N scale layouts 4×8 – Tom’s

There are lots of N scale layouts 4×8 on the blog now, and I’m really please to be able to add Tom’s.

And my word – look at all the comments below.

“Dear Al,

herein I would like to exhibit my “Catawissa Branch” of the Reading Railroad, an eastern US anthracite (hard coal) hauler.

I apologize, in advance, for the length of this description.

Catawissa is my birth town in Pennsylvania. Born in 1942, I have memories of steam locomotives and later, early diesel locomotives hauling long coal trains up the steep grade near my home.

I can still envision and hear the wheel slip of the drivers, slack taken out of the couplers and the steel-on-steel screeching of the wheels on rails.

I have been purchasing N scale engines and rolling stock since the 60’s when Reading Railroad items started to show up.

It mattered not if the items were ‘correct’, if they were marked Reading, I bought them.

On three occasions, I started constructing layouts but subsequent job assignments ended my efforts.

Being retired and house-bound by continuing bad weather the winter of 2014-2015, I decided to make a plan and construct an N scale layout based upon my recollections of my youth and train-watching in Catawissa.

As a youngster I would climb a bluff near my home where I could view trains on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western on the far side of the Susquehanna River, the Pennsylvania Railroad on the near shore and, of course, the Reading Lines nearest to my home.

The Reading had shops that burned down in our town before I was born.

I knew I wanted all three railroads on my layout, the Susquehanna River and its tributary, the Catawissa Creek, as well as a small portion of a canal that ran along the river. Black and white photo to follow.

Because of the N scale layouts 4×8 space constraint, I used ‘creative compaction’ to get most of the features represented…not necessarily in their correct location or scale, but in a workable plan.

I used maps obtained from the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society Museum I belong to for a starting point.

I made a 4′ x 8′ tracing paper sheet gridded into 12″ x 12″ squares.

I tried various track plans to get the three railroads to become separate operating lines as well as interconnected to run a train continuously on all three routes.

The grades are steep and the curves are tight…just like the real condition.

Catawissa Branch and its terrain limited equipment the Reading could operate on the Branch.

I had constructed the platform with plywood and solid 1″ X 4″s on the perimeter band and 1″ X 3″s underneath as supports 16″ o.c. glued and screwed.

I plan to hoist the layout to the ceiling of our small family room and wanted to keep its weight light.

The elevation of the layout is limited to the approximate height of actual surrounding ridges. Most clearances are minimal. Most flex track is laid over cork roadbed adhered to foam panels adhered to plywood.

Scenic contours utilize plaster gauze over balled newspaper (which was later removed), layers of foam board, plaster cast rock using Woodland Scenics molds and lightweight Hydrocal applied directly to shaped foam.

I brought actual rocks back from a visit ‘home’ because the local rock is an unusual reddish- brown color which I wanted to duplicate.

The native stone was used to make a paint match that was applied to the white plaster terrain prior to vegetation being added. The rocks, boulders, etc. were produced from crushing the natural real stone into small pieces and inserting them along the waterways and at the base of cliffs, etc.

Where possible I have tried to keep the theme around 1945-1955.

The roads and town streets had to be made narrow but I wanted to include them.

In the 1970’s I purchased used N gauge items from a retired gentleman not knowing when or if I would get to ever use them.

One item is an Arnold turntable with selector and a five stall roundhouse that was designed for it.

I wanted to use both in my plan however the roundhouse was too large. I reduced it to three stalls in order to squeeze in a small diesel-engine house and servicing area.

The railroad shop portion is fictitious as is the industrial sector.

I liked the scale of the Walthers cement plant which added to the skyline but I reduced it in height to accommodate the platform-to-ceiling when raised.

During my youth I remember several derailments, one of which sent cars into the river.

It was fascinating to watch the wreck trains clear the areas and I wanted to depict a derailment on my layout.

The wrecked hoppers and scattered coal are on an overlay that can be removed from the river along with the wreck train. Seaplanes at one time landed upriver on the Susquehanna so I added an aerial observer of the wreck scene.

The locomotives are DC. I chose not to rehab them to DCC and no mfgr produces DCC period engines for these lines. No operating sessions were planned, just my enjoyment of watching the trains run.

If you choose to share my layout with your readers, I hope they will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed, appreciated, learned and look forward to their efforts and comments in your blog.

Thank you, Al.

The map.

N scale layouts 4×8:

The first photo shows the paper pattern used to layout track, waterways, etc. The second photo shows beginning of foam board buildup.

