N scale mountain scenery

Bill’s been in touch. He’s shared a video of his N scale mountain scenery – and some stunning pics of his layout.

“Hi Al

Hope all is well for you and your family.

I’ve gotten plenty of opportunity to work on the N Scale build in the evenings and on weekends. Even taking a few days off means staying at home for the most part.

I’ve added a video link showing the N scale mountain scenery I put in a short while ago.

I’m working my way across the layout and have added in the stream feature and part of the big mountain.

It’s coming along and I’m enjoying the scenery work.

I continue to use sculptamold as my base then DAP plaster of Paris to add on the rock and give it depth as I work the scenes.

Take care!

Bill in Virginia”

n scale mountain scenery

n scale mountain scenery

n scale mountain scenery

n scale mountain scenery

n scale mountain scenery

n scale mountain scenery

n scale mountain scenery

N scale coal tower

model train shunting yard

model railroad coal yard

model train train yard

model train works yard

model railroad water tower

model railroad tunnel bridge

model railroad rock face

Wow! What an update. A huge thanks to Hall of Fame member, Bill, for sharing his N scale mountain scenery vid.

I always enjoy watching Bill’s vids – he makes it looks so simple when it comes to the scenery.

I think Bill’s layouts looks so good – apart from his obvious talent – is that he’s working from a theme.

I know I must sound like a broken record, but the layouts that always turn out the best by a country mile, are the ones that have a theme in mind right from the very start. I suppose it gives you something to aim for.

In addition to a theme, having the patience of a saint helps. But I think we all have that to some degree, otherwise we wouldn’t enjoy this hobby at all.

You can hear the patience in Bill’s voice when he’s talking out the trees for his N scale mountain scenery.

Trees are wonderfully time consuming, but worth every minute. Some people buy them, but when you have a large area to fill, having trees that all look the same just won’t cut it.

And besides, when you invest in the time, you can get exactly what you want – Bill’s has pine trees and all the shades of fall in the other ones.

Bill takes just as much time and care with his mountains – the Sculptamold must have taken him a good while – but what amazes me is how tidy he keeps it all. I’d get it everywhere.

When you add the Sculptamold, or whatever you’re using though, the magic really does start to happen. The mountains really start to come to life.

And when you add that first base paint, and then a few highlighs and shadows, wow, the feeling really is satisfying. Again, time consuming, but I think that’s another reason why I like Bill’s videos so much: he’s is no hurry at all. The words come straight from the horses mouth, “I’m just going to take my time, I want it to look good,”

And this brings me to another really important point, which is going at your own pace.

I think most of us like to potter on our layouts – doing bits when it takes our fancy. It’s another wonderful thing about this hobby. The layouts are always there, waiting to be worked on, whenever that may be.

I know some of you work daily on them. Others work furiously on them in the winter and then forget about them in the summer. I’m rambling now, but the point is whatever pace you find enjoyable, that’s absolutely fine.

So I may as well put together a short list of things I’ve noticed about the hundreds (thousand?) of layouts I’ve posted over the years.

1. Pick a theme – this makes starting so much easier and as Bill shows us, you’ve got something to aim for.

2. Think of ways to add a few personal touches to the layout. Again this is really easy with a good theme. It doesn’t have to be complicated, I know a lot of give your locos numbers that mean something like birthdays and anniversaries. Other scratch build buildings based on real ones. Some put posters in the layout that feature loved ones. You get the idea.

3. Start. It doesn’t matter how much you ponder over a train layout, and even if you pick a theme, nothing happens until you make a start.

4. Go at your own pace. As Bill shows us, there’s no hurry when it’s your own little world. Just enjoy the journey.

5. Focus on what you enjoy and to hell with everybody else. Some folk just love running trains and don’t care a hoot about the scenery. Others love to camp down and get stuck into the scenery details, and never run their trains at all. And some love doing both (Bill!).

There’s lots more to add – but these are the 5 things I’ve noticed most over the years about the layouts that really stand out, and that goes for the simple ones too. They don’t have to be complicated, it’s the theme that glues it all together.

Well, now that I’ve got that off my chest I hope it inspires one or two of you. I do find myself smiling from ear to ear when I get a message saying the blog has cajoled them into action.

Lastly, I’m getting very excited about this:


I do hope this forum works out – the last one was a disaster because it was unnecessarily complicated. This one is easy peasy.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

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



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

model train answers

33 Responses to N scale mountain scenery

  1. Peter Waring says:

    Terrific layout Bill, such detailed work, which you seem to show as effortless. Shows us mere mortals How things should be done. Many thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Butch L. says:

    Awesome layout you did!!!!!!

  3. Butch L. says:


  4. James West says:

    You have a great looking layout. The first picture looks like it was taking from a airplane flying over. very real looking.

  5. James Marek says:

    Excellent looking layout and a very nicely done video presentation!

  6. Robert Brady says:

    Outrageously Kool! Great layout.
    The Critic

  7. Very very nice, it is one of the best I have seen.

  8. Ruben Simon says:

    Speechless! Incredible work!

  9. Thomas Nichols says:

    A great layout

  10. lawrence castell says:

    Bill I am only an hour or so away from you in Madison. Give me a ping if you want. and we can compare notes.

  11. Thomas says:

    FINALLY ! Someone that runs trains ! THANK YOU !

