O scale model train layouts

Stephen has added to the collection of O scale model train layouts on the blog with this beauty:

“Hi Al

Previously I sent in a 2′ X 2′ O scale practice layout for next to no money.

It worked pretty well. I learned a lot and found out how much l had to learn and teach myself.

About 6 months ago I started a 6′ X 9′ board in our home office.

Well my wife didn’t like all the train stuff around the room so she gave me a spare room.

The first thing I did was add a 3′-6″ X 12′ L to the board.

I had to change my plans quite a bit but I am very happy with the extra space.

I have the track down and the trains running the way they should. Now I started the scenery.

I am using old Lionel but a lot of the accessories are more toy like than I want. So I have to see what I can and can’t use. With a little creativity I think I can make it work.

I am starting at one end with a loose idea and I am in no hurry. I pick up building and scenery bits and try them out. So far so good.

Here are some pictures of my progress

Steve from Toms River NJ.”

o scale model train layouts

o scale model train layouts

o scale model train layouts

o scale model train layouts

o scale model train layouts

o scale model train layouts

O scale model train layouts:





o scale track plan


I can’t wait to see how Stephen’s layout progresses. I loved the water coming out of the pipes in the second last pic.

I though it was really interesting too, how he started with a ‘small, no cost layout’ to get his hand in – then moved on to this one. Well, for a second layout, I think it looks smashing.

Big thanks to Stephen for sharing and adding to the O scale model train layouts.

And thanks to everyone who takes the time to post a comment on the site too.

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.

model train answers

67 Responses to O scale model train layouts

  1. Eugene says:

    It is coming very nice i can’t wate to see more in the future !

  2. Keith Ford says:

    Can you run locomotives that require O 72 track?

  3. Lowell Keer says:

    I didn’t think that a layout made with Lionel tracks and trains could look so good,, thanks for that.

  4. Jim says:

    Glad to see someone working with older Lionel track I am in the process of moving my small layout to another space. (Similar circumstances) Using sthe same type of track. Will be bigger and better when it gets done. Three loops around a 12′ x 16′ space.

  5. FELIX says:

    I like to see an overall view of the layout and a track plan.

  6. Nick DiSandro says:

    Everything looks great. I had a question as to what you used for streets and the parking lot?

  7. Bill Keen says:

    This is really looking great! Taking your time to get it right is working very well. Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. Steve from New Jersey says:

    I am using 027 track only so it has a lot of limitations. I see all the great HO layout and wish, at times I had gone that way but my old Lionel trains have to many memories for me and now my 6 year old grandson is hooked on the layout and is over here all the time. He helps to push me to work more on the layout.
    I love every minute of it. It is special time that we will have together.
    Steve from Toms River

  9. Richard Sappelli says:

    Great looking lyout. would like video of his trims running. also would like an explanation of the control board with all those what’it’s etc.
    Way to go.

  10. Matt says:

    Very nice toy train theme. You have to use the space that’s available. I’m using tubular track too, but in a High Rail theme (scale 3 track). Wanted to use o gauge 3 rail Atlas, but turn outs & track are not available in all sizes due to foreign mfg. schedules. I’m considering Ross & Gargraves since both are made in the USA. I have a 6’X26′ area to convert and I am faced with a $1500 decision to make.

  11. ken a bazylewski says:

    loved your layout what I could see but why the 3 tracks I have never seen any before

  12. Joe Manna says:

    i like your set up I am starting my set up to make 8×12 lay out with center open for repairs. I have the old trains from 1951. I can’t wait to see them run. I will post a picture at later day.

  13. Steve from New Jersey says:

    Someone asked about the streets and parking lots. I used green foam board on top of 1/4″ plywood for the table and have been playing around with foam. I can’t pass up a piece of foam. I made a hot wire table foam cutter and it is fun to work with but as you get better with it you see endless possibilities. The rods are foam roughed up with wire brushes and a knife or just a pencil. You can do so much with foam a pencil and paint. The wall behind the station is foam marked with a pencil.

  14. Neil says:

    Hi Al. Reading this, and looking at previous posts accidentally tok me back to some of the parsimonious bull that you were subjected to, when you introduced your fans to the concept of actually paying a little towards the cost of their pleasure.

    It never fails to amaze me how many people seem to think that they have a God given right to get stuff free. How dare you charge them, after all you have done this at your own expense so far , you don’t appear to be in a debtor’s jail so you can damn well keep doing it. If that causes you problems , well they really don’t mind. The truth is that the only things such folk mind about, is the small, and oh so very narrow bit, between their ears.

    Never mind covering your costs, your time should be charged at a reasonable rate, and paid for by a regular subscription. If this means a few pensioners have to do without, well such is life, perhaps they need to review their priorities. Most of them will probably have a fag in their mouth and a beer at their elbow as they tell you how hard up they are.