N scale layouts 4x8 town

N scale layouts 4x8 bridge

N scale layouts 4x8 river

Photo of the abbreviated town of Catawissa showing our church, the Opera House and creek where we ice skated in winter and went swimming in summer.

The second photo shows the convergence of the Catawissa Creek and Susquehanna River.

Third photo shows the derailment of loaded hoppers into the Susquehanna and cleanup in progress.


A huge thanks to Tom. Really enjoyed the narrative. Just goes to show it happens to us all – life always gets in the way of a layout… But with a bit of planning it all comes together eventually.

It’s great to have add Tom’s to the N scale layouts 4×8 collection.

Now, a small rant:

I enjoy running the newsletter / blog – but every now and then, the trolls come out in force. And sometimes it does leave me thinking, why do I bother?

Well, I tell you why. Yes, I get abuse, but I also get the stuff that makes it worthwhile:

“Mr. Lee,

You are a GEM to make me part of your mailing list.

Some of it pertains to me (in the US) and some doesn’t, but, at the age of 67 it’s motivating me to finish my attic, and create a layout, and put on display all I’ve collected.

Thank you for all the inspiration, even if it frustrates me for not having what others have.


That’s all today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming, and don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your layout.

Remember, there’s never a good time to start so just jump in…



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. N scale stuff going bonkers at the mo.

PPS More N scale layouts here if that’s your thing.

77 Responses to N scale layouts 4×8 – Tom’s

  1. Hennie de Ruyter says:

    Very nice layout.
    Oh, the wonders of N-guage. My eyesight is too bad and the N-guage all packed away. Only have a basic HO-guage layout now… in 4×8.

  2. Gary O'Connor says:

    Great looking layout Tom. I really like the aerial views but I would love to see some photos from a more natural aspect and close up.
    A lot can happen in N gauge on an 8X4 and you certainly have taken advantage of that.
    Well done.

    Gary, Australia.

  3. Mike Trenary says:

    Very nice layout Tom. Keep on with the great work. I have a 5×10 layout I model after a short line in Illinois where I grew up in the 40s to 70s era.I live in Nevada now.. The main offices & round house were next to a Pillsbury grain elevator.The line I model also hauled coal from central Ill to Chicago for use by Commonwealth Edison power plants. The complex also was an intersect with a couple other main lines ( that have since been swallowed up by a larger line). I thought my model layout looked to cluttered until I saw yours.I have been about 11 years constructing my layout. So keep up the good work. MIKE

  4. Cary B says:

    The narrative and the layout are great. The fact that this is memories of your hometown makes it that much more interesting. I live in New Market MD little less than three hour drive away from Catawissa and already planning a road trip that way. Thanks for sharing and keep on model railroading.

    Cary B

  5. Frank Goessler says:

    I’m shocked. Why would anyone give you a hard time considering all the time and work you put into the website. And, what in the world are the filthy trolls complaining about? I guess some people aren’t truly happy unless they are trying to make everyone else around then just as miserable as they are. Keep up the good work. O gauge Frank in Saint Charles, MO.

  6. I love those first two scenic photos — so realistic — and the trees really make it. Deciduous trees really bring a special ‘air’ to the landscape. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jerry Artale says:

    As always Great Stuff

  8. Susan Cannon says:

    Tom, what a work of art! It is lovely, a wonderful tribute to your hometown, and an inspiration for all model builders. Congrats on all your hard work and dedication to detail.

    And Al, we love you. We thank you (most of us anyway!) for bringing these fabulous pics and stories to our inboxes. They are educational and invaluable to those needing to learn how to do this or that (like me!).

  9. Bill Mitchell says:

    I enjoyed the article. Could you submit a full track plan? Your concept of the 3 railroads is interesting. Thank you.

  10. Kevin McArdle says:

    I love n scale because a lot can be packed into a small space, but I work in ho and HOn3, because my eyesight isn’t what it was, and the same with building structures. Happy railroading.

  11. John Down says:

    Super job, Tom. You have inspired me to get off my duff and get cracking on my own N scale layout. BTW, I am somewhat familiar with the area you modeled, the northeastern PA (US) anthracite region. Great modeling opportunities afforded by it.

  12. Brian Law says:

    Hi Al

    I too want to re-iterate how much your efforts are appreciated and the arrival of your e-mails is eagerly anticipated.

