Peter’s very clever layout

“Hi Al,

It is a great pleasure to reply to you: one ‘young” old man to another. (Going into my 70th year!)

I thoroughly enjoy all of your mail and find it most useful and educational. I returned to model railways about six years ago when grandchildren started to arrive – eight at the present. The theme was/is ‘Thomas’ designed on a folding track board for table-top use, but also easy storage. I did enjoy the wiring. A few photos attached for interest.

Now that I have moved house, my next plan is to build a table 10’6″ x 4′. (Or 12’6″ if I am allowed!!) Table top planks in three sections will be removable with folding-down aprons to reveal the train track etc. You’re right: now I have a large ‘hall’ space so the set does not have to be continually moved – just covered for “table uses”.

Building of the table should start shortly.

Enough of me. Thank you again for all your support. I am most grateful.

Kind regards,


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Loved Peter’s wiring. I imagine there was a fair bit of head scratching going on there. And if you looked at it and wondered what was going on, take the plunge with this and get up to speed.

Don’t forget the ebay cheat sheet – some cracking stuff about at this time of year.

That’s all this time, folks. Please keep ’em coming.



20 Responses to Peter’s very clever layout

  1. Martin Wood says:

    Your wiring looks extremely complicated. Have you not thought about the use of copper self adhesive strip that you can run under the baseboard. It is easy then to solder drop wires from the track and avoid the masses of wires and connector strips. The appearance may even resemble your control panel.

  2. Peter says:

    Hi Al,
    Thank you very much for sharing this attempt of mine; I shall look forward to peoples’ ideas for my next venture.
    I have used the Hornby Track-Master Planning CD which I have thoroughly enjoyed but have now changed the idea for the track board. It is to be suspended from the ceiling with pulleys to raise and lower it. It could be 10′ x 7′; we shall see! As yet I haven’t worked out the system for the pulleys so any ideas would be most welcome.

    Again, many thanks,

    Kind regards,

  3. kevin says:

    Very creative……A lot of depth, allows for a lot of train movement and switching……Scenery is very lively and well coordinated……excellent workmanship!!!!!

  4. Brent says:

    Peter your layout is awesome. Looking forward to seeing your next layout. Brent

  5. Andy Evans says:

    Peter, the layout looks good, can’t wait to see your new track plan. As for the wiring under the control board, as it only relates to the points switches, it looks just like I would have done it with the ability to service individual points switches without having to tear everything else up. Good job!

  6. David Leech says:

    Great layout Peter, i would like to see a track plan and some more closer pice of the scenery etc. Also Look forward to seeing your next layout. Is this oo gauge.

  7. Rob McCrain says:

    I very much like the wires. I am a tactile guy and enjoy such things as stripping and screwing down terminals. You have done it quite neatly. I started out with every intention of keeping mine neat, but instead mine looks like a birds nest I am afraid. Great layou.

  8. Pete Evangel says:

    OMG, I got dizzy looking at the wiring! Love the layout, great detail. I’m sure you have a “road map” of where your wiring goes. How did you keep it all straight in your mind?

  9. Ed Clark says:

    I think you like wiring almost as much as I do. Terminal strips are essential if you ever have to diagnose a wiring problem. Pro job.

  10. Interesting and creative layout
    lotsa busy stuff going on
    and the wiring is brilliant
    keep em runnin fellas

  11. Roger Oehmke says:

    “young” “young” Peter, 1.
    “Young” Young” – – as I as about 3 weeks into my 90th.
    2. My Great Grand daughter in now about 1 1/2 years and likes to dance to Thomas the Train theme song on the TV..
    3. You mentioned a “fold up layout” you had designed and built. Please provide all info you can as I need to make something similar
    4. Thank you for all of your help in this regard.
    5. Al, You are doing a great and very useful task THANK YOU for your time and effort..
    Best regards to all of those for their inspiration and tips.

  12. Roger Oehmke says:

    I neglected to sign my comment Sorry.
    Roger Oehmke

  13. Carl in Kansas says:

    Pulley system? Sounds like a fun challenge. Based on my experience, larger pulleys work more easily than smaller ones. Keep the pulleys lubricated (but don’t let them drip). One challenge is to lift all 4 corners at the same time so that one person can raise it. Good luck, and keep us informed.

  14. Ian McDonald says:

    great layout a lot of wiring you must have a wiring plan. like the idea of fold away.

  15. Tim Morlok says:

    Peter re: pulleys I built an outside enclosure for our cats with an inverted roman shade using a tarp and pipe on either side. I used three small pulleys per side with stranded nylon lines tied to the pipe. I then ran them through an eye bolt at one end down to a bracket. If you took a line from the four corners and maybe one in the middle of each long side thru pulleys and ran all six lines together through an eye bolt off set to one side and had the lines either braided or tied together where they meet when the table is lowered to operating height then you can keep it level at all times. Best of luck, Tim

  16. Jim Moran says:

    Great job Peter. I like your wiring. I would like to see a better view of the under side wiring. This one looks to be 4 x 8, is that correct?
    Al: Thanks for the great job you do with this Blog.

  17. Rich Fath says:

    Great idea and nice job. I am sure your grand kids love it. A number of years back my brother made a platform for his son, Scotty, when he was about 6 or 7, he was really into trains then. My brother made his platform just 1-1/2 inches off the floor, a single loop with one manual siding. He painted it green with gray roads; my nephew also had a Matchbox carpet town to play with his cars, my brother matched the carpet roads with the platform roads. My brother also made a simple crane in one corner with an S hook so Scotty could crane loads on and off of the train. This was in a carpeted spare room on the 2nd floor, aka train room (other toys too, it was his playroom). Putting it so close to the floor allowed Scotty to lay on the floor and watch the train, birds eye view. It was also easy for him to make up different car configurations. For several Christmases after that he got buildings, engines (& trolley) and train cars from his uncle (me) and grand mom/pop.

  18. Fred says:

    When a teen I had a 9′ x 5′ layout that lifted to the ceiling in my bedroom. The key to easy lifting was that we used a fairly inexpensive winch bolted to the wall that pulled all four corners in unison via simple pulleys..

  19. Peter Philips says:

    Nice job wiring Peter! Well organized too. As a general tip for all, use small size wiring (22 or 24AWG) with minimal insulation since we all work with very low voltages and low currents in the range of a few tenth of an amp. This is more economical too since the heavy wire is far more expensive, unless you have some laying around. Using these plastic connection strips is very economical too and you can easily fit several wires into one terminal if needed. – Peter (Electrical Engineer)

  20. Franco428 says:

    I would love to see more details & pictures of his Roundhouse design & equipment.

    There are many good Roundhouses out there but very few Great ones. I want to see how great this one is. It looks awesome.

    Please send in your Roundhouse & turntable pictures. Of all the things you could add to a layout, a roundhouse is the most challenging.

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