HO DCC layout – Scott’s

Scott has been in touch with his HO DCC layout:


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.

laying track for HO DCC layout

laying track for HO DCC layout
Track plan for inner loop.

HO DCC layout track plan

HO scale town

HO scale houses

HO scale bridge

HO DCC layout shops

HO DCC layout shops

HO scale waterfall

HO scale KFC

HO scale park statue

HO DCC layout county courthouse

HO DCC layout houses

HO scale playground

HO scale rock climbers

HO scale buildings

HO scale KFC restarant

HO DCC layout radio mast

HO scale platform

HO DCC layout factory

HO scale police chase

HO DCC layout theatre

HO scale model railroad platfrom

Hope you enjoy.


What a layout – a big thanks to Scott for sharing his HO DCC 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 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.

56 Responses to HO DCC layout – Scott’s

  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:

    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:

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

  10. Carl Flowers says:

    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:


    Gteat Falls. How did you make them?


  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.

  32. Bill Sweet says:

    I love the waterfall. It looks like it’s in motion.

  33. Greg Marples says:

    I enjoyed seeing the older items used in a new layout, it gives just a bit of a “toy train” or “Lionel” feel to a mostly realistic scene. Fun! I hope you get your track issues resolved, I probably would have tried to make my old stuff work too, if I had it laying around!

  34. Scott, very nicely done by you and wife and very creative; it appears to flow well and not overcrowded. I too look at various items and think how they can be used on a layout. I currently am working on another Lionel O gauge and will look forward to sending in some photos. Just wanted to mention that most 1/2 gallon drink/juice cartons have a ‘pull tab’ plastic security/safety round disk you must pull off before drinking. I have used that ‘pull tab’ on layout commercial building roofs as an air ventilator cover; perhaps a small note here, but an example of how creative we can be with many items we use or discard daily. Again, Scott, a most enjoyable layout and my compliments to Alistair for allowing us the opportunity to view all the layouts and information from all the subscribers.
    Stef from Port Charlotte FL/Middleton, MA USA

  35. Stephen Hill says:

    As a beginner of this amazing hobby I am just bowled over and astonished at the incredible volume of detail involved in Scott and his wife’s display . I garner excitement and ideas from viewing and reading what y’all have done , just amazing stuff . Thank you for your inspiration .

  36. TJK says:

    Nice job. It is a hobby, it is not a competition.
    Seriously, you call out the modeler for a car not in proper scale. I don’t get it.
    Enjoy your layout! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Dave S. says:

    Scott and Sandra: Great job on the layout! 30 years ago I built a 4×8 HO layout for my two sons to enjoy while they were growing up. It sat unused for 15 years. I have now started building a new larger HO set in another space for my 3 young grandchildren. I made the “mistake” of trying to use as much of the old track, turnouts, and trains as possible. I struggled with derailments and uncoupling from the start. I finally replaced the old Atlas points with new PECO ones and laid new track in problem areas. The old trains ran better but still uncoupled at various places that caused me to further delay permanently placing scenery. Then I bought two new DC locomotives and 16 new cars (with magnetic knuckle couplers and steel wheels) and now run two new trains around the layout without any problems! All my old trains sit the the rail yards where they now belong. You may want to invest in at least one new loco and several new cars and see if that solves your problem. Good luck!

  38. Erick says:

    Looks pretty kool. I hope mine turns out that good.

  39. Jim Kennedy says:

    I am amazed when modelers come up with displays this size and elaborate. One or more of three things seem to come into play here. First, they have a very very good wife who supports their hobbies. Secondly, they must live by themselves to have that much room available to build such displays. Thirdly their funds seem to be unlimited I say all this somewhat tongue-in-cheek because I wish that I was in such a position as to be able to do something like that. He might need to go and give his significant other an extra kiss tonight or purchase a nice gift to say thank you for being so understanding. Great display regardless of the randomness or other things, Impressive!