  15. Pete Evangel says:

    Love to see someone else doing 0-27 track. That tight radius can be a bear to work with. I did a layout for my father inlaw that was originally 21′ long and two “wings” that are 3′ wide. Recently added a 4′ x 5′ section for a yard. I see many of the same features of Lionel on your set as his. The time you have spent is well worth it. It’s looking great. I too love the water coming out of the drainage pipe. Adds realism to it. I really like that you added ties to the rails instead of using the regular spacers that come with it. I can see now that I have some work to do on mine!

    Pete-Sunny Silicon Valley.

  16. Rodger Williamson says:

    very good for second build, I liked the attention to detail, really sets the scene.

  17. Pete Schmidt says:

    While all these pic are cool, I prefer HO scale. HO scale is what I’ll be modeling. I hope to get started on putting together a track design soon. Then by spring starting the bench work. I have approximately a 25×27 space and want to utilize the space with as much of a swiching railroad.


  18. excellent O gauge layout
    and lots of good detail on the scenery
    keep em runnin fellas
    StJohn in Long Beach Calif

  19. Neil says:

    In addition to the rant above. Brilliant layout, I love to see some older styles of kit still in use. I well remember my first train set. The old Hornby Dublo 3-rail track. I wonder if anyone still has a working layout of this track?


  20. Steve from New Jersey says:

    The control board is just a temporary setup to test the track continuity and the switches. I have 18 different track sections that I can switch from different transformers and on or off. I find it a little overboard but that is why it is a test control board. The 16 top switches control the 18 turnouts. I have reworked them for continuous power so they can work when the trains are stopped this gives the old guy time to figure out where he wants the train to go. I plan on making a new control board with the track layout on it and LEDs and switches but that is down the road first is to get everything working and where l want it.

  21. Ray Ehlert says:

    That three railer track brings back many childhood memories of my own Lionel train set. You did a great job of mixing old and new track. It makes me want to haul that stuff out and start my own super layout.
    Loved the sound of those ole Lionel trains “rumbling ” along the track and the sound of all the accessories that Lionel made. And the air whistle under the tender.That is an area truly gone by…but STOP.. !! You have really brought it back. Thank you for sharing.
    Train man Charlie

  22. Steve Howard says:

    Awesome layout and fantastic progress in a relatively short amount of time. Happy to see the old Lionel running and I like the plans to mix the old with the new. I am just starting my S Gauge (primarily American Flyer – old and new Lionel) and can only hope that I can make half the progress in even twice the time.

  23. paul Otway says:

    It looks real neat.

    Paul Otway from OZZIE

  24. Colin says:

    Difficult to get 3 rail looking this good. You are at such a big disadvantage with the style of the track. Its height etc. This layout certainly looks to be making the best of what is available. Nice to see someone prepared to spend so much time using what they have, no matter how old and difficult to use in a realistic setting, rather than going shopping for the latest kit. I also think the water coming out of the pipes although simple is shear genius it lifts that whole area of his layout. Well done . Like to see more as the layout progresses.

  25. michael says:

    do they run

  26. Tom says:

    What a neat ole time Lionel Layout. I was not a fan of Lionel when I was younger never liked the 3 rail track, And then comes along some people with their Lionel layouts and blows your mind. I fell in love with Lionel when I was about 9 years old. My Cousin put up a Lionel Train garden each year at Christmas. The first time I saw it I was amazed.
    When I was growing up my family had American Flyer Trains … They are all gone now except the memories. Then had HO I do not have any more of them either. I have an ole American Flyer that is my wife’s. Her Dad bought it for her at her first Christmas. I think it was more for her Dad. LOL. I put this up at Christmas and run it under the tree. My wife bought we a “G” scale Bachman Big Hauler. “My Big Toy” I get it out often set it up let it run around and enjoy it. I have purchased an N scale about three years ago. Due to area available … originally a 3′ X 6′ layout. Stop! Plans changed put our house on market. Took layout down. Had trouble selling house … took house off market. Started to build again location changed and modified to 2′ X 6′ layout. Stop house back on market … sold house after some time. Bought new house. Have more room In a loft to build. Right now determining the size and then will build it. Been exposed to and around model railroads all my life. The real ones all my life. When my grandson and granddaughter come over they ask me when am I going to build my railroad … if I need them they will help. I would not have it any other way.
    The world of rail is our history. What they did for us was far greater than some people believe. For the love of a model railroad no matter how many rails; the size; the scale; we look at them; we admire them; we talk about them; and the people who share this site have given me a motivation: insight: burning to build and share my railroad to all.
    Thanks all
    Thanks Al,
    best Tom

  27. Jim Sulkosky says:

    Looking Good

  28. Jacob Bossert says:

    Nice Layout!

