Stuart’s railway layout

“Hi Alistair,

Thanks for all your tips and pics, this is my first attempt at model railroading, started 5 months ago. It’s 8′ 6” x 5’6” and I had the room specially converted. these are a few pics of a town I’m making up called MUDDLETON
More to come later.


Stuart P”

double loop track plan with tunnel

An amazing first layout! So I just had to ask Stuart about it. Here’s what he came back with:

“Hi Alistair,

The room was a two bed house converted to three beds, the new bedroom used for the model, started last April, I painted the sky, then build the table. I got most of my tips from your emails over the months, I have found the real moss is brilliant for shrubs and bushes but they have to be trimmed to shape. Cliffs were done with plaster cloth and dry painted to get the real effect of cliff rock. Different colour scatter grass and other greens to make fields, I made the fences and trees from a hydranger bush in the garden, accept the fir trees, they were bought as basic and I put scatter green foliage on the thicken them out.

The buildings were made from metcalf cards but I made them more realistic by painting and ageing them. So far I have only done the back stretch of the board I have still to put more buildings, build a town, a coal depot, a garage and pub, build roads. There’s a lot more to do yet. but I will send future pics as I go on. By the way way dry painting the moss with bright colours is a great effect for bushes with flowers on, just dabbing it on works a treat, but not too hard or it will just be a mess.

I hope to get sharper pics by using a digitial camera in the future, these were taken with my mobile phone


Stuart P”

Stuart – you’re an inspiration!

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide, if today is the day you start your railroad adventure.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

61 Responses to Stuart’s railway layout

  1. Andrew says:

    If this was your first attempt, who knows how good it will be when you finally get the hang of it!

    Seriously, a great model layout that you can be very proud of.

  2. Doc Bruce says:


    What an excellent effort! Am I correct in assuming that it is modelled in 1:87 (HO) scale? By the way, you have the yellow van facing the wrong way pic no. 3 and you also need to flare the railcrossing to the right.

    keep it up andd good luck

    doc Bruce

  3. Tom Oliver says:

    What a great effort, and in such a short time! But my main comment is, How Great is that Sky and Clouds – I thought it was a mural!

  4. Bob Mackey [Australia] says:

    Stuart, Looks great is it 00 guage?
    The clouds are brilliant. How were they done. Keep up the great work.

  5. john richardson says:

    I am impressed puts my first effort of 5 years in OO gauge to shame but just starting on an N gauge 4ft by 3 ft layout which i aim to photo record and boy are their ideas galore in yours well done !

  6. alan says:

    So much done in such a short time. Keep up the good work. Looks great. Looking forward to the next instalment.


  7. david says:

    well done stuart, what a layout, i bet you realy enjoyed working on your layout.

  8. Jan Boen says:

    Even greater as it’s your first lay-out. You must be a gifted scenery maker.

    Be careful with the slopes they seem pretty steep.

  9. Jim Cope says:

    Stunning first effort. Tell us more about the buildings please (kit,scratch built,toy bashed? Way to go! Thanks. Jim C

  10. Simon Zeoli says:

    Nice work;cannot wait to see progress. Back ground is terrific!

  11. John Fuller says:

    Very encouraging to us beginners. It is nice to see someone’s first setup as well done as this. I only have five HO sets to work with and they are quite basic and in the box yet. This gives me some hope for a senior such as I. It would be nice to know what countries and cities contributors are from. I am from Canada but do not know where the rest are from. It would be good to know.

  12. Roland says:

    I can only hope my first layout will be this good.
    I hope to start this January. I have all the materials, trains, tracks, etc. Only major problem I have in starting this is – THE WIFE (she, who must be obey). Just like thunder storms, she is weakling.

  13. Ray, USA says:

    Absolutly off the chart. A beautiful layout. Mine is still in the raffters, and I hope some day to have one as nice as yours.

  14. Sheila says:

    Excellent. I am especially impressed by the houses and use of moss and other naturals to make scenery. Any detailed pictures and explanation of how you did that? Do these need to dry out naturally? I totally enjoyed the layout.

  15. paul starr says:

    great for a first layout,scenery is very good.
    very impressive.

  16. Benny says:

    Very impressing. I’m especially impressed by the clouds.

  17. chris says:

    I like the layout. and this looks like you did this stuff forever with experience. first time?? wowwowowowo. nice.

  18. John says:

    Very nicely done !!

  19. John says:

    Great Job

  20. 'nother grandpa says:

    I’ll parrot John Fuller and others: You are a great inspiration for a newbie. I am in planniing stage and might just steel from you (Ideas– you’re home is safe from me!!) I like the simplicity of your benchwork and yes, your sky is marvelous. Good luck and keep at it and definitely keep all of us in the loop on your progress.

  21. tom says:

    Stuart … A Job Well Done!

    The sky and cloud backdrop is amazing!

    Only 5 months to accomplish this model railroad and your first one I am impressed.

