Simple model train layout

Nick’s been in touch with a simple model train layout that looks fab:

“Hi Alastair

I re-inherited the Hornby rolling stock and tracks I bought for my son 25 years ago, after he moved.

During lockdown, I decided, as you keep exhorting people, to just get started.

My layout is fairly simple compared to some of the amazing creations that you showcase, but it was at the level of my limited ability, and I was able to get it completed in about one month – my wife even helped with the hillside painting!

I utilized your printable buildings for the cul-de-sac.

I’m very much enjoying running the trains as a way to pass some time in these cold Canadian winters.

Keep up the great work.

Best regards


Simple model train layout

Simple model train layout

Simple model train layout

I think Nick’s layout is superb, simply because I’m very, very biased – he made a start and his houses are fantastic (they are from the printable buildings).

Now on to Mike, whose last post is here.

“My friend Al:

Greetings again from Michigan.

I’ve recently completed another building for my Western town based on a setting from “Rio Bravo.”

Using etched foam for adobe and printed images for other facades, if you look closely, Ricky Nelson is in the window ready for action.

Then an attempt to get a Delorean up to 88 miles per hour.

However, I’ve finally settled on a theme for my extensive layout, a Railroad Fun Park called “Gracieland” named for my daughter.

The plan is to create various settings reflecting the use as a people visited theme park where railroad trains cart one around to explore the scenes.

My latest attempt at scratch building is chain-link fencing to keep patrons from wandering on to the tracks.

I know it’s not an original idea, I’m not even sure where I got the idea, but cutting strips of window screen material at a 45 degree angle fairly replicates the look of such a fence.

Using painted dowels as posts placed in a jig I constructed, the fencing can be glued to the posts.

I lay them out to dry on wax paper before trimming the posts and adding the horizontal bars.

End result is crude but looks pretty convincing. I’m continuing to improve the process.

None of this would have been possible without consultation provided by your web site. Many thanks again. I strive to improve.


Grand Rapids, MI USA”

Now on to Paul, who just goes to show a little thought can sort most problems in this hobby.

“Hi Al,

I am sending you 2 photos of my SW7 switcher which has been causing me trouble because it was so light.

Most of the time, it had difficulty going over switches that didn’t have power to the frog or some areas of track that were not perfectly spotless.

The situation was the fact that it weighed only 9 ounces. I could help it along by placing my finger on top to give better contact.

I tried many things such as cleaning the wheels and even cleaning the track in front of it as it ran along.

I powered all the frogs that seemed to be causing the problem.

Finally, I decided to remove the engine’s body to see if I could add weight inside. That was hopeless because it was so stuffed inside with gear and electronics. The engine is only 6 inches long.

The next step was to see if I could add weight externally and also justify the act of doing so and still have realism.

I found some new brass toilet bolts in my junk box that weighed in at almost 3 ounces.

As you can see, those are now sitting on top of the engine. I cut the heads off the bolts, but didn’t want to lose that weight.

So I decided to use the heads to bind the threaded parts of the bolts around the engine’s exhaust stacks.

I then hot glued the heads to the bolts from underneath. I painted them black so they blended in and sat them on top.

They added 2.85 ounces to the engine and made all the difference in operation.

Now I had to justify what I did to the model train world. In keeping with the current state of the world regarding Covid-19, I rationalized that this engine was assigned the task of moving refrigerated cars which carried the vaccines from place to place.

So therefore what you see on top of the engine are the cooling coils for the refrigeration system that was retrofitted to the engine to make things happen.

Case closed.


A huge thanks to Nick, Mike and Paul.

Nick shows it’s all about making that start. Nothing happens without it. What’s more, even a simple model train layout is still huge amounts of fun. It’s a sensible starting point.

And Mike’s layout is a great example of how your layout can be anything you want it to be.

Lastly, Paul shows us that even when the head scratching moments drive us mad, a little thought and ingenuity can often save the day.