  29. Ian Mc Donald says:

    good to hear you started small but got hooked I got pushed out of the office to the shed and built my track around my wifes car. would love to see more .

  30. John Reynolds says:

    Exceptional “Hi-Rail” layout!

  31. Robin Hallam says:

    looking good I like seeing the bare base and the completed part in the one photo, and three rail never looked so good.

  32. Richard Sommery-Gade says:

    Looking good, can’t keep a railroader down. Like how you got her to give you what you wanted and make it look like it was her idea. Smart man. Tricky devil, all of the rest of you take note.

  33. Steve from New Jersey says:

    I wish I was that smart to get her to do what l want but I think she is the smart one. At least she keeps telling me that.

  34. Andrew Underwood says:

    I’m jealous of the control panel – is it proprietory or home made? I’m struggling to produce one and have wires everywhere even though its DCC!!

  35. Steve from New Jersey says:

    The control panel is home made and temporary I just made it from old stuff I had. It was just to test the train and track. I wired everything to connection bars just behind the panel and everything has a number or a letter so when I am ready to make the final panel I will have everything right there. Take your time and think it out.

  36. Ken Stramel says:

    Its nice to see a o gauge layout. What did you use for the ballast and the rr ties, what size are you using there. Keep up the great work, it really looks good.

  37. Steve from New Jersey says:

    The ballast was from a old salt water fish tank. It is some type of calcium l had a 5 gal pail of the stuff. I used gray acrylic paint to color it. The ties were a piece of 1/2″ X 4″ pine cut and stained and glued to the rails before the track was layed. The ties are the same size as metal ties that hold the track together. It took a long time to put them on but they make the O27 track look much better. I am thinking about painting the center rail black but I want to play around with that

  38. george says:

    Nice neat layout. But, unless the base is mobile, it must be a major task to clean that rear wall window. 🙂

  39. Steve from New Jersey says:

    The whole thing is on wheels and moves very nicely. It maybe a little harder when the layout is done with all the extra weight. I hope not.

  40. Tom Timberman says:

    Neil, I likened the comments you wrote. I remember something my father told me along time ago. Never despise meager beginnings. Anything that is worthwhile is worth waiting for while working hard to obtain it.

  41. Holy Smokes, great layout. I had a Lionel O gauge layout with 2 4×8 tables. My Parents started me when I was about about 5 or 6 with a single 4×8 and a loop with two switches, and a steam engine over the years it grew. My father had Dementia and threw it all out went i left home to go to college.

  42. Ernest Kraus says:

    I also am a 3 railer and 84 years old. I got rid of all my tubular track and went with Gargraves. From a few feet away the center rail blends in with the ties. Keep 3 rail alive. One good thing is the power issue; unlike 2 rail and its problems.

  43. Richard says:

    I am glad to see a Lionel o gauge layout in this blog and the builder has been really doing a wonderful job building his railroad empire. Way to go!!!

  44. Dale Popula says:

    I would like to see your track plan. The yellow house with the porch in great, and I am not into homes on layouts.

  45. Don in Sacramento says:

    Hi Steve. Thanks for the memories. In the late 1950s I built a Lionel 027. 14 x 8. It’s all gone now but I had a great time. building and operating it. Now I have static displays in HO.

  46. Dan Hulitt says:

    Nice layout Steve. Brings back a lot of memories like the barrel and log loaders, the milk car and of course the big ZW transformer. The coal loader was a neat accessory. You would have loved to see my dads layout just down the road in Marmora. I still have my Santa Fe and 027 passenger consist. Have not run it for a few years, but should get it out for next Christmas . I am modeling HO now. Keep up the good work!
    Mn Dan

  47. Morgan from Monroe says:

    I was glad to see this vintage track layout, this design of his layout is very similar to what I am going to use, But I am going to add another pair of switch’s The scenery is great, the layout is great

  48. Bob Amling says:

    Hey Neighbor,
    Great job on your layout! I like the way way that you worked in those two long accessories. I reluctantly gave mine up because I couldn’t spare the room.
    You have done a nice job with the landscaping as well .Maybe when this covid thing is over we could see it in person.
    Bob in Colts Neck Crossing, NJ

