Mining layout – Tom’s On30

Tom’s been in touch with his ON30 mining layout:


I don’t know if you would be interested or not but here are pictures of my layout.

I am now in the process of changing it from a 52″ high layout, to 4 30″x60″ modules and will be making an interface to meet up with other modules in my area of the country, basically California, USA.

This is an On30 mining layout in the early 20th Century. My new modules will be 48″ high and I will be adding a couple of operating oil wells and storage tanks.

The interface track to other modules will create a Wye if needed, but the main use for the layout will be a return loop to the rest of the modular layout.

I have never sent anything to any publication before. I do not know what to say but if you would ask, I will answer you to the best of my ability.

The last picture is my live steam train in 1.5″ scale.

It is a walking beam locomotive with a toybox caboose from the 1960s.

I made it into my caboose for the train containing the deep cycle battery, air compressor for the train brakes.


(Click to enlarge images.)

old mining layout

on30 model train mining layout

on30 mining layout

model railroad on30 mining layout

old mining model railroad

model train on30 mining layout

model railroad on30 mining layout

model railroad on30 old mining layout

on30 old mining layout

steam train

This is a rough sketch, I am not an artist in any shape or fashion. I think everything is there as it is and will be after the modifications to the modular shape with 5 modules.

on30 mining layout track plan


A huge thanks to Tom. What a layout – some cracking pics. His live steam train looks fun too.

When I first saw Tom’s layout, it reminded of two posts.

One was the ‘wild west Saloon’ printable building, which is at the bottom of this post.

wild west saloon

And the second was John’s HO scale mining layout.

Now on to something completley different, which has all come about after Fred posted a question on getting a backdrop printed out (Fred’s question is at the bottom of this post).

Turns out, it’s actually quite easy.

The consensus seems to be a 12″ by 144″ backdrop is easy to print.

Just put the file on a CD or memory stick, take it to any office stationers (Kinko / Office Max) and print it out on a smooth, self adhesive, vinyl with UV inks.

But then that got me thinking. Why are backdrops so exepensive to buy?

Could I create something – like the print out scenery – that is just as good, but cheaper?

And with some help from the Boy Wonder (well, a lot of help actually, with the technical and licensing side), I’ve come up with this: my first back drop.

Click on it to enlarge it.

The actual jpeg file is 12″ x 144″, and is a 66Mb download. The file was also created at 300dpi so it will print out great.

Even allowing for print costs, it slashes the price of a backdrop.

Anyhow, let me all know what you think.

If it’s something you’d like there a million and one that can be created.

You can grab the backdrop file, which is in a jpg format, for just $7.

As with everything on the site, it comes with a no-quibble 60 day money back guarantee. I do genuinely want you to be delighted with every product on the site.

I’ll leave it up for grabs for a few days then take it down. That why I can see whether to add it to the product range or not.

Please do let me know your thoughts in the comments box below. I’d love to hear what you think.

That’s all for today folks. I’ll finish with the latest from Hall of Fame member, Dave:

“Hi Al,

just uploaded this video, showing a couple of very useful items, the Railer is a great product for Loco’s.

I have a plastic one which is ok for non motorised stock i.e. coaches and wagons, but for the powered loco this is the answer, the railer picks up the power from the track and your Loco drives on to the track with wheels all where they should be on the tracks… also showing a buffer set with flashing light…



Latest money saving ebay cheat sheet is here.

A big thanks to Dave and Tom.

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.

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

34 Responses to Mining layout – Tom’s On30

  1. STEVE LEWIS says:

    Nice one Tom

    I have been running 0n30 for many years, ever since its first introduction, its a nice scale to use,

    Regards Steve (North Wales plenty of Narrow Gauge railways close by!)

  2. Robert Brady says:

    Bravo Dave! will look into the PROSES products.

  3. Scott Zieske says:

    Nice mining layout! It’s great to see a desert landscape for a change. Well done!!

  4. Greg says:

    Nice layout, Tom. Love the little details. Thanks.

  5. Chuck Young says:

    Tom, Great job, you nailed it with the desert landscape, I live in Southern Nevada, and you got it exactly right.

    Also, thanks for the track diagram! I wish everyone would show their overall layout as part of the photo spread… don’t know about anyone else, but I like to compare each photo to it’s location to other shots…


  6. Rube Simon says:

    Al, love your backdrop! If I ever get started, that’d be my choice…

  7. Larry says:

    I believe many of us need backdrops. Farming and Ranching country would be nice. Town to Country & Country to Town is ideal. 18″ high would be better !!!

  8. Larry says:

    OK but the one you just posted the clouds are way to near the hills/mountains. It confuses the outline of the hills and should be up in the sky further. I would buy it only if that were the case OR buy it if the clouds were not there and place the clouds in myself.

  9. Back drop looks great.Price is good. However, it does not fit with my layout.

  10. Don says:

    Very nicely done. Love the town scene and the largest building seems quite appropriate. 🙂

  11. Jeff in Cincinnati says:

    Your layout is fantastic looking partially do to your upper levels, I wouldn’t remove it. I am into O gauge and wish I had the space for elevations such as yours. Of course you can do what you want, its your layout, Whatever you decide i’m sure it will look great!

