Ronald’s N scale layout

“hi Al,

My name is Ron, from manchester.

First of all i would like to thank you for al the hard work you must put in to keep us up to date with all the latest, etc, some really great layouts and tips from your subscribers, well done.

I hope you like my modest little n gauge layout, this is my first attempt, all the buildings etc are card kits as you will probably know, i am a pensioner so got to keep the cost down lol, the location is of nowhere in particular, i just made it up as i went along, most of the other constructions are made from cornflake boxes, its not finished yet, a bit of weathering and a few more vehicles, but the main thing is i have really enjoyed it , after all that’s what this or any hobby is all about.

anyway Al thanks once again , and keep em coming.


N scale model railway

n scale model railway

N scale model railway

N scale model railway

N scale model railway

n scale model railway

N guage model railway

N gauge model railway

4 loop N scale with turntable track plan

“Another tip for retreving small parts – or other small items.

Have the wife donate an old pair of pantyhose. Wrap pantyhose tightly over the opening at the end of your vacuum cleaner hose – a rubber band or something similar should do it.
When the vacuum is turned on, the suction will drawn the part but the pantyhose will hold the part in place at the hose opening for retrival.


“Dear Al

A great way to make pipe loads is to use drinking straws. Cut them required length and paint a grey/ silver.




This is how I made a sector plate from a CD disk.

1st I cut a length of track to fit on to the centre of the disk then glued it on with super glue.

2nd I modified the bottom of the cover, I used as the base by cutting away the outside leaving just the middle part.

3rd I soldered 2 wires on to the track to provide power for the track on the disk, the 2 wires were soldered on to both rails.

4th I soldered the other ends of the 2 wires on to the track leading to the sector plate,

when I soldered the wires on I made sure that the left wire was soldered on to the left rail and the right was soldered on to right rail. If you mix up the wires you get a short.

5th I then soldered 2 wires to the track leading off the sector plate into the loco shed, then soldered the other ends to the track leading to the sector plate.

As you can see I used part of an Atlas grade crossing tower kit to make the cabin for the operator. I then made a handle out of wood and painted it black.

I used modelling clay to make the scenery around it, it is not finnished as you can see from the photos.

I used black crushed stones to make a ashphalt road and carpark.

The loco shed was donated to me, I am not sure who made it, but I had to repair before I put it on the layout. I also put a light in the shed.

The reason this sector plate was made was if a normal siding was made, the loco shed would have been too close to the mainline. Also the track leading to the sector plate also serves as a back shunt. The sector plate was completed by gluing black cardboard onto the disk to look like a steel deck.


Thanks everyone! Keep ’em coming.

That’s all for today folks.

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



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

63 Responses to Ronald’s N scale layout

  1. Andrew says:

    You say you’re a pensioner so you’re worried about keeping costs down. You certainly haven’t compromised the quality and the appearance of your “not finished yet” product! It looks great, keep up the good work

  2. David says:

    Ron your model is great, I also am retired and try to make items for my n gauge model railway. What size is your layout? How long did it take you to build it? Been working on my model railway for approx 2 years, hope mine looks as great as yours.

  3. odis johnson says:

    A great layout,got some good ideas. Would like to see a HO scale layout.
    Thanks for the ideas i have received.Good job!!

  4. Ian Brown says:

    Ron..what a lovely layout! You have packed in so much without it looking jammed. I have not actually built a layout since late childhood, but have “meant to” all along. Now that I am retired, perhaps I will have the time…Ha Ha Ha! One can hope…In that light, it would be ever so helpful if a sketch of the whole layout and overall size was included in these wonderful examples of other’s efforts.

    Thanks to all…Ian

  5. Sheila says:

    Enjoyed this N scale layout. Agree with Ian, a sketch and dimensions of layouts would greatly help my visualization of these superb layouts. Those building are from cornflake boxes? They look wonderful. How did you make them?

