San Diego model railroad

Shotgun Tom has been back in touch with a video for the San Diego model railroad museum:

“Hi Al

First of all I want to commend you for your emails that I receive on a Daily basis about some of the wonderful model railroad layouts not only in the United States and in the United Kingdom but All Over the World that you present.

My Dad J.G.Irwin Sr. was a Real Railroad Engineer on the Santa Fe. He was the engineer who bought President Harry Truman in to San Diego in 1948. Here he is in the Santa Fe yard in 1955 on the 2357 switch engine.

San Diego model railroad

Here is my 2357 on my Layout.

San Diego model railroad

San Diego model railroad

My Plans

My Layout is custom built by Lloyds Layouts of Paramont California.

Being in Radio and Television for the last 50 years I wanted three things on my layout. A downtown area, Industrial area and a Neighborhood area.

My crossing signals, My IRWOOD sign, and my Television Tower on the Hill

My President Harry Truman car

San Diego model railroad

In the downtown area I wanted to make sure that I had an AM FM Radio and a Television station all in the same building like it used to be in the 60s.

And on my Layout a mountain with Broadcast Tower for the Television station and FM station and an AM Radio station with it’s tower down by the river.

San Diego model railroad

My KOS-AM Radio Tower by the river

My Friend John Fewel worked in Sales car lot. John came up with the slogan.

My Layout is sitting on my Pool Table so we must have a Pool Hall on the Layout.

My Billboard when I did The Morning Show at B-100-FM in San Diego

My Downtown area (4 lanes)

I recently did a LIVE webinar Tour of my Layout in my garage for the San Diego Model Railroad Museum which is located near the World Famous San Diego Zoo. My message was “Let’s keep Model Railroading Alive.”

The LIVE webinar was not only to show off my Layout but it was to raise money for the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

If some of your readers would like to make a donation to our museum it would be greatly appreciated because with COVID-19 that’s going on around the world are museum that used to be open seven days a week to the public is now only open three days a week Friday Saturday and Sunday. Our museum has four wonderful clubs N scale HO and an “O” gauge.

To make a donation just go to:

Here is the Hour Long LIVE Webinar I did:

Thank you

Shotgun Tom Kelly”

A big thanks to Tom for sharing more of his layout and the San Diego model railroad museum video.

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

model train answers

33 Responses to San Diego model railroad

  1. “Shotgun” Tom Kelly
    A voice from my youth!!!
    Love that layout.
    More to the point, This post reminded me of how many local personalities were once involved in the model railroad hobby. The “Moonlight and Violins” of comedian Jack Benny, David Rose and his backyard Live Steam Railroad, multiple Disney artists had their railroads with Ward Kimball being one of the best known… Frank Sinatra was big with Lionel… It is a very long list.
    Radio personalities were big too — And with colorful names as well.
    A different world.

  2. Really great layout. Much personal nostalgia in place. All I can say is where is Harry Truman when we so desperately need him?!!!

  3. love the pictures of the layout & the Harry Truman car.

  4. Michael Brookman says:

    Wow! I’m from the SF Bay Area, but I’ve heard of you, Shotgun! Great layout, thanks for sharing this!

  5. Robert Brady says:

    Love it, well done and I also used my pool table for a layout table, How ironic
    The Critic

  6. Robert Brady says:

    By the way Shotgun I am your age and my dad was night foreman in the boiler makers shop on the New York Central rail stationed in Croton Harmon shops, Croton on the Hudson New York. I also rode in the cab of a F7A diesel around the yard., I was 8 years old. Small world so to speak.
    The Critic

  7. Mike Walsh says:

    What? You had the layout made for you by professionals? Sorry, you are missing out on the joy of model railways, the build.

  8. Al Good says:

    Thank you very much. I recently retired from fulll time to part time at age 84. Cleanining up my desk and cleaning the track on my n scale layout.

  9. Steven says:

    This is an old viewer in Escondido. Thanks for the memories and the layout!!

  10. Erick says:

    nice layout.!!

  11. george zaky says:

    Many thanks for the show
    George from LI, NY

  12. Greg Schaefer says:

    Can I ask why the layout is on a pool table? That is a pretty expensive (and heavy) base. ctual construction of the framework? Sorry for so many questions. I just never thought about putting a layout on a pool table.

    I love the idea of the Truman train. Nice little easter egg.

  13. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. Appreciate your street scenes and the details of the buildings. And the billboards are a nice touch. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  14. Bob StClair says:

    VERY VERY NICE! Thank You for sharing


  15. Bob From Towson says:

    Tom, By having your layout built you’ve missed out on the feelings of scrunching under the layout to perform acrobatic feats of trying to complete the wiring as well as kneeling on the top of the layout to reach for an area all the while crunching one already completed!!!! Ah Yes !!! The joys of model railroading…Couldnt live with out them actually !!!!!!

  16. Walter .... Greenlawn, Long Island says:

    Nice layout ….. how much did you pay to build?

  17. Don Stine` says:


    What a flashback! “KRTH” 101 was my go to radio station, loved “Shotgun” Kelly. Listened to you in Lakewood when in High School and then in San Diego while in the Navy in between trips to the South China Sea on a Destroyer.

