Rick’s 4×8 HO layout

Rick’s started a 4×8 HO layout for the grandkids – looks great too:


Thank you for your always engaging posts and emails which have been a great support in getting back into model railroading once again. I set up an HO set when the boys were very young while we were in the military. But with a lot of moving around and kids getting older, the trains sat in storage for over 30 years until this past Christmas.

Having grown up with a Lionel O Scale train set around the Christmas tree every year, we finally purchased a Polar Express set for our tree this past Christmas. Seeing the reaction of our young grandkids finally got the fire going again to set up our own set that the kids of all ages could enjoy.

Unfortunately, the only space we have left for year round use is in the crawl space that only has a 40” clearance from floor to ceiling. After spending last winter clearing out the space, I took a corner and began building.

The entire setup is literally assembled on my hands and knees! I first built a 4×8 HO layout’ table on 6 sets of casters so I could move it around while building and for maintenance. I used foam board for nearly all the foundation and hills which I find is easy to work with and mold. I forwarded a few pictures of the progress leading up to the finished (for now) setting. The left wall behind the tunnel is temporary so I can expand beyond the tunnel.

The train yard represents the rich train history here in the Chicago, Illinois area here in the states. The two engines in the middle are both over 35 years old and do not work so I set up an homage to the Illinois Train Museum in nearby Union, Illinois that has quite a collection of engines and cars from many different eras. You can see I made good use of your print-outs for the residential area including the sound wall between it and the park to the right of the table. The park represents several areas where I run and bike to stay in shape to keep up with active grandkids!

You tips and ideas along with the downloaded printouts made it easy to stay motivated based on what others have shared with your community. I am now working on the landscaping, ballasting the tracks and expanding the yard to include container cranes and additional construction as well as an overhead walkway to get from the residential area to the park. As many have said, it is really never finished.

Thanks again for what you do for this community of enthusiasts!


x8 HO layout inclines

4x8 HO model railroad with inclines

HO 4x8

4x8 peco track

4x8 HO tunnel

4x8 HO mountains

A huge thanks to Rick. It’s great to see a 4×8 HO layout – I know it’s a popular size. It takes a lot of determination to make a layout like that in a 40″ space too. And glad to see he’s using the print out scenery for his tunnel.

Speaking of which, don’t forget today is the last day to buy the bundle deal below for just $14.97.

1. You print them out and stick ’em together.

2. They print out at HO scale. For N scale, reduce by 50%.

3. Print as many, and make as many as you like.

Here’s the page with more details on the wooden barn and stone cottage.

That’s all for today folks. Please keep’ em coming.



PS Beginner’s Guide is here.

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

21 Responses to Rick’s 4×8 HO layout

  1. Thanks Rick for showing your setup i do like it and proves when there is a will there is always a way in a small space

  2. Ian McDonald says:

    a great layout in a small space thanks for sharing.

  3. david howarth says:

    Its amazing what you can fit in a small space ..well done …Dave

  4. Thank for your perseverance and dedication to your followers Al. and tell Rick He is quite a good worker bee and must really love his grand children and the model RR hobby to have to work on his knees to get that village put together and keep up the good work
    Hope all stay well and be safe !

  5. David says:

    Very good for a small space.Thanks for sharing hope to see more.

  6. Rudy says:

    Love it !!!


    An inspiration to us all !!!

  8. Richard Michaels says:

    I needed to see this, I have been on the floor across 5 scatter rugs for
    about two years, I am also going to need to stick to 4×8 Thanks gentlemen !!
    I am on the prowl for any available 4×8 space now

  9. Sgt. George Ross says:

    You Show It can be done in confined quarters.
    GREAT JOB !!

  10. Cary B says:

    Great layout Rick. You must be in good shape to work in that height space. Keep up the awesome layout. I’m currently working on a HO layout and just brought a O scale Lionel Santa’s helper train and set it up for the great grand kids.
    Thank you Al for maintaining this site.

    Cary B

  11. Frank Costello says:

    Thanks Al .i look forward to this e mail everyday.so many great ideas. One of the model railroad rewards is building something out of scrap parts and not buying it in a hobby store .
    Today’s idea. When you buy a new pair of shoes most often a 6 inch piece of plastic helps hold the shape in the box.It is hollow and has a 45 degree Bend at the end. Perfect for a street light. When I return home in a few weeks ,I will send pictures.
    All the best.

  12. Appookta says:

    Would someone tell me where to get those repeated white risers that so many people use to make gradual inclines for tracks? Seems they’d be perfect for the job, but I have no idea what they’re called and where to get them.

  13. Michael Rounds says:

    Great going, as a kid growing up outside of Chicago in the late 50’s the only way we could have our Lionel O up and running all year was the crawl space.
    Thanks for making me remember a great time as a kid!

  14. Rich says:

    Absolutely amazing, thank you so much for sharing. Always look forward to your blog.


  15. Thomas Murphy says:

    Wonderful work Rick. Am proud of your attitude and patience. 40″ height is quite a challenge to work within and manage to complete your layout. I remember sitting on a rolling creeper in such a space, under my platform, to wire my layout. Rick, you have my heartfelt praise.
    Regards, Tom (USA).

  16. Arnie Steiner says:

    Nicely done Rick! Very nice scenicking given the space constraints and working with HO in only 4×8 and 40 inch height! Smart idea to put the whole layout on casters. Good Luck and enjoy it! – Arnie – Staten Island, NY

  17. Doc says:

    Terrific. Gives me hope

  18. Jim Sulkosky says:

    Nice little layout keep up the great work

  19. Kenny A. says:

    Speaking of 4×8 layouts. When I was a kid (about 8 years old) My parents bought me a fullsize bed. My dad went and got me a 4×8 sheet of plywood to put my HO train set on and he also covered it with green felt and mounted casters underneath it and then slid it under my bed for me. So when I wanted to play with it, all I had to do was slide it out from under that fullsize bed, plug the transformer into the wall outlet and have hours of fun right there in my very own bedroom. I only had one small tunnel as the track was all on one level because I only had about 6 inches to the bottom of the bedframe but I still had a train station, trees glued down, houses, a factory and a warehouse too and had tons of fun with it. That 4×8 layout brings back so many great memories.

  20. Train Doctor says:

    the “white risers” are from Woodland Scenics and come in all shapes for underlay of your tracks
    take a look on ebay call your local train/ Hobby shop for Woodland Scenics items

  21. Train Doctor says:

    I’m sure you learned how to scootapoot and use the coasters to save the knees.
    I love it when people use their head.
    the only problem with a layout in the crawl space is ” is the floor sealing built to withstand the weight,,, it might be a good idea to have it looked at by a good carpenter or fabricator if you are unsure.
    Keep up the good work, it is looking good so far.
    I do all types of repair and installs on engines, If you want the old engines freshened up or dcc / led installs or weathering let me know. Good luck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *