The General model train

Ralph has been in touch – he’s shared pics of The General model train, and some Marlin’s too:

“Hi Al,

Just completed my first HO layout.

This was my first attempt in constructing a layout…since the last time I played with trains is well over 70 years ago.

Am thinking that a monorail above the layout could be interesting. Problem is that I have not seen monorail equipment. Does anyone out there know where I can be find it?

The first two of the vintage Marlin train.

The second two the Marlin intermodal.

The last three the Bachmann “The General”.



The General model train

The General model train

The General model train

The General model train

the general model train

the general model train

the General model train

A big thanks to Ralph for sharing pics of The General model train – the Marlins look good too.

Now on to Peter:

“I have to say at the outset than I am no modeller and indeed for the ham fisted like me choosing N gauge has proved a real challenge.

N gauge

I confess to a lifelong interest in public transport starting with a TT gauge trainset in the late 1950s.

Adulthood, raising a family and work got in the way of furthering the hobby. Retirement in 2013 provided an opportunity to pursue the interest and, with our three children having moved out, requisitioning the fourth bedroom for the purpose (a decision my wife, Jill, now rues!).

N gauge

Started with the aim of building a Southern Region layout and got the ball rolling by acquiring a Merchant Navy class loco and three SR coaches plus a 4 car CEP EMU. However, having worked in Germany, I was tempted into juxtaposing the South West London environs with Bavaria. So with loads of different rolling stock I’ve ended up with a real mish mash.

N gauge

I went for a layout on two levels which would provide variety with five circuits enabling a number of trains to run simultaneously.

N gauge

Judgement of my modelling skills I will leave to fellow members of this group but it was great fun. Oh and early on I decided to introduce non-working overhead wiring to the German section – not particularly good for the back. Laying third rail for the Southern was relatively easy by comparison.

N gauge

As to the electrics, starting off my knowledge was confined to the ability to change household light bulbs and fitting three pin plugs! The basics of wiring the layout were actually relatively straightforward. The decision to light buildings and streets came as a result of seeing what was possible after visiting a number of model rail exhibitions

N gauge

I would caution against going to the next stage of introducing working colour signals and traffic lights as I did, not least because the wiring for LEDs (cathode v anode) differs in the UK to the rest of the world (something it took me several months to discover).

Adding electric points (turnouts) for hard to reach areas followed. The other hard lesson learnt is test lighting/wiring before installing it! And I still need to get round to organising the wiring.

N gauge

My local shops in Essex, John Dutfield in Chelmsford and Plus Daughters in Basildon have been incredibly helpful and I would always argue for shopping at a local stockist before opting for online.

In addition, exhibitions, Layouts 4U and Block Signalling have proved invaluable in aiding my exploits.

N gauge

I’m part way through writing a manual for the layout because there is so much that requires documenting which I’m happy to share if it ever gets finished!

And layout development is not over. I’ve applied my limited lifetime programme management skills to bear and been quite ruthless in making changes – buildings have gone, stations replaced and tracked uprooted.

My next project is to build a fairground on the Aldi car park site – the problem is obtaining an all singing and dancing motorised ferris wheel which is out of production … but I’m still looking.

N gauge

N gauge

I hope that this has provided a bit of an insight into the trials and tribulations experienced over the past six years!

All the best


A big thanks to Ralph for sharing the General model train pics, and to Peter.

It’s still wonderful to see all your different layouts after all the years. Please do keep ’em coming.

That’s all for today folks.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your own layout.



8 Responses to The General model train

  1. Terry Miller says:

    Peter has found the key to model railroading. “ITS FUN”. And that’s all anyone really needs. If you like building scenery, “IT’S FUN”. If you like running trains, ‘IT’ FUN’, and just looking at his layout is “FUN”. Good work Peter, nice track plan but I’d like to know the actual size of the layout.
    And as far as Ralph’s layout goes–WHAT FUN! From the Ferris wheel to the giant ice cream cone parlor, this is where people come to obvioously HAVE FUN!
    Good work & inspiration to all of us.

    Terry–Idaho USA

  2. AS said this is fun , you have plenty of detail on the layout Ralph , and Peter you have a very nice layout thre with plenty going on

  3. Matt says:

    whatever floats your boat (or in our case – trains!) boys!!!
    it’s your layout and it’s sole purpose is to please you!
    if you love it – so do i! thanks for letting us into your world

  4. Ellis James English says:

    To Ralph,
    My heart is in my hand right now. Way back when that Tasty Freeze Ice cream was the go to in my beloved Florida when we had a special treat. That little red Pick Up: Back in the early 60’s my one still surviving brother had a “Little Red PickUp” he drove around east Tampa. The fair?? A lot of folks don’t remember small permanent local fairs, I do as many will. You have a great set up and I wish I could see more of it. Today my youngest is off to college for a while so I will see what time offers. Thanks again Ralph

  5. Hugo Budzien says:

    Disney used to sell models of their mono-rail sets in their stores at the parks. I have seen photos of layouts using them including a room to room layout.Check out and they have a spot related to models. They show one guy building one in his backyard.

  6. Michael G. Balog says:

    Hello Al, Ralph and Peter: Ralph… Very Nice Lively Layout.. Only a couple of constructive comments.. As someone who has flown small aircraft similar at to the One on your “Airfield”, have to make some “realistic suggestions”. There is NO WAY a Plane can land and take off from that Airfield due to the Short Runways. AND Especially with RR Tracks cutting thru them. SUGGESTION: Either to Place the Building in the Corner of the Layout with a background showing a “Runway” OR Create a Level Field Raising the Airport Above the tabletop level. Leave the Tracks were they are,.,,, Just make the “Trolly Line” and part of the Incline into a Tunnel. That way you can place the Hanger in the Corner, and the Tarmac Runways could be made longer. The Incline Trackage could be coming out of a “Cut” Climbing to the level of the Airport. The Trolly could stop in an underground station with Staircase going up to the Airport Level. That would be more practical and realistic. The Old western Building could be Placed next to the Hanger.,,,, Alternative is to make it a Heliport.

    Peter: Like the Idea of having preformed Overhead Wire for the Electric Locomotives…Saves a lot of Time and trying to string wires for the Electrification of the line… Thought it might appear the overhead lines are a bit too thick for HO Scale. Overall Nice Interesting Layout…

  7. Marklin ed says:

    RALPH I think you trains are Marklin a Germany train maker from 1850s have a some since 1968 then Aretha Cadillac of model trains. Like your layout it’s wonderful;

  8. Timothy J Smolinski says:

    For Ralph: About 18 years ago, I was able to purchase 2 HO scale monorail sets from Ebay. I also purchased 20 extra feet of monorail track (straight and curved along with supporting trestles). Since that time, I have seen very little of any scale monorail sets or accessories. My plan is to incorporate them into my city/ suburb scene on my layout. I wish you all the best in your search for monorails!!!

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