Steve’s excellent modelling

“Hi Al

I have been reading your site for some time now and have learned a lot. about a year age I dug out all my old Lionel trains. Back in the late 40 and early 50 my Mom and Dad started a 027 Lionel set.

Every year at Christmas time they would get another piece. I packed everything away years ago. I am 69 now and retired.

I got everything out and started refurbishing it all. well now I can start the layout. I have been going to swap meets and picking up all kinds of parts. you can get a lot with a little money if you don’t mind fixing it up.

All the tips I have been reading about on your site I put to work. I took a 2′ X 2′ X1″ form and starting to play
around with it. my goal was not to spend any money. Well I have about $10.00 in it. It is all sawdust branches
and anything else I could find. i am happy with the way it turned out and looking forward to starting my 6′ X 9′
layout. I am working in 027/0 scale.

Steve from Toms River NJ US”
























A wonderful example of how space and money doesn’t have to stop you enjoying a layout. Big thanks to Steve!

That’s it for today peeps.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget, the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to make that all important start.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

43 Responses to Steve’s excellent modelling

  1. John says:

    Brings back memories. Keep up the good work.

  2. Frank Cortese says:

    Excellent! Very impressed.

  3. Bruce says:

    The fluorescent starter looks good as a pole mounted transformer. Clever idea.

  4. Richard Sommery-Gade says:

    Wow! So much in a small space. Can’t wait to see what you do after this.

  5. colin gibbs says:

    Great to see another modeller who still has their childhood railway, and what superb results with no budget. I look forward to seeing this one progress

  6. Eddie Southard says:

    Well Done!

  7. Neil says:

    Another superb example of how much can be made out of so little. Who needs space anyway!!
    Soi impressed.


  8. Neil says:

    And I so need to learn how to spell!

  9. Bill Fitzpatrick says:

    Steve, that is a fine job there! You’re right about not needing to spend a fortune to achieve great results.

  10. Hi, Your small layout is very well done and it show’s exactly what you set out to demonstrate, that being, that even though money helps one to build a layout, it also showed there is a lot one can acheive, if they just use their imagination and are willing to use anything available, to build a layout. From what I’ve seen of your test diahrama, yor planed layout will be something tobe viewed, so I hope you keep us a part of your progress as I know a lot of us will be interested in your progress, so thank you for sharing your diahrama!
    Stemar, (Downunder)

  11. Rev Eggum says:

    Excellent work Steve , My first train in my youth was a 1949 Lionel ..
    Long gone however ..
    Pursue the dream ..

  12. a r murrell says:

    delightful work , brilliant !!!

  13. wow what a great scenery builder you are…and a lot of it from SCRATCH…
    now thats ‘OLD SCHOOL’
    congrats and cant wait to see what you do on a BIG layout….!!

  14. david howarth says:

    Well done Steve ,and on a good budget also

  15. Joe Gray says:

    You sir are an inspiration to all beginners.. My story is so much like yours… In 1952, my parents gave me 027 Lionel set… After college, I changed to HO and now I am 68 and thinking of converting to N… Keep up the good work.. You are the person needed in our hobby.

  16. Jon says:

    Wow Steve, beautiful little layout. Details are amazing. I have a few years until my retirement, however, you have inspired me, and clearly many others to “get going” on this fantastic hobby. Thanks Al for all that you do every day to keep this site going.

  17. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great work in bringing back the old. keep going using module system.

  18. dave says:

    Just think how good a full size layout will look when completed !!

  19. Ralph says:

    Very impressive Steve, I still have pieces of my first train set but they are integrated into scratch built locos and wagons. This news letter is marvellous for money saving tips.

  20. Very well done Steve. You have a nice eye for detail and the talent to go with it. I think you will do great things in the future with your layout.

  21. Tommy says:

    Superb !!! You have the touch of an Artist hand. Can’t wait to see your full layout with the train(s) running.

