Paul’s retirement project


I was born in Bristol, England but immigrated to Vancouver B.C. in 1958 when I was three. My parents told me that they would walk me down to the train station in Bristol and I would watch the trains for hours, although I remember nothing of it, although that may have been the start of my interest in trains.

We did return to visit in 1963 and at that time I bought a Triang OO “Winston Churchill” and brought it back home where my Dad built me a 4×8’ train board that folded up into the wall. Although I did add a bit to my collection and play with it for a few years before I lost interest in my early teen years and sold everything except for my Winston and all my Super 4 track. I do remember having a model railroading magazine of the day and spending endless hours looking at a full layout and wishing I could someday be able to build something like that myself. Fortunately I did pack that engine and track around with me for the last 50 years with the idea of building a real layout someday. I was fortunate enough to be able to retire a year and a half ago at 57 years old (I have a younger wife who still works)!

My oldest grandson is three now, so thinking of how much he might enjoy it but mainly to keep my sanity through the first winter of retirement I decided to start a layout. The last of our boys moved out last Fall and freed up a bedroom in the basement that my wife granted me permission to set up a train table in. I bought a 4×8’ sheet of plywood set on some portable legs and put down a simple oval with a small siding and yard. That lasted a couple of weeks, then I decided I wanted to do something larger and more permanent. So I built a table that mostly filled the room at 7.5’ x 10’. I started to plan a layout and quickly realised I needed a lot more track, rolling stock etc. I spent the next few months on eBay purchasing a good quantity of Super 4 from the UK but also finding some within Canada.

At first I was going to build a non-prototypical English layout from the 50-70’s era. When my children were younger I acquired a fair quantity of HO North American stuff, so I then decided to do a blended layout which honoured both countries. Hence what was to be my second English hill turned into a “Rocky Mountain”.
I had a few “must have’s” for my layout 1.) a helix and 2.) a decent yard. The rest I just dreamed up with some hints from a 1970 something Hornby Triang layout manual.

I have never been an artsy or crafty type of guy so just looked at a bunch of uTube videos, Google searches, along with suggestions from your contributors and then started. I have not worked on it since March as I’m saving it for the dark days of winter this year but have been buying up scenic supplies and accessories to jump back in.

I’ve attached a few pictures of my progress to date. I blabbed on and on so much of my history that I thought it best to just wait for some responses and I will answer any questions on how I did my hill/helix and mountain etc., if anyone is interested.


Paul from Tsawwassen B.C Canada”





track plan diagram






“Hi Al ,

just posted a new video showing some more additional lights, Billboard ,new Coaches, and a new controller…… just about done with the changes now on that lower level, top to start next.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Big thanks to Dave and Paul! Please do keep ’em coming.

That’s all for today folks.

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.

34 Responses to Paul’s retirement project

  1. christine says:

    My interest in trains go’s back to my past lifetime when I traveled a lot on trains. Now in this lifetime I love model railroads and full size steam trains.

  2. nice layout Paul the how to on the tunnel is great i now feel a bit more confident to put a tunnel on my layout i have been told that all layouts need tunnels and bridges (i have none).Did you do any thing different on the mountain tunnel. great video Dave light show is good any lights going in the tunnel. Thanks Al love this site.

  3. Anthony Richards says:

    Very very good as usual from Yorki Dave’s layout.

  4. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    great layout and good ideas for the rest of us.

    Dave as usual is terrific.


  5. Jon Irwin says:

    Looking really good Paul,nice space. Hope to see progess as you move along.
    Have fun Jon, Canberra Australia.

  6. kimo says:

    great start, keep up the pace

  7. Graeme Bregani says:

    Hi Paul, I’m on island south of you. I’m just starting to clear a room for a 1940 – 1960 branch line set in southern Germany.
    Your layout is inspiring. I love the tunnel and the helix.
    I’ll model in HO, when I get the time.
    google PtL 2/2 era I.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Ralph Berry says:

    Great layout Paul, that mountain is very impressive.

  9. Rev Steve Eggum says:

    Want to expand your beautiful layout ? Consider a 2’ft wide wrap-around the room .accessible from your helix .. double trackage and great opportunity for country, village , sidings etc .. great work … enjoy ..


  10. nice layout Paul…hope the grandkids enjoy it as much as you do!!

  11. Colin Pryce says:

    Great layout Paul, not bad for a self confessed not so “artsy and crafty” guy. One point I have is, have you left an easy access to your tracks within the mountains for derailments/cleaning etc?
    Good old Dave (in the nicest possible way) still enthralling us on how it should really be done – i.e. never finished with improvements!
    One day I’ll post my “Rhodesia Railways” diorama, hopefully this winter.
    Colin, (now in France).

