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Charlie this is very enjoyable. I live up in Monroe LA. I have been living her for about a year and the people up here have gone through a massive flood back in March. I was one of the lucky ones as well. I have an apartment and have been thinking of building a small layout to run some of the MPC/Postwar items I have collected over the years. I mainly collect 3 rail scale, but when I want to run any of that I need to take up the whole apartment. You have given me some great ideas from this. 

Fellows thanks for the responses.  Ace- years ago I did a write up on the original layout and submitted to CTT.  They are interested in bigger layouts or more scale like or what ever.  I thought of starting this running post on how I started small and added a little each year for 30 or so years that others may get encouraged start, even it means just drawing plans and picking up used track, switches, engines, buildings etc if they have no space or a little space under the bed !

Conrail5056- I used to go to TCS train meets in Shreveport when I lived in east Texas.  TCA has a twice per year meet in Ponchatoula, LA since Katrina flooded out the New Orleans TCA meets.  That is about the only show l go to now as I quit going to Houston and other far a way meets and GATS shows.

As I stated I hope to inspire others, who plan and dream and save for that big great layout, to just get a small plan that is expandable and portable and get started.  I never planned on having more than 4 used cheap engines and started with just few Marx switches and used 027 track and make something to run at Christmas for the kids.  I usually had a punch list from the Christmas running as access to under the layout is impossible when on the floor and some projects could not be gotten to during the winter.  I then forget about trains until November or so and made corrections and additions at that time for the coming Christmas.  I would hit trains shows when I could in the winter.  Trains were just one of my interests that include kids activities, repairing the house, yard work, boating and water skiing, tennis, golf, shop, tools and vintage stereos.  I found limiting train interest to a few winter months kept me from losing interest allow train enjoyment to span 30 plus years.

Only recently have I added more trains and accessories, added the layout addition and built a garage/train/stereo man cave !  Since the train room is air conditioned and shop and garage are not, trains get more attention in the summer.  Being retired now has also helped.


A recent photo of the overall L shaped layout with New Addition.  I see another project to paint the background on the tunnel that was added when two sections of background were removed to open up the room view.

 Train Overhead views 9-21-016 2016-09-21 010



View from control panels, 1 operator, or 2 or 3, one for each LW trans. Small TV monitor for x-10camera car for engineer.  The TV feed also goes to a larger 55" flat screen TV on the wall to the right.

Train Overhead views 9-21-016 2016-09-21 027


View of backside of New Addition

Train Overhead views 9-21-016 2016-09-21 013


Here is a 2016 video of the layout operating in the new train room with the new addition.

I do not know why my videos show the trains running much faster than the actually were running.



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Videos (1)
Train movies 6-13-2016 2016-06-13 003
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 24      4-11-2020

New Addition Track Plan and Active Track Diagram Control Panel

New Addition Track Plan

The new Addition track plan includes an extension of the original lay outs outside loop.  The new Addition outside loop is incorporated with a double reversing dog bone and loop which allow reversing trains on this inner loop and on the outside loop of the involves both train boards.  A siding provides storage of trains and bypassing the double dog bone tracks.  This new Addition train board has only one accessory being a milk car unloading platform which gets lots of attention from young grand kids.


Additions Active Track Diagram Control Panel

The Addition has its own Lionel LW 125 watt transformer and active track diagram control panel with block switches for track sections, Marx switches and accessories.  Its construction is similar to that of the Main Active Track Diagram Control Panel seen in Post 8, page 1 of this topic.

A selector switch on the panel allows the new addition “Orange” lighted LW to control the addition or lets the outside loop “Green” lighted LW transformer the whole Addition board.  There is a selector switch on the main control panel that selects the “Green” LW to control the outer loop of the Main layout board  and the “Red” LW to control inner loop of the Main layout board providing control by three engineers.  The other position of the main control panel selector switch allows the “Red’ LW transformer to control all the track on both main layout board and addition layout board.


Picture above of the Addition train board control panel with and active touch track plan diagram.  This train board can be operated with the orange lighted LW to the right.  This additional train board can be operated with the green LW or with the red LW located at the main control panel.

Additions Control Panel   (20 in X 9 in) Mini Switch Inventory

(Key:  Mini Push Buttons = PB,  Slide Switches = SS

Active Track Plan Diagram                  

Turnout PB     uncoupling PB     Track sect SS             

       22                      8           11

Side Switch Panels

Mini Push Buttons     Slide Switches 

                7                           7

One can see there is enough room for two operators at the left and that both control panels are close enough for one operator to work both control panels.