    Visited the San Diego Railroad museum a few times but quit going. In those days if you were a newbe just trying to learn and didn’t have a place for a “Pike”, the welcome mat was pretty small.

    Thank you Tom for keeping me entertained for hours on end, and Thank you Al, for sharing your hobby with anyone and everyone. May you both be blessed with long life and prosperity.

  18. John Morello says:

    Curious as to the size of your layout.

  19. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Wow Tom……great story…..great layout……. Railroads in your blood.

  20. Shotgun Tom,

    I am starting on my first layout with my grandkids. Could you share the dimensions of this layout please. Thank you

  21. Nancy Schweitzer says:

    Hey, Shotgun!
    You surely derive the same joy as many of us. My father’s father was a telegrapher for Great Northern in Montana. His father and two brothers were all railroadmen on the Montana and Chicago run. The telegrapher made a lot of side money adding car numbers as they road passed. Quite a math mind, that one.
    My layout is patterned after the one Dad made for we kids in 1953. I am thrilled to play trains!!
    Something great for which to be Thankful!!

  22. Pat G says:

    Hey Tom! Glad to see your layout and your promotion of the hobby. Still remember Friday nights in La Mesa and dinner after at the big table at Mickys Restaurant. Butch Martin and Shotgun on a Friday night. Yikes! Gadzooks! Still doing the deal as are you, Meter Shack, Kirby and Dr. John the dentist. Keep coming back.

  23. Scott J says:

    Tom, your KOS rendition looks suspiciously like the KHJ studio in Hollywood…is that what it is modeled after? I retired from the television industry as an engineer, and I’ve always been an avid N-scale modeler, from my days in high school in the late 60’s to current, where I have a sizeable layout in the basement based on C&NW’s run between Chicago and Minneapolis, known then as the “400.” I couldn’t believe my recent luck when I saw Kato’s commuter set had come out that represented that very line. Of course, I grabbed a couple sets and formed a consist of 10 of the old double-decker commuter coaches. I was offered a position at KHJ at some point, but when I sized up the cost of living between LA and Tucson, where I was with the ABC affiliate at the time, I stayed put. Great layout, and nice tower! Things in the broadcast arena have changed…going digital has allowed multiple stations to use the same studio, as well now that MPEG4 compression has arrived, most of the stations have at least 4 sub-channels…which makes for more ad revenue! There’s another station in the area that houses two TV stations and 4 radio stations, just like in the old days. I guess history is repeating itself!

  24. Great layout! Great job on the video! I can’t believe I watched the whole thing for
    over an hour! Tom, you were very entertaining. Again, great job! Thanks!

  25. I want to thank all of you for your comments about my layout. It is much appreciated. Please forgive me for not telling you the size of my layout it is 10‘ x 7‘. And also I neglected to tell you that my layout has a motor that lifts the Layout off my pool table so we could play pool. The pool lights are mounted under the layout. My Layout sits on my Ohlhausen Championship pro pool table.

    Yes, I did not build my Layout but I am adding details on to the Layout like building two buildings and adding final touches on my layout like building microwave dishes out of ping-pong balls. If you cut a circle out of a ping-pong ball you create your own microwave dish that could be put on my standard Transmitter link on the television station.

  26. Bobby B says:

    My pool table is a Ohlhausen Championship pro Billiard table also w/ Blue felt.
    The Critic

  27. Peter Pocock says:

    What a fantastic ambassador for our hobby. Well done Tom. I can see you have well and truly been “infected” Don’t try for a cure, there is none, only fantastic relief. Thankyou.

  28. Don says:

    the toy cars like the stingray are awesome & having the American flag is awesome, love the configuration of the track & the Little Debbie delivery truck the auto dealership, great detail through out.

  29. Woody Thompson says:

    Hey Shotgun I really enjoy your show on XM! I’m in Texas and was not familar with your show previous to XM.

  30. Arthur Romano says:

    Many years ago I went to the Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. It was quite an experience. Could have stayed there for day. They modeled some super long trains on scaled mountain passes and along the Pacific coast.
    Very cool. I’m not sure if it is still there.

  31. Norman r Rosen says:

    Shotgun, listen to you every day on Sirius XM; I knew St. John was here, but had no idea that you are also here in San Diego; I am Solana Beach. Beautiful layout, excellent video.

  32. John Vandenbor says:

    Those look like the curtains from the Johnny Carson Tonight show in the background! Looks cool!

  33. Gary Stenberg says:

    Greetings Shotgun Tom Kelly!

    I really liked seeing your layout published, and also seeing it in person at the National Model Railroad Association – PSR meet’s layout tour a couple of years ago. It is nice to sometimes see you at the San Diego Model Railroad Association’s layout in the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, California (and thanks for the Oreo’s). The mini display that you currently have at the Museum, with the tribute to your dad, is a very nice touch. I noticed in the comments that some folks, years ago, did not feel a friendly welcome at the museum. They sure didn’t come when you were there! Talk about a friendly welcome…well you’re it. Hope to see you and your Smokey Bear hat soon.

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