Model railroad Christmas

Laurence has been in touch. He’s made sure someone is going to have a very happy model railroad Christmas:

“Hi Al,

Santa contacted me about 8 weeks ago asking if I could possibly help him. He told me a little boy has dreamed of having a train set for several years now and has spoken to him as well as writing to him. As he is extremely busy at this time of year he decided to contact me. So as Santa knows he’s been a really good boy this year he decided to grant his wish.

It’s only a small layout 5 feet x 3ft 4″ as he is a limited for space. I’ve tried to keep it simple but with enough to keep him interested without cluttering it up too much.

I can tell you Al it’s been like working in the North Pole at times in my garage but I think it’s been worth it.

Wishing you all A Very Merry Christmas,

Best Wishes

Laurence Johnston”

model train layout

model train steam engine

model train layout

model train road

model railway station

model railway

Model railroad Christmas present

Model railroad Christmas present

Model railroad Christmas present

Model railroad Christmas christmas present

Model railroad Christmas

model train layout

Model railroad Christmas present light

For a 5ft by 3ft layout, I think Laurence has done a superb job. The night scenes look fab. I’ll bet someone has a very merry model railroad Christmas!

Now on to Dave:

“Hi Al…

Just posted my Christmas Video with the Railway, a bit of fun for all, just like to add all the very Best to yourself and family, and of course to all the members have a great Christmas and Hopefully a better New Year with more fun with our model Railways.



Well, I hope you are feeling festive and have a very happy model railroad Christmas!

I always wonder whether it’s too early to post the Christmas layouts, and then before I know it, it’s too late.

A big thanks to Dangerous Dave and Laurence.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if fancy rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

53 Responses to Model railroad Christmas

  1. John Meehan says:

    Love them both! Great work gents!

  2. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Outstanding layout.

    Merry Christmas to all,and a Happy New Year

  3. Scott Hise says:

    Very nice layout if it was a real place to live I would like it and the lighting in the houses very nicely done

  4. Jeff Calhoun says:

    What guage? A lot crammed into a tiny space. I have a similar space but have been unable to have an incline and descent such that engines have enough traction for climbing as well as enough space for corners. Do you have a track layout? This is the most amazing one yet.

  5. Kenneth Seegert says:

    Amazing what good quality work keeps me interested in what you can do.

  6. George Reid says:

    I’m guessing this is N scale?

  7. Terry Brett says:

    I would just like to thank Dave for his entertaining and instructive videos this year. A wide variety of topics have left me enthralled. Never boring, thanks again.

  8. Eric says:

    Excellent work there Laurence, looks like Santa has a wonderful present for the boy.

  9. Tom Durham says:

    You are a GOOD man, Lawrence Johnston…and a GOOD modeler. Merry Christmas to you, your family and the young boy who will never forget your (oops, Santa’s) kindness.

  10. steven neely says:

    Nice Job Laurence ,
    we all know how Santa and his helpers infect children with ” Model Railroading Disease ” that little layout will soon grow and take over the house and the boy .
    It happened at my neighbor’s house 5 years ago after Santa asked my neighbour if it was ok to give her 6 yr old grandson who she was raising a train set , the 4 x 8 layout that the Elves set up in her basement has more then doubled in size and there’s now trains in every part of her house .
    Steve ( one of Santa’s many helpers )

  11. steven neely says:

    Dave , Nice work Modeling and editing your videos , always enjoy watching them

  12. David Hannan says:

    Super model! How old is the boy? Encouraging younger people into the hobby is very important. For older “boys” (over 55) a train set is something rather special. I hope he appreciates the time and effort Father Christmas has put into making it …. along with his Elves!

  13. Laurence Johnston says:

    Thanks for all your kind comments. The person who asked for the scale and layout plans. It’s oo gauge the curves are the first and connected with two sets of points and flexy track for the sidings. It’s only the road that’s elevated the track is flat on the board. Many thanks for your interest.
    Best Wishes,

  14. Dave Braun says:

    Great job Laurence! Would you consider sharing the layout? I would love to try to do something similar.

  15. Eddie Roberts says:

    I am starting a new layout with N gauge trains and would like to know what size I need to build My buildings,, I don’t like the plastic models and I’m sticking with the older engines so I have a desire to design all of the buildings for this layout,will be retiring soon and will have plenty of time to design everything I’ll need for the layout..Thanks in advance for any information and ideas You can throw at Me.

  16. Appookta says:

    I’m jealous of that little boy!

  17. Rob McCrain says:

    A very nice layout. Laurence. Rob

  18. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    Nice work Laurence!

