N scale 3×5 layout update – Tom’s

Tom’s been in touch again with his N scale 3×5 layout. Have a look at what he’s been busy doing.

(His last post is here.)

“N scale 3×5 feet layout.

What I have been working on this past year is bring my plan to life.

Using woodland water I built the rapids and the water fall area.

All my building are card stock and I am presently looking to replace them because I believe I can do a better job framing them.

The other thing I learned is the size of the curves. Being a first timer – I wish I would have used curve track vice bending my own. The reason I would like a greater curve is be because the largest steam engine I can use is the 4-6-0 .

This layout is a light weight all form layout.


(All images are clickable.)

n scale 3x5 layout

n scale 3x5 layout

n scale 3x5 layout

n scale 3x5 layout

n scale 3x5 layout

n scale river

n scale curve loco

n scale truck

n scale sidings

(You can see Tom’s last post here.)

“Here’s another trick I learned for window glazing many years ago.

Go to your nearest store that sells Science KIts,…..ask them if the sell Microscope Glass Slides. The glass is easy to work with…..cut to shape with simple draw of a single side razor blade.

I use them for bldg windows, engine cab and passenger car (esp effective, since you can cover numerous openings based on the scale ie. (O HO or S).

God bless & Happy Modeling!


A big thanks to Tom and RJ.

As you all know, I’m a sucker for a layout update – I do love seeing how they change and morph. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

That’s all for today folks, but please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide.

Course I’m biased, but if you want to stop dreaming and start doing, it’s an easy first step.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

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

25 Responses to N scale 3×5 layout update – Tom’s

  1. Rod Mackay says:

    Lovely job! It’s no great penalty needing to use smaller locos, the big ones like 4-8-4s or whatever may go round slightly larger curves, but they look really silly doing so, with the smoke box hung way out to the side and the cab hardly meeting up with the tender front. Smaller engines not only look better on curves, they make the layout seem a lot bigger.

  2. Peter Evangel says:

    This layout is proof positive that even in a small space, you can have a really great layout! Job well done.

    Pete in Silicon Valley

  3. Max Snow says:

    I really like your layout. I have just built a 27’ by 6.5 ‘ table. I am o gauge. I am looking for ideas.

  4. Eric Rayner says:

    Very nice Tom and love the scenery especially the waterfall, looks natural.
    RJ plastic sheet for windows try a stationary store that sell clear binding covers ideal for all glazing.
    Eric (Leeds) UK.

  5. Ray says:

    Loved your layout design, especially the terrain design and construct. You have a gifted eye and talent for modeling.

  6. Warren Ferguson says:

    Great job, on your layout, Tom! All in a 3×5 foot area, too. I really like the rapids, I just wonder if the substructure of the cabin is sturdy enough to keep it from tumbling into the river when the party really starts rocking and rolling?

  7. Robert Brady says:

    me likey
    Great job, on your layout, Tom! . I really like the rapids, I just wonder if the substructure of the cabin is sturdy.

  8. Joe Wright says:

    Thank you for posting, great work

  9. dave says:

    says who needs a lot of space for a great fun layout !! Hey get a Shay loco they love a tight turn I don’t know if they are out there in N scale never seen one .

  10. Mr. Tom
    You have a beautiful layout and the waterfall is great.
    Art from Tampa Bay FL Area

  11. Ian McDonald says:

    great layout pictures. waterfall very impressive. thanks for sharing.

  12. David Wibbels says:

    I enjoyed the scenery treatment in the photos. good job with a difficult scale project. David of NW Georgia.

  13. Gary A. Jezierski says:

    Tom I really like your farm scene. Can you tell me where the backdrop came from? It’s exactly what I need for my farm. Thanks and keep up the great work!


  14. Ralph Jacobson says:

    Where can I see a full track plan for this 3 by 5 beauty.
    I am a True armchair modeler, never having built a permanent RR.
    A loop under a Christmas tree doesn’t count.
    My 50+ daughter rebuilds her layout about every 6 weeks.
    I collect locomotives, especially unusual styles like geese and geared types.
    My collection emphasizes On30 but ranges from T-gauge to G-gauge

  15. Tom Cornwell says:

    What a great layout, I am hoping to adapt one or two idea’s of yours into my 0N30 Layout Thankyou for posting it and to given novices like me inspiration.
    Once again Many thanks Tom Cornwell

  16. robert dale tiemann says:

    very nicee.

  17. Rob McCrain says:

    Minimum space, maximum fun. Small layouts can be just as engaging as large ones. Rob McCrain

  18. Greg Marples says:

    Great scenery! I think your problem isn’t that you hand laid your curves, it’s that you tried to make unrealistically tight radiuses (no doubt because of the small size of the layout). Also the turnouts look really tight. I used number 6 turnouts only in my yards, where switching engines will run, and hand laid very gentle ones on and off of the main lines where the mikados, 2-10-2’s and, hopefully someday even UP 9000’s run. Otherwise my curve radius is about 20”. It’s nice to have space!

  19. Frank Vozak says:

    This is a beautiful layout that nicely placing alot of railroading without being crowded. This layout reminds me of my friend Mike’s home HO layout that was carefully designed to put an ho layout for passenger train operations in an amazingly compact space. For years I had an N Scale traction layout in the corner of my social work office at a VA hospital, literally using a standard US Govt 3 by 2 bulletin board to lay out an urban suburban traction layout. My biggest challenge was finding short radius switches and trolleys, electric locos and freight cars that could make the tight curves and “look right”. Patients really enjoyed the layout and begged me to bring it back when I took it home. I became kind of famous in the hospital for the layout–eventually it went home when a new hospital director requested that we have very spare strictly business offices. Up until I retired inn 2018 patients an staff still asked about “my train” After retiring I built my N scale layout with a 100 foot mainline , a heavy electric line and a trolley line including a scale model of Chicago Grand Central Station and a downtown Chicago scene an oil refinery, a coal mine, a farm, a suburban community and an airport. I am going to put Tom’s layo0ut into memory on my computer so that I can revisit it.

  20. Terry Miller says:

    very nice, and if you want bigger radius for the curves, use flex-track in place of your hand-laid curves.

  21. Ed Horst says:

    Great layout, excellent build on your card stick houses, buildings.. If not glued down or easily removed, then you should be able to add your framing.. honestly those buildings look firm, but you know better.. Happy modeling

  22. Malcolm says:

    Flex track or not, the overall size of 3×5 is going to limit your curves. N scale (1:160) was a good choice, far better than HO, but wonder if he considered Z scale (1:220)? Plenty of Z available from Marklin and other European firms, AZL and Micro-trains in the US.

  23. Dave Karper says:

    Ton, all of Mister Lee’s printouts can be reduced to N scale.

  24. Brian Olson says:

    Model Railroading isn’t about space, as much as it is using the space you have. Great example here.

  25. robert dale tiemann says:

    i really like the landscape. very detailed.

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