  12. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Very impressive Bill … the progression of your build, and the high quality video, are as professional as they come. Coincidentally, I’ve got a higher-elevation ridge at one end of my N scale layout where I modelled the same early fall foliage effect … the colours are most appealing. I’m also a retired geologist, so I have an appreciation for the topographic dip and strike effects you are creating. Looking forward to the end result!

  13. bill
    Great layout,great video keep up the good work

  14. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Bill….great layout…….I love your detail scenery in the train yards…….video on the mountain scenery was great………You must have great patience to do that kind of detail in N guage….

  15. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. One of the best looking N scale layouts I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Ben Olson says:

    Bill, the work you did on the mountains is awesome. I’m beginning some work on mountain scenes on my HO layout, and you have inspired me! Thank you for posting!

  17. Ron Kehl says:

    Nice detail!!

  18. John says:

    Hi Bill,
    You have a great layout going there.
    Do you have a plan before you started?
    Are you doing an “As Built” plan?
    I’ve been searching the internet for over a year collecting layout plans to get an idea of what I can do in the available space I have.
    If you would like to share the plan with dimensions I would be extremely grateful.

  19. Will in NM says:

    Bill. As usual your photos, video and narrative are very well done and informative. You make it all look so easy and I’m always impressed with the amount of work you accomplish in such a short time. I really liked your anticline mountain scenery construction details and finished product. I hope when I get to that point on my layout I can do as good of a job as you have done. Thanks for sharing your work.

  20. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great layout!!

  21. Bill in Virginia says:

    This is Bill in Virginia – thanks for the kind comments everyone.

    For Lawrence send me a message on my YouTube channel and we can connect 👍🏼

    To Dwight I’m a geologist too. Haven’t practiced in years. Golden handcuffs in another career but I stay current in the field 😄

    To John I didn’t follow any plan as such. What I did do was have a few ideas of what I wanted which included a long mainline run, engine terminal and yard with some switching and the mountain and river scene. From there I laid out the switches I had accumulated to see what worked and looked good and got me where I wanted to go. The next time I send something in I’ll do a fly o we of the layout and get some ‘aerial’ photos showing the track plan I came up with

  22. Simple Gorgeous.

  23. Hilbridan (NZ) says:

    Thanks for sharing your great layout and showing your progress. I’ve seen other good representations of the sedimentary layers found in rack faces, but your anticlines are so realistic and relatable, especially in a relatively new, volcanic formed country like here in New Zealand. Also, love the low key presentation and commentary, which makes a pleasant change from so many channels where gee-whiz! and wow! predominate. This approach is reflected in the speed of the trains, as well; again, a welcome change from trains racing around at breakneck speed. You’ve given me much food for thought as I contemplate my recently erected baseboards. Nga mihi (greetings) from Aotearoa New Zealand, and deep appreciation to Al, of course, and to all the amazing people on this site, for a great New Year.

  24. robert dale tiemann says:

    i like the insulation idea. i actually used spray insulation in molds. it came out pretty good.. thank for the post.

  25. Gerald Edgar says:

    Wow! If I did not know better, I’d think this was H.O. given the detail, weathering, landscaping, etc. You need to be featured in a model RR magazine (or have you been?)

  26. Marv Johnson says:

    Love the 90 degree crossing just outside the tunnel in picture #14. My last layout started with a trolley to the neighboring town entering a tunnel where it crossed the mainline freight tracks inside the tunnel. No extra charge to the trolley passengers for the thrill ride experience.

  27. Rich B. says:

    Well, layout today meticulous and all the ones after with what they have also or going to do now, not interested. Nobody cares as this is about one individual’s achievement and not what the peanut gallery is up to afterwards.

    Now the critiques that can spot some RR flaw in photos for example, those are worth reading. Not afraid to admit things such mentioned that I wouldn’t of picked up myself. My idea only here as some may agree, not all I’m certain on that.

    Regards, Rich

  28. George Zaky says:

    Great to hear from you again. Awesome job on the mountain and great narrative on how you did a smashing job on the rock formations.
    AND in N scale yet.
    Hope you & yours have a great new year.
    Big Al
    Ahhh- Java, Bill, & a little shove from you! Nice.
    Happy New year!!!

  29. TonyHoneyman says:

    Not a N Gauger, but I’m seriously considering doing a layout. I’m thinking about doing the old Bluestone Extension and the mountain detailing needed. Thanks for your input, thought and detail on your layout. It has shed light of what I was thinking about.

  30. Steve Ruple says:

    WOW !!!! Bill, all I can say is your layout, actually all your layouts are AWESOME !!!!!!. I’m always waiting to hear from you on your progress on all of your layouts to see what you come up with. Your the master expert on model railroads in my opinion, your layouts are so awesome. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

  31. Frank from HB says:

    How can you not appreciate the detail in this layout, the mountain is stunning. Great Job!

  32. Dan Piccolo says:

    Bill, what tools do you use to carve the plaster of paris on your n scale layout?

  33. Chuck says:

    Wow, every time I watch one of your videos on one of your layouts.
    I’m always blown away at the detail ! You love model railroading and it shows. I love it too, I just don’t have enough time. Work keeps getting in the way! 🙂 I would love to see more. I tried looking you up on YouTube. What is the name of your channel?

    Take care,

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