U shaped HO scale – Tom’s

Tom’s been busy on his U shaped HO scale layout:

“This is my first serious attempt . It is HO. Been at it about 3 or 4 years. Other hobbies get in the way, especially in summer!

Started out with diesel power circa 1990 to present day.

Recently I have decided to build a much larger layout in one of my business buildings when I retire. So I am changing this layout to steam era 1950-1960s.

The larger layout will be diesel. I will be able to work on the current U shaped HO scale layout in my basement until then.

I enjoy building mountains and scenery the most, so my layouts are based around the Appalachia region of Kentucky and Virginia and just generally the South. Of course a lot of that is coal mining.

Tom H. Ohio, USA.”

U shaped HO scale

U shaped HO scale

HO scale railroad

rock scenery HO layout

HO scale tunnel

model railroad

HO scale steam train trestle bridge

model train track plan

HO scale loading ballast

HO scale tunnel and bridge

HO scale fishing pond

U shaped HO scale rock face

U shaped HO scale laying track

U shaped HO scale

Stunning stuff from Tom. And his first layout too. For everybody else there is always the Beginner’s Guide.

U shaped layouts are always popular because of the thorny issue of access. It doesn’t matter how big a room you have for your layout, if you can’t get to all of it, comfortably, you’re sunk.

I know that may sound simple and obvious, but it’s something that comes up time and time again on the blog.

Now on to other stuff.

Thanks to everyone that’s answered a question on the new forum.

Here’s the page that lists or the questions of you can help someone out:

Forum questions.

Next, that famous engine the Flying Scotsman has sprung back to life. And I’ve had a few emails asking why the number on it has changed. It was 4472, but now it’s 60103. I haven’t a clue why – but I’d love to know if anyone does.

Also in the same bag, The Flying Scotsman’s claim to fame was being the first loco to do 100 mph – but some folk say it was The City of Truro.

Can anyone put me out of my misery??

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

model train answers

75 Responses to U shaped HO scale – Tom’s

  1. Ash says:

    Just one word “Amazing”. So realistic details. You are a real artist. Hats off.

  2. Dennis says:

    Hi Al,
    Love the e-mails and picking up a lot of tips for my soon to be started N gauge layout.
    Love the layout by Tom. Scenery is amazing.

    With regards to “resurrection of The Flying Scotsman have just lifted this quote from the NRM website from Andrew McLean, Head Curator at the National Railway Museum said:

    “The loco has been changed so often over the past 90 years that it is now practically impossible to present it in a wholly historically accurate appearance. As well as the currently most well-known guises of the apple green 4472 and the BR green 60103, Flying Scotsman has also been numbered 1472, 103, and 502.

    The loco will retain the double chimney and smoke deflectors it carried when the Museum acquired it in 2004. This being the case we have decided to present it in its final BR working appearance as far as is reasonably practicable.”

    So they have obviously decided to utilize one of its old BR numbers.


  3. Matthew Humphrey says:

    The Flying Scotsman is numbered as 60103 as that was it’s number while running for British Rail from 1948 till it was bought in the 60’s. The Flying Scotsman was the first recorded locomotive to hit 100 mph, the claim that City of Truro did it is valid hover as it wasn’t recorded at the time it doesn’t count

  4. Chris jordan says:

    Hi Al thanx for all your e-mails over the months very informative .the answer re 4472 is ue to portrail of Pre and wartime black Flying Scotsman is now in steam after re fit and numbered its original 60103:(now numerous models of varying colour schemes now being manufactured by Hornby and Bachmann etc) and it being a LNER loco and was changed via uk TOPS coding to 4472 when Br amalgamated all railway companies in 1948 and City of Truro: a GWR loco was reported the 1ST to clock the 100mph but not photographed or Dynomometer car verified. asa an Aside Flying Scotsman THE NAME started out as the route name to the north from London to Scotland I think on the West Coast Main Line first off in The Races To The North time period.

  5. Martin Gliddon says:

    60103 was its British Railways number. 4472 it’s LNER pre nationalisation number.

  6. PETE says:

    Hi Al, I think you’ll find that 60103 was the number allocated to the Flying Scotsman during her days under British Rail when she was also painted BR green and also black.