    I have been “into” model railways since 1952 when parents bought my first Hornby Box set. Would you believe it at the age of 12 my mother sold my stuff whilst I was at school because I was then too old! In 1979 with the birth of my son it was the excuse I needed to start again and a layout was gradually built over a few years until with constant house moves due to work it became impossible to keep it going, so out came the boxes. Then 4 years ago with retirement the ultimate opportunity a “final” layout was started BUT then came the need for moving to a bungalow due to my bad knees and so back to the boxes and home hunting began. We have just had our offer accepted on a bungalow and so within the next few months a customer built “Hobby” room will be built and the great layout build will start.

    Having I been wasting my time with all these delays, well back in 1979 we had 2 locomotives, 4 coaches and 12 wagons. Now all raring to go we have 30 locomotives, 4 DMUs, 140 wagons and 36 coaches plus a stack of track, points, trackside buildings, town and village properties.

    As matters progress, with you permission I would to keep you updated with developments

    Best wishes for the future

    Brian Law

  13. Bob says:

    I liked the stories of steam from someone my age. Where I grew up I can remember the 0-8-0 switchers shunting cars in the night making up trains. We lived in good times

  14. Warren Ferguson says:

    Hi, Al, I just want to take the time to thank you for all you do. I read every article, look at every picture, and read all the comments every day. Never mind the trolls, if you can ignore them, they will go away. Eventually. It’s a shame there are those whose only enjoyment is tearing down others. I live in the American South, and while we may not be the most eloquent folks on earth, we do have some really good descriptive words. One of those words (well, actually more than one) applies to the trolls. I won’t use them here, but I’ll bet you can guess. Please, Keep Up The Good Work!

  15. Garry Schneider says:

    Thank you for persevering with your delightful efforts. As one who is just messing around with a 14′ x 16′ Lionel O gauge set up recalled from my start with trains seventy years ago, I find the service you provide to be invaluable. You are also kind enough in your writing that you make my very crude efforts seem worth pursuing. With the really professional work you often show, it would be all to easy for you to appear to be talking down to those who work at a more amateur level. Thank you for that, and for suffering the arrows of the sorrowful trolls without passing there ignorance on to the rest of us.
    Sedgwick, Maine. USA

  16. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    Awsome job Tom….That one crossing is a little scarry…lol….Neat planning and execution of your design…The great thing I see is that you are having FUN with it…

  17. Paul Schwartz says:

    I loved the narrative and the layout. Thanks for taking the time. Al, thanks for the great job of editing and sharing all the efforts, work and commentaries. I love seeing and reading what others do. And thanks for deleting the troll comments. While it may aggrevate you to receive that garbage, editing it out makes my day day and my visit with your blog most enjoyable. I hope it frustrates the trolls and sucks the air out of them after being relegated to oblivion.

  18. James D Smith says:

    Hi Al I too enjoy your articles and pictures from all over I am almost 80 and am in the process of putting together a small layout in a storage building. I am using tinplate track purchased used on Ebay as well as everything else. Tain;t much but it will br MY memories and it is a bit of a challenge to get all the used equipment to operate properly. Definitely a learn as you go project – but the thing is it is mine, I enjoy what I am doing with it and I am happy to show it off.
    Keep up the newsletters. we enjoy them no matter what scale or location.

  19. Thomas Murphy says:

    Very impressive Tom in both the narration and the photos!

  20. John says:

    Thanks for another excellent example of what can be achieved.
    Please, Al, take no notice of the trolls. Any criticism or moans reflect on those people and certainly not on you or what you do.

  21. Jerry E Hogue says:

    Al, thank you so much for the internal compass that keeps you going, in spite of the few trolls. I can’t imagine someone being a troll on a site like this; all model RR’s I’ve met love to see and share with other modelers. I’ve yet to meet a ‘nitpicker’ who complains that something is not exactly to scale nor a perfect match with the prototype, since everyone has something in their layout that’s been ‘made-to-fit’. I, like the others, appreciate learning from the work displayed, the stories, videos of construction in progress, etc. Most of all, I too am inspired and encouraged to keep going on my small N scale layout that just began two years ago as I entered retirement. Working with my grandson is a big bonus also. 🙂 Keep up the good work! Everyone loves what you’re doing for the hobby.

