Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

Peter’s been in touch again this time with his model railroad O gauge tunnel portals.

(If you missed his last post, it’s here.)

“Greetings Al,

Peter here. Been a while but some progress has been made. As you know model railroading has many facets, i.e. scenery, track, running trains, photography, electrical etc.

I’m sending 18 or 19 pics with brief explanations and how I’m progressing, starting with brass engines I’ve modified, painted and decaled, to combining both standard 2 rail O scale with On3 narrow gauge together.

Pics 1 through 8 are modifications and paint jobs.

o gauge loco

Pic 1 is how I received this GP 40-2, nice factory paint, but not my road, so pic 2 is the stripped and finished model of Rio Grande, with soldered on added details to that particular road. snowplow, horn and antennae arrangement and other details.

o gauge loco

o scale loco brass

Pics 3 through 6 starts with a generic GP-9, Lot’s of work here.. As you see I had to convert the two 48 inch fans on top with four 36 inch prototypical fans.The dynamic brake fan in the middle was in the parts bag, so I just attached it.

Most parts came from Precision Scale Co. They have all the diesel and steam detail parts any one would want. But they still need to be soldered on correctly, There are rerail frogs added, and most painstaking were the spark arrestors I had to make from brass from scratch because these particular ones are not available commercially.

o gauge locomotive

o gauge locomotive

o gauge loco

o scale loco

Pics 7 and 8 are Brass train paint jobs I had done a while ago, but very happy the way they turned out; F7 A & B and the 4 stripe caboose..

O gauge locomotive

Next the tunnel work how to and how I’m combing the two gauges. I appreciate you posting both of these in succession.

Pics 9 through 14 (2) show the tunnel I completed as it curves around to go under the narrow gauge which is against the wall and curve out on the other end eventually. There’s an aisle between the two gauge layout so one can operate either or.

Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

The portals are commercial products cut down and I used the excess on top of the tunnel. I either used rubber rock molds on part of this and smashed up the dried excess for boulders. The rest as in the side are woodland scenic ready rocks placed in combination to suit my eye.

I used a floral type chicken wire which is light and pliable to form the tunnel in sections because of the curvature of the tunnel itself. Then, plaster soaked gauze is next with ready made drywall plaster that comes in buckets from any Home Depot or Lowes.

I don’t mind mixing hydrocal for rubber rock molds, but for bigger areas I would suggest getting the ‘Mud’ or drywall plaster because it not only saves time and mess, it goes on smooth.

model train roundhouse

Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals


Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

control panel

Pic 14 shows how the standard gauge with curve under neath the narrow gauge. There will be a back ground against the wall eventually.

Pics 14 through 18 show the start of the narrow gauge, eventually this will lead to Rio Grande Southern wooden tresles etc. (later)

model train roundhouse

coal freight

o scale turnouts

o scale buildings

Pic 18 is a shot of the town in the standard gauge where Mrs. Thorkle caught her husband at the bathouse (ha ha).

TY Al and hope all is well with you.


And now on to Dave:

“Hi Al, just had a day up on N.Y.M.Railway, enjoyed seeing the City of Wells… one of the Battle of Britain Class Loco`s… and our own Repton running up there, made for a good day out and a bit of nostalgic Steam.

Nice to see a bit of real steam still in operation.



Loved seeing Peter’s model railroad O gauge tunnel portals – it’s amazing how much charm his layout has. Can’t wait to see the next one.

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

22 Responses to Model railroad O gauge tunnel portals

  1. steve thompson says:


  2. Pete what a great layout thanks for sharing this. My own very modest Lionel 3 rail O gauge “layout” consists of two tracks on a there and back legacy control system. I have very limited space, so tend to concentrate on the diorama side. (Tracks laid and working well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.) I use woodland scenics just plug lighting system, I used to do it the old fashioned way, soldering and connectors etc.

    What is the width of yours and where did you get the figures from? As they are not easy to find in the UK.
    Thanks again and happy modelling.
    Essex UK.

  3. NJ Mark says:

    Peter, I love the little vignette at the “Bath” house. Great sense of humor.
    And Dave, thanks for the steam show. Cheers! NJ Mark

  4. Don Poitras says:

    I like your tunnel.

  5. Chuck says:

    Pete, really nice work. Your Rio Grande diesel is outstanding.

  6. Jonathan Scott says:

    Peter your soldering and paint work is magnificent. I love to see the detail especially on the locomotives. I will be sending my photographs soon to Al and you will see that I’ve also come to love the color scheme of the DRGW (Denver & Rio Grande Western. I thought it had a special name, that is the orange color. I find that there was a color called Aspen orange or Aspen gold. Can you tell me which color that is on your locomotive? It is simply beautiful! My congratulations to you!! Jonathan

  7. John Bates says:

    Had the pleasure to ride the NYMR where my cousins husband worked for 15 years before a tragic accident. The RR is a beautiful site to ride we enjoyed our trip very much, my father worked the Hull and Barnsley RR so steam is in my blood.

  8. Peter J Martin says:

    Great stuff Peter.

    Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t “City of Wells” a West Country class of loco and not Battle of Britain?



    In Dorset, UK

  9. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Your expertise and skill are quite impressive, I’d like to see more.

  10. Mike Ilkenhons says:

    Peter….really professional work. Your paint jobs are better than OEM. Even as an artist, I would not attempt what you did there. Love the access on the back of your tunnel. I never thought of doing that. The city scene is top notch. Definitely post finished or near finish shots of the layout. I would like to see how you tie some of the gaps and open areas together. I use drywall mud also… so much easier to work with that hydro…. cheers. Mike, Clermont, Florida.

  11. Paul says:

    Hi can you tell me are the model locomotives scratch built or kits if they are kits where can I get them thanks Paul

  12. Don Brown says:

    Nice detail work on the engines.
    My pick for best pic goes to the bathhouse area. Humor & realism in any layout is one way to bring life to the work we see on display.
    Thank you for sending in all your creative layouts and their subsequent displays by Al!

  13. don kadunc says:

    Anyone. Is steam in regular service in the UK or is this a tourist train?

  14. kathe Kozlowski says:

    Great steam video Dave. Thanks for sharing!
    Frank & Kathe, Miami, FL

  15. The first locomotives constructed by British Railways were of the Battle of Britain class, but the naming policy reverted to the West Country for Nos. 34091–34108.[36] The final two locomotives were Battle of Britain class, No. 34109 Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and No. 34110 66 Squadron. The result of the delay in completing was that the squadron crest for 66 Squadron was never made, as the manufacturer had retired during the intervening period.[36] Thus 66 Squadron was the only Battle of Britain class member not to have a crest. …. this may answer you Peter

  16. Ron Nelson says:

    Dave Very nice pics of the steam train trip. Ron From Sunny Florida

  17. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Peter, nice job on your train table. I’m an O gauge an HO gauge trains and having them both on a table makes it purity tricky, cross your’t and dot your i’s. You have a great set up. I take it that the open spots where usually a table would be, are there going to be thin mountains or rock up props. Inquiry minds would like to know, lol. Like to see what’s next, its like opening up a Christmas present every time I open my e-mail too see who posted what. Thanks Alistair.
    Dave, love the video of the locomotive, it was so neat watching her run. My father was from Gary Indiana and the The Nickel Plate ran down the road at the end of the block. He would tell me stores when he was a kid and him and his friends would put Penney on the track to trash can. Some funny stores he tood. We moved too Germany and about a block away was a little station. It was back in 66 or 67, I was only 6 or 7 at the time. Inside the house we heard this very loud whistle, both of my brothers and I were running over our self’s to get out to see where it came from. Im sorry guys, running wild with my mind and trying to keep up with my thumbs. Lol. Dave, thanks for posting the video, it brought back a lot of memory’s.

  18. Peter Theodore says:

    TY all! First to Ernie of Essex… The figures are mostly ‘artistta’ O scale people, you can find a bunch on eBay or direct from him, just google the name and they’ll pop up. Been using those for years and he has a large variety as you see.
    Next, to Jonathan.. Aspen gold was the prominent Rio Grande color. The GP-9 is a little lighter because as the years rolled on the color got a little more orangy as in the GP-40. Weaver model co.. had mixed the aspen gold for me years ago and sent me a few bottles via ‘scalecoat 1 paint. they went out of business. You can mix reefer orange and reefer yellow to obtain the color..
    To Paul, the loco’s are brass models made by Oriental & overland models. To scratch build loco’s such as these would take machinery and precise metal templates. Check eBay O scale brass for sale, folks are always selling older models. Peter

  19. Just to answer the question re steam service in UK , this is a heritage railway that runs for approx 9 months of the Year , with regular scheduled services running 25 miles between Pickering and Whitby on the East Coast ….we do have a good few now operating this type of service in the UK and its getting more and more popular

  20. George Zaky says:

    You are so talented. Your engines are better than store bought and your scenery is just astounding. Much thanks for your submission- I really enjoyed it and hope you send some more.
    You sure know how to keep your fan club happy. What a cheerful video- steam trains, country side, a little history. Great way to start the day- Much thanks.
    Big Al- Smile! Your fan club thanks you

  21. Mike Balog says:

    Great Layout ideas for O Scale and O Narrow Gauge… Really Appreciated the custom paint and modeling done on those locomotives. AND This Question is for Dave and Al;. Can you explain to me, what those White Stripes are on the Wheels of the Passenger Cars in the Video? Thanks… From New Hampshire, U.S.A. across the Pond… ~ Mike.

  22. Heather & Jason says:

    Dave just wanted to say thankyou, I thought you were talking about your layout till I clicked play & what a surprise we got I yelled for Jason to come up to see it for it was great to see steam still in operation. They only run them here for special functions but they are even cutting a lot of them out now very sad, cost are so high you can understand having all the crew together as well as the fire unit that travels behind in case of fires then the cost of the train it’s self for they don’t run on air, anyway thankyou for the video it was great to see a old girl still running.

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