  7. ian impett says:

    Hi Al, Happy new year to you, YES The Scotsman had 2 numbers during it’s network day 4472 was it’s original LNER no BUT the British Rail no came in later, that’s the reason hence both numbers !!! I am pretty sure your right about the City of Truro as well I belive the old bulldog class were a very FAST loco for that time.
    Al you do us all a great and interesting service mate. keep it going.

  8. david howarth says:

    Nice layout you have built there tom ……and yes the Flying Scotsman was the first UK loco to officially do 100 MPH …Dangerous Dave

  9. Brian Messenger says:

    Tom, your layout looks great and the scenery is absolutely fantastic. Keep up the excellent work especially for a first timer. Brian – Knysna South Africa.

  10. Craig says:

    Just on the numbering for flying Scotsman
    It was originally 1472 when built
    Then renumbered to 4472 for the lner which is its most famous livery the apple green.
    It carried wartime black an numbers with 502 and 103.
    When it was passed into British rail ownership the number was changed to 60103
    In the overhauled stare it’s in British rail colours so carries the be number.
    Hope that helps

  11. Gary Reese says:

    Great layout Tom, I am especially impressed with the scenery. Keep up the good work. Would love a copy of your layout if possible.
    Gary R. Alabama USA

  12. Lynn says:

    Nice layout Tom. You are very tallented. I have been planning my retirement layout for some time and soon to lay the first tracks.

  13. john says:

    fantastic Tom my layout has taken 2 years so far but i will get there my illness slows me down, and yes the scotsman had this number given when it became BR this was cofirmed by Shildon NR museumwho said it had 3 numbers in all,1472 when built Then renumbered to 4472 then 60103 for BR

  14. Jim R says:

    Your scenery, weathering, water feature and attention to detail is the BEST I have ever scene. AMAZING! Please SHARE with us the finished product when you complete your layout. FANTASTIC job. Great photos!

    Jim R.
    Maryland, USA

  15. Len Walker says:

    Just simply incredible!

  16. john says:

    Some body said that GWR City of Truro Bulldog class loco was the first loco to top the 100 MPH speed. That was true to a point. Truro did clock 100 MPH but it was not officially timed, it was only done buy the staff, so was not an official record. The Scotsman speed check was done officially. So that is why the Scotsman holds the official record. Lot of red tape really. Truro did do it first and it was only a 4-4-0. and much older loco. LOL There again all the GWR locos were the best in Britain. LOL

  17. Andrew says:

    City of Truro “unofficially” did 100mph based on the timings of a postal worker onboard the train between two quarter mile posts. Flying Scotsman was the first train to be officially authenticated reaching 100 mph.

  18. Roy Forbes says:

    Hi Al and Tom. What a fantastic layout.
    I’ve been working on mine for about 3 years and it’s nowhere near as large as yours. Mine is just shy of 30 feet long by nearly 6 foot and consists of a scenic top deck with storage fiddle yards (still under construction).

    Incidentally I’m pretty sure that I heard on the radio this morning that The Flying Scotsman is today starting a series of test runs, currently painted black whilst she undergoes her tests and certification runs but carries a number 63103 (and I think without name boards) until the test are completed (about 2 weeks). She will then be returned to her usual green liveried colours and her old numbers.
    She is due to leave Paddington on the 5th June and will be coming North via my home town of Shrewsbury so I’m booking a day for that one and I also believe that she is booked to be on the Severn Valley Railway in Mid September. Can’t wait.
    Unfortunately I haven’t been able to confirm this as yet due to our faulty broadband in the area.
    Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year.

  19. Mike says:

    Another awesome layout !!!

  20. Rob McCrain says:

    Your rock face areas are some of the best I have seem. It is a most interesting layout. Thanks for posting.

  21. Alan roberts says:

    Lovely layout Tom, well worth all the time spent on it
    Flying Scotsman used the EAST COAST route north as did all LNER trains.
    LMS used the west coast route.
    By the way am I the only persons the world who doesn’t like FS?

  22. Phil says:

    Wow that’s bigger than my flat.
    but I must say that it is truly fantastic .
    I never make comments this is first time has made such impact looking at detail you have done .