That’s all for this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to make your start – just like Nick did – the Beginner’s Guide is here.



16 Responses to Simple model train layout

  1. Roger Vipond says:

    Heartwarming story. Thank you Nick. Could have sworn you were British. Your use of “English “, and your reference to Hornby. Until your final reference to Canada, and using Alistair’s kits, which are modelled on North American buildings, not seen in Britain. Would love to see more photographs. Best wishes from London ,where the very first snow has just arrived. All 2mm of it!

  2. Eric Kiehl says:

    I have to Al, Mike’s screen fence looks better than he thinks. Awesome work Mike.

    Now onto Paul’s retro fit weights, what a great story that that are the coils to cool the refers that are carrying the vaccine. Great job.

    Nick i love the court idea and using Al’s print outs, what a great looking layout.

    Al i said it before, Thank you

    Eric Kiehl Firefighter St Louis, Missouri Area

  3. Michael Hoover says:

    A big shout out to Nick, Mike, and Paul for a great job on their work! Paul, yours was most touching with the story lie given. Thanks to all!
    P.S. Nick, I would sure like to get a list of track pieces used for your layout if I could. Your layout kind of just “spoke” to me. Thanks.

  4. David Howarth says:

    Well done Nick could be a hobby that will be enjoyable for many years to come , and with lockdown and Canadian winters it can keep you occupied for some time … Dangerous Dave

  5. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed your pictures as well as you words. You are one of the reasons this Hobby Keeps Going and Growing Thanks again

  6. Ruben Simon says:

    Paul, you may have given us the only good thing that’s come out of COVID-19. Congrats!

  7. Paul Case says:

    Thanks for all the nice comments. It is very rewarding when you solve a problem and it is received well by fellow modelers. I was pulling the little hair that I have out with what to do with that engine. Other than the contact problem, it ran well and has a quite an advanced decoder in it. By the way it is a Broadway Limited engine with a lot of sound functions.

  8. Erick says:

    Pretty neat and clever.!!!!!!

  9. Malcolm hodgson says:

    Great little layout and built in such short time.

    The fence idea looks just fine. No need to worry or put your skills down.

    The cooling fins on the loco. Great little imaginative story.

    Another way of dealing with those troublesome locos that have short wheel bases and lack weight is to give them more wheels to pick up from the track. Now of course you can’t do that to the locomotive but if you are prepared to permanently couple it to a ‘helper’ wagon / truck then you can put pickups on the truck and feed the small wires in to the loco so you spread the power collection across more wheels and a longer section of track, so unless it is all dirty things will improve!

    North Wales

  10. Steen says:

    I like your chain link fencing idea and it doesn’t look crude at all , I think it looks dam good and easy to do with the jig idea .Could you provide more details about type of adhesive , post materials and measurements Keep up the good work , keep runnin’ those trains . .

  11. Three people with three ingenious ideas!

  12. Alabama Mike says:

    Mike, I like your chain link fence very much. I looks great and the jigs you made to assemble it are just great. Super job.

    Nick, great job on your layout.

    Paul, what a creative idea you had to weight your switch engine.

  13. Robert Brady says:

    Mike, I love your chain link fence . It looks great and the jigs you made to assemble it are very smart. Great job.
    Headed for the hobby store.
    The Critic

  14. Nicolaou Nick says:

    To Roger: Thanks for your comments. I am in fact English from the London area but now live in Canada. My son was a train fanatic, never missing an opportunity to travel on real ones, so the rolling stock I bought represented trains he had travelled on – Network South East and Eurostar!

  15. Nicolaou Nick says:

    To Michael: Thanks for your comments. Hornby track plan attached

  16. Nicolaou Nick says:

    To Dangerous Dave: I do have a bit of a derailment issue at the bottom of the short gradient. I didn’t have enough room to put in the correct gradient angle so it will only allow a small tank engine with one car to travel on it, otherwise rolling stock derails! Any advice would be much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *