Scott’s 104sq ft HO scale layout

“Alastair:

Over a year ago, I posted some pics of the DCC HO layout my wife and i have been working on since December and wanted to send you an update.

Many years ago I had an HO DC layout in a spare bedroom with mountains built into the walls and very difficult under table access to the parts of the layout where the train always derailed.

That layout came down due to a ceiling leak and i put the track, table and buildings (many of which i have had since I was a child in the 50s and 60s) into the attic in my garage.

In December, when our grandson was almost one, my wife and i started work on the present HO DCC layout in the basement.

My wife insisted on not putting the layout against the walls so access wold be easy and people could walk around and see the table from all angles. This turned out to be a brilliant idea as i no longer had to worry about placing every building so you could see the font of it and no longer had to crawl under the table to fix problems.

The table is designed to be seen from a height of three feet and the top is 5/8″ plywood squares screwed into 3/4′ x 34′ planks with 36′ x 1 3.4′ wood legs (unfortunately i did not install screw in spacers and has to use shims to level the table on the tiled basement floor.

The table surface measures 13 3/4′ x 5′ plus 7′ x 5′ for total area of 104 sq. ft.

The track is old Atlas brass code 100.

The trains are DCC with NE Powercab controller.

We have 15 turnout switches and dc light bulbs in most of the buildings powered by an old Sound and Power & Light 9001 transformer. The bridge lights are X-Mas lights.

The setting is small town and rural 50s and early 60s. I run Broadway limited diesel and steam engines and many of my cars are from the 50s and 60s including the nuclear waste and chicken cars that light up and the nuclear missile and helicoptor carriers.

We have about 85 buildings, some of which are older than me (67) including a cardboard Purina Chow factory, old plasticville buildings, and a wooden butcher shop made from a German (possibly pre-war) kit where the roof lifts off so you can see the slabs of meat and the meat grinder on the counter.

We have more than 200 people and animals and hundreds of trees. We try to use natural substances where possible. Actual sand, rocks, flowers or twigs or grape vines for trees.

Mountains are mostly old school wire mesh covered in plaster cloth. Snow is dried out plaster sanded into flakes.

My wife finds ways to use household items or items you would normally throw away: the tear off seals on eggbeater boxes become radar dishes for the air control tower; paper clips and screening become wire mesh fences, the metal at the bottom of small glass candle holders become bases for the runway lights and interior building lights, the raft in our lake was modeled after one we saw in Antigua and is made from the plastic covers on office phones that are labelled line 1 and line 2 with paper clips for the rails, the windmills are made from discarded electric tooth brush stems with bristles pulled out, the farm silo is a toilet paper role with a rubber cap from some household item, the green rope swng in the school playground is a clip from something, the air unit on the roof of Kentucky Fried Chicken was moisture absorbant from a package we received.

The layout consists of two lines. The inner was based on Atlas HO No. 16 6 x 10 and the outer as freelanced with an elevation to 3”.

My wife designs the towns, does the streets and sidewalks, makes all of the signs, and is in charge of placement of people because everyone has a story and placement of each person must fit their story.

The two main towns are named for our grandchildren.

The industrial park is named for a friend who helped procure a number of the buildings. The houses are named for family and friends. When one couple told us they were moving, my wife had a for sale sign on their property the next day.

Here is the Atlas design for interior run and a pic of the layout in early days which was changed slightly to make the bridge cross water before turning.

HO scale model railroad

HO scale modelrailway

Track plan for inner loop.

HO scale

HO model railroad







Ho railroad

HO scale railway

JO modelrailway

HO scale model railroad

model railroad fastfood

model train courthouse

model railroad autumn scene

model railroad play area

model train town scene

model railroad radio tower

train platform

model train factory

model railroad platform

Hope you enjoy.

Scott”

What a layout – there’s a lot going on, but doesn’t look crowded. I loved it.

I’m sure some will wonder where the trains are. All in good time. Remember, a layout can be whatever you want it to be.

What’s more, this layout and Joe’s 10×12, proves a point in my mind. Over the years I’ve noticed the layouts which have had a theme from day one of the build, always look a lot more convincing – but you’ll appreciate, that’s just my opinion.

Please do leave a comment below if you agree- I’d love to know what you all think.

A huge thanks to Scott.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget The Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to grab the bull by the horns and get going on your very own layout.

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

31 Responses to Scott’s 104sq ft HO scale layout

  1. James says:

    I enjoyed looking at all your creative detail work!