    Note: everyone that has shared something to this site and for Al to bring it to us … this model railroad layout can serve as a testament to thoughs efforts.

    Thank you Staurt: Al: and everyone for sharing and to see what thoughs efforts have helped to create.

    Keep on training,

    Tom N

  22. TOM says:


  23. GREAT! hope my junk train track look’s that good. yes i get a lot of ebay junk track don’t have a lot of money . on a fix income. don’t have the big buck.that why i buy junk track.

  24. Ron Zimmerman (USA) says:

    Just fantastic work! The clouds are out of this world. Any tips on how to go about doing that? A little art class wouldn’t hurt.

    This site is so loaded with great ideas and how to’s. I have been saving all of the files for reference for my own effort. I have everything I need to get started and even “she who must be obeyed” is under control.

    I have a general question for all. When you have an effort as great as this, how do you keep it clean over time? I would imagine a vaccume cleaner would mess it up pretty fast but dust is dust and it will settle all over all of that beautiful scenery. Did you leave the opening in the middle for maintenance access? I thought of making a drop-in-panel for an area like that. The larger the layout, the more important it is to have access to everything in the back as well as tunnels where you know the derailments will take place.

  25. Ian Mc Donald says:

    what a great layout the scenery so real keep it up it shows you are really enjoying it . my first effort is in n scale no where as good as yours.very keen to see the progression. this layout gives lots of ideas for new comers to model railroad.

  26. Paul Brady says:

    excellent layout well thought out especially with the cut out middle section for access

  27. K Cunningham says:

    look’s great for a starter….you can come over and help me “get started”

  28. paul Otway says:

    looks neat!

  29. Arnie Steiner says:

    Hey Stuart,
    It’s an amazing amount of work you’ve accomplished in such a short time. And I like your creativity in using available non-commercial items with such success. Keep up the good work and photos as you progress with the layout.


  30. What a great first layout, anyone would think you’ve been building layouts for years, you’ve done a great job. I hope you enjoy it as much as possible before you decide it’s not enough as most of us do eventually, anyway great effort and good railroading in the future.


  31. K D Vartak says:

    Great Layout, I am also attempting a 8 X 4 Layout in HO scale period 1960, have some old Marklin three rail trains.
    I am 69 and from India I do read your letter regularly.
    This layout is a great inspiration and I hope my layout turns out to be half as good
    Great Going and good wishes

  32. Ian says:

    Well done Stu.
    What is Doc Bruce on about? What Yellow van? Is he looking at the same pics as me? Surely it is up to Stu how he builds HIS model.

  33. Paul Johnston (Ireland) says:


  34. Cameron Davies says:

    Great layout and scenery. I am very jealous of the space you have for this. I suspect if you keep up this pace for another 5 months you will be needing yet another room in the house.



  35. Chuck C. says:

    Hey Stuart! Excellent! For first try, second or third or whatever. You are a kindred spirit with all the au’naturale scenery items. I too will be using real plants and debris from my property. The NW has lots to offer. But I’m jealous again as I haven’t been able to start mine. Hope is on the horizon. I will also be studying all the great photos and tips on this website.
    I have a slight problem. Long ago decided to go with O scale, 3 rail (atlas) and in ten years have collected almost everything from track to accessories to hundreds of cars and locos. All tmcc too. It will take a rather large layout to make use of all this stuff. That much room isn’t quite available yet.
    However, every year at Christmas I set up a small layout on a 4×8. I’ve managed to cram a lot of track on it including a trestle, 3 switches, cross over and still room for accessories. This year I will go a bit further and send some pics.
    I want to throw out to everybody an idea for those with 0 scale, maybe any scale depending on how you go about it. I plan to custom build many accessories. Years ago I got a whole bunch of the Rock-n-Bok toys for my son. They have radio controlled gear and vehicles that are close to 1/43. I am in the process of cannibalizing the radios and mechanical stuff to bash some accessories. It works with a myriad of ideas!
    I really love trains and this website!

  36. Bryan Teel says:

    Beautiful work sir! Especially the sky and scenery!

    Just throwing out a suggestion on the sky. Your clouds are simply gorgeous but the sharp corners really take away from the effect. Using Masonite or other similar thing hardboard material to turn those corners into smooth curves would really enhance the work you do.

    I’d like to hear more on how you painted those clouds.

    Thanks for giving us a look at your creation!

  37. art marasco says:

    excellent layout. Is it in fact in HO gauge?

  38. I agree with what everyone else is saying, this is an excellent layout, but I’ve got to be a nuisance and ask, How did you do the sky and cloud backscene? I’m hopeless at drawing and painting so any help would be useful.
    Thanks for sharing the layout with us,
    Gordon Taylor

  39. Fred Smith says:

    It is a great start to a great lay out. Keep up the great work on the layout.