    What a star you are. I am so impressed by the effort you have put in.

  19. NJ Mark says:

    Merry Christmas to Santa’s best helper, Laurence, and to Dangerous Dave for some really wonderful visuals. Amazing work! Cheers! NJ Mark

  20. rocco maley says:

    Very nice layout. Is this in “N” scale or “ho” ?

  21. David says:

    Nice layout.


  22. Ian Ford says:

    Looks like a very well designed lay out for a young lad
    Well Done



  23. Ken Tiedeman says:

    God Bless you, Laurence! No small undertaking from a great big heart!

  24. paul Otway says:

    It looks real good, but please explain why 4472 is pulling a Great Western autoCoach, perhaps the railway is model of a preservered railway.?

  25. Rod Mackay says:

    I sympathise with the comment about how cold it is in a garage, I made a 6×4 for my son for Christmas in our garage and could hardly see what I was doing for steamy breath, he was duly appreciative but in hindsight I think he preferred to have more he could do himself/move around/complete than a fait accompli as perfect as Laurence’s. The layout really casme into its own later on when he and his mates were into wargaming, many a battle was fought over the prime defensive positions round the engine sheds.

  26. Bernard Schainholtz -Still Plays says:

    As for your lighting, don’ t forget, after Christmas many stores andpharmacies have great sales on leftover led lights and ornaments that can be modified or taken apart to use on your layouts.
    Bernie still plays.

  27. d j howarth says:

    Well done this rate you will have a layout bigger than mine in a few years time ..nice one ..Dangerous Dave

  28. Soren Lippert says:

    For the N-gauge starter, I can tell you that N-scale is 1:160, meaning that 1 cm in the model represents 160 cm of reality. The normal track width (literally the “gauge”) is 9 mm measured between the rails. Humans would thus be from 11 to 12,5 mm high. I suggest that you photograph some nice houses and other (railway?) structures that you might use. At the same time measure a few of the doors, windows etc in the photos. Also bike wheels are useful for scale determination. This will give you a good fact base and some inspiration for your scale building work. I fully agree with your distate for the “plasticky” look of most commercially availabe model buildings.
    One more comment, if you are not fully committed to N-scale: Working in this scale makes it possible to have a lot of track in constrained rooms. However, if you are especially in the model building aspect of railway modeling, 1:160 is difficult. The details are quite small and fiddly to work with (a person’s hand would be 0.5 mm wide). At least too small for my taste, so I have chosen to work in HO-scale 1:87. Given that I have a smallish room available, My track plans have been a challenge – but for me it’s a good part of the fun. Happy modeling!

  29. Jim Brady says:

    Your model railroad you built for a kid is wonderful. But you made one mistake. I spent my whole career working with kids, and what I learned as a YMCA youth director was “Only what youth does, is truly theirs.” It should have been less complete, wiring and lighting partial, and some scenery unfinished. Then he would know the joy of accomplishment, and shared with you the joy of creating. Kids learn by doing and sharing their accomplishments. A crooked house is more beautiful when he builds it, or better yet builds it with you. Beautiful layout for us, now…how do you make it HIS ?

  30. Helmut Eppich says:

    Pictures of layout and Dave’s excellent video always bring home the diversity and intricate complexity of detailing that goes into these great layouts. Never ceases to amaze! Happy Holidays!

  31. Brian Law says:

    As always I love Dangerous Dave’s video but can I put in a plea —what about a “Steam Weekend” video, just like on NYMR

    Best wishes to all


  32. Pamela Poe says:

    Very, very nice! Reminds me of the Christmas train garden that was set up at our local fire house when I was young. They would dim the lights and let it run with the lighted trains, buildings and Christmas lights.

    Everyone have a safe and wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year!

  33. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great layout Laurence, I am sure you are going to get more orders from santa.
    great video Dave.

  34. David says:

    Looks great Laurence. Super job. I hope the young boy cherishes it for a lifetime.

  35. Chris Lafferty says:

    Can I ask if Dave has connections with Glasgow, I see a couple of what could be references to Glasgow on his fantastic layout, please feel free to pass on my email address

  36. Steve Roberts says:

    Another entertaining video Dave, and a brilliant layout by Laurence, so much in a small space, presuming it’s OO scale. Nice job.

  37. Malcolm Chapman says:

    Hi Alastair.