  22. Rob McCrain says:

    Dear Al, being on line makes it easy for the trolls to attack you. Any of us with an online presence get trolled. I get a lot of it. We are all happy you delete the junk mail befor it gets to us. Thank you for your wonderful news letter,
    Rob McCrain of Farland Howe

  23. David says:

    Really NICE. I grew up north of you up near the town of BRADFORD, PA, where CASE knives are made. We had a farm that was split by the Allegheny River. There was also a small railroad called the C &PA RR ( Coudersport and Port Allegheny Railroad ). Also, it is interesting to note that both of my grandfathers worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad out of Altoona , PA. I am now 77 but as a youth when they getting ready to phase out the steamers, I actually got to ride in the cab in a steamer that was being taken up to the Turntable. Of course the engineer did have has gloved hand over mine and we both “drove” the steamer up to the turn table and back to the shops. Little did I ever understand the history I was part of that day. David

  24. Jim Maitland says:


    Great job from another old time of the 40s. I spent some time on steamers with my dad on freight trains in the Midwest. Yow N gauge looks super. If you are ever in Baltimore come see us at the B&ORR Museum.

    Al keeper coming.

  25. Mike Richardson says:

    Tom, I really enjoyed your explanation of the reason for your layout and the great work you have done in building it. Keep up the good work.

  26. Don says:

    To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “You can please some of the people some of the time . . . .” I am not a modeler but I do a lot of woodworking and I have gleaned a number of ideas from your posts. There are some posts that I lose interest in so I skip over them. Others I read and watch with total fascination. Whenever you post something that really grabs me, I’m inclined to write a note expressing my appreciation. When you post something of no interest to me, I just back out and move on to my next email. Life is too short to spend it bellyaching. What you are doing is YOUR passion. Don’t let the trolls take that away from you.
    Don Garner

  27. Ak Jim says:

    Awesome! I hope to someday get a nice N gage layout up and running. It will have to wait a few more years but these emails and website are real motivation, thanks!
    Ak Jim

  28. Rod Mackay says:

    Lovely job Tom, those rivers look superb and really natural. Hope you aren’t put off by the comment about it looking cramped, your map extract makes clear the real thing was quite a shoehorn job, we had a similar area near where I grew up, the Taff gorge, which had two railways, an industrial tramroad, a canal, a river and two roads through it plus a third railway crossing it on a high level viaduct!

  29. Gary P. Dettl says:

    Dear Tom
    Fantastic layout, very nice job.

    And Dear Al
    Forget the Trolls, they are dumb heads if they do not or cannot appreciate what you do. What you do is a lot of work for you,but brings a lot of enjoyment and ideas to the rest of us. Please keep it up.

  30. Al,

    I’m a 73.5 year old grandmother who has always loved trains and never had my own. When my grandson was born, I began buying him Thomas the Tank Engine with most of the trains, a mile worth of wooden track and many accessories. Over the years other toys such as size correct astronauts were introduced. When the world was given photos from the fly-by of Pluto, those little guys became Plutonians attacking Sodor. More recently, the new and original Star Wars cast has joined the Thomas trains to hold back the Plutonians who had brought along dragons from “How to Train Your Dragon” and Jurassic Park.

    Al, you may be asking what this has to do with you and the answer is that you and your wonderful website has been my adult release for all things “TRAINS!”
    I still don’t have a set other that Jacob’s; HOWEVER, you and your faithful folks have entertained my heart and mind for several years.

    You provide the most wonderful bridge for all the regulars and for those like me who love to be part of Al’s Train Family.

    TROLLS are cowards who hide behind an anonymous link provided by the Internet. They are not smart enough or talented enough to join in and share the fun, nor are the humble enough to know that beginners usually need help.

    TROLLS are never worth anyone’s time and sometimes we hurt ourselves by giving them the time of day. As soon as you see one: HIT DELETE!

    Thanks for ALL that you do for so many!!

  31. Ramsey R. Arnold says:

    Thank you Al, for your great love of the hobby AND so wonderfully passing it on with so many benefits to all of us, who care.

    Tom, I come from ’42 (Staten Island, NY). Heading into the next 1/4 century!
    I believe your wonderful 4 x 8, with the associated history has inspired me to
    launch my 4 x 8, but I’ll be tight using HO (my club’s scale). You gave me an idea as what to model. The coal trains come to S.I. for major Con Edison powerhouse which has machine which picks up hopper and dumps it into pulverizer (becomes powder before going up conveyor to main house/furnace). Trains come in from NJ/PA over vertical lift bridge (my dad (structural ironworker) helped build. World’s largest, at least at that time. Proctor & Gamble had Port Ivory to the N, with Goethals bridge to the S. I think this would be a challenging/rewarding experience to model, especially the bridges (would have to be scratch built). Could compress most into PA/NJ. More as this develops. Could be time for Al’s E-Book. Ramsey A. Montrose, CO USA.

