded links to previous pages are very helpful.

One thing the links help with most is to inspire new ideas by combining the ideas of others.

Just for fun, here are five pictures of my “Little Walkley” shelf layouts and its On30 companion “Sandy Flats”.

I have also included the track plans for both

These are two separate layouts. To save space, they are usually stacked one above the other.

I am currently working on an idea to be able to hang them on the wall (so I can start some new shelf layouts).

Hopefully this can inspire other modelers to realize that one can have a lot of fun even when there is not a lot of space.

We do not have exhibitions here in the States like you have in the UK. I used to display these and others at a local hobby shop where several modelers would meet on the last Saturday of each month to show off their latest projects for constructive criticism and to get new ideas.

Be blessed and may this find you in the best of health.


shelf layouts

shelf layouts

shelf layouts

shelf layouts

shelf layouts

And Alan has been back in touch – his last post is here:

“Hi Al,

More or less finished my 009 shelf layouts now, it started with no scenery, as it was only to do a bit of shunting in the warmth of the house during the winter.

But I can’t help myself, I like building things from bits and bobs so gradually its morphed into a fully scenic layout.

My South Wales layout in the garage has been put on the back burner for a while but it still works fine.

Hope all is well your end, as you say ‘keep em coming’


model train

model railroad

model train

“Railway layout accommodation has always been a bone of contention for enthusiasts. I have devised a simple pulley system so that a layout can be stored away when not in use.

My platform is about 9 and 1/2 feet long by 4 feet wide (290cm x 120cm).

On each corner of the layout I have secured 2 single pulleys (you can use a double).

To the ceiling joist, over each corner, I have attached a double pulley.

Each corner has its own rope and pulley system.


Here is the board raised to the ceiling of my garage.

The blue rope and clips are a safety feature, preventing the board falling if the pulleys fail. This is important as my car is stored underneath!


The white rope is first attached securely to the ceiling. It is then passed down to the first pulley on the board.

It then travels back to the double ceiling pulley.

Around the double pulley and back down to the second single pulley on the board.

Back up again to the double pulley.


From the double pulley at the top, it goes to a pulley that changes the direction through 90 degrees.

It travels to a double pulley where it drops down from the ceiling (where all four ropes can be pulled).

suspended layout

suspended layout

suspended layout

All four ropes, from each corner, are pulled together to raise or lower the board.


A huge thanks to David – lack of space stops a lot of folk from rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in, which is a great shame.

Thanks to the others too for sharing their shelf layouts.

Of course, I’m biased, but the site really is an Aladdin’s cave of layout tips now – and it’s all thanks to you lot. Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide. It’s got the Hall of Fame’s stamp of approval, and without, this site wouldn’t exist.

That’s all this time folks.



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

model train answers

21 Responses to Shelf layouts

  1. Richard Sommery-Gade says:

    Great realization of something that has been tickling my mind for quite a while.

  2. Eric says:

    Hi there

    Three great ideas for those with little space for our favourite hobby. It just goes to show how innovative railway/ railroad modellers are when it comes to how to build a layout with no space at all.
    Al you do a great job of showing us others hints’ tips and layouts, keep up the good work it is appreciated.

    Eric (Leeds) UK


    I have an HO layout on cables hanging from m 2 1/2 car garage. It is a large “U” shape that measures 19 ft L X 14 ft W attached to 12 cables coming down from above and all attached to 1 cable witch goes thru a block & tackle system then to a heavy duty elecric winch mounted to the back wall. Probably close to 3 scale miles of multi level track.

  4. Jonathan Felgenhauer says:

    I love the layouts but isn’t the last one a lego train set? from the wat the track is it looks like it.

  5. Barry Pearlman says:

    Perhaps layout critics should be required to post a picture of their layouts before referring asking if a layout is made from Legos! It should also be required that the critic post his/her name.

    Chesterfield, MO USA

  6. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Hi to John….We do have exhibitions here in the States…Many…Many of them…Look up NMRA and go to the schedules sections….You will be amazed at how many…And Big…Some of them are…Mike

  7. Jim Holt says:

    The important thing about any scale layout is a very simple fact that a person took the time to draw a plan, follow the plan and share the end result with others of the same mind set. We don’t all share the same skill sets, like the same scale, type of trains run on our fantasy railroads – but in my sixty plus years I have failed to meet any real rude nasty small brained big mouthed Neanderthal jerks in person like those who have the nerve to demean someone else’s efforts, must be very brave to not use a name or an address. Bravo to you Sir Jakoff.

  8. paul Otway says:

    It looks good.

  9. Bernard Schainholtz -Still Plays says:

    Here in the States Harbor Freight tools has a bicycle lift for7 bucks. Two of them might hold a layout in the garage if its not too heavy. I am going to check them out. Bernie

  10. Peter Macdonald says:

    Nice work. Just a word of warning regarding your storage system as I have seen it done before.
    It will get very dusty and potentially attract a lot more spiders etc.

