Atlas N scale track

Richard has been in touch with his Atlas N scale track 4×6 layout:

“Alastair, I’m a new subscriber and your email was the first one I opened.

You suggested that your emails are thin on responses so I thought I would send pics of my N Scale layout.

It is a modification of Atlas’ N59 layout. I added an over and under to it and lengthened it. Overall size is 4′ x 6′.

It’s constructed on a plywood base topped with 1” pink insulation foam.

I never had room in my home for the size of layout I wanted, so when I retired, I sold a car and replaced it with the model train layout I have been waiting to build for over 50 years.

The base rests on saw horses, but stability is really with the bicycle hooks and hoist that allows me to raise and lower the layout when needed.

I am now adding a downtown area with train station because I bought a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 locomotive and four passenger cars. I grew up in Trenton, NJ and rode many times on the old Pensy line to New York City and Philadelphia.

Because my garage is neither heated or A/C’d, I’m limited when I can operate and further construct changes. Corrosion is a suspect in some of my electrical problems.

A defective switch control and now a suspected selector is waiting for me to solve my most recent problem that did not exist when I left the layout to “winter over.” I can easily run two trains and even a third, switching cars in the yard, when I don’t have any electrical problems.

Some of the points of interest not readily visible in the pics or had not yet been added are:

1. Hobo camp

2. Ranger tower

3. Detailed railroad crossing

4. Business district

5. Water flows into the lake from the mountain and under the tracks. (My young nephew insisted on a tunnel and a mountain to mimic “Stone Mountain” which is a granite outcropping in the Atlanta GA area)

Model railroading is a fun creative hobby, I have enjoyed for the past 10 years. I’m a 70+ senior who had a small HO layout before I left my parent’s home. It disappeared into the bedroom of a nephew never to be seen again.

Kennesaw, GA”

Atlas N scale track

atlas locomotive

control panel

track and points

Atlas N scale track

atlas figure of 8

atals model railroad

Atlas N scale track

Now on to Marvin:


Wonder if you might consider an offbeat item for your blog.

Petticoat Junction was an American sitcom in the 60’s that was spun off from The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. I assume these shows might have found life on the east bank of the big pond.

Petticoat Junction featured the Cannonball, a steam train that stopped at Hooterville.

The train has appeared in many movies and TV shows, most notably Back To The Future, Part 3, and is still running a scenic route in California.

What is missing is why the locomotive and tender are labeled “C&FW”, and the shows creators didn’t bother to keep the documentation.

The “C” could be Chicago or Chattanooga, and the “FW” might be Fort Worth.

Thought maybe that someone in your huge network might know for sure what C&FW stands for.


I did ponder over posting Marvin’s question, but then I thought, “I’ll bet someone knows” – so who can help?

And a big thanks to Rich for sharing his Atlas N scale track.

There’s one line in his narrative that I loved:

“…so when I retired, I sold a car and replaced it with the model train layout I have been waiting to build for over 50 years”

That’s what this hobby is all about!

I do love a layout with a theme. Perhaps another good example of this is John’s HO scale mine layout.

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 N scale layouts here if that’s your thing.

model train answers

47 Responses to Atlas N scale track

  1. Lakshman Yatawara says:

    How delightful and very inspirational. Thanks very much for sharing.

    I can contribute what C&FW stands for courtesy of Google.

    Acronym Definition
    C&FW Chicago and Far Western Railroad (fictional, Petticoat Junction TV show)

  2. Brian Rockey says:

    Well done Richard, that’s a nice looking layout.
    Best Regards
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  3. Don Cragun says:

    It doesn’t look like the C&FW was a real railroad; it seems to be a name created by the Petticoat Junction writers. The live steam shots in the series were of the locomotive that was originally Sierra Railroad #3.

  4. paul says:

    i wonder if that train was also in the black & white tv show Casey Jones .. as i remember part of the opening song was “Casey Jones tootin and a rollin at the throttle of the cannonball express” ?

  5. Marvin Johnson says:

    Thanks Lakshman, thought I had Googles, but going to acronym definition solved rage problem.

  6. Frank says:

    Wow…you managed to pack a lot into only 4×6 feet. It looks nice and full, but not crowded either.

  7. indy grandpa says:

    Richard, I was impressed at the 4 X 6 layout. I was closely “eyeballing” the track layout and of course the scenery. I have been wanting an N scale layout for maybe 10 years now. And now 80 yrs. young, my layout has been started. My layout is the same size as yours, and you have done an awesome job with everything. I saw a couple things that will help me with my scenery. Very nice layout!!