  32. Shaun Pollard NZ says:

    Nice job Tom, do you happen to have a track plan?
    My place is 8×3.5 feet – so am hoping to see your plan and see if I got adapt it to fit – if that’s ok with you of course?

  33. Steve Gardner says:

    In my life, I have always found that some folks just get a kick out of being a pain in the rump. It always makes me feel good to ignore them. I hope you can do the same. We all love what you are doing and admire you and would feel a big hole in our world if you quit. Ignore the boneheads, I always say. Life is too short not to be joyful.

    Thank you.


  34. Al.
    just don’t let the trolls bother you , they try to beat the fun out of any good thing now days because they belong to the group of people that want to destroy the entire internet completely .
    You can’t give them want they want if you know they are a bunch of warped people with a bad attitude for life in general .
    You are helping others who need the model R.R.s to keep their sanity !

  35. Garry Mitchell says:

    Your rant a the end of Tom’s 4 x 8 N scale:
    Consider the source, some people will pick apart even the smallest flaw in others excellent accomplishments. Remember the “Bell Curve” in grade school?
    Some fall at the bottom of the curve. They are usually the ones that do the picking apart and should just be ignored.
    Imagine your modeler that invest countless hours building a scene even though they may know that they are not that talented and are proud of what they have done. They get great enjoyment from the project and IT IS FOR THEMSELVES!
    Then someone comes along and tears into their self esteem, shame on that person.
    Your newsletter and links serve a great number of appreciative people. Please don’t let the few ruin it for the many, just consider the source.

  36. Stephen Bee says:

    Hi Al – from New Zealand
    I haven’t yet managed to get the tables made for my layout to begin to take shape, but i want to thank you for acting as the ‘fulcrum’ for a sizable number of railway modelers through your website. You have been instrumental in re-igniting my interest now that I am retired. It’s a shame that some people only get their joy from knocking the work and pleasure of others; no real joy in their life without it I guess… Sad! Ignore them.
    Keep up the great work, videos, advices, sharings and all !

  37. Tom Sallee says:

    Great Job!. I like towns where you are able to see both the front and the back of the buildings. Your train crash was really creative. Can you imagine the forces involved when those cars were ramming into each other.
    Am looking forward to your future posts.

  38. André Scholtz says:

    Dear Al,

    I have been receiving your communications for a couple of years now And wish to express my appreciation for the trouble you go to to keep the stories and reports coming. Why anyone would want to give you grief is beyond my understanding! I have benefited beyond measure from the information shared by you and your readers.

    Best wishes from South Africa!

    André Scholtz

  39. Des Cole says:

    Dear Al. I am in the process of building an N gauge layout which is my first attempt at anything like this. Since starting I have been able to get a load of information from you and your contributors which has helped me a lot.
    I very much appreciate your efforts and hope that the idiot trolls out there have no effect on your efforts.

  40. Brett taylor says:

    Hi Al
    I don’t comment often
    but look forward to your emails on a daily basis
    i am still working on laying track and electrifying points etc
    it is HO scale
    really enjoy reading the posts and the comments
    Please keep up your hard work

    A job well done
    Brett Australia

  41. Dave in Ontario says:

    I am proud to be a model ‘Ferroequinologist’, in my latter ’70’s – and I absolutely love to receive and enjoy Al’s daily window into the RR hobby world.

    My own ‘cherished moment’ in RR history was to forgo lunch one day in 1967 for the 30 mile bushroad drive from Wawa to Hawk Junction on the Algoma Central Railroad, We climbed to embankment and patiently awaited the scheduled one-time arrival of Canada’s famous ‘Centennial Train’. We were totally unprepared to hear the train horn play out the opening three tones of our national anthem ‘Oh Canada’, as it came into our sight through the dense boreal forest.
    What a moving event ! To see (and hear) this special run though our own wilderness ‘backyard’; and, appropriately pulling one of our own ACR cabooses. I am currently trying to rebuild that memorable incident into my own HO layout.