  2. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi Scott. Plenty going on to entertain the viewer. I would suggest your more into scenery building than running the trains. Nothing wrong with that of course. Your waterfall looks very good does look like it is flowing fat down the falls. One thing and this is a small one is your attention to scale. There are one or two small items that look well over scale. I would suggest you pass a critical eye over each part as you complete to ensure that all is in. Great work can you send in a video of the trains running. Again well done thanks for submitting

  3. Cary B says:

    Hello Scott and Wife, your layout certainly has a wonderful mix of so many interesting scenes. The water scenes are very well done. I’m sure the grandkids get much enjoyment from this wonderful layout. Thank for sharing
    Cary from New Market Maryland

  4. george zaky says:

    Scott
    Great job. Even better that you and the “coach” worked on it. Thanks so much for the informative narration. So many great modellers leave out the details that a guy like me craves for. BTW xmas lights on 12V AC, though hot after a while, seem to last forever. Loved it.
    I wish you the joy we have and had with our grandkids & Grandpa’s trains. Nothing better.
    Be well & safe
    George from LI, NY

  5. Robert Brady says:

    Scot, Was that a white print you purchase to build from or did you draw this plan up?
    If the latter, Why ? + Ur radius’s should have been at least 22 for as many turns that you have. If you have 85 ft passenger cars they’ll keel on you / \.

  6. Jim marek says:

    Man what a job you and your wife did. Looks fantastic and the details are spot on. Would like to see a train or two running. Any way great job.

  7. steve simpson says:

    just great,

  8. Bruce in SC USA says:

    It’s an individuals train layout using his wits and items on hand. Even though some items may be out of scale….who gives a hoot! It’s in the work enjoyment and it is a personal “layout”…
    Above all, it’s a grand layout worthy to be placed in anyone’s home.

  9. Steve Cottle says:

    scott
    loved your layout pics. nice touches and exhibits by your wife. wonderful you can do this together.

  10. Carl Flowers says:

    Spectacular!
    The closeups show great detail and fun stuff!
    Thanks for the aerial view of entire layout and the diagram!

  11. Erick says:

    I like it, Where did you get the Santa Fe signal tower.

  12. Tony Banks says:

    Great pictures of all the work you’ve done, especially before and after. The waterfall looks great. I like the idea of a plan, and following it. That’s sometimes hard as you pick up pieces, one at a time come out of flea market or something like that. That’s your wife is so supportive and an equal partner is really wonderful

  13. Al Otis says:

    Very nice layout, well done.

  14. Mike Balog says:

    Hi Scott and your Misses… Did a Great Job with adapting an Old Atlas H.O. Scale Layout Plan come to life..,. Especially for your Grandkids to enjoy. Your Wife did a great job reusing common household items, planning and scenicing the layout. Wish more Wives took an interest in their Husband’s Hobbies, like your wife does. I Liked the Waterfall, reminds me of taking real photos stopping down the lens, and changing the shutter speed to get a “blurry stop motion effect” of the water going over the rocks. I Bit of Critizem, I would consider buying balsa wood, or plastic spruces, that look like I Beams to put beneath the Elevated Track.. That would not look as if the tracks are suspended midair between the piers! Could put Fences between the buildings and the Pond and other areas along side the tracks for safety. Trying to figure out why there is a Cross Buck Signal facing the Train in one of your photos.. Normally they are used on roads, facing Traffic that go over the railroad crossing. Liked the Farm Scene with the tree line serving as a fence on their property line. A good hint on using the plastic buildings and people, you could spray them with a clear flat solution to dull the shiny appearance. Liked the Union Station Scene, you could put a another track there just for the passenger train cars separate from the Freight Cars for the Weekly Herald Newspaper.. that needs a roofing contractor to repair the broken and missing glass. For more reliable passenger service you could use 22 radius track to give the passenger cars a more realistic ride on the rails. Just a Hint.. Thanks for sharing your efforts and your railroad too. Mike in N.H. U.S.A.

  15. Ruben Simon says:

    I read Al’s, “I’m sure some will wonder where the trains are,” and immediately thought, “Trains? Oh, yeah! That’s what this website is about…” 😀 Great work, Scott! My “someday” layout will be mostly about people with a single train track running around the edge to hide my real motive of playing with dolls… Wait – that doesn’t sound right… ;-D

  16. Don Nesslage says:

    Scott,

    Gteat Falls. How did you make them?

    Don

  17. Don Nesslage says:

    Great Falls!!! How did you make them??