  49. Bob Amling says:

    ” I’m considering Ross & Gargraves since both are made in the USA. I have a 6’X26′ area to convert and I am faced with a $1500 decision to make.”
    There are a few things that you should consider before making that $1500 decision.
    What do you run? Prewar, PostWar, MPC, or later; or All of the above.
    I built my layout with Gargraves track and Ross switches.I like switching, and built my 8 X 16 layout with 23 switches. My intention was to move different operating freight cars from one area to another. In short pick up coal here and drop it there.
    I installed uncouplers in the sidings as well as the main line. The idea being separate the train and have a switcher pick off a car or two or add a car or two to the local freight. Imagine my disappointment when I ran some postwar cars to test my work. What happened ? The Ross switch would either tear the sliding shoe off the operating car or derail the car. So think about what you are going to run before you decide on a track system. You didn’t mention Lionel Fastrack but maybe others are considering it. Our Christmas club layout has loops of Fastrack. I wanted to run some tinplate over there, only to find out that the wheel flanges on some of the older engines are two deep for Fastrack as they actually hit the roadbed causing a poor connection to the rails. I hope my lessons learned help you. I’ve been told that a shaved tie positioned in front of the frog would cause the sliding shoes to raise and pass over the the switch without incident. I haven’t tried that yet as I’ve been consumed with scenery work.
    Bob in Colts Neck Crossing, NJ

  50. Bill in Virginia says:

    Great looking layout !! Makes me think I need to inbox my 1960’s O27 stuff and give it a run. Last time I took it out was 10 Years ago and still ran well. Love the older equipment

  51. John Frye says:

    I like the idea that the basic older Lionel “toy” buildings and fixtures, like light poles, fences, towers, and so forth can be the “bones” for a more detailed and prototype item. Some weathering, a few more glued on parts, and clever placement can change a toy into a real scene grabbing model.
    Nice layout and good work! Oh and in my opinion there’s one real good thing about Lionel O gauge – those trains stay on the tracks!

  52. Bob Vysinka says:

    I really enjoy seeing Post War Lionel Trains. Lionel TOY TRAINS will always have a place in my heart. I can remember all the Post War Lionel colors in the hobby shops back in the 50’s. The hobby shops with there long glass showcases, “smelled” like trains, when you walked in the door. Great times!

  53. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Nice looking layout stephen! You should join OGR O gauge Railroading On Line Forum. Have fun with your layout!

  54. Tim says:

    With 4 photos you can sketch out his track layout entirely. Only spot you cannot directly see is outside track of addition connecting to original tra CV k that goes around depot siding. Once sketched you will see how 027 track has to be laid out.. Nice running and operations with lots of buildable space on original table. Nice planning.

  55. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!!

  56. Jim in Chicago says:

    I also have a soft spot for Ogage For a long time I thought 3rail lionel was it . Loved your layout and scenery. Makes me want to go in the attic Great job!

  57. robert dale tiemann says:

    very very nice.

  58. Ramsey Arnold says:

    Super start, Stephen‼️ The ties, under the Lionel tracks surely got my attention, having done the same,exact treatment on a 9′ by 5′ layout at 15 yrs. old, 66 yrs. ago, right up here in Staten Island.
    Still have the 40’s and 50’s Lionel gear stored.
    Your layout just might motivate me to do my Lionel again, even though I’m heavy into N scale. 🤠
    Thanks, Stephen
    Ramsey, now in Montrose, CO

  59. Irvin Joseph Halter says:

    OMG! Brought back my childhood days, so much so I could “smell” it!

  60. Steve Ruple says:

    Awesome layout Steve, I’m also working on a 027 gauge layout. I’m not as far along with mine yet because of medical problems but I work on it when I can. Right now I have a 4’x16′ section on wheels and it works great to move around. My room is 10′ x20′ and I plan to use all the space that I can to make the layout all around the room. I’ve been collecting 027 gauge and American flyer trains for years and have quite a collection along with “HO” gauge trains. Keep up the good work, I would like to see more of what you come up with.

  61. Don says:

    nicely done, I still have my Marx trainset that was my, dads & it still runs. would one day like to have a complete layout for both my Marx train set & my HO sets.

  62. Eric Dawson says:

    I Love what you’ve done. I’m also into O Gauge with my 7 x 12 layout on my Lanai(patio)

  63. Frank says:

    Love the detailing of the roads and that run-off pond. Great work!

  64. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nice. itll take an hour to watch tha final video. if you post one.

  65. Thomas Meleck says:

    This is a great looking layout. It manages to mix the realism of the scenery while minimizing the distraction of traditional three rail track. This is almost exactly what the Post War Lionel catalogues managed to do. The catalog art would depict the new Lionel Trains in action pretty much the way they existed in reality. Meanwhile the catalogue backgrounds were drawn in great detail with people, buildings, vehicles and operations pretty much the way they actually exist in real life. Bravo Steve, Mr. Cohen would have loved your layout.

  66. Fred (skull) in Australia says:

    I will be using your idea of the pipes going into my canal .

  67. Morey Day says:

    Nice to see a great O layout! It gives me some ideas for my O shelf layout. I really like your corner water scene!

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