Rod’s fantastic layout

“Dear Al,

A friend forwards your output to me which is always interesting, so I thought you might care to see a few shots of Diano Marina in HO.

It’s based on our favourite resort on the Italian Riviera dei Fiori, although we’ve had to take some liberties such as moving our hotel fifty yards nearer the railway so we can see the trains go by from the swimming pool.

The very spooky part was that I had to add a floor to the model of the hotel to fully cover the corner of the sky backscene, and when we rang to reserve our next summer’s holiday we were told, “we’re so sorry, we’re not going to be open then as we’re adding a new floor!”

The layout is 9′ x 11′ using Peco track, Sommerfeldt overhead and mostly Roco or Rivarossi stock.

The track plan is simple – just a platform loop and a goods loop off the single main line, but there are ten roads in the fiddle yard to offer some variety. Control is ordinary DC with control panels mountable outside for home use or inside for exhibiting.

I’ve put in over 500 sessions on the layout to date so probably a thousand hours, but then I take forever to get anything much done.


(images are clickable)

“Hi Alastair

Progress on the new wharf:

This is the 2nd building of 9 in the Red Hook Wharf kit build. (FOS Scale product -limited issue) Complete with interior and exterior lighting, window shades, lifebelt and life ring on the wall, dirt bins, tool rack and odd tins. (extras from the good old “scrap” box – bits box)

Weathering – the building was painted white, stippled with 2 shades of blue and a tan color. A very thin black wash finished off the weathering.

The yellow sign on the side of the building was sanded on the back side to get it very thin and see through, glued it to the building using a very watered down white glue.

The sign was then distressed using a Fiberglass eraser after it had dried. The top sign was glued to a piece of card-stock and distressed in the same way.

The total size of this 9 building kit when built (the way I plan it) will be 36″ long x 14″ wide.


A big thanks to Rod and Brian.

I thought Brian’s buildings look excellent – but if you’re not a talented as Brian (like me) have a look at the print out buildings here.

That’s all there is for today peeps.

But please do keep ’em coming. My inbox is ready and waiting.

And if today is the day you get going on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

41 Responses to Rod’s fantastic layout

  1. Rod.

    Great layout , Ilike the garden scenes



  3. Colin King says:

    Hi Rod, That’s a great layout and happens to be my favourite place to stay. Lovely place with cool air coming in off the Med. The buildings look exactly the same to. Well done mate!

  4. John C Hobbs says:

    I am just starting out with ‘N-gage”, always looking for ideas. You have done a fantastic job. Trying to satay relaxed and not getting ahead of myself is the big challenge. All the best John H

  5. Roland Burch says:

    Ron, great layout. The detail is great.

    Brian, you are an artist. I look forward to seeing your buildings. Nice touch with the rubber bland.

  6. Glenn Roach says:

    A great looking layout, for sure. I always like seeing Model RR’s engines & rolling stock of other countries on the planet. Since I grew up seeing only American made engines and rolling stock.

  7. Rod Mackay says:

    Thank you all, and Colin, if you know Diano I expect you’ll know that the Bar Eden is in the bottom of that huge pink L-shaped block of flats in the fourth pic, next to the level crossing, and Mario insisted on giving us a free beer each when we showed him some pics of the model, what a nice guy! Just been doing the ‘O sole mio’ pizzeria and have now started on a corner of the campsite, just the station to finish and it’s done.

  8. lindsay odell says:

    nice to see very clean lay out thanks for not werthing the train
    realy good I like it very mutch

  9. THOMAS says:


  10. paul Otway says:

    neat layout

  11. Rod Mackay says:

    Lindsay, I know what you mean about the weathering, it’s a real pleasure to be using whites and pastel shades, as most of the UK modelling we do at our local club is set in the ’50s and 60s and you always seem to be putting on more rust, more grime, more rather grim dark greens and maroons. Diano being a busy seaside resort does spend a bit on keeping things tidy, but I promise you there is some grafitti on odd walls and the old goods shed. (Oddly some of it in English, I don’t think many British vandals get to the riviera, I think it’s just that stuff sounds smarter in ‘foreign’.) The trains ought to be weathered in a light tan (little black diesel exhaust in Italy as they have a lot of hydro-electric power) but I can’t quite bring myself to do it!
    Thomas, the overhead only covers the scenic side (doing the fiddle yard as well would have been a nightmare) so it’s cosmetic, but the pans do run under the wires, I found I could just raise the last section each end at a gentle angle so it rises above the maximum elevation of the pantographs, and they run down under it happily enough. The parts were quite a price though, not bad value but it soon mounts up.

  12. Lee Barry says:

    great looking layout

  13. Al, I sent a reply earlier, perhaps it was lost. I believe that your e-mails are
    the best to instruct and maintain the great interest in model railroading.
    My father worked for the L & N Railroad in Louisville for 51 years. Was awarded a golden watch, which I cherish with great honor. we traveled
    a great deal on his free passes and enjoyed our travels with much gusto.
    I guess his occupation possesed my great desire for the railroad functions
    of the many trips on the rails witnessing the smell of the smoke, the coaches
    squeaking between cars and long blasting whistles hammering down the
    silver tracks with smoke puffing and bellowing from the stack with bells
    ringing, with great rumble swaying side to side. Here we come!

  14. Jim Peters says:

    Really Like The Attention To Detail!

  15. ERIC HARRIS says:

    great stuff. keep it up.regards EH.

