Category Archives: Trains & Model Railroading


It’s not a model railroad until you have track to run trains on. Track can be expensive, so to start out I purchased only enough to build the mainline.

On my previous layout, I used Atlas code 80 track. In model railroading, the “code” of rail designates how tall the rail is. Back then, I didn’t know any better, but realized later that code 80 track is quite a bit out-of-scale. In fact, if scaled up, a piece of code 80 rail would be about knee-high on a person. So this time around, I decided to go with code 55 rail. It’s much closer to scale, and the tie spacing looks much more realistic.

Continue reading NEW MODEL RAILROAD BUILD PART 4: LAYING THE track and wiring

New model railroad build part 3: Laying the roadbed

Model railroad track is installed on top of a “roadbed” made of either cork or foam. This recreates the raised grade that the track of real railroads is built on. On “Scenic Ridge”, I used the foam roadbed included in the kit. To be honest, I was never that impressed with it. This time, I decided to go with the tried and true cork roadbed. It’s fairly cost-effective and as I discovered, easier to work with than the foam. I chose to purchase roadbed made by Midwest Products.

Continue reading New model railroad build part 3: Laying the roadbed

new model railroad build part 2: transfering the track plan to the layout

When I built Scenic Ridge, I had it easy. The kit from Woodland Scenics came with 3 sections of styrofoam with the track plan already printed on it, which made it easy to lay the track. This time around, I would need to figure out how to transfer the plan I’d designed in xtrackcad (a free track planning software package) full-size to the layout benchwork. After some investigation, I discovered that xtrackcad could print the plan full-size, breaking it into 8.5″ x 11″ sheets. It would also print the outline of the roadbed on the plan. I dumped it to a PDF file, then sent it to OfficeMax to be printed (doing so was much more cost-effective than using up a ton of ink in my own inkjet printer).

Continue reading new model railroad build part 2: transfering the track plan to the layout

New model railroad build Part 1: design and benchwork

Last year, I realized I was quickly becoming bored with my existing N scale model railroad. It was based on the Woodland Scenics “Scenic Ridge” kit, a basic 3′ x 6′ layout with a fairly simple track plan. It didn’t offer much in the way of operations (picking up and delivering freight cars) and was basically just set up to watch trains run.

My old “Scenic Ridge” N scale model railroad

Scenic Ridge had served me well. It was a great layout to learn many of the skills needed to build a model railroad, but it was time to move on.

Continue reading New model railroad build Part 1: design and benchwork

Railfanning on Bob Davis’ HO Scale Pennsylvania Railroad Layout

Yesterday, I once again had the opportunity to attend a model railroad operating session (or as my friend Vet likes to call it, “Transportation Simulation”) at Bob Davis’ home, on his INCREDIBLE HO Scale Pennsylvania Railroad layout. The opportunity to run trains on his world-class layout is something I really appreciate, and something I have dreamed of doing since I was about 12 years old, when I would intently study the Model Railroader magazines my great uncle had given me repeatedly until the covers were falling off.

It’s difficult to capture the size and beauty of his layout in photos or video. However, this video follows a coal train around the entire layout, starting as it descends from the branch line that is above his staging tracks, picks up a string of coal hopper cars from the coal branch, winds its way through the mountains and over a switchback that takes the train 2 loops to ascend/descend, and finally through town and into the yard.

There are a couple of shots I’m not happy with, and I while I took a handheld camera stabilizer with me, I forgot the quick-connect plate to actually mount the camera on it – so I shot this all handheld, sometimes walking backward at the same time. Excuses aside, I’m pretty happy with it and hope you enjoy it.

A special thanks to Bob for opening his home and his layout to us.


ERRHSI Model Railroad Update – May 3, 2018

This week, Vet and I worked primarily on finishing up the stock yard scene. The gravel lot looks pretty good now that the glue has dried, and Vet added a bit more vegetation to the area (you can see white glue that’s still drying in the pics). I added the HO Scale cattle truck, and put the livestock back in the stockyard.

The scene is finally coming together

Continue reading ERRHSI Model Railroad Update – May 3, 2018

ERRHSI Model Railroad Update – April 19, 2018

I have to tell you – I’m having so much fun as a member of the Eagle Rock Railroad Historical Society! I’ve made new friends, we’re having a great time working on the layout, visiting, and laughing and joking. On top of that, I’m learning a lot about what Idaho Falls was like decades before I was born.

This week, Vet continued laying ballast on the yard tracks and the mainline track that runs through the yard, and working on ground cover just south of the stockyard.

Vet “painting” the glue on before adding ground cover.

Some of Vet’s ballast work here in the foreground.

Continue reading ERRHSI Model Railroad Update – April 19, 2018