  40. Ruben Simon says:

    What a fantastic display of artistry, creativity, and workmanship. Thanks for contributing to Al’s site.

  41. 1880 Prospectors Ghost Thanks for your thoughts.Some people do spend a long time and enjoy picking holes in ,well, just about anything. Some of us do however appreciate the amount of work that goes into a layout such as Scotts. I think if you look at my previous submission it is full of praise for this layout and the builders have obviously put a lot of time and effort to create such a layout. My comments and many others on this site are not to upset the builders or bring them down but to acknowledge that there layout is outstanding however, there maybe small items that could be revisited that if changed would lift the the layout even more. It is friendly constructive comment. I’m sure that many people who do submit appreciate a fresh set of eyes looking at their layout and pointing out however small items that could be revisited. These are scale models and if possible should be in scale.

  42. Mr. Ron from So Mississippi says:

    Robert, I noticed the same thing. It sure looks like Donald Trump.

  43. Mr. Ron from So Mississippi says:

    I hope they don’t fire that cannon in the park. It could destroy the whole town.

  44. Terry Price says:

    2 Thumbs up to 1880 Prospectors Ghost commit. I wish some of the so called critics would send pics of their layout. Scott, great layout. Just saying. BTW, Donald looks good on there.

    Pappy from East TN.

  45. Nice creative ideas throughout

  46. Ellis James English says:

    Thanks for sharing, your layout is like a large amusement park, it takes many visits many stop and go’s to take it all in. I in my mind was visually taken back to days and times in many of your scenes. That to me is what it is all about, oh your trains entertained as well as your scenery. Thank you………

  47. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Great when husband and wife cooperate and coordinate in model railway building and that the aim is fun and Rule 1 applies. If the railway encourages the grandchildren – who of course have no idea of ‘prototypical’ to be modellers in the future – then it will be a job well done. Exhibition wise realism seems to be the ‘coming thing’ but an overall increase in the hobby and the joys it can bring are paramount.

  48. Rich B. says:

    Real critics OK, lmao. For starters the layout is fabulous, everything actually looks right (especially the water(s), well thought out- great modeling…

    Now, to really hit the nail on the head. It’s the scale manuf(s). that never get it right. Ropes and lines look like hawsers, no ships in sight. The Atlas trusses are the norm and such would be good only if they had structured bridgework to hold the track up between piers. Sure, creosoted timbers and planking of sort… come-on Atlas you should know better after over 1/2 century here! Horn hook couplers vs what’s out there today, DUH!

    It’s just these toyish things are very noticeable, taking the entire layout down with all the other top-notch work that was done there. Gee, maybe I can write up another Encylopedia Britannia here and make absolutely no point at all. It’s called constructive criticism! So you have the guy walking along with half a roll of toilet paper dragging behind him, you know what he just did. DON’T say anything to him other than good news (wrong answers here- period).


  49. Brian Olson says:

    10 out of 5 Stars!

  50. John Philip Ruetz says:

    Great layout. The waterfall caught my eye right away. I love the whole layout. This shows that two minds are better than one. You both did a great job.

  51. Frank says:

    What a gorgeous layout. A tremendous amount of detail. Bravo!

  52. Kenneth R Fox says:

    I’m really impressed by the color combinations used on the mountains, water falls, streams and ponds, and especially the trees. The layout is just the right combination of rural and urban, not too much town, not crowded, and for the most part, unique with the features, and use of the scenery. I’m not usually too hot with the use of elevated track, but this was done utilizing the space to raise the track in appropriate areas. Overall, good job, even with the military plane.

  53. Steve Ruple says:

    Real nice layout, lot of nice scenery, great job !!!!!!

  54. robert dale tiemann says:

    love the terrain. very good jb. i also have the old style kfc restaurant havent put it on my setyet, but hopefully soon.

  55. Dave Karper says:

    Those that can, build. Those that can’t, destructively criticize. Be advised, this in no way is meant to demean constructive criticism.

  56. william james palmer says:


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