  42. tom in az says:

    Wow everybody writes such great stuff. I guess I missed the trolls. Lucky me. Tom my name is Tom also I have 3 layouts first is a N scale in a spare bedroom, it wraps around 2 walls. I will soon be 74 and N is getting harder to see so I built a HO on my large back covered patio. started 4×8 now runs all over the place. I am working on the 3rd in my work shop, another HO now doing a desert scene! why not I live in Arizona. I model the same exact way you do, I love your narrative and it sounded so much like my work, I never got to be around real trains but love the hobby and go see real ones when I can. Like to see more Pics. Al love your work, I look fwd to your post everyday. Tom in Payson Arizona

  43. Harry H says:

    Al – don’t let the Trolls get you down. Keep up the brilliant work that you do it gives us old retired guys some sanity and reason to keep plugging along with our model layouts.

  44. Bob says:

    Fantastic planning, great use of the space and very good, make that excellent, scenery. The train derailment, a great

  45. Patti says:

    Awesome back story! Y’all keep em coming. Not only do I learn loads, it’s entertaining as well. Keep up the great work!
    Patti in Curdsville, VA

  46. Stephen Gispanski says:

    Great job Tom, I love how much of the little N Gage you can install on a 4 x 8. Love the landscape, so real looking. I am going to be working with 0 Gage & HO gage real soon so I will be taking pictures & video from the start. I have a 11 x 11 room to work with, so I should be able to have a good size table. Maybe a 5 x 11, I really do not know at this time but a 5 x 11 table sound really good. Keep up the great work and yes I do read and look at all the set ups that every has and are working on at this time. Thank you every one.
    St.Petersburg Florida.
    P.S.I am going to think of a good name for me, I do like to have the input from every one to help me.

  47. Peter Pocock says:

    Hi Al
    What the Trolls don’t grasp is the fact that while we wonder if they are Trolls, as soon as they open their mouths or perform a deed, we Know they are! Bit of a give away really.
    Keep up the good work, you get way more positive feed back anyway.
    Albany, West’ Australia.

  48. John Birch says:

    Message to Tom. I have a layout that is hoisted to the roof of our garage. I have learned a great deal from doing so and trial and error. If you wish to contact me for some tips/thoughts about the project, I am happy to discuss it with you and give some thoughts.
    PS I’m sure Al will give you my email address.

  49. Bob Walker says:

    Hi Al… please know that your efforts do not go unnoticed & are truly appreciated by the rest of us (even those of us who have not even built their layouts yet – grin)… here in the states, many of us are shocked & dismayed that this country actually elected little more than an “internet troll” as it’s president (yikes!!) & we certainly don’t need such sad & pathetic individuals trying to ruin a great web-site such as yours… thanx for persevering & keeping it going… warmest & best from Bob W, NH, USA.

  50. Geoff Britland says:

    Hi. Like many of those who have commented I really enjoyed Tom’s narrative and it is surely a wonderful thing to attempt to encapsulate in creative model form memories from our youth. I am attempting to do just that in a model set in the London Midland region of British Railways in the summer of 1958.

    Congratulations to Tom. He seems to be proceeding with his layout in a well planned manner and the number of comments his post has attracted reflects the fact that many of us were impressed.
    Best Regards,
    Geoff (Manchester, United Kingdom)

  51. Tom Durham says:

    Reply to John re: hoisting
    John, thanks for your offer on hoisting info…at this time I have installed an electric hoist from Harbor Freight (440 lbs cap) between the overhead floor joists. I use four wire cables connected by a system my neighbor (an On3 superb modeler) had seen years ago. Each cable is attached to a stainless steel custom bracket that can be detached from the corners of the layout when the module is lowered onto support stands. I would appreciate any suggestions you have that would further simplify the installation. Again, thanks for your offer. Tom

  52. bob feehrer says:

    as a fellow pennsy native who is also working with n scale it is inspiring to see what is possible with small gauge modeling. where I lived as a child there was an x crossing of reading and prr tracks next to the susky river in sunbury

  53. Bob Filipiak says:

    I was born in Shamokin just up the road from Sunbury I ’44 and my grandmother ‘s house was on a hill oveooming the Reading yard. I Remember spending hours near the yard watching the steam engines. I also remember seeing the first deisel. It was a switcher. Loved the howl of the double boiler “Black Diamond” that would roll through the valley late at night hauling coal from Scranton area toward Sunbury and the on to Harriburg and points beyond. Great job Tom it brings back fond memories of my youth.

  54. D.J.Radanovich, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. says:

    Wow! So many comments. The layout is superb. They say you can never go home, but no one says you can’t recreate it in miniature. I love the phot with the airplane in it. And the prop is turning full speed! (Unlike what I did over the Gulf of Mexico!!!) Your part of the country is so very beautiful. Very much of my HO layout has to do with my 81 year history: People, places and things. Like You, I relive the past through the layout. Keep up the great work.

