N scale factory – Fred’s

Fred’s been in touch with his N scale factory scene – a stunning cement plant.

Have a look at what he’s done:

“Al –

I know it’s been a while since my last submission to your website.

I’m in the process of redoing a painted backdrop in the center of my layout because during the last two years of work in the urban section of my layout, I’ve learned how to use “backlit” plexiglass as a base upon which to paint city landscapes with complex lighting.

(More on that later, though wouldn’t it be great to revisit times in your past to renovate what you did as a young man with what you had learned by 76? In essence, that’s what I’m now doing with my layout.)

Anyhow, the previous sand and gravel plant, with recently added cement factory is situated at a crucial place in my layout – between the oil refinery and harbor and another long stretch of coastline that leads to the rural part of my model.

What is a diorama dilemma is the fact that the heigt of two separate horizon lines on the water are dictated by different physical measurements of the depth of the layout at these points, with a certain visual confusion upon seeing them together. (One horizon appears 8” to 10” higher.) So the solution became to visually separate them.

The enlargement of the cement plant helps to do this, sitting at the juncture of the two backdrops as it does.

So more than a piece of detailed industrial modeling, the new sand and gravel and cement plant is designed to distract, to allow the viewer to separate the two sections of the model, without actually doing that with a more obvious physical divider.

But the plant itself is an entertaining exercise in “kit- bashing” and unique design with 3d bits and pieces from Shapeways, other kits, and an N scale model of a cement plant from Walthers:


N scale factory cement plant

N scale night time led lights

N scale harbor airport night

N scale factory cement plant

N scale night time

N scale night time

N scale factory cement plant

N scale LED lights

N scale tracks bridge

N scale factory cement plant

N scale turntable

N scale turntable

N scale factory cement plant

N scale factory cement plant

N scale factory cement plant

N scale track bridges

A huge big thanks to Fred for sharing his stunning update – his N scale factory layout and pics are amazing.

If you want to see more of Fred’s layout, his last post is here.

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 N scale layouts here if that’s your thing.

63 Responses to N scale factory – Fred’s

  1. Peter Briggs says:

    Fres, you are a master modeller, no question. how lovely to see such a dedicated artist – -for that is what you are – – create what is almost impossible to distinguish from real. Thank you Al, for being the conduit to allow us menials to enjoy such artistry. This information really makes a day’s end special.
    Many thanks

  2. Apostle Harry C Wigmore III says:

    WOW, amazzing layout!!!!!

  3. Fred says:

    Absolutely stunning I love this layout

  4. Brian Olson says:


  5. Rich B. says:

    Is it “live” or Memorex (old cassette commercial). Amazing photos, reminds me of layout from early 70’s (hippie days) that used integral filter black lights (purple glass). With fluorescent model paints everything for night light was painted. The result was the colors made everything glow, pop out that was hi-lighted and appeared lit itself- any color at all. And purple light looked right. So you have a backdrop put different which ever colors/dots, stripes and see how they light up in evening. Way cheaper, quicker and less fiber optics, wiring and everything associated.

    Regards, Rich

  6. Martin says:

    I think stunning is under rated…absolutely magnificent. If my layout gets to be half as good, I’ll be happy.
    I also wish I had the room space. I suppose I could go back to HO from O, but it all seems rather small.
    Well done.
    Empire Midland & Lake Shore RR.
    A little bit of N.E. America in Coventry UK.

  7. Neal Jeffrey Perry says:

    Awesome work!


  8. William Orton says:

    The detail on your layout is amazing. The 3D effect where the backdrop is integrated with the layout is awesome. Great work! Bill

  9. Harold Plucienik says:

    Great layout! Really museum quality. If I could nitpick a little it would be the two engines by the round house they both have the same number.

  10. Wow! Thank you Fred for reminding us, ‘Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.’ My dad used to bring home the freshest Ballentine beer you could get in a quarter keg from the NY brewery. Love those old beer commercials.

  11. Whilst my own modelling probably benefitted a little from my exposure to professionally made, architectural models, within my career as an architect, I often quietly cursed that the bar was set too high as a result & spoiled my hobby. I need not have stressed though, not with modelling of this high standard. It is, simply “stunning”. I applaud every one of those responsible. Fantastique.


  12. Kent Pool says:

    Very impressive. Especially the night views.

  13. Erick says:

    Pretty neat, I like the details. I hope mine comes out that goods.

  14. Bob From Towson says:

    I quit !!! You’ve put me to shame!!!