  23. eric7 says:

    Excellent layout Tom can’t wait to see the finished model in 4 years.
    As to the Flying Scot well they should have stuck to 4472 as that is the one number that is known by all, enthusiast or not. I saw this flying through Selby station (N Yorkshire) many years ago and boy was it impressive.

    Eric (Leeds)

  24. Steve Hudacko says:

    You have the eye for details. You must spend time just looking to the world. I see you are about half finished with your layout. I am at the halfway point myself and do not like the idea of ever finishing it. Just working (I should say playing) with mountains roads, buildings and all the rest is so relaxing. I known your passion and know we share it with many others. Enjoy.
    Steve from Toms River NJ

  25. Rod Mackay says:

    City of Truro was timed, not by a postal worker, but by Charles Rous-Martin, a noted railway timing buff and commentator of his day, and IIRC he was on the train by invitation and the crew were asked to pull the stops out for him. True, he didn’t have the sort of kit devoted to later efforts such as the Mallard run, but Truro was running with a relatively light train, the up Plymouth mails, and the fast run was down Wellington bank, so it seems quite credible. I have signalled Truro and seen it working a train, it is a good deal larger in the steel than it looks in photos.

  26. Pete Evangel says:

    Very nice layout. You say your going to build an even bigger one?! This layout is good size. I’d love to see the larger one when you get some stuff done on it. Love the mountains you build. The folks doing repelling is a nice touch. Keep us updated.

    Pete-cloudy San Jose CA.

  27. dayumm Al,
    Mate, you just keep getting these really AMAZING layouts to feed us!!
    and Tom’s pike is a “real PIP” to use a Brit slang term…..
    the scenery detail is extraordinary….wow….don’t know how he does it
    wotta guy!!
    keep ’em runnin’ fellas…!!!
    stjohn in long beach calif

  28. paul Otway says:

    Nice layout.

    As regarding the Flying Scotsman, in war time, when she was black, she carried 103 as the number.

    Paul from OZZie

  29. Herbert Ahrens says:

    To Tom H (Ohio US) – Love what you have done. Keep up the great work. I expect to start a (mini) layout, in ‘N’ gauge, this year, after many years of modelling absence. I hope I haven’t lost my touch while I am re-learning the hobby.

  30. Mike Pettruzzelli says:


  31. Victor Heffren says:

    Beautiful layout Scenery details are out of the world. I can only dream how many hours you put in. It is worth it. Thank you. Show us more as you move on. vic

  32. Ian Mc Donald says:

    what a great layout, those mountains and scenery un believable am looking forward to seeing more .

  33. Ian Campbell says:

    *Sigh* To have that much room, let alone any time!

  34. Ken Goldenberg says:

    Love it Tom, especially that open excursion car. It reminds me of the trains at Disneyland! I wish I had room for a layout but unfortunately in Southern California most homes do not have basements or even much attic space. Looking to do a small garden railroad one day.

  35. Thomas Murphy says:

    Hi Tom, you have an absolutely stunning layout. Your scenery is indescribably gratifying – so real, so striking. I’m sure that it would have taken the most tenacious artist 3 or 4 years to reach the point you achieved! Keep up your exemplary performance Tom. You are a valued inspiration to many.
    Sincerely, Tom, North East (yes it’s a town), MD, USA

  36. Chris jordan says:

    Hi Al info found out today as I watched its first public run on the ELR this black mostly matt does Flying Scotsman no favours and in 2 to 3 months time it is going back to Heritage centre in York to have back to BR GREEN and then rested a bit then off for a tour of all the Heritage centres in Britain to be run and displayed over the next 2 years as mileage for old boiler newly fitted this time will be up and static from then sadly like Mallard But watch the trusty press for that to all change when big big big dosh comes available hope that helps cheers M8 Chris

  37. Chris jordan says:

    Well hi again AND to Tom this time brilliant rock work cant wait for the nearest in picture helix to have its mountain Cover This has given me a gee-up to divert finances and go to next level with mine cheers for sharing

  38. Bob Carpenter says:

    Very nice Tom congrats on your first layout. Nice job. Just started my first layout last month, and having fun.

  39. Jack Quinlan says:

    That is a great looking layout. I am still trying my first one-at 65 years young!