    I have been recieving your E-mails for sometime now and I do enjoy reading them and looking at the photo’s & vids that people send in. I am bulding at my 4th attempt a 20’x2′ end to end, hopefully this time I will get finished before I move and the only time i will move is into an old folks home. LOL. What I don’t see is railways going through the country side, which in the U.K. is quite a lot as in other countries. All seem to be in town/city centres. Keep the e-mails coming.


  38. James Maitland says:

    WOW! Outstanding work. I guess this means my “undertree”: O gauge layout is greatly outclassed as the tree is my scenery. We have two trees and the smaller one has a 1940 Lionel 027 running under it. This tree is decorated with B & O, John Deere and Toys for Tots ornaments.

  39. Lee Hirsch says:

    For the unnamed ‘N’ scale starter. Take a look at the many card stock buildings available on this site. They can be sized perfectly for ‘N’ scale. The directions say to copy to regular paper and then glue to card stock, but I copy directly to card stock, making sure I set the printer for using that type of ‘paper’. I found some linen textured card stock at a office supply store. I copied a couple of the houses directly to the card stock, they came out super! The extra texture allowed me to weather with pastel powdered chalks, which stuck better than to the plain card stock. I did discover that a fine mist of ‘Dull coat’ spray on the model BEFORE weathering made the chalk stick much better to the plain card. Some models might not look so good on the linen card, those need the plain card. Enjoy yourself. Remember: Useable is better than perfect! Take a look at your work from at least 3 feet away. If it looks OK, use it. In ‘N’ scale, don’t sweat the small stuff ….. it’s ALL small stuff! LOL Lee

  40. TJK says:

    Great job Laurence!!!! The recipient of your labor will be overjoyed……..
    But, the feeling you get upon the child receiving your gift will outweigh everything.
    Your kind efforts will be rewarded…..TJK

  41. George Zaky says:

    Great job and noble cause. You have a comrade in arms working in a freezing garage.
    You never disappoint. Awesome movie. Your contribution to this site is immeasurable and is a joy to behold. I think I can speak for a large fan base and wish you and yours good health and tidings for this Christmas and a great New Year. Much thanks.
    Big Al
    Its that time again when we reflect on the past year. The world is going where I dont want it to go but our Hobby is as steadfast as can be. You have been such a major factor bringing comfort & joy to myself and a world of others. God bless you & yours.
    Ahh – A cup of Jo, Laurence doing good and a D.D. Christmas movie. Now this is good stuff.
    Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year!!

  42. Don R - Florida, USA says:

    Not only does Dave have a magnificent layout, but he is a master with a video camera. Thanks for the Holiday greetings, Dave. And the same back to you from Florida.

  43. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice lighting. i like it a lot.

  44. Bob From Towson says:

    It would help all of us train lovers if the folk’s showing pictures of their layouts include a description of gauge whether it is HO, S, O or even N scale.

  45. Norman Kayler says:

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you Dave and your little friends! Keep up the good work 🚂🚂🚂

  46. Steve Ruple says:

    Very nice layout Laurence. Dave that was a very nice Christmas video, I’m not that good at doing videos but I love how you put all of things into your videos, I wish that I knew how, maybe some day I’ll have to try it !!!! Merry Christmas to everyone on this site. It’s an awesome site Alastair !!!!!!!!

  47. Robert Muhme says:

    Laurence, great job helping out Santa for the little boy! Dave, great special effects for your Christmas greetings video!
    Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to you Al, and all model RRers around the World!
    Bob the N scaler in MI and AZ

  48. Sam H. Maryland, USA says:

    Nice small Christmas layout. Looks great.

    Dave is at it again. His videos always entertain.

    Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.

  49. Kelvin the Celt says:

    Laurence said it was cold in his garage but not as cold as Dave’s loft where it snows!!! Hope Santa brings Dave some heating for Christmas. Happy Christmas Al and everyone, Kelvin the Celt.

  50. Lee from Sweden says:

    What scale is the layout?

  51. Dave Karper says:

    Laurence:May you have a full lifetime of Merry Christmases, from Santa”s father. Yes he is a member of the Natural Bearded Santas, which is a true, legitimate organization.He does it all voluntarily. If any of those that he Santas for insist on paying him, he signs the check and hands it back, telling them to donate it to a charity in their name. Also, he is a retired Amtrak engineer. Dave: I may not make comments about your railroad, but I never miss any of them. It hink your work is absolutely out of this world. Merry Christmas and a safe and model railroad prosperous New Year.

  52. Andrew Ball says:

    That’s one lucky boy, the layout looks great.
    Is there still time for me to write to Santa?! LOL

  53. Dave A Bellian says:

    What an outstanding video with the special effects. Thank you and Merry Christmas .

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