  12. Too much to say here…..
    Al, I love the backdrop idea and maybe some small scenery print outs and back drops would be nice additions to the range… Sorry I cannot take advantage of this one but I need to watch the pennies at the moment.
    As to Tom’s layout and Live Steamer…
    The layout is amazing (actually “jaw dropping” in its scenery. The ore bins are especially spectacular! I love the detail you can get with 1/4 inch scale and On30 helps keep the space required reasonable. (Easier to model an era when structures were smaller.) Being narrow gauge, On30 makes smaller structures look larger/more plausible also.
    As to the walking beam engine and toy box caboose. I do not remember the manufacturer but he did make a series of those locomotives and every one that I have seen runs like the proverbial Swiss watch. I remember the toy box caboose being popular in the 1970’s but have not seen one in a long time. I love the little four wheel boxcar and wonder how it was made. I have tried to build some four wheel cars for 7.5 inch gauge and have found that they are more difficult than they look.
    “John from Cali”

  13. Michael Bryant says:

    Al, the backdrop file sounds good & at a good cd price. I live in the US & to have a 12″X144″ print made depending on paper type will cost $40 to $50 to print, still not a bad price if the scene fits your needs. Love your emails

  14. Robert Glenn says:

    What color was the paint you used for base ground cover, great system. Just new to on30 after being away since 1958, now retired have now have plenty of time. Working o Durango to Silverton . Thank you.

  15. Malcolm Hodgson says:

    An awesome mining layout. Photo realistic modelling. Thanks for sharing this.


  16. Fred Paul says:

    Very nice layout Tom I Have been into on30 now for 8yrs and love it .Fred

  17. Ennis Hackman says:

    Great photos, the color is very impressive it gets the feel of the desert as I live near one

  18. Scott Boess says:

    I’m the builder of the layout in Tom’s post. I sold it to him through eBay a couple years ago. While I’m glad he’s enjoying the layout I would have appreciated if he had acknowledged my efforts. The pictures posted were taken by me in my garage before selling the layout. I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions about it’s construction.

  19. Wayne Sharp says:

    Great Layout! I have recently retired and am in process of an On30 project of my own in a 5′ x 14′ layout ( Sherryville Lumber & Mining Co) I am curious as to the double ore transfer. Where can I get the plans for this model? Thanks,

  20. Scott says:

    The ore transfer bins are simply two Classic Miniatures kits with some scratch built trestlework connecting them. No plans, just some imagination and lots of head scratching. Lol

  21. Jim says:

    WOW, that is all that is needed

  22. Robert says:

    Very nice! I was wondering just how you are doing you tram cables? Do they stop at the edge of the track? Pics would be awesome. Happy modeling.

  23. Bob Amling says:

    Great idea for the backdrop. Larry makes a good point about the clouds and the 18 “ height.
    Too bad I don’t have an application for that type of scenery.
    My only background is the NYC skyline with the Empire State Building front and center. I’ll send a photo if you want to include it.
    Bob in NJ

  24. Patrick Talley says:


    I seem to remember you having backdrops available once before some time ago. what scale is the 12 inch by 144 inch please ? Are these scalable like your other print out buildings ?

  25. Walt Klinger says:

    Just right on with the mining layout. You really brought back some serious memories of my days as a field geologist at places like Gold Hill, Ely, Tonnapah NV. Can almost feel the afternoon heat, taste the acrid air from the mine tailings blowing in breeze, smell the sagebrush, &c.
    Love what you did with the landscape. What do you do to put down such accurate beautiful scenery? Thanks. Have rock hammer, will travel.

  26. Will in NM says:

    That’s a great On30 layout. The desert landscape is perfect! I love all the mines and tipples. That’s a shame that Tom didn’t acknowledge Scott as the builder of this lovely layout. And the fact that it’s moveable in sections is even better. Thanks to both of you for sharing the photos and track plan.

    Lovely video and great suggestions. The Proses Railer looks like just the ticket, though a bit pricey here in the US at $45 – $50.

  27. Maitland P. says:

    I don’t normally make comments but that is a nice looking layout. One of the nicest I have seen.

  28. robert dale tiemann says:

    nice work. good layout.

  29. santafedan says:


  30. Greg Marples says:

    The backdrop is a great idea! Rolling hills, farm country, city scapes, etc. would be nice also. Taller (18”, 24”) would be better.

  31. Stephen Hill says:

    Tom , totally awesome layout , great detail and scenery , very subtle but very nicely done . I really like your locomotive and the overhead crane , excellent details . Really sharp layout , good luck with the club you’ve aligned with , that’ll be rewarding .

  32. Gerald Edgar says:

    Best replication of a desert I’ve seen in any scale!

  33. Jim AZ says:

    Nice layout. The terrain and coloration is really good looking. Simple but very effective.

    Jim AZ

  34. william james palmer says:

    good scale to model

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