  8. I would love to see the track plan for this wonderful layout.

  9. Deric Jaques says:

    Yes, the track plan if available would be great. Now 70 and just starting.

  10. Doug says:

    Loved the layout. Im sure that the C&FW is the Clarksburg &Falling Waters, WV.

  11. Raul says:

    No matter how old we get the memories still. There of those wonderful days!!!! Thank you for sharING your great layojut!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Kent Pool says:

    This may sound a bit strange, but as great as this layout looks, the most impressive thing to me is how straight you were able to get the track. Well done.

  13. Bill in Virginia says:

    Great looking layout. N scale is such fun to work in.

  14. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!! I going to make mine something like that.

  15. Rob McCrain says:

    What a lovely well thought out layout. Very nicely done.
    Rob McCrain – Farland Howe

  16. Richard Lindstrand says:

    Never noticed the C&FW on the loco. As a junior in high school at the time, my focus was captured by the three girls — Bobbie Jo, Billie Jo and Bettie Jo. Especially the three of them bathing in the water tower in the opening credits.
    Richard in Florida

  17. Jim Hochstein says:

    I have an unheated garage, so I purchased a portable de-humidifier. So far after 2 years, the corrosion has been kept at bay.

  18. Al Letting says:

    Richard: Great job. You inspire me now in my 70’s as well. I grew up in PA near Trenton and the GG-1 is my favorite loco of all time. I

  19. Jonathan says:

    Richard, congratulations when you’re in gauge railroad. Extremely well done! I’m likely the only person that noticed your P.I.E. trailer truck. I grew up about 40 miles north west Trenton in Pennsylvania. Your photos inspired me to look up
    P. I. E. I knew it stood for Pacific Intermountain Express because as a young boy in the mid-50s Santa gave me a PIE metal tractor trailer. It is about 2 feet long and my grandkids still play with it. I thought it was an unusual thing that you and I would both have that kind of truck. Anyway there’s lots of info on the Internet about it but in 1955 it was the largest trucking company in the world and it was owned by a Philadelphia company IU international! And as the old saying goes you learn something every day. Speaking of that, I learn something nearly every day from Alastair and all the amazing participants in this wonderful blog. A big welcome to you Richard! By the way, my dad took the Reading railroad to work every day on the West Trenton Line from the Jenkintown Train Station. He would then walk a short distance to his manufacturing company. The train was pulled by Reading F7 A and B locomotives! Jonathan (still in Bucks County, PA)

  20. William Caszatt says:

    I have a 4 foot x 8 foot train layout . In the last picture of Richard from Kennesaw Ga. I would like to know how Richard built his ramps over his tracks ?. I have E-Z track on my layout. Looking do some like that for my track.

  21. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Richard……great job……nice looking layout………great scenery and detail.

  22. John says:

    Richard, your layout is EXQUISITE! A joy to see, and I’m sure a joy to experience!
    Thanks for sharing your joy with the rest of us!

  23. Ben Olson says:

    Richard, what a great layout! I particularly enjoyed the town scene and the Hobo scene. How you managed to design and build so much on just a 4×6 base is amazing to me. I agree with Jim …. a portable de-humidifier may solve the corrosion problem, give it a try. Awesome layout, thanks for sharing!

  24. Douglas Calderwood says:

    Hi Richard here’s another 77 year old looking to start his first layout. Yours has impressed me more than any other so far in such a small space. Thanks for the encouragement, which your layout has given me. I keep on wondering if I kept my layout to a 4 x 8 how much more I could add to it. Yours is in keeping with the average Joe who space and affordability a limited.I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  25. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Richard Cant help with the railroad name. I am always amazed at how much N gauge allows you to put in a relatively small space. I and I’m sure others would suggest that N gauge is a very difficult size to get just right. You appear to have succeeded in this respect. Many N gauges are built to get some form of layout in the smallest of spaces, no problem with that. You appear to have constructed a fully functioning railroad with lots of interest for the viewer and lost of actual train running and manipulation for the user.and in a very small guage.Well done

  26. Ken of Lakewood Shores says:

    Great looking layout. So much in a small space. Very nicely done. Love the openness.

  27. Jim Logue says:

    Very professional and nice! Thanks for sharing 👍

  28. Alabama Mike says:

    Richard, your layout is really great. You have done a super job on building it. I am 79 myself and have been back into trains for 4 or 5 years now. Still learning. I treated myself to an HO set one Christmas. I am now working on my 3rd layout which is taking me some time. I hope to post some pictures soon. Keep up the good work.