  6. Bill McGroom says:

    Real nice layout especially since it is your first. I too am retired and have been collecting “stuff” to build a layout for 2 or 3 years and am real close to starting. My only dilemma is that I have N gauge, HO and 027 so I will have to build 3 layouts.

  7. dewey felton says:

    great layout.keep up the wonderful job. class A job.

  8. A great layout indeed! Ample opportunity for continuous run, and some very interesting switching too, coupled with some great scenery – I love it. It can’t get better in that much of available space! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  9. Dave Croley says:

    Hey Al, Wht is a sector plate? I am new at this hobby and was baffled. By the way, thanks for all your work, it is interesting to see all these layouts and ideas.

  10. Tom says:


    Very nice layout..I hope the layout I am working on now turns out half as nice….

  11. Br john says:

    howdy Ron, excellent work. You are an artist. Thank you

  12. Alan Meyer says:

    That is a very impressive layout Ron. I’m semi-retired and am doing the research for my layout “over the pond” here in Canada. I’ve got two locations that both offer great opportunities one where I grew up called the “Bayview Junction” on the Dundas Sub the other is where I’m living now which has had about 8 Railways built in this area since the 1st one in 1838. It’s all a matter of space. Seeing these layouts is a real inspiration. Keep up the good work!!

  13. Ray Allen says:

    Hey Ron,what a fantastic layout you have there,I am from Handforth.I have so much in common with you and the other guys on here I am a pensioner,75 next.I need to watch the costs,I have been planning a layout for 10 years,built so many kits,most of the Metcalfe stuff you have I find I can’t commit to build,don’t think I can,but enjoy doing the kits.If you could find time to e-mail me I could do with a bit of encouragement.I love the way you seem to have found room for so many different aspects on the layout.

    Again a wonderful,inspiring layout

  14. Bob Berkeley says:

    Is there a trackplan for thie magnificent layout? I sure would like to see it. I am going to start a layout is the near future. Am intrigued by this one.

  15. Ron says:

    Thanks so much for all your comments, i am quite flattered after seeing some of the fantastic layouts on here, i must be doing something right lol.
    To answer some of your questions, the layout is approx 5ftx3ft and the buildings are metcalf kits, in my opinion very good value for money and easy to build, the road and retaining walls are built from kornflakes boxes, the front retaining walls are once again card kit built, it has taken me about two years to build in my spare time, all the trees i got from china for £7.00 including postage, and the people cost me £3.50 from china, i didnt work from any drawings, i just layed the track and tweeked it here and there, you know what they say lol, if it lookes right it probably is. once again thanks for the cmments.

  16. Len Lainsbury says:

    A cracking layout and very impressive content. Like Sheila, I thought your `home-made` buildings were superb. Great to find yet another pensioner who is not just going to go quietly into the twilight years !
    Sounds like a great idea for your sector plate (turntable ?) but what happened to the photos you mentioned ?

  17. Roger says:

    Nice one – enjoyed the photos – well done, Ron.

  18. paul Otway says:

    A very nice layout.

    Thanks Al for publishing my article on the cd turntable.

  19. Hi Ron, I really enjoyed looking at the pictures of your layout as even though your buildings are made from cardboad cutouts and cereal boxes, they look so realistic as I couldn’t find any glue joints or errors in any of them, so you’ve shown that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a working layout, so good luck and enjoy.

  20. Tom Oliver says:

    What a fantastic effort for a first timer! To have had to cut costs and still have it look that good is incredible! Great job.

  21. Deltom says:

    Great work Ron. I’n working on a N layout because of space. I too am building as it comes to me.

    I have noticed a difference between USA and European scenes. Mine tends toward the suburban strip malls with a mix of PPR Amtrack Metro liners and light inter city rail by Budd.

    It is I have found easier to dream and look at work like yours that do my own.

    Thanks to all

  22. Chuck Lewandowsky says:

    I am just starting to set up an N scale layout. Always HO before. Your card stock structures look nicer than a lot of my plastic ones! Thanks for the reminder that hobbies are for fun!