  15. Stephen Hill says:

    Astonishing detail!! I don’t know how y’all do it. Absolutely amazing , so realistic that I have to remind myself it is a scale model . My shaky sausage fingers can not muster what that must require . Those are truly honed skills , you’ve clearly been at this for some time . I feel like a kindergartner all of a sudden .

  16. Gerald Edgar says:

    THE best!

  17. Fred,
    Stunning,fabulous,dramatic!!!! That’s all I can say!!!! Your the Michelangelo of HO!!

  18. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    Wow! Amazing work. I especially enjoy the foggy backdrop, such realism, as other’s have commented. Excellent. Where did you learn and how did you do the backlit plexiglass backdrop?

  19. Rob McCrain says:

    The blending of sky and layout gives such an atmospheric feel to the beautifully created scenery on the layout. I am just mesmerized. Well done. One of the best presented layouts I have ever seen.

  20. Ruben Simon says:

    I don’t know, Fred, why you travel around and take pictures of cities, and post them as if they’re your model railroad! Do you think we’d really believe that’s just a model??? (I figured I’d better add this note because joking isn’t always recognized in print: your work is FANTASTIC, both the modeling and the photography!)

  21. Howie says:

    Incredible, is the word, stunning is not good enough

  22. Fred Gevalt says:

    Many thanks to all of you for your appreciative comments. I’ve been slowing down since our release from the pandemic, and your comments encourage me to dive back in!

    My apologies to those who have expressed frustration at “the bar being set too high.” That was certainly not my intent when sharing these with Al, and it would sadden me if I’ve actually discouraged anyone. Hope those comments were just intended as compliments to me, rather than any real discouragement about your own layouts. I started this model as a diorama, because the thing I really enjoy (as one of you recognized) is the interface between the 3D model and the 2D backdrop. I have throughly enjoyed painting in acrylics, discovering new ways to light my backdrops by painting over plexiglass, and hope to have some more to show this fall, perhaps. But my model is less a model train layout, then a one sided diorama, and comparisons aren’t really that straight forward, anyway.

    If it makes you feel any better, I’m a technical moron when it comes to the actual trains themselves. None of them work! Every once in a while I’ll get one running for a video, but N scale is too small for me to clean track, engines, cope with derailments, etc. The layout has too many inaccessible areas – I’d probably wind up smashing my own modeling accomplishments just to get an engine back on the rails. The harbor hinges down on the right hand side for access, and my grandsons baited me into donning a Godzilla mask and upper torso, then emerging from the deep to terrorize the city of Port Charles (the youngest one’s named Charlie) I inadvertently smashed so much stuff it took a month of repairs!

    If any of you living in the NE United States would like to see the layout in person, please notify Al and if you find yourselves in the Boston area, I’d be happy to arrange a tour.

    All the best,

    Fred Gevalt

  23. Robert Kent says:

    Absolutely Amazing

  24. Michael Dowling says:

    Wow! All that and in N scale! Holy moly! Very inspirational. The detail photos remind me of the Franklin & South Manchester RR, which was an HO scale model RR layout built by Frank Sellios, the owner of Fine Scale Miniatures. Very nicely done. Thank you for sharing what you’ve done. I hope you will share more photos in the future..

    Michael in the Desert 🌵

  25. Michael Dowling says:

    Hmmm… maybe the name of the owner of FSM was George Sellios… I can’t remember for sure..

    Michael in the Desert

  26. Ric Potter says:

    I’m wondering what city you drove around to get those shots! My gosh those scenes are startling! You’re an alien from deep space, right? I am stunned at the work you have done.

    I wish you “live long and proper”.
    Ric Potter

  27. Geoff Plumb says:

    Superb layout indeed! Detail is amazing

  28. Wayne Johnson says:

    Just wonderful, Fred. Back when I was working, I used to build architectural models and layouts for developers. It took a lot of time and attention to detail. I can’t imagine the number of hours you’ve must have put in to your layout so far.

  29. Fred I am ashamed to be less as good as you. after more than 8decades of building miniature villages but still not going to quit but I don’t think I have enough time left to get much better I do feel you are one of the best t have ever seen /

  30. Nancy says:

    Holy Cow!!! Have to take a breath…then get back to work! Fred, your layout is stunning and fun. It is also inspiring to me. In fact, I am crazy about all you modelers and your layouts. My 4×8 has lots more room for stuff. You will find me in the hobby room!
    Thank you all for sharing and Al for bringing us together. Aren’t trains fun??
    Nancy from Sequim

  31. Wayne says:


  32. Glenn Dean Holden says:

    Wow- absolutely mind blowing layout!!-

  33. Andrew Aves says:


  34. Clark says:

    Inspiring to say the least! I am experimenting with light. I’ll have to Google your backlit plexiglass thing, to see how that works!