  12. Steve Barnes says:

    Great idea for tunnelling, tried it once ended in disaster thanks for showing me another way.

  13. paul Otway says:

    Looks good Paul, That triang hornby locomotive would be a collectors item now.

    Paul Otway

  14. Peter Trick says:

    Blimey Dave you said you had no time. I can see why as you are so busy putting together a magnificent setting. Well done, so glad to see you using so many trains and carriages that I have but not enough room for a set up like yours. Envy envy envy!!

  15. Austin Wilson says:

    Very nice layout Paul. Love how you did the mountain. I am still amazed at Dave’s layout every time I see a video of his. I hope someday my layout will be half as good as Dave’s. I recently tore down my 5 feet wide by 16 feet long layout and over the last two weeks been busy working on my hollow square layout which is currently 12 feet long and 11 feet wide. Love running my HO scale trains. Two tracks for the freight trains and a third track for the passenger train. Got my large rail yard happening which is my favourite part of the layout. I put pictures and video’s of my newest layout on Facebook and a lot of people love it. It is far from being complete, but I do have the trains running. It is always a work in progress.

  16. Paul says:

    Great job, very impressed keep the pics coming….

  17. jim says:

    Very nice indeed
    Gave me some ideas cant wait to get mine up and going .

  18. david howarth says:

    Well done Paul , nice layout you have built there …and thanks to all for comments re my layout …Dangerous Dave …or just Dave !!!

  19. John Birch says:

    This is problably telling grandma how to suck eggs but Dave mentioned one loco that kept derailing. I had a similar problem and checked the spacing of the wheels with inside calipers and found that, for some reason, the wheels were not the correct distance apart. I adjusted them and all has been fine with no derailing problems since.

  20. Cameron says:

    Great layout Paul. Love the helix and tunnel arrangement. Thanks for posting. Also thank you Dave for another instalment.

  21. Cord says:

    Continuing to groove on Dangerous Dave’s amazing, awesome layout. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will never get fed up watching it. I will say this, though: I don’t mind that wee gingerbread bloke not showing up. He gives me the creeps. Wonderful, Dave! Keep up the awesome work!

  22. Carl Kinzinger says:

    Hello from Ontario, Canada (just East of Toronto).
    Good on you Paul. Well done for your first attempt. Consider joining the Canadian Association of Railway Modelers (CARM) – you’ll get access to many fellow modelers in your part of the country.
    Dave, you are still amazing – I think you enjoy doing the vids as much as building and running your trains. I certainly enjoy watching them.

  23. tom in az says:

    Paul hope you can get into those tunnels for derailments and repairs, Or have a small repair crew to send in!! Great job your doing excellent. Tom in Payson AZ

  24. Cary B says:

    Great job Paul, I’m sure the grandson will love the layout. Cary B Maryland USA

  25. David Hannan says:

    Canada Paul! What a mountain!!!

  26. Chris Sylvester says:

    Nice retirement project it looks good and that will keep you busy for sure cause you can always add or change things on the layout thanks for sharing!!!

  27. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Dave once again a great video. Love the new lighting and the sign posts. Your new controller looks like a nice bit of kit. Keep them coming

  28. Robert says:

    Nice model I assume the covered helix is open at the back, two questions, was that your lunch on the plate and is time different in Canada I was four in 1958 just had my 66th birthday how were you 57 18 months ago congrats on retiring highly recommended. Almost forgot great layout.

    Regards Robert.

  29. Paul,
    Great job. Only comment. I do hope you’ve left access to that long curved tunnel.

  30. Don R - Florida, USA says:

    Great layout Paul! I am interested in knowing if your base platform is 7 1/2 x 10, what is the radius of your helix? I am having a problem fitting one on a similar sized layout.

  31. Paul Simpson says:

    Thanks for the compliments. I do have access to the helix as directly behind it is a pocket sliding door to an adjoining room. To access the mountain I cut a hole through the baseboard underneath it, just wide enough to get a hand in to rescue derailments and clean the track.
    No, that wasn’t my lunch but dried coffee grounds that I use for dirt, also this layout was done in 2013. I am now 68. This layout is down demolished as I had to sell the house I was in. I have just started a new layout and will post soon on it.

  32. robert dale tiemann says:

    reta work onn the tunnels, i love it. lots of work and it shows how much you like what you are doing.

  33. Jon Webb says:

    Remarkable layout . Takes me back to my childhood in England in the late 50s. Especially the little Morris Minor: my first car. I very much like your ability to run passenger trains!
    Jon in New Mexico

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