  40. TRPLAM says:

    great layout
    it would look great if you make a insert to go into the access hole that would drop out of the bottom.
    I think I would do a lake with some boats, people swimming at a little beach a boat ramp etc.
    and have a couple water falls coming down forming a creek that runs to the lake from the mountain areas.
    I have made a few ways of dropping the plug down the easiest two ways I found to do it is.
    1 you can have it so that it drops down on two side rails that you can slide the plug to the rear. This one has the closest tolerance and hard to see the plug while in place.
    2 use two hanging arms that will allow it to drop down and swing backwards sorta like a upside down tackle box lid.
    These two are fairly easy to set up, They have locking tabs to hold in place you just unlock the tabs and let the plug drop down and slide back out of the out of the way with ease, then you just push it back into place and lock when finished.
    3 Just have a couple of Locking tabs on #1 end of the hole and a 2X4 on the other end at the height needed to slide the other end of the plug onto place then push the locking end up and twist tabs,
    \ This one is simple BUT,,,, you will have to drop it to the floor while working.
    Either of these will work better if the hole and plug is tapered all sides so the top of the plug is smaller than the bottom.
    You will definitely want to taper it good and place a couple of small pieces of wood on each side of the hole that will guide the plug onto the 2×4 ledge for the #3 since it will not easily go into a hole that is the same size it is by hand
    I build layouts Sell TCS GarGraves Z-stuff etc, buy quality used trains to fix install DCC LEDs weather re-power etc then resale. I also do all of this for the public

  41. tom says:

    Your going to be a great model railroader, congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tom in AZ

  42. Peter Lymer says:

    Hi Stuart,

    Very well done. Most impressive.
    Continue to enjoy.


  43. Chriss says:

    Just curious as to why you didn’t lay down any roadbed between the track and the plywood surface? Wouldn’t that help with sound deadening? Looks like a nice layout I sure wish I had the room to put up something like that, I’m working in a very small 2.5′ x 7′ area only.

  44. Robert Shuman says:

    Very well done! I’ll be stealing some of your moss ideas.

  45. Robert Rolfe says:

    Stuart, Very impressing, GREAT JOB. All I can say is that I wish I had 1/4 that amount of talent. And I am with an earlier post, what’s up with doc Bruce, I do not see a yellow van or a rail crossing. Another thing that makes me upset is why do people have to put there two cents worth in on what he should do, it is his layout and he can do as he wishes. If you can do so much better, sent pictures, or just shut up and look at the ones sent to you.
    NV BOB

  46. Willard Wheelock says:

    Great job! Quite a beginning for better things to come! So very impressed with the clouds in the backdrop. How were they done?

  47. Rand Martin says:

    Beautiful layout. It looks like HO. Has anyone tried to use Christmas lights under a layout to light inside buildings or other structures? As one gathering train stuff and information to begin a layout, I am loaded with question.

    Rand in TX

  48. Gene Sebbins says:

    Beautiful clouds. Will you come put some on my backdrop? Gene

  49. Stuart
    You did a great job with your layout, really like every you had done so far.

  50. Sid Pratt says:

    Nothing like a project to keep the body and mind working.

  51. Great layout I love the passenger train on the mountain

  52. Joseph Boyle says:

    Check out the JOY OF PAINTING by Bob Ross for some ‘HAPPY CLOUDS. You can learn a lot about painting from him.

  53. Sam Johnson says:

    Really nice layout.
    A little arithmetic says your mountain in the back is a 6 or 7 percent grade. Can your locos pull trains up there? Or do you run consists?


  54. The colors are terrific. The little roots almost show in some of the plants being grown. Seems to be an equal interest in the trains and the colorful surroundings.

  55. Love all layouts. My 10 year old grandson a I have jumped in . I was wondering if anyone would help with home made turn table. Thanks

  56. Mike says:

    Hi I’ve been reading all of these emails and pictures for months also. I I am also getting ready to build my first layout I have a small layout in my garage I have been using to test everything I’ve been buying. I thank your layout is awesome, I can only wish my first layout turns out half as nice as yours, thank you for sharing you’re fine work.

  57. Tony Weisbecker says:

    Very ,very nice , simple beauty at its finest . Love the European locos for I’m a big fan especially very early locos and cars .Have tons of locos (built many Bowser loco) and everything to build but have never been able to start , not enough room .SOMEDAY , I hope to be that old ,Ha . Thanks for the idea .

  58. Jersey Shore John says:

    Ditto on giving inspiration to us beginners. I just completed the benchwork for my 12′ x 14′ HO railroad — my first — based (very) loosely on the Erie-Lackawanna. Seeing progress that fellow neophytes like Stuart have made inspires me to push forward in the track-laying and (ugh) wiring phases. If my scenery turns out to be half as good as Stuart’s I will be thrilled! Looking forward to seeing more!

  59. Bryan Smith says:

    What great work ? Can you do a how-to on tthe hillls and raised curved track?

  60. Matison says:

    It’s a wonderful start on what will be a great railway.

    As a fellow beginner, it shows me that my skills are woefully inadequate in comparison. I’ll will, however keep trying to improve things as I go.

  61. william janmes palmer says:

    awesome work for 5 months keep it up

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