  35. Tom Provo says:

    wow. I can’t believe how real that looks.

  36. Jim Kennedy says:

    What else can you say but “WOW’!!!!

  37. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Man what a layout!!!!

  38. Simply amazing cement scene.

  39. DJfrom NJ says:

    Amazing stuff! Brilliant! Your layout has really come to life.

  40. Jim Marek frm Chicago says:

    Amazing job you are a true artist. One of the best photographers I’ve ever seen

  41. John Brunel says:

    Photography is amazing, layout is amazing, nuff said.

  42. David Shapiro says:

    Simply stunning.

  43. Peter Fortunato says:

    I’ve heard people say….. “it looks so good, it looks fake.”…..

    Although I’m not sure what you say when you know something is fake….. but it looks better than real…..

    This creation transcends far beyond that of a train layout…..

    It is world class sculpture.

  44. Larry Schweitzer says:

    Class act! He has mastered modeling grime, something often left out of RR models.

  45. Will in NM says:

    Beautiful work Fred! Thank you for sharing your talents with us, it’s hard to believe you’ve created all that detail in N scale.

  46. robert dale tiemann says:

    great night scenery. very nice layout.

  47. Michael Gibbons says:

    Hi Fred,

    Your lay out is spectacular, lighting is great and city reminds me of Baltimore where I live 30 minutes from. Did you purchase any of the Hi Rises and Train Station from Custom Model Railroad in Baltimore?

    Mike from Annapolis, Md

  48. Kevin McArdle says:

    How about a tour (video) of the layout during the day AND at night. Beautiful layout.

  49. Jeff says:

    That is some excellent detail there. I can’t imagine the amount of time you put into this scene but well worth it. I love seeing detailed models.

  50. Raymond Peterson says:

    I have never been a fan of N scale as I have always felt that there was a certain level of detail lost due to the size. Clearly this is the most incredibly detailed N layout I could ever imagine. Simply amazing!

  51. George Zaky says:

    The first time I saw your stuff it blew me away and you showed us the fiber optic lighting techniques you used to create the most realistic 3D perspective of a city scape. Your passion for detail and an Architects eye are the engines that drive you to make creations that are so real looking one can not tell the difference.
    That concrete plant is incredible. Your work should be shown to everyone to admire.
    Thanks for the updates and I hope you keep creating more for us to gasp at.
    Big Al
    When I see “Fred,& stunning” in the intro, like Pavlov’s dogs I start drooling. Wow!

  52. Brian Olson says:

    Depth of field, especially in the night shots very impressive.

  53. Arthur Joseph Romano says:

    The light and weather changes are just super.

  54. Frank Pumillo says:

    I am in awe of the detail of this layout. A true master modeler. A few parts of the layout remind me of train rides I took in my youth. Amazing work, amazing detail, bravo!

  55. Glenn Dean Holden says:

    Wow-all I can say is wow- very impressive, especially the night scene.

  56. Jeff in Seattle says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the progress on Fred’s incredible layout. This is beyond museum quality!!! Fred, you are a modeling star my man!!!

  57. Steve Ruple says:

    A very nice layout, a lot of detail shown.

  58. Jim Curtis says:

    Holly Crap. If the people could move, I would think is was a live shot of a commercial property.
    Your detailing is above board.
    Great layout!!!!!

  59. Matt says:

    Had I not been looking in a model train site, I would have thought that I was viewing real-world pictures. The level of detail is amazing.

    What is the footprint of your layout? It is difficult to get an idea of the scale of things due to the individual pictures of each scene.

    If you were to sell a reasonably priced step by step manual on how to build a layout that is similar to yours, I would buy it.

  60. Stephen Dean says:

    It is truly a magnificently stunning layout. Those night scenes are hard to extinguish from a real city. It is so realistic. I love it.

  61. Nancy Schweitzer says:

    Fred, Spectacular work! But then modelling is never work, only fun! Thanks for the FUN!

    Nancy, newly from Lilliwaup, WA

  62. Glyn Jones says:

    Stunning work Fred and a masterpiece of diorama modeling. While it’s a tall order to come close to your standards you remain an inspiration to us all so keep up the good work! I remember your post describing the fiber optic wiring you used to create the pinhole lighting in the backdrop and it was astounding. So very effective. Thanks again for your superb work.

  63. Lyle says:

    I look forward to the discussion of backlit plexiglass for the backdrops. I enjoyed the scenes you have created.

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