Stuart’s latest layout

“Hi Alistair,

Here are a few more pics of Muddleton village, Still got the station to build, middle section and lots more finishing off to do.



“Hi Al

In my view there are many ways to save money in these hard times and still make a layout look realistic.

Scatter materials are expensive so why not use what nature has

Sand, superb for creating any type of soil just add coloured poster paints dry, and you will be amazed at the results
make sure the sand is dry place in an oven for a short while. Use also for beaches etc

Twigs, cut them into length and you have instant logs for wood yards or a load in a wagon

Tea bags, empty them out onto a baking tray and dry them in the oven they make great scatter material

Small pebbles or stones use them near pools or rivers they look so realistic

Tree bark theres plenty around dry it out once again dust with powder paints and use as cliff faces etc, (shops sell cork at a mad price)

PVA go to a DIY store and buy a large bottle of builders PVA ( around £11-£14 for 2 litres dilute as required normally 50/50)
This will save pounds compared to a small bottle of pre mixed glue from a model shop

For us that replicate the steam age coal is the most important factor of the layout DONT buy small packets of charcoal, look for the neighbour with an open fire you only want ONE piece of coal, crush it up and yes you have real coal, use the dust to smear in-between the track, smear on buildings to give that dirty look, it looks fantastic, and while you obtain your piece of coal ask for some ashes !!!

I have many more ideas which I will share with you all and Al I will forward photographs soon of my layout showing the above laid out (spot the difference between mine and purchased goods if you can




I enjoy the links you provide and the input all of us enthusiasts provide in ideas and how-to.
With regards to wiring and power distribution discipline and visual trouble shooting simplicity for low voltage lines and power distribution, I have used soft telephone wire and temperature control wire (for A/C-Heating rheostat controllers) for low voltage (3 and 4.5V DC) lighting as well as HO switches control.

Of late and for DC lighting, I have switched to the less expensive cat5e (when on sale, particularly the 25ft prepackaged segments which when their outer covering is removed provide about 30ft of usable paired wires). It has 4 twisted pairs and allows for 4 separate LED lighting distribution grids.

For each grid, a twisted pair becomes a power distribution/source circuit. I ensure all (-) connections are with the solid color pair. It allows for easier hooking up and visual trouble-shooting of the various grids. Manufacturers still rely on 1 strand of 7 to define polarity for their lights. Hopefully that might change as the twisted pairs of a cat 5, cat5e and cat6 becomes more available for other uses.

Caution: as in all my power distribution grids, the total amperage of the grids (each) or in totality when power is provided by a single transformer/rectifier is at 50% of the maximal amperage provided by the transformer/rectifier. It does require more transformers/rectifiers BUT they do stay cool to the touch and less likely to “burn” ( a fire hazard)!)
Have fun,


“Hi Al

A fantastic lot of tips for electrics form the last circulation, that i shall be applying to my layout thank you.

speaking of layouts i have taken some old tips requiring some bic razors to build a bridge that was circulated last year by Roger, I have now with some modifications made a start on my new 25” girder bridge using some new and suggested material.

plastic girder and tubing for bracing and tops of bridge cross sections, bobble pins cut to resemble bolts or rivets in girder footings at the base of the bridge uprights, and some servo holding screws to secure the girder braces as a representation of rivets or bolts through the bridge uprights to the bracing lengths of plastic girder.

you will need balsa or some type of wood base to suite your needs at your desired length for the bridge base plate, lengths of 0.5” x 0.5” balsa to represent the bridge footings or sides for the razors to site and be fixed on. disposable razors as the uprights for the girders or the bridge. Tools required side cutters, snout nosed pliers, scalpel, epoxy or suitable glue, micro balloons to do any tiding up, pencil, ruler, finger clamps to hold things together, drill and screw driver cross point.

Design your bridge and build it easy and effective it took me 3 days and now i look forward to the painting and finishing which of course i shall send in for your eager eyes to feast on. thanks Roger great bridge.


Wow! Thanks to Stuart, Andrew, Lawrence and ‘NDY’.

Hope you enjoyed this missive as much as me.

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.

48 Responses to Stuart’s latest layout

  1. john creasey says:

    good pics and great tips. I like the sand and tea bags.
    What gauge is it? How did you make your trees? More to the point what material did you use for the leaves? On coal, i use my old activated carbon from my fish tank filters, its just right for OO gauge. I would have posted a pic but they are a bit blurred

  2. hi, Stuart fabulous layout, what I would like to know, and I’ve asked this question before without reply, how do you get the road markings so neat and tidy? they look perfect with you.

  3. alan says:

    great tips there. keep them coming. Your layout looks awesome.