  23. great scenery, back drops, clouds,

    wish i had the artistic skills to do so

  24. builder Kim says:

    wow super nice layout hand made.Those buildings are great.Saves lots doing your own stuff.More realistic than most store bought.And the bonus is you made it.Again wow nice.thanks

  25. Chris Goodman says:

    Ron, Great looking layout. Impressed with structures for first time modeller.

    I plan to build a new indoor gauge one layout soon.

    Cheers, Chris

  26. D.B. Lewis says:

    Wow. Really nice job with really simple methods. Just plain cool!

  27. TOM says:


  28. Barry says:

    Mate that is an exceptional lay out, I admire your craftsmanship…

  29. Jim says:

    my hat of to you sir!!! very nice lay out, would never have thought you did this from a pesant budget or built it with out a design. Very nice hardly wait to see the finish product.

  30. keith says:

    Great job Ron for a first time layout, love the school playground.

  31. Paco Gayon says:

    Hi Ronald from Manchester, am in the same situation and after about year and a half, have accomplish very little in comparison to your layout.
    Admire your buildings made out of Cornflake boxes. I too, have used similar material, but yours are impressive. Congratulations.
    Paco Gayon

  32. Ron says:

    To Ray Allen,

    Hi Ray, you arejust down the road from me, i live in Failsworth near Oldham.
    Ray those card kits are realy easy tyo build and look great on any layout, buy one and give it a go, you will be suprised how easy they to build, some yoohoo glue and a sharp knife is all you need, the rest is pure immagineation, so come on Ray get that layout started, it definatly gave me a buzz,

  33. Arnie Steiner says:

    Nice job Ron. You’ve certainly succeeded in incorporating a lot of content into a small area. And kudos to you for making the most out of everything you could to keep costs down. Looks like you’re running DCC? Is that a Bachmann Dynamis set I see in the background?

    Keep on truckin’. You’ll get to completion someday. My N scale layout took 2 years to build and be fully operational. Yet for the last 8-10 years I’ve continued to update things like scenery, lighting, rolling stock and even re-did a section of track to provide more clearance between passing trains with longer passenger cars…

  34. Joseph Watts says:

    excellent! although it looks more like HO rather than N to me.

  35. fred says:

    I am just starting to set up a HO layout.Thanks for the reminder that hobbies are fun!

    fred de Bruin, South africa

  36. Chris says:

    very nice layout

  37. Roberto says:

    Hi Ron, agree with all the positive comments above. But also, cracking idea to use a turntable to fill That Space. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to go that way too…………..

  38. Duncan says:

    I too congratulate you , very nice trackplan. What is the address for the trees & people from China at such low prices? I make my own trees but it is handy to know where to get something like these. The people look good – some European N gge efforts are not very inspiring. Thanks and thanks for encouraging others, D/

  39. I savor, result in I found exactly what I used to be taking a look for.
    You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

  40. Gerald says:

    Ron –

    Great looking layout; It’s reminiscent of Manchester to me (from all of
    the English TV programs I watch in America on PBS stations);
    I like your idea of a 6 inch (or so) backdrop which really gives your layout
    depth; Great trackwork, too!

    I am a Lionel (O gauge) collector nut. I started collecting N-gauge locos
    , cars and tracks 2 years ago. Using your layout as a guide, I will start building an N-gauge layout soon!


  41. Jay Bicknell says:

    man, first time out the chute looking great…. and on a budget too, outstanding work!

  42. ray dranoff says:

    Great job, very impressive.

  43. David says:

    Very impressed,
    Love to see a video of the working layout.

  44. Rob S. says:

    Awesome work. Keeping going!

  45. Susan Cannon says:

    Hello Ron. Great work! I have a question about the 10th photo shown – the factory that has the slanted roofs with windows to let light in. Was that a particular kit or model (I know, cardboard not plastic) that is available? Or was that all from scratch? I want to build a model of the MG factory that was in Abingdon until 1980ish and that’s exactly what I need. Thanks!

