N scale coal mine kit

Harry’s been in touch with his N scale coal mine kit, which looks fab on his layout.


I read/watch your postings on a daily basis and have learned tons from both the mistakes and successes of your contributors.

I finally finished a little more than 1/2 of an “N” gauge layout (modern, far-west setting) that sat hardly started for 3 years after taking on the pastorate of a church (in the east in upstate New York).

I’m not sure if it would have ever continued if it weren’t for our 5-yr old grandson, David, in California who asks on almost every Face Time session how I’m progressing on the train (!)

Since they might visit this spring, I realized that I had better have something running.

“N” gauge, of course, is very delicate; not something little David can get his hands on!

Here’s a video I just made for him. Someone gave me several 2’ x 4’ foam panels that were 4” thick that I used to make the mountains.

I learned a lot experimenting on the first mountain that has the N scale coal mine kit.

I cut the general outline of each layer with a hand-held jig saw, and then used a large reciprocating saw to randomly cut the slopes around the profile varying the angles to make it look more natural.

The other advantage with the reciprocating saw was that it nicely gouged the surface to make it look even more natural.

The next mountain only took me about a fourth the time from what I learned on the first one. I still have 2 more mountains to go.


N scale coal mine kit

n scale coal mine kit

n scale coal mine kit

n scale coal mine kit

n scale coal mine kit

A huge thanks to Harry for sharing his N scale coal mine kit – it’s wonderful to see the little ones being the motivation behind a layout.

Now on to Brent.

He’s a man of few words. And pictures too.

But, he’s made a start – and in this hobby that’s more than half the battle.

I also enjoy seeing a layout that looks chaotic with the creation process, it’s very satisfying to then see it finished:

“My layout so far.

My son and I have been working for a couple of months since he is doing university schooling from home and Im doing Home Hemodialysis 3 x per week and quite tired after treatments so not alot of time to work on it.


That’s all for this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to stop dreaming and start doing, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

I know I keep saying it, but it’s so true: remember, it’s the start that stops most people.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

22 Responses to N scale coal mine kit

  1. Phil says:

    Great stuff

  2. Ron Schultz Marion Oh says:

    Nice work . Love the start you have made .

  3. Rob McCrain says:

    What a great layout. One reason I like it so much is it is not cluttered up with things everywhere. There is some open space to run.

  4. Awesome KneeHigh Valley!!

  5. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Harry Nice to see that you have managed to get some long sweeping curves into your layout. It helps it to look realistic. Please keep us updated with progress.

  6. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Harry…… great job…… scenery and detail is awesome……Is that freight train coming around the mountain or through a tunnel?

    Brent….keep at it…it will start coming together.

  7. Dave S. says:

    Harry, Your KneeHigh Valley layout is amazing. I live in the American southwest and appreciate how you have built the mountains with the correct shapes and colors. I really like your rivers and streams and would appreciate knowing the techniques you used to create and paint the water features. Keep us posted on your progress.

  8. Harry,

    Here’s hoping you feel better.

    Awesome layout.

  9. Hi Harry — Very impressive track plan! Is it your own visionary creation? The multi-level runs with multi-directional traffic adds for a very appealing visual complexity. Eye-catching are the long runs that incorporate the wide sweeping curves that will create a very dramatic effect when running long freight. And the mountains will give the forced perspective of distance and vastness. I hope your mountains are removable lift-outs so you can take care of derailments or stalls in tunnels that will almost certainly occur at some time. Very nice job! — Arnie Steiner, S.I. New York (Hall of Famer)

  10. Hi Brent — Nice start on your layout. Given your physical and time constraints, you’ve made a lot of progress in a few months. I like the use of excess materials and scraps. Whatever works to get the job done! It’s all good as long as you’re having fun creating the layout. Take you time. I’m sure both you and your son will have a great time doing this project together and enjoy the fruits of your labor. And as we say in model railroading, a layout is never really finished. So the two of you will have the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time together building not only a layout, but also memories to cherish. — Arnie Steiner, S.I. New York (Hall of Famer)

  11. jerry Barto says:

    Totally Awesome!!!!!!

  12. David Schaffner says:

    Love the sound effects and the three layered mountain
    which gives me a idea for my layout…..Love it!

  13. James Uhlig says:

    Great job on scenery, nice to see sweeping turns. adds a great deal to realistic turns.

  14. James Uhlig says:

    Brent, Didn’t forget you. Great start! No such thing as scraps on a layout, use for everything some where.

  15. Mr. Ron says:

    Around 30 years ago, I started in N scale, but soon realized that N scale was not as reliable as the larger scales. After watching more recent N scale layouts, I now realize how well they run without the electrical problems that were present 30 years ago. But unfortunately, my age (87) doesn’t allow me to work in N scale. I now have an HO scale layout using Marklin track. 2 rail HO is still too hard for me to work with. I wish I could go back 30+ years.

  16. Dave Anders says:

    You done a great job on your layout. I have used 2 tools to create realistic mountains. One is a Hotwire slingshot which cuts right through foam board. You can by it online or at a real hobby shop.
    The second tool is a simple wire brush. I will warn you that shaving foam board with a wire brush can be messy, but effective. Have a shop vac ready to clean up the mess.
    Both these tools have allowed me to carve out the type of mountains my imagination comes up with and they look real, not blocky in form.

    Good luck.

  17. Gerald Edgar says:

    The stream & its embankment are 1st rate!!!

  18. Kevin McArdle says:

    Wonderful job, and many thanks to your five year old muse. Enjoy

  19. Col. Al says:

    I have to agree with Mr. Ron. I had the same experience with N scale. Have to say that it had come a long way. Went to HO for a while but ended up building wooden ships. But again, in my 80’s and not capable of doing the tedious work. Enjoyed it all and life is good.

  20. Ron says:

    Brent, nice start on your layout. I too am a dialysis warrior, have been for almost 7 years now. I do in-center hemodialysis. And yes every Mon., We’d., Fri. I come home extremely tired. But keep up the battle, your family I’m sure loves you.

  21. Quin Parker says:

    About how long (actual hands on) did this take?
    And do you have any other photos of early progress?
    seems like a tall order but I packed away my layout(s) when I graduated HS thinking I would pick back up later on.
    Well, I’m 69 and “later on” has finally arrived. I’m getting somewhat overwhelmed about the advances that they have made.


  22. Malcolm says:

    Harry … I wouldn’t be too sure about a 5-year-old not being able to handle N scale. Obviously it depends on the individual but some 5-yr-olds can do it. A few years ago I saw a 5-yr-old putting together and running some Z scale (1:220) trains at a convention. He was careful and methodical which might or might not be true in your case.
    I’m in my 80s and in the business of making Z scale accessories, 40′ and 53′ corrugated and refrigerated containers, 20′ and 40′ liquid containers, 28′ and 53′ trailers, etc. This involves painting, close work, small decals, etc. So I’m not sure why being in your 80s precludes delicate work.

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