  4. `Nice looking layout Stuart

  5. Robert says:

    Some very good tips from Alan. Thank you

  6. Tom says:

    Outstanding..Love the clouds…nice job…Tom

  7. Duncan says:

    Most impressed by this Muddleton Village layout ! Really good period piece. The campsite and swimming diorama are brilliant.
    Save money on lighting sets – I have adapted some Christmas lights. I bought a string for £4 and it has 50 lights working straight off 240v. It even had 4 spare bulbs. Thanks for all the other tips. i will be interested to see the finished bridge. Having a beard for 20 odd years I don’t have razors but I suppose I could buy some. D/

  8. michael says:

    What a fantastic layout i wish that i had to room to do a layout like this

  9. Wayne Wallace says:

    Something you already know. I go to garage sales here in the states and tend to offer them a price of a dollar or two for a box of nothing. I now have a container full of material for building my layout. Plastic, foam, odd shape items, with lights, lots of the square green foam that can be cut really easy with out the mess and plastic flowers stems. Misc nut shells for my ammo storage in the desert scene with a little glue and coffee grounds. My latest find was Christmas trees of all sizes from 1 inch to two inches high (20). With a little spray of green paint, they look good for my tree areas. I just priced some of these items in the store and they wanted $5 for three trees, I have twenty for a $1. Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees. LOL

  10. Don Wick says:

    Great scenery & buildings! Question. Why don’t you guys add ballast to your track work? I noticed that on every picture picture that is posted. Ballast can be from course sand or fine gravel. Glue it down with deluted white glue. Saturate the ballast with 70% alcohol. Let dry for 24 hours. Clean out the excessive ballast by the inside of the tracks after the glue has dried. Works for me. Don

  11. paul starr says:

    Great tips and a lovely layout.Keep them tips coming.

  12. charlie says:

    thanks a lot for the tips. just goes to show if we take are time, look around we can save alot of money. I think your lay out is great.

  13. Don Garner says:

    What a great idea for recycling old razors–a bridge. Came out looking great, Andrew. Impressive job! Look forward to more of your creative ideas. Don

  14. paul Otway says:

    nice layout

  15. Ian says:

    your layout is looking great the tips and design of the scenery keep me going back and looking thanks.

  16. Ralph says:

    Wonderful bridge idea, how many of those razors get thrown away every year?

  17. THOMAS says:


  18. I was really impressed with your work as so much of your layout looks like photo’s of country properties, especially the one of the house with the smoke flowing from the`chiminey stacks. So good luck with your furue layouts`as we tend to want something better, so we`up root what we have

  19. Chris says:

    great picture and some really good ideas. Also found that I was able to use some out of date spices for different soil textures/ colours; need to give them some time to get rid of the smell if any.

  20. Stuart says:

    The White lines are cut to varying lengths and 1cm width from white envelope lables and pva glue on the back to ensure they stick properly,

  21. Stuart says:

    The White lines are cut to varying lengths and 1cm width from white envelope lables and pva glue on the back to ensure they stick properly

  22. david leach says:

    excellent board Alistair, i haven’t seen you on ebay lately, also I purchased a mint condition train 3801 for $200.00 also the carridges I purchased from uruguay in south America not far from south America the carriadges were $139.00 for the lima 3801 train and tender ,also ive purchased a working train and tender of the orient express made by juvef france this is the original model not a Chinese version from eureka models of the 3801 which here are $630.00 plus other carridges candy variety are worth $630.00 plus shipping for 4 all eureka stuffs made in china .thanks david nsw Australia .

  23. Dennis says:

    Stuart, excellent, beautiful, fantastic….

  24. Brilliant and inspirational. Work of a true artist.

  25. Mark says:

    I have found that if you check the rain gutters on a shingle roof house, you can get an unlimited supply of ballast for your tracks. It is the fine grit from the shingles and will be close to same color as shingles. No cost and abundant supply!

  26. John B says:

    Brilliant lay-out. (Not sure why the bus is on the wrong side of the road) Many thanks to all for tremendous help and in-expensive ideas. Has anyone any ideas how to get passengers onto trains.? My carriages are standard 00 Hornby and though I have several folks on platforms waiting for trains, the trains are always empty. Equally i’ve got lots of shoppers, but no drivers in cars. Does anyone make/sell sitting figures to fit in 00 scale cars? Thanks again – I await each day eagerly to see what’s next on this site.

  27. Paul B 60 says:

    Good tip about buying P.V.A. in bulk quantities. P.V.A. has many uses as you are aware. As a technology teacher we use it quite a lot however, make sure you store it indoors. because it does not like low (near freezing) temperatures. We had a 2 gallon container which went funny, wouldn’t pour and seemed to have gone ‘off’ and separated when stored in a building which was not heated over the Christmas holidays.

  28. Alan Jones says:

    I like the layout. I bet it took hours and hours of building.I have been planning my layout for 2 years now and almost have all the stuff required and it will be 8′ x 4′ when built.