  55. Terry Plunkett says:

    Hi Al,
    Your regular posts are always a delight, and you probably have a fair idea how many of us love every one of them, regardless of origin, quality of the posts, etc. The resource for modellers is invaluable, and there’s a lot of fun in much of the stuff you dish up too. Often, there is constructive comment on various topics, all of which is healthy if done in a sensible and respectful way.

    For the oxygen thieves who can’t manage to be constructive and decent about their dealings with you, I suggest that you ignore them completely, place them on your “blocked senders” or “junk mail” lists, and hope (as we all do) that the fleas of a thousand camels will infest their underwear forthwith!
    Best Regards,
    Plunko, NSW, Australia

  56. Very nice layout. I have been through Catawissa several times on my way to Bloomsburg and remember the bridges and tracks on both sides of the river. Looking at your layout the detail is very good, like being there in real life. Well done.

  57. Jim AzZ says:

    Nice. You’ve modeled some good looking bridges with realistic scenery effects. Nice touch with the airplane. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  58. Milton says:

    Agree with all the positive comments! Also your blog is very beneficial to me too! Going on 74, I’ve eliminated one duckunder and I’m having a good time! Keep on keeping on!

  59. Allen Wagener says:

    I Fail to see how some narrow minded people can find fault with your website. All I have seen from your site over the years is information and ideas that is sent to you from readers like me. How someone can find fault with you for posting these comments and ideas that others sent to you, boggles the mind. These people should not read this site if it is not up to their standards. I will keep on reading your blog as long as you will keep it available. I am using many ideas from your blog and I for one would hate to see it go away. GO AL…
    Allen W Minnesota USA

  60. Bob says:

    Tom, loved your story about your railroad, and growing up amongst it all, obviously lots of great memories there, and the pictures show it all, thank you for sharing it with us.

  61. George Zaky says:

    You may not want to publish this. As Garry Mitchell stated the bell curve applies always and that there are more horses asses than horses and they are the at the bottom of the curve.
    Your blog is VITAL ! It is part of my morning routine and as a result you allowed me to make friends in my mind who share their great talents, ideas, and creativity and your blog is my happy spot. The trolls will never attain any greatness or recognition because they are horses asses. They are low life and what you MUST do is feel pity for them for they will never know joy, marvel, appreciation and most of all love for something.
    Your work to me is so special and I cant thank you enough.
    Forge ahead with vigor and to hell with low life. They are a waste of time.
    The Hall of Fame is full of winners as is your true following who need your hard work.
    So there

  62. Peter Briggs says:

    Alister, I cannot bleieve you get negative responses?????? My God you are doing bsically what the missionaries did in Africa – bringing Railways to all!!!! well, its good comparison. Just unbelievable. You keep it up old son you are a star!!!!!
    All the very best
    Peter in Australia

  63. Will in NM says:

    Nice layout Tom! I’d love to see photos of that turntable and roundhouse, etc. Also, it would be nice to have an overall shot of the whole layout so we could see how it all fits together, Your train wreck scene is fantastic! Also, the back story of how it all relates to your childhood makes it all more interesting. Thank you for sharing the story and your photos.

    Al, You provide such a tremendous service to the model railroading community, I can’t imagine what anyone could find to criticize you about. Please continue your great work in hosting this blog and ignore the dumbkopfs who complain.

  64. Robert Burke says:

    Al, another ‘thank you’ from the other end of the world, New Zealand. Still finishing all the ‘improvements’ in our new home before starting on a layout in a bedroom I managed to commandeer, but look forward to all the inspirational ideas in your emails. As for trolls, I just remind myself of a family saying, “Never get into a battle of wits with an unarmed man”, but thank you for taking the time to delete them. You are appreciated – all around the world. Greetings to all from Whangārei, NZ.

  65. Dwight in Toronto says:

    Hey Alastair. Surely there WILL come a day when you will, rightfully, justfiably, understandably and regrettably, have to call it a day. And as you’ve seen from the many supportive comments above, that day will be a sad one for your followers around the world. But please, just don’t ever let your decision be as a result of the insensitive ignorance displayed by what must surely be less than 1% of the comments you get.