  29. Robert Brady says:

    YO Richie; Great layout . Way to utilize the space allotted.
    Now cut those straps holding your speed controllers and tilt and leave the wires attached add stick on Velcro strips that’ll hold them.
    Love the landscape also. .
    The Critic

  30. Lee adkins says:

    Nice layout you got a lot fit in the 4×8 space and the work is great. I like the idea of selling the car to get the funds, very original. I am looking at my second car and thinking ‘maybe I should’.

  31. Rod Justice says:

    Ran across this information on The Cannonball from Petticoat Junction. Some mysteries shall remain as such.

    “The Cannonball’s usual speed belies its name (which was perhaps inspired by Casey Jones’ locomotive), though it still manages to give its passengers a thrill while rounding the local version of Dead Man’s Curve. Ostensibly, the Cannonball operates as part of the C. & F.W. Railroad. Exactly what the initials stand for is today a mystery. [Even Paul Henning, creator of the show, doesn’t remember the inspiration behind them] It has been speculated that the initials are a writers’ tribute to the Cannonball trainmen, as in the “Charley & Floyd Western”, or some such thing (ironically, the final Cannonball engineer, in seasons 6 & 7, was named Wendell, but it is unlikely that the writers were precognitive enough to intentionally add his initial). Yet another theory is that it is a geographical reference, a la “Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe,” in this case, perhaps “Chicago & Fort Worth.”

  32. DARRYL MILLER says:

    Richard, as a resident of Kennesaw, why not model Kennesaw mountain instead of Stone Mountain. Great layout though. My grandad and two unclrs retired from the Family Lines/SCL railroad.

  33. Harold Payne says:

    Great ideas, I do the same for kitbashing buildings.
    As to the Hooterville railroad, Chicago & Far Western is the name.

  34. John Riepe says:

    Astonishing attention to detail makes this compact layout a work of art, suitable for hanging in the Louvre. Very well done and exceptionally interesting for the camera’s eye.

  35. Rocco Maley says:

    What is the radius? I would love to build this layout in HO scale. However I have an 8×12 foot space which is just enough to turn this “N” scale layout into an HO layout. I am 77 years old and time is running out. I really would like to build something like this and enjoy what time I have left. I do not have “N” scale #59 layout in my library, So I cannot calculate the radius for this layout. I just love it. GREAT JOB. ROCCO from NEW JERSEY.

  36. Rocco Maley says:

    Hi, It’s Rocco again. I forgot to let you know why I would like to know the radius for this great layout. My reason is, because I run 85 foot passenger cars and need at least a 22″radius. 24″ is my preference. Thank’s again. Rocco from NJ

  37. Marvin Johnson says:

    Hi Al,
    Interesting that the C&FW question from Petticoat Junction is still alive and kicking. Unfortunately my HO layout has been dismantled as we are moving to a new home in Woodstock, Ga, which does not include a basement. I’m looking forward to exploring Georgia’s train history, but it may be awhile before I tackle something like an N scale garage based layout. In the meantime I look forward to your daily email, along with the beautiful work done by your subscribers.

  38. Nick @ Nick's Collectible Creations says:

    I really like this layout and the use of basic ( old school ) DC control systems. The hobo encampment at the abandoned box car is a great touch!

  39. Foola Sheet says:

    just enough to turn this “N” scale layout into an HO layout.

  40. Stephen Hill says:

    Very nice layout , great detail and scenes , looks fun and interesting . Really nice work !

  41. George Zaky says:

    What a great layout. Very pleasing to the eye & yet very interesting.
    I’ll say it again- You N guys are something else. Dont know how you do it.
    Big Al
    Nice. Danka

  42. Steve Ruple says:

    Nice layout Richard, very well done and nice scenery

  43. robert dale tiemann says:

    really nice layout.

  44. Pete Evangel says:

    Instant memories seeing your truck, Pacific Intermountain Express (P. I. E. ) in one photo. I can remember my dad saying at least once every two weeks he’s home late because PIE was making a delivery! He was a manager at an Olympia Beer distributor in the San Francisco Bay Area way way back in the day. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  45. James says:

    Say, nice layout. You didn’t have the space to make it 4×8? You’re almost there!

  46. Larry Kenneth Schweitzer says:

    Very nice treatment of the landscape. Not so much for the streets. Nice treatment of the dead end lines getting abandoned with the greenery growing into them. Very nice track plan. Thanks for the photos.

  47. Runna Muck says:

    Velcro for those controllers man!

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