  29. Roger D says:

    Message 4 John B @11.57
    Yes John one can buy sitting people to populate one’s coaches. All my coaches are populated and gives them that realistic look. Used to buy mine on Ebay (by the hundreds) don’t know if one can still obtain them on that site. Also Slater’s produce them, 24 to a spruce, log on to Gauge Master they carry Slater’s products.
    PS One has to take the coach apart to populate them and depending on the make of the model, they come apart in different ways, one has to look care fully and decide how they were put together in the first place.
    Once you have taken the coach apart, rough the seats a little ( I use the end of a small needle file, and rough the bums of the figure as well. This will ensure good adhesion, nothing worse than a figure coming away from the seat and having to take the coach apart again
    Hope this is of some use to U. and good luck, and believe me you won’t be sorry that you took all the time and trouble as it really does make a difference. One way to prove this is to populate one coach and run it next to an M/T coach and you will see what I mean.

  30. John Reynolds says:

    Nice workmanship. Very nice scenery. Makes me want to take a trip across the “pond”.

  31. Richard Wilcock says:

    I will be building an HO layout this winter from a layout my Dad had before he
    passed away. It consisted of a lot of metal rolling stock and steam engines. It will not as big as his was, but I will do my best to make him proud.. The name of
    his model railroad was “The Maine Southern”. I had a railroad many years ago which I sold. I will bring back the name of “Sandy Hook River Railroad”
    I will keep you posted.


  32. Larry O'Connor says:

    I see countless references to “PVA” glue???? I s that what we in Canada might call “white glue or Elmer’s glue”???

  33. Keith Miller says:

    Hope this helps answer the question about PVA adhesive: Wikipedia says:
    Polyvinyl acetate is a component of a widely used glue type, commonly referred to as wood glue, white glue, carpenter’s glue, school glue, Elmer’s glue (in the US), or PVA glue.

  34. James says:

    This layout represents an English scene hence the buses and cars on the left hand side of the road or the correct side as we would say. Lol.

    An extremely interesting layout and I was most impressed at all the hard work that has gone in to it. Also a little envious ( surely not on Easter Sunday) but it encourages me to strive more.


  35. Ernie Stammers says:

    Just a thought on wiring, someone mentioned about telephone cable as there are quite a few cores. although low current it can handle up to 50 volts and if you run accessories at a lower voltage this type of cable should handle it OK.
    Another thought is, it is sometimes easier to run a bus line around the underside of the baseboard and just drop accessories through and connect up on the bus.
    I have three bus lines of different size cable, one set for my tree rail Lionel Fast track, another for accessories of 18volt AC and another for 12 volt DC LED lighting.

    Break into the bus by either by soldering or using “break out” Car (automobile) connectors.

  36. David says:


  37. Carl Halgren says:

    For lines down the street, visit an artists’ supply store, look for tape. It comes in numerous colors and in widths down to 1/32″ wide. It is flexible and will bend around curves on country roads. My father used these in his commercial art studio.

    Still in Training,
    Carl in Kansas

  38. Frank Hughes says:

    I note the post on people sitting in carriages. Standing figures can have their legs cut off to accommodate sitting positions. Seen this done and looks good, why not have one or two standing to give the impression they are getting off at the next stop or even just got on, or again just visited the buffet car. This is what it’s like on real passenger trains. Or if you live or work in the South East of England, the passengers would all be standing, no seats available.

  39. Mark says:

    Love it omg

  40. Victor Koyano says:

    That pond on first frame reminded me of a Faller scenery sold in 1960s. I wish they still had. It had plastic water and stuff below like a tire. On top was a small fishing pier and people sunning. Cost $4.98 I think. A lot those days…Nice layout. I like German kits. Too bad European things got so expensive. Okay, maybe we mark up too much too. Haha….

  41. Chuck King says:

    Thank you for the tips, but would like to know where you get your trees, they look really good. You have some great ideas and i will be using some of them.

  42. Bob Martin says:

    Some great looking scene’s on your layout .

  43. Bob Leiby says:

    Found it interesting that you have smoke coming out of some of the building chimney? H

  44. daveinwyo says:

    Excellent scenery!
    My tip; Instead of using expensive large size ballast for some gravel scenes and for mine tailings, I use non clumping Tidy-Cat litter.
    It’s made of clay, can be sifted to get different grades and has enough crushed material to make dirt roads etc.
    Thanks All, for a wonderful site!

  45. James Keister says:

    I only have one question. Where do you find someone still using coal in their stoves ? I haven’t seen coal used by private homes in 50 years. I like the idea, but here in the states, there is no coal that is readily available.

  46. sheldon mankes says:

    butiful i have a 8-16 ft ho.

  47. william janmes palmer says:

    looks great

  48. Peter Hackethal says:

    Hey Lawrence,
    these are great hints.
    can you explain “PVA” to me as a german please?
    best regards

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