HO scale atlas track

Scott’s been back in touch with an update on his HO scale atlas track:

“Alastair: I love your site.

Over a year ago, I posted some pics of the DCC HO layout my wife and i have been working on since December 2017 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 layout is made from old HO scale Atlas track (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

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale Atlas track

HO scale police dog

HO cars workmen

HO platform

Hope you enjoy.


What a layout – there’s a lot going on, but doesn’t look crowded. I loved it. A big thanks to Scott for sharing his HO scale atlas track.

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.

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.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

34 Responses to HO scale atlas track

  1. Peter says:

    Hi Scott,
    Congratulations, great layout.
    I am interested to know how you made the running river with rocks in it.

  2. Fantastic layout!
    Nice details…
    Very well done…

  3. Peter Waring says:

    Scott, super layout and building detail. Love the reuse of unwanted everyday items in your modelling, very inspiring. Thanks Peter…

  4. Paul says:

    Excellent layout lots of detail and love the just got married car,nice to see the plans and final finished project.Really nice job all round .

  5. Butch L. Legarth says:

    Awesome layout , you & your wife put a lot of time into this layout! Butch

  6. Rich B. says:

    Yes, I like this layout. Super detailed and the season appears early Winter with the dead foliage and trees, never would of given a thought to… A bit of the aerosol snow here and there would really work with this. Appears to be one of the Atlas layout plans from the 1950’s.

    Regards, Rich

  7. Malcolm hodgson says:

    Sid Sims Signs pool parlour!
    Brought a real smile to my face this morning. I bought that very model over 40 years ago and it graced my first layout when I was 11 or 12. Heaven only knows what it was doing on a British outline layout? But kids have great imagination. It still sits under my current layout patiently waiting for another home.

    North Wales

  8. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Nice job, and looks like a fun-running track plan. My only criticism is with respect to laying open, unsupported sectional track on those toy-like bridge approach risers. But perhaps this is one of the areas that still resides on your “to do” list?

  9. Mike says:

    You and your wife are to be congratulated on an awesome layout!

  10. Erick says:

    That almost what mine going to to look like. Good work.

  11. Gary Girard says:

    Very nice! I too am interested in how you did the waqterfall.

  12. NJ Mark says:

    The people climbing (or rappelling) is super. Thanks for the inspiration. Cheers! NJ Mark

  13. The Brinck says:

    This is a beautiful layout. When I view layouts like this that have obviously been a labor of love and joy I think about realism. I am astounded at the realism that Scott and his wife were able to produce in the river and water presentations. In the context of realizing that model railroading is a hobby there is something inside of me that yearns for realism. I would like the hobby to arrive at a point where a picture of the layout is indiscernible from a photograph of a real town. One thing that is woefully missing are realistic people and automobiles. Please forgive my prattering on so. Scott and his wife have created something far beyond my own meager capabilities. Congratulations to Scott and his wife.

  14. george zaky says:

    Beyond awesome. Absolutely fantastic planning and results. Thank you for the narrative that was so informative. Most people, including those with great layouts, leave out the details, and us common folk need to know, track type, switches, whose controls, brands, etc. How you used common stuff was priceless.
    Best to you and your wife, Be safe
    George from NY

  15. William Swenberg says:

    Good layout except for the raise portion that has no support. The towers are good but the track between the towers should be resting on wood like a real railroad.

  16. John Birch says:

    Fantastic detail. Each scene is the result of thought. imagination and personal creativity. Great. Congratulations.

  17. Marty says:

    Wow !! Very impressive ! I love the color’s

  18. Gary Manganiello says:

    Wow…. great job……great detail and scenery………love the layout……especially the rock climbers.

    Gary M from Long Island

  19. Old taz says:

    Nice lay up very well done Really a lot to take him there I think you’ve a got it all It’s fun to see how much you can get in a small area You and your wife did a grand job

  20. Jim Rosenow says:

    Fantastic layout! Great job on the waterfalls and the whole construction! It kills me that some people think they are doing you a favor by telling you what you “shoulda” Done! Don’t change anything! I am a amateur and love looking at these layouts that are a labor of love. You and your wife should be proud!

  21. Randy Geisick says:

    You and your wife did a fantastic job on all the scenes. Really enjoyed the farm scene, with the John Deere 720 tractor. Brought back fond memories of growing up on the farm in Colorado, although dad jumped from his JD 60 to a JD 3020.

    Randy, Kimberly ID.

  22. Linda H says:

    What a great layout. Love all the details with lots of people, autos, landscaping, and water details. I love trains but for me it’s all about the details. Very creative and well done.

  23. ANDY FL, USA says:

    AWESOME! Isn’t nice to have wife who is as capable as you (or maybe more so). Kudos to you for giving here the recognition of her talents!

  24. Dan Hulitt says:

    Nice job to Mr. and Mrs. Scott. You gave me an idea for my class 5 pitch that will need climbers. Need to fashion a rope for belay.

    One could spend a lot of time studying all the scenes and scenarios. I also appreciated the Hawkeye E2-C aircraft on the runway. This is a Navy command and control aircraft that my son has spent his career in.

    If you are reading this, and have not yet voted on the model contest, git er done!

  25. Ken Goldenberg says:

    Looking at your layout I feel as though I would be very content walking around you town. Fall is my favorite time of year and it looks as though you are modeling that early fall transition from late summer. I did not grow up in a rural area (I’m originally from the San Francisco peninsula area) but I wish I did. Wonderful use of older model buildings and using “found” objects. I had that same KFC building at one time as well.

  26. Bernard Schainholtz says:

    Most unbelievable amount of stuff you have built on your layout. I also collect little scraps to build items and building enhancements on my small layout. Also ask your dentist for leftover impression material old insrtuments and srap stuff. Use your imagination. Berniedoc.

  27. Robert Brady says:

    The raised track has no support???Or under laiment looks weird not having some kind of viaduct support.Your layout is superb and busy but the upper level train tracks are missing more support. ( for looks )
    The critic.

  28. Alabama Mike says:

    Scott, you and your wife have done a great job on your layout. A lot of great ideas in it. So very pretty with all the extra things going on around the layout.

  29. Will in NM says:

    Mr. & Mrs. Scott, I LOVE your layout! Your wife should be commended for her organization and detailing of all your assorted buildings and accessories. She must be very creative to come up with so many delightful little vignette scenes on the layout. I too noticed the use of piers to support the upper level tracks, but if it works OK without dumping the trains (oh yeah – where are the trains?) then no problem. The other thing I noticed it that the windmill is awfully close to the ground where it’s not going catch much wind and the blades look like they might hit the ground.

    Still those are minor notes. You should both be justifiably proud of your efforts and your grandson is going to be so spoiled. 🙂

  30. will in NM says:

    Dear Scott & Mrs.

    p.s. I loved seeing all those old Revell, Plasticville and Suydam buildings put to such good use. You’re lucky to have such a creative wife. Next time, I like her to write the story that goes along with all those little scenes and the family members who inspired them.

  31. everyone of you men/women are incredible.

  32. Fantastic detail. It makes realize there is so much more I can do with my layout. Thanks.

  33. Cary B says:

    Awesome layout, love all the details and the scenery looks fantastic
    Cary B

  34. Louis Frederick Caputo says:

    Colorful, imaginative, action-oriented and an obvious labor of love . . . great job!

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