  46. Patrick Collins says:

    Good Day Ron,
    I am awed by your skill and artistry. What a great layout!. I hope I can do half as well when I finally get around to setting up my N, HO, and O gauge layouts. My wife has decided that we no longer use our dining room for dining, and is turning it over to me to use for my trains (hallelujah! for a true miracle). I want to keep them smallish so I have room for my other stuff, and you have inspired me. I hope to see some more of your work, Thanks for sharing!


  47. Joe Wrigjt says:

    Ronald, let me just say this. What you dod on that layout witj limited fundsis rather incredible. Corn flake boxes never looked so good. You track worm looks quite complex too. Thanls for showing how to do a lot with a little.

  48. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Hello Ron, Stephen G here,
    Great work there, I have O and HO g. I know as I get older I will have less room to work with, everyone seems to be down sizing. How is working with n? I still am going to put my gauges up, just got to go through all my stuff in my mancave. And start making my table that will go around the room. Anyway, great job on your train table. Next time, Stephen G.

  49. Tom says:

    Hello Ron
    Great looking layout I myself have 00 gauge layout which originally was 8ft x 4ft
    But we moved house last year and I am now in the process of rebuilding it but a larger layout as I have more room now I thought about 16ft x 3ft would be a good size and looking at your layout has given me a few good ideas, thanks for that Ron
    and again a very nice layout

  50. Bob Martin says:

    Very nice artistic layout , you’ve incorporated some great thought planning into your layout , really nice .

    Bob Martin

  51. James Sulkosky says:

    Nice layout Ron.

  52. george zaky says:

    Great job. An inspiration to all of us old kids. Lets see some trains running on a video next time please.
    Be well

  53. Mike Ilkenhons says:

    Ron… That is one of the great benefits of model railroading… details. Seeing nature and bringing it to a small scale. When we landscape and place structures….it is like a photo from our mind of what we have seen or envision. You have done exactly that and in a small space. Great job mate…

    Mike, Clermont, Fl USA

  54. Rand Martin says:

    Ron, that was an impressive layout on 3′ X 5″. I’m another recent retiree getting back into the hobby. I am learning so much from Al’s blog and those who are part of it. I too am collecting N Scale parts and accessories to start a layout and i’m am truly inspired by Ron’s layout. I hope to find space for a 3′ X 5′. Thanx to everybody

    Rand, Denison, TX

  55. David Owen says:

    Hi Ron, that’s looks fantastic and made with great imagination. Can you tell me where you got the “town” backscene; it’s just what I need?

    I live in Sale, not a million miles from you!


  56. Bill Baldwin says:

    I love a good clean desgin. Very nice work here! My one suggestion — cover the facing wood of your layout benchwork with some good furniture-grade oak boards
    (half-inch thick by 6-inch deep) long enough to hide any switch-machines and underboard wiring. Then you’ll have a real show-quality set-piece, as if it came from a toy-maker’s expo.

  57. ANDREW SCOTT says:

    Everyone before me has said it all. Very realistic with thoughtful additions.

    Please tell us the dimensions of the layout!

  58. Ron:
    Great layout. LOve the detail and how you handled the landscaping. I work in N Scale and appreciate the effort you put into this. Gives me a few ideas for my layout.

  59. I love the,buildings great job

  60. Karl Gruca says:

    great pics, i’m working on my ho scale to get ready to take pics to send to you’all

  61. Tom Danieli says:

    Great layout! Please include a track diagram in your next submission.

  62. ScenicsRme says:

    As said, very impressive job! A little light weathering with pastel powders applied with inexpensive makeup brushes would give some age and “permanence” to your buildings and roads now. I like how you did what I advocate: Make and add details to create “mini-scenes” out of each area. Considering “what is happening here?” then adding people and details that follow that thought gives interest and realism. Don’t make the scenes too pristine, add bits of trash, dirt, animals, etc that you might expect to see in real life.

  63. william janmes palmer says:

    very nice work

Leave a Reply

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