  40. Ken Stramel says:

    Excellent job. You truly have the hobby down pat. Great work

  41. jack carrier says:

    A great job.You are using the gifts that God gave you and you bring a lot of great ides to all. My question is on wireing how do you keep it running smothley through the lay out ? One of my bigest problems is wireing

    Thank You ,
    God Bless
    Jack Carrier

  42. howdy tom (Tennessee here) your layout really dose inspire me..i am building a small L shaped layout in a spare bedroom .n scale is the only one that will fit ..keep up the good work …looking fo forward to seeing more..

  43. Max Dosser says:

    Absolutely Amazing. Can hardly believe it’s a first layout. Having so much space must be inspiring. Better than my 3m x 3m garden shed !
    As for the ‘Flying Scotsman’ I had the pleasure in riding on it when it was on tour in Australia in the mid 1980’s. In Victoria it’s run was from Melbourne to Seymour, a distance of 60 miles (100 km) on the only standard gauge track, (the Interstate to N.S.W) This was also because Seymour had the only turn table to suit.
    The rail gauge in Victoria is 5ft 3 1/2 in. In New South Wales they had longer and more varied runs for the ‘Flying Scotsman’ Their railways are all 4ft 8in standard gauge.

    Max Dosser
    Ferntree Gully, Vic.,

  44. Raymond Appenzeller says:

    Great layout and very inspiring to me! Thank you for sharing it! Ray A.

  45. Linda H says:

    Wow Tom your layout looks awesome. I too like mountains and scenery and you did a great job. Keep up the good work.

  46. Billy Mills says:

    got any measurements – length, width, etc

  47. Fine, fine, fine work Tom, certainly no beginner. You have some interesting MOW equipment, and those climbers will surely see the view worth it when they reach the top, and peer over the fence.

    Again, so very well done.

    MN Dan

  48. Stephen D Gispanski says:

    Nice layout Tom, I gave my real estate to my grandson, driving my wife boggo’s on setting up a train city’s in the corners of the house. Next I will have to hook the long track in between, just kidding, good idea if I was single. Lol this is our fifth house and the honey due list is almost done. Our next house will be our last, train room is a coming. I am still in building tables when I get time in a day to do so. Stackable tables. Still working on the first one, lol I will get one done one day. I am glad to have my grandson with me every day and VR is purty up there, check it out. Any way guys, I will have my trains running one day. Like I said before, great job on the train table Tom, your first layout, impressive.
    Until the next time, hats off to everyone

  49. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Tom H of Ohio…….Great looking layout and scenery. Mountains are first rate…..love those cliff climbers.

  50. Colin edinburgh says:

    Great layout so far. Cliff faces are particularly good. Well done. Please keep us updated.

    Have a search for mission impossible train crash video on the web. It’s spectacular. Pity about the loss of the engine as it obviously was in running condition

  51. Mark T. Pianka says:

    That is one sharp layout!! Man what else can u say great mountains!!

  52. Eric Kiehl says:

    Tom very nicely done . That is realistic to the tee.

    Eric the Firefighter St Louis Area.

  53. Will in NM says:

    Tom. That’s a wonderful layout you’ve created in just 3 or 4 years. Your scenery is top notch and it looks like you have some interesting train running options there. I really like your rock outcroppings with the mountain climber figures. They’ll get a real treat when they reach the top and see your two bathing beauties. 🙂 It looks like maybe you’re using Kato track on the unfinished section. Is that right or is it some other brand? Thanks for sharing your photos. I can’t wait to see your new layout when you get some photos of it.

    If you’re planning to model the 50’s to 60’s transition era, you could get by mixing in some steam coal drags with your diesel roster. The N&W in your neck of the woods was one of the last major RR’s to dieselize.

  54. Richard Boaste-Kelly says:

    Re Alan roberts says:
    at 3:05 pm

    By the way am I the only persons the world who doesn’t like FS?

    I’m with you on this one – in my humble opinion its only the media attention it’s received over the years that has made it so famous, and where it has travelled, Australia, USA etc – but as an Engine …… It’s now nothing more than “your grandfathers Broom” everything has been replaced on her. I did hear a story that she failed and that’s how she finished up in the Great Exhibition of 1923 … and that on her rebuild carried out by the NRM they discovered her frames were very slightly out of line, which explained why she ran with hot axle-boxes a lot of the time. In her favour she does attract attention to Steam Engines and encourages the youth of today to get involved in restoration projects.