  22. Duncan Galbraith says:

    Nice to see the potholes on the road were repaired! A fine detail. Looks like the roads round our part of Argyll ! D/

  23. THOMAS says:


  24. Fred Svoboda says:

    Very nice. To get a sense of how well this is working, take a photo of it outside against a natural background from a low point of view as in the third photo above. You would find that the layout and the actual landscape would blend together very well, I think.

  25. Gary Collins says:

    Would look better with steam instead of diesel if it’s from the 40’s

  26. Perry Torregano says:

    Very nicely done. I still have my O27 trains some where, but I switched to S scale some time back.

    I would also suggest that you not go wider the 5 ft. if you want to be able to reach in to make your models, unless you are very tall and have long arms.

  27. Cary B says:

    Very nice, I like the trackwork slightly down in the cut. Great way to start.

    Cary B

  28. Kenneth Seegert says:

    Always great to see good work and a passion renewed.

  29. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Wow, what a great 2X2 there Steve, that is what and how I am putting mine together. I am going to have 2X4 on mine. I have to get back to working on mine, when the Woman of the house calls out the thing I have to do, the tables get put aside, what can I say, Lola.We have been here in this house for 2 years and it needs some work done to it. Like I said, 5th home and almost done doing work on her. There is a lot of details on your 2X2, I like details. Until the next time,
    SDG St.Petersburg Fl

  30. Allen Wortman says:

    Amazing, amazing!!!

  31. Ray Alkofer says:

    Proof that where there is a will, there is a way.

  32. Clark Ward says:

    Very nice work, Steve!

  33. james says:

    And with a vintage Lionel 2338 Milwaukee Road GP9! First introduced in 1955.I’m in the process of building what I call a “practice” layout in HO. All Milwaukee Road diesels, many vintage units that I have stored since the 60s and early 70s. Three have been converted to DCC and sound so far. The layout is only 4×6 feet, but being used to hone my skills as I move along. Next step will hopefully be an around the walls layout in the basement rec room. Great start, Steve.

  34. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Way to go Steve, Cant wait for the add on and the rest of your rolling stock, I Have many Post War Lionel along with modern But the Trains and rolling stock from my parents and the Trains I bought from my paper route are the best in my collection. Keep up the Great Work!!

  35. Kelvin Bland says:

    One down only another 53 to go! Great model and hope it gave you as much pleasure making it as it has given Al’s followere looking at it. Cheers Kelvin.

  36. Looking at this I was thinking a couple of thoughts…
    1) What a great way to experiment and try things scenery wise before committing to a large layout.
    2) This is some of the most amazing detail I have ever seen in an 027 / O gauge layout.
    3) It makes me regret my selling all my O gauge/Super O Lionel track and going to HO, even though I needed to do it for space issues.
    Bravo, Great job.

  37. Is this what they mean by a “short line railroad? 😉

  38. frank veneruso says:

    I wouldn’t consider t a Layout, but more of a Diorama,

  39. Thank you for your in sight . You have given me a few ideas about doing what you have one.My spaceis limited so will try what you have done only in HO. Like the comments made hee I will be inteestedinwhay you do next. Bill from Nova Scotia.

  40. Andrew Aves says:

    Super model Steve – Inspirational
    Andrew in Oz

  41. Al Otis says:

    Wow! What great detail in 4 square feet. Awesome job. Keep at it.

  42. Bob M in Michigan says:

    Great diorama Steve! Have fun building the big layout! Another Lionel to make me disappointed that I told my dad I didn’t want to keep mine in my dumb 20’s!

  43. Frank says:

    Maybe you should build your layout as modules and then you can put them together when it suits you.

    I hate to be dragged into the marketing trap where you spend so much energy trying to buy things and waiting till you can afford them. But if all you have to buy is track and paint, plaster and glues, it’s not so bad.

    You can scratch build a lot of things to save money and have fun using things you already have or can reuse. And that little piece looks amazing so you’re already into it. People will be waiting to see more.

    Frank in Florida

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