  11. Stephen says:

    I am truly amazed at what you have accomplished in a small space, the details and scenery is fantastic. KUDOS to all! Great work.

  12. Jim Holt says:

    I saw one layout while living in Las Vegas, Nevada USA, hung from the ceiling, what that gentlemen did to hamper the dust problem was to construct a box hanging from the ceiling, the layout was raised up to the box that had weatherstripping on the bottom edge that meet the outside edge of the layout as it was raised, he had two boards (2×3) that acted as additional support and locked in place with a hasp and padlock for security for his layout and running gear from his grandchildren, stubborn little beggars.

  13. David Murray says:

    It is an established fact that quite a few model railway layouts have been built in close quarters. I’ve heard of men in the Forces (including a submarine) making them. I’m especially lucky in having an unused attic bedroom in my cottage giving me a space of 25 X 15 feet. However, if the time comes when I have to go into an old peoples home, I’ve got a layout ready to take with me. It’s just a piece of wood 50″ X 15″ with a single track emerging from a tunnel. A station and platform with buffer stop. But the reason for this is because I’ve become keen on the amazing work of George Iliffe Stokes. I’ve managed to get hold of a copy of his book ‘Buildings in Miniature’ and a copy of Model Railway Journal issue 13 from 1987. This contains a 17 page tribute to George and Doris Stokes and contains many, previously unseen photographs. So, my ‘liitle project’ is a platform (excuse the pun) to enable me to attempt to copy some of Georges buildings.

  14. James Marek says:

    Why would anyone take issue with the mention of Lego trains? They make some great, detailed items and are certainly not inexpensive. Just a different media for modeling…toys for grown ups to enjoy.

  15. Allen Wagener says:

    Allen W Cologne Mn USA
    One of the high points of my day is seeing the pics and layouts that ALL have sent to this web site. Thank you Al for your patience and diligence in keeping the website up and running. I always get something from all who contribute. For me, I get ideas from the different scenes. Every layout is unique in itself and as such no one needs to impose their expertise on another unless it is requested. I am drawing up a layout that I can put in part of my garage. My wife of 54 years passed away this year and as I was a long time caregiver for her I now have time to work on. this hobby. I thank you for listening to me ramble. All be safe and healthy as possible. Maybe I’ll get far enough along to include pictures.
    Allen W

  16. Peter Farrington says:

    Hi Al, I had a similar problem with space to store a Roof-box for my car, I found Screwfix had cycle hoists with a self-locking mechanism so I bought 2 sets and hung the roof-box by the roof-bars that supported it on the car. This is hung from the roof of my carport and has been in use for 5 or 6 years now with no slippage of the locking mechanism, quite reasonably priced too.
    I hope this helps anyone else with storage problems.
    Many thanks for your regular emails of sanity saving content in these frustrating times.
    I am close to being able to send in some photo’s of what I have managed to achieve in the construction of my garden railway.

  17. Dwight in Toronto says:

    The pulley-based lift system appears to be innovative and workable, at least for the stage at which the layout currently resides. However, I foresee at least two problems that may well emerge over time.

    For one, overall weight will increase as the layout development progresses, to the point where those particular pulleys will no longer be practical (the pulleys themselves will be structurally and functionally inadequate, and a more robust block-&-tackle system will be needed for the increased weight).

    Second, the layout sub-frame is constructed using dimensional lumber that is undersized, and destined to sag. The materials were presumably chosen to keep the weight down. Conversely, using dimensional lumber properly sized to prevent warping and sagging would result in a much heavier substructure, and a much more substantial, winch-powered pulley system.

    I’m afraid that the assembly as shown will, unfortunately, be a short-lived creation.

  18. TDShunter says:

    Whoa, some of you need to back off. I have never seen so many attack others on this site. A critic, a praise and sharing ideas is what this place has been. LEGOs are fine, most have kids and grandkids they want involved. Having 4 yr olds handling custom $500 locos is risky. Some feel they have a right to set criteria for others here or take pot shots at others. Buy a clue and grow up children.

    The point was to raise a layout out of the way, I don’t care if it is slot cars or LEGOs. Many of us need these type of ideas for space saving. Thx for sharing. Have a nice day.

  19. Erick says:

    Pretty neat and clever.

  20. Ruben Simon says:

    Alan, when it’s all done, I’d like to see some railroad workers standing on the setup, looking at the three switches sticking up just off their “world”, one with his arms crossed, one hand to his chin, another with hands on both hips as he gazes at these foreign items, as a third man, or maybe a boy, is actually pointing at them. I think, on television, they call that breaking the fourth wall… 😀 You might want to add them right away, a sort of presence as you work on their “world” from beyond.

  21. Brian Olson says:

    Always fascinating to see how modelers use the space they have, small or big. My main layout is 6×12 N Scale. I have half a basement of space to use. But inspired by smaller creations here, I’m working on a 2×4 switching layout.

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