  55. Erick says:

    Pretty Neat.

  56. Wayne Rybak says:

    Tom: Beautiful layout and scenery. You really have a knack for rocks and mountains. Excellent coloring. However, I do want to say I prefer the tunnel openings with structures vs the ones without. But overall you do good work.

  57. ted martin says:

    Happy New Year everyone. Not only is the layout outstanding, but the novel concepts in equipment and scenery make this one of the unique RRs everyone needs to see. I would hope that you will find the time Tom, to explain how you created the scenery and layout. I’m sure most of us will wait in anticipation for such posts. Mountain climbers; who would have thunk it.

  58. Old Ben says:

    Simply said FANTASTIC

  59. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Wow, the information that comes via this blog is amazing.

  60. Brian Olson says:

    Very, very nice. Love the creative ways people in this hobby create their own model railway worlds, regardless of scale, space or budget. Again, very nice.

  61. Philip Pridmore says:

    Hi Al,
    I would just like to clarify some specs of the City of Truro loco. It was not a bulldog, the prototype city was a modified Atbara class loco and the first 10 city’s were rebuilt Atbaras. The bulldogs had number 2 boilers and 5’8” driving wheels. The cities had number 4 boilers And 6’8” driving wheels. The speed attained was 102.3 miles per hour down Whiteball or Wellington bank?
    Ref:- Great Western Archive.
    Great Western Nut.

  62. Roger Turner says:

    Great layout Tom, Some of the best scenery i have seen, especially your rock work. pretty obvious you have great vision of what your layout shoud look like and great abiliuty to execute it. really like the people rappelling on the rock cliff, very well done.

    Roger in Kansas

  63. robert dale tiemann says:

    hard work is rewarded, even if it takes years, nice job.

  64. robert dale tiemann says:

    oh to have the time, space and resourses to do thi size and kind of layout. very nice job.

  65. DELMAR G SERVOSS says:

    what a layout took a lot of years

  66. Rich B. says:

    Many comments about me, what I’m going to do and what I’ve done. Then you could mimeograph the oohs, great, awesome and on going.

    Actually what else to say, the rails and scenery are the best. The mountains at first glance are African ant hill size on surface until you see the cliffs and chasms dwarfing everything else… boulders, rocks all over look like they belong as is, pond is perfect, can’t even envision any “wrongs” here at all. In only 3 years would imagine had to be worked on daily, dedication with lifelong reward every time even looked at.

    Only a few extension cords run, not bad at all and could bet underside wiring is just as well thought out. Well, maybe not what’s not seen. 🫣

    Regards, Rich B.

  67. Stephen S. says:

    Beautiful work, Tom! I especially like the Southern Railway theme, living in Georgia (USA) as I do. A couple of questions if you have a moment: 1) What is your benchwork/base track height above the floor? 2) Are you happy with the height, or would you change the height for your next layout? 3) What is the radius of the helix? Is that the Atlas Code 83 True-Track sectional track? Lastly: 4) What is the height above the base track level gained by the helix? Great job, and I look forward to seeing more photos as the layout progresses!

  68. Larry Schweitzer says:

    Wow, That’s what I call a REAL layout.

  69. Steve Ruple says:

    Excellent layout Tom, awesome scenery detail one of the best I’ve seen out of the many thousand’s of layouts I’ve seen on All’s site over the years. good job, can’t wait to see the rest of the layout done.

  70. Jim AZ says:

    Awesome layout. Have space, will build. Oh to have a basement. Well detailed modeling.

    Jim AZ

  71. Don says:

    awesome setup

  72. John McCloud says:

    It’s really nice to see an overview of your complete layout. So many times people post pictures of of segments of their projects and leave you wondering just how it relates to the rest of the scene. Thanks for your contribution and keep up the good work.

  73. Dave Karper says:

    Another undocumented one hundred twelve MPH. New York Central No. 999, a 4-4-0 in 1892.

  74. George A. Sease, Jr. says:

    Tom I am jealous of of your work. It looks fantastic.I am just going to have to be patient when I get back to work on it. It is kinda hard to do much when your back is out. Hopefully it will get better soon.
    George from South Carolina USA

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