  18. 1880 Prospectors Ghost says:

    I normally don’t comment, I just enjoy looking at what others have created. But in this case, I have to make a comment.
    Freelance? ?? Let’s sort of establish the term “freelance” in unofficial language terms. “Freelance” basically means “that the imagination can run wild, and anything goes whether it is realistic or not, or true to scale or not”. The idea is that each item is “supposed to” come close to representing something in real life even if it doesn’t exactly match up, measure up, or toe the line in realism. As the old adage goes “To each his (or her), own”. Just as in giving gifts or sending out cards during Christmas. It not the reality, it’s the thought that counts.
    Let’s face reality people, (or should I say “critics”?). Realism is fine and dandy if that’s what you have in mind and want to do, or insist upon doing. Some people have tons of money to spend upon items for realism and scale. Some people have very little money so they have to use their imagination in finding something of which (at least in their minds), might represent an item even if it isn’t true to realistic realism or reality. I know. Been there, done that continuously over and over many times throughout my life.
    Let me barrow a phrase “MacGyverism”. My whole life has been a life of “MacGyverism”. I think, and speak highly of this couple of whom have continuously used “MacGyverism” in building their layout. So. To those critics of whom insist that something looks out of place because it isn’t true to scale, or true to realism, or isn’t realistic. Both, my words, and my thoughts are “So What”, and “Big Deal”, it’s the thought that counts about what it is supposed to represent, not that it meets realism, or true to scale.
    This couple has done a fine job in imaginative representation. So, in all reality, who cares if some of their items are not fully realistic, or not true to scale. This is their layout, not yours. Far be it from “Politically Correct” critics belittling their layout because some things (items), are not realistic or true to scale, it’s the thought that counts. My hat’s off to both their ingenuity, and their “MacGyverism” techniques. To Scott and his wife, Thank You for a job well done. To the “Politically Correct” Critics, “Pipe Down”, keep quiet, and enjoy such a wonderful layout created out of imagination, it’s their layout not yours.

  19. Don R - Florida, USA says:

    Where did you find the rock climbers? I am searching for some for my payout. My grandson is a climber, and I told him I would include them in my scenery.
    Preiser did have some, but evidently has discontinued them.

  20. Bob From Towson says:

    Hello Wife (no name ) & Scott, I have to say this is a wonderful layout. It made me feel like I was there in the fall season immediately!!! I love it when modelers take the time and lots of patience with their layouts so as to add realism……Thank You for allowing all of us to see it!!!

  21. Jim AZ says:

    Nicely done. You have created many great and realistic scenes on your layout. Job well done. Some of your buildings go way back, Plasticville maybe? I’ll bet some of them even “snap together “. Just kidding. But I have several of your buildings incorporated on my layout as well. Again, great modeling and thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  22. Bob From Towson says:

    Great Layout Scott % Wife (no name ), Love the fall look too….

  23. Dewey Reinhard says:

    I really like your layout a lot. The creative thinking and use of existing materials make it all the more interesting to me. Having your wife helping is wonderful.

  24. tim says:

    I like the modifications made to the printed track plan. The outer and elevated loop nicely ties it together and left an excellent area for scenic development. I always look for a way to reverse the engine direction. There are 3 short spurs facing a flower pot. A “Y” may have fit there. Lol. Really admire the work of you both on detailing! Hope you had a lot of fun building it. Looks great.

  25. Ronald Demma says:

    I think your layout is amazing ! I am 71 and have 027 gauge trains that my cousin gave to me before he off to the Korean war 1954.I also have pre war 2 tinplate trains from the30’s.I will be building my first layout that doesn’t go around the Christmas tree.don’t worry about scale use what you and your wife have collected.Memories are more important than scale.Can I rent you wife to my scenery! Tinplate ron

  26. Clark Corn says:

    I absolutely love this – thanks for sharing!

  27. Peter says:

    Those houses with red tiles roofs look like the German Faller kits. I still have several of them that I build as a kid.

  28. Robert says:

    Great layout just one question was that chap in the blue jacket hailing a cab outside plasticville station Donald trump?

  29. That’s a lot of layout. Great job. Love to see a train or two running.

  30. Christopher Clarkson says:

    Your layout is the bomb. I wish that I had a layour just like yours. I think your layout is realistic. I love how you go through great lengths to create a town like the one you have there. Simply put, I wished that I had a train layout just like the one you have here. Your layout knocks me off my feet, and there are no two ways about it. None whatsoever.

  31. thank you all for your comments. this post is actually more than a year old and come the fall my wife, Sandra, and i will focus on ting the trains to run better (may have to bite the bullet and replace the old brass rails from my childhood with new nickel silver). Inside track was old Atlas plan – and yes, i should have switched to 22 radius track. Santa Fe tower from Ebay.as were Woodland Scenic mtn climbers. I did fill in under elevated track as suggested and have added more fences which i make myself. some bldgs are Plasticville and others are older German kits. Will try to do update video when trains are running better.

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