  66. Hugh Glasgow says:

    Many thanks for showing your layout. I’ve read where people have made their layouts like the original railroad, but never quite figured out how to do it. With your map and the tracing paper sheet below the map, I now can see how this is achieved! In short, it’s fantastic! I haven’t started my railroad as of yet, however, I do have ideas and your pike has really inspired me! Way to go and educate at the same time!
    As a few of your readers have stated, trolls are with us always. They are not happy until they can make others miserable! However, they do serve a function of making us to continue that much more so. All their negative energy only fuels our positive drive to strive that much harder for what we want. It’s always the naysayers who have nothing, to browbeat the achievers who are building something that enriches their lives. Learning new ideas and creating something is inherent to a healthy mind, for it’s part of man’s duty to create and move forward.
    My 2 cents!

  67. Frank Fleury says:

    If someone has a problem with your site, well, to quote a famous person, “Let them eat cake!”. Your site clearly has motivated many over the years to take up one of the most interesting and certainly the most versatile hobbies available. THANK YOU!!!
    Personally, your site and the introduction of an N scale layout by one of the members of the British Columbia Society of Model Engineers (BCSME.ORG) along with a recent move to a home with enough room for MY layout has prompted me to ACTUALLY START building. I am still in the planning stage, not of the track plan, that is fixed, but building a table that will hold the track and the necessary electronics in a way that is transportable if I move. More on that later.
    It is because of the above events, but mostly your site, that this project has progressed as far as it has.
    As I finally start the physical construction later this year, I will send pictures and a history of the D&L Railway.
    Thank you for all your encouragement and the encouragement of all the others who have already started their empires.
    Frank in British Columbia, Canada

  68. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Tom great looking layout just outstanding I do O scale, you have a great layout thanks for sharing!

    Al we thank you for your OUTSTANDING WORK! We all know we have a few screw balls out there, That just can’t keep it to them self’s, So Thanks For Having this Great Site! God Speed Al !!!!!

  69. Hi Tom, I’ve been reading this site for about 6 years now and must say, i never thought i would recognize anything on it until this post came on. The black and white pic of the Rupert/Catawissa area caught my eye right away. My wife and I grew up in Danville and bought bought our first home in Catawissa. Everything you have modelled and described is just how i remember it years ago. We left the area in 1990 and now reside in Atlanta GA. Not sure if you can get it in or not, but it would be great to add the indian head in rocks oppositet the canal and the old wooden covered bridge that crossed fishing creek into bloomsburg.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your great work and please let us know how it turns out.

  70. Erick says:

    Nice workmanship on the layout.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope mine comes out that good.

  71. Dennis says:

    I can’t imagine what complaints anyone could have on this site, although there are one or two whose criticism of others frustrates me…okay one. I think this is a great newsletter, and I enjoy looking at everybody’s contribution. Maybe you should post the trolls and we can drive them away…I’m sometimes up for giving a good verbal drubbing… 🙂

  72. Dan says:

    Tom, great layout! I really enjoyed hearing about the history of the area which I traveled thru during my many trips from the Mount Carmel -Shamokin area to Bloomsburg.

  73. Harold Payne says:

    Thanks for the newsletter.
    I enjoy your posts and info.
    The negative comments are to be
    As my mom always says, If you don’t
    have any good to say, keep your mouth
    Have a better day.

  74. Dave Karper says:

    Tom,Good job of compression allowing so much of interest in your available space. Stephen Gispanski: You might want to think in terms of around the wall, with a depth of two feet.This way you could have 33 feet of run around the room, with a point to to point layout with facilities and turntables at both ends. Real railroads don’t run in loops. Point to point is more realistic, although tack could be built on the fourth with with a lift out in the form of a bridge across the door for continuous running. Al: Troll- Festering blight on the face of the earth. Also, human form of ecological disaster. Don’t let the bastards get you!! Just to let you know,I am chomping at the bit to get started, but I can’t come up with the space yet. P.S to Stephen; there are several styles and designs of bridges and lift outs on this sight.

  75. Brian Olson says:

    Wonderful backstory and history as the foundation of your layout.

  76. JOHN BULLOCK says:

    Tom, just about everyone here loves to hear a personal story that eventually plays out through the creation of a layout. Yours is spectacular. Love the derailment scene and the fact that you’ve made it removeable/temporary is even better. As others have stated, you’ve done well with “compression” issues. Thanks for sharing.

  77. TJK says:

    While TROLLS have been mentioned in this posting, I have noticed the biggest TROLL of all has been absent today. I will refrain from mentioning any names.

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