  16. Dave says:

    Dammit. From the first sentence, ” I thought you might care to see a few shots of Diano Marina in HO” I was trying to work out which American state had the abbreviation HO. Then it hit me.
    Thanks for all these tips.. THat is a stunning layout.

  17. David Ellis says:

    Thanks for keeping me on you mailing list. I do not have a layout at present but have a lot of British steam from a wide range of time (including Hornby Dublo from 1954.

    Living in Canada, I would like to do a British Rail Museum Park in Canada in small modules so I can do a bit at a time. Do you have any suggestions, plans. links, contact, etc.

    Thanks in advance. David

  18. Marion says:

    Oh, my goodness! I love the person who thought that HO was a state in the US!!! We think alike. That’s scary. Just yesterday, I mistook Ms. (Miss) for MS (Mississippi), the state in which I live, so see? You are not alone. Thanks, whoever you are, for sharing the moment in your life that struck the heart of this aging railroading lady. I’m 80, and still trying to complete one layout…..Marion

  19. claus says:

    Hi Rod, may I ask you what make the catekary masts and wires are? I buld in N Gauge and use Sommerfeldt masts and wires and they are working (!). Haven’t seen your masts anywhere yet. Thx. for a quick update.
    Claus in Peacehaven, England

  20. Markus Muetschard says:

    …amazing… felt like family vacation happening decades ago…

  21. Jim says:

    Really nice. I love your pool area.
    Great idea. Jim, NJ, USA

  22. NJ Mark says:

    I love the scenery. I’m still ballasting track after about a year and it is a fairly simple layout. Keep the pix coming. Cheers! NJ Mark

  23. Kenton says:

    Nice layout, where did you get those palm trees?

  24. David Hannan says:

    Love to see a video of Diano Marina!

  25. Robert Brady says:

    Rod fan-tastic love what i see but it must have been a nightmare stringing all the wires for the electric train,Wow,more power to ya!

  26. JOHN DOWN says:

    Rod and Brian, nice work! Keep it up!

  27. george zaky says:

    Fantastic and brilliant. Videos please.
    I see your work and say OMG every time. Awesome
    To all
    O, S, HO, & N are all states of mind! With all the wonderful examples Uncle Al brings to us we can go to an imaginary and ingenious world and travel to great places that all of you have brought us. No matter what “state” of mind you are in the talent and artistry is always amazing. What a hobby!
    Thanx to all
    George from NY

  28. Ian McDonald says:

    great photos. unbelievable detail on both. thanks for sharing.

  29. Erick says:

    Like the motel how did you build it. I sure would like some plans to build my own.

  30. Tony Kitty Hawk, NC says:

    Rod- Excellent job! You really capture the feel of the Northern Italian Coast – and in such a small space. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Robert Brady says:

    Buy him a starter set keep the lionels packed away!

  32. Will in NM says:

    Rod, Great layout! I am impressed with the catenary wires even if they are non-functional. It takes a lot of patience to rig all that overhead wiring which looks like it would be difficult to maintain. I’ve never been to the Riviera, but I imagine it looks a lot like your Diano Marina creation.

  33. Awesome,the electricity detail is too cool!! Just “AWESOME”!!

  34. John Bullock says:

    Rod and Brian… take a bow!

  35. Impressive

  36. James Corradini says:

    Hi 5 night a week I get up at midnight California time to go to work and the first thing I do go in the garage with my coffee and look at my tablet and there was no email I got worried thought something happened to Alistair. Love everything all the overhead electric wiring wow I’m Italian but I’ve never been there sure would like to go great work both of you.

  37. Neal Jeffrey Perry says:

    Lots of scenery with minimal trackage–love it!

  38. Rod Mackay says:

    Claus and Robert,
    The overhead is made from Sommerfeldt components, they do a variety of different patterns for the various types used by different railway administrations in Europe, there are more varied types of mast for some of the more popular countries with modellers, eg Germany and France, but it’s simple to cut down the four-track Italian centre pole to suit two or three tracks. These Italian M type poles come with cast plastic insulators which are cute but I wanted to be able to solder most of the wire sections so needed to add metal clips as heat sinks to stop the insulators melting. The difficulty in wiring was that you need to plan your pole positions and catenary section lengths very carefully, I wished I’d planned where the masts had to ge before adding scenery, I had to shift a few bits of wall, fence etc. I can recommend Sommerfeldt’s manual on setting-out the overhead, and the little mast positioning tool. When the layout goes to an exhibition, there are three baseboard joints that have wires across, these use sections of catenary not soldered to the registration arms, which ‘ping’ over the slightly bent back ends of the arms, there is just enough flexibility in the assembled network of wire and poles to allow this slight tensioning effect. The catenary sections come with a little loop in the ends of the contact wire to go round the arm, but these loops can be cut and reformed with round nose pliers if you have to shorten one slightly to fit. Most pantographs run happily enough under the wires, I pop a drop of cleansing oil on a couple of the pantograph tops every now and then to smooth things a bit. I’ve only had much trouble with a single-arm type that’s too flexible and apt to pop out sideways.

  39. Steve Garagiola says:

    Like some others posting messages here, I too am a beginner and am learning so much from these daily gifts I find in my email each morning. What a fantastic layout, both inspiring and intimidating.

  40. Clark says:

    I love this! Very cool. How fun to model a vacation town!

  41. Dave Karper says:

    And I thought the art of sanding paper was dead. Wonderful, Bryan. I haven’t seen it done in many years. I really do enjoy all that comes from the reincarnation John Allen!dd

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