Picture Below of Orange LW New Addition Transformer and Control Panel Switches on left

TRANS selector switch to chose Orange or Green Transformer to control New Addition

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 108

Picture Below of right side of Control Panel switches   Brown transformer is HO d/c transformer for Trolly on main street.

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 118

More details in later posts



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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 25   10-4-2016

Ice skating pond on New Addition

I built a small operating Ice Skating Pond and it was located near the new Addition outside loop.  This location gave the opportunity to install a Rail Road Bridge.  The ice skating pond is on the farm.  The ice skating pond was made from a pane of glass painted white on the bottom.  It was attached to a pond  shaped cutout in the train board.  An old Barb B Q rotisserie motor (all I had at the time) was used to power a 7 inch diameter, ½ inch thick ply wood disk with 6 round, 1 inch disk magnets that were recessed and glued into the plywood  (I would now use a microwave table rotating motor with a 4"dia lazy susan bearing to support the disk as the motor would be quieter).  It was installed very close to the bottom of the glass pane.  Radio Shack small ½ inch dia. magnets were glued to the feet of the skaters with epoxy glue making sure all had the same magnetic polarity pointing up the same.  The skaters were from Plasticville people sets and other sources of toy figures of roller or ice skaters, ballerinas or dancers.  The magnets all had the opposite polarity of the rotating disc to make sure they attracted each other.


New Add & Nite 8-27-2016 2016-08-27 002


The mini Christmas tree lights on the bridge provide lighting for the Pond at night.

New Add & Nite 8-27-2016 2016-08-27 021


  Bar B Q rotisserie motor that drives the plywood disc with the magnets.

New Add & Nite 8-27-2016 2016-08-27 023


There are several commercial made ice skating rinks or ponds available for much less trouble but they would not be as much fun to build as this one.  They are too big for my location.  I now have one but have not installed it because mine is recessed over my bridge and most of them are above grade.  It Is also too large for my available space.  I use it at Christmas as a holiday display.

 New Add & Nite 8-27-2016 2016-08-27 025

New Add & Nite 8-27-2016 2016-08-27 026



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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie
I am with you.  I just salvaged a motor from a microwave turntable and pull parts from those type gear including power cords.  30 years ago the Bar B Q motor was all I had that was strong enough at the time.  A 4"dia lazy Susan bearing to support the disk as the motor would be needed with the microwave TT motor but no big deal.  That motor would be strong enough for sure and quieter.

Post 26   10-10-2016

Train whistles and Diesel horns   (revised 10-11-2016)

For many years my steam engines were plastic body Lionel 2-4-2 and did not come with whistles in coal tenders.  My early diesels were a Marx 1095 and Lionel 219 FA which did not have diesel horns. 

So I installed a junker Lionel steam whistle in a building with open windows on the original train board and I installed a Bachmann HO Shell Oil Storage Tank that has a diesel horn in it on original train board.  Real Oil Storage Tanks come in lots of sizes.  I added another junker Lionel whistle and diesel horn on the new addition when built.  I put a button to operate each on each end of the both control panels each near the Lionel LW train control transformer for easy access.  Both control panels have buttons for horns and whistles on both boards.  This allows me to have whistles and diesel horns no matter which engine or coal tender is on the train board.

I find the Lionel whistle is much more reliable in a building because it does not have a DC relay like it has to have in a coal tender.  Just wired directly to the whistle motor.

Many of the Diesels that have horns (F3, etc.) that require batteries.  I hate batteries in trains as they will leak and usually have expired when I get around to operating them.  I have too many engines to bother with batteries including the newer ones that are required for electronics.  Do not get me started on batteries for tools!  Have too many power hand tools to mess with dead batteries when I get around to using them.  I have several long extension cords that reach all over my lot.  Battery operated tools are great for house construction and for using them often or daily.

Today I often buy locomotives without the coal tenders and coal tenders without whistles.  Whistling coal tenders also are heavy dead weight (not on the engine drive wheels), waste amps, slow down the trains.  Only one or two of my diesels has horn installed.


New Addition- Whistle in yellow factory, Diesel Horn in silver Oil Tank

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 063


Original Board - Whistle in train depot

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Original Board - Diesel Horn in silver Shell oil tank



Close up of Bachmann Shell Oil Tank



Whistle and Diesel buttons on New Control Panel

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 116



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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Oh no!

I'm tender about messing  with whistle tenders.

They keep my 2 Evans auto loaders full of heavy die cast from string lining and spilling coal and water all over!

Then again, you did slip an Adriatic and a gunfighter car onto the thread, 2 of my all time favorites, so I'll forgive you for trying.

(And I do have plans for similar, but only if I find a loose whistle cheap enough before I find a tin whistle house )

Post 27   10-13-2016


New Addition Main Street

I wanted a small town main street.  I picked up box full of Plasticville building kits at a train show.  Main street has a bank, fire station, police station, small super market, K-line Hardware on one side of the street and small train station, passenger car dinner and milk unloading platform on the service side of the street.  A trolley barn is at the end of the street.

The street has street lights.  The milk unloading platform has flood lights for night action.


Overall Main Street Picture

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 024


 Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 087


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I had family around Lookout Mt., Mount Mitchell, and Ashville NC. I spent two great summers and a winter there in the mountains making friends and sipping home brews.  Beat the heck out of crowded Florida beaches IMO.

I read there was about a thousand of those Rock City Barns, all painted by one guy. In exchange for the free paint job and some usable promotional goods like pens, pencils, and thermometers.

Post 28    10-18-2016

Roadside Diner for Main Street Siding

The most fun building to make for the Main Street siding is the diner made from an American Flier passenger car body picked up at a train show for a few dollars.  The S gauge car shell was just the size for the smallish Main Street.  A base or foundation was made from 1/8 inch Masonite and covered with brick paper.  Two 12 mini Christmas tree lights were hung from the ceiling for illumination.  Parchment paper was used for windows and silhouettes were drawn with a fine Sharpie.   An exhaust fan was added to the roof along with a sign saying “Jake’s Diner”.  My fathers nickname was Jake.



The hardest part was getting the diner steps to fit in the base.




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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

For a second there,  I thought that refer was the diners fridge. But with all the business I see inside, it must just be time for a fresh food delivery. And through the one window, I looks like there is an open booth open for Blondie and Dagwood to grab a sandwich at.... His sandwich eating style doesn't go over so well at the counter I suspect

(another gem Charlie)

Charlie, Very nice... everything from salvaging a cheap car to your Sharpie skills, the nice foundation to the lighting. When I saw it, I thought of the "Bubble Boy" episode of Seinfeld where Jerry autographs one of his 8x10's with, "There is nothing finer than being in your diner." Maybe your diner needs such a slogan (every company has a slogan nowadays!) to drum up some more business. 


"Apply brakes here" ; an excessive bunch of those signs would work

Actually slogans were huge for ads in the early to mid 20th century.  Graphics more  the focus for the last 30 years. But Ive noticed a resurgence in slogans too. Maybe more jingles are next too??   Remix Jerry"s notes with "Carolina in the morning" musical notes?Lol..

I loved doing slogans when I was into commercial art; but most "modern" businesses balked, seeing any at all as "unprofessional". Most just wanted an artist to draw their logo ideas. Not "art" or proven technique either. The same prudish thinking that got lots of "see rock city"  barns removed by Ladybirds law. * Sigh* Only in a boardroom is fun a sin


Post 29    10-28-2016

Other New Addition Areas - Industrial, Local Train Station, Farm, Air Port

The area behind the main street is industrial with factory building (has Lionel whistle inside, see water tower added to roof), freight station and an American Flyer water tower with painted red and white checker board (it was a junker).

Train layout & room 1-19-2015 019


Station Plasticville and Bachmann HO Oil Tank with diesel horn

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 032



One dog bone loop has a farm which has the Ice Skating pond on it.


Train layout & room 1-19-2015 025




The other dog bone loop has a Plasticville Airport and Hanger. I got these in the box of Plastiville and just could not put them all on the layout.  Picked up a few Lionel diesel generators at a train show and the Airport and Round house are typical spots for them.

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 026


This area has had other buildings here from the box of Plasticville building kits.  There is a Frost Bar drive in on the corner of the layout, one of my favorites. 

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 036

Plasticville buildings are great especially if you want to get building on a layout fast.  I would still be building them if I made them from scratch!




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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

The picture of the farm shows a microwave tower.  This was made from a junker Lionel microwave tower structure without the top part. It was painted red and white.  The housing was made from the cover of an old ac relay.

A 3v mini Christmas flasher light was painted red and two 3v white mini lights were placed in the antennas and one 3v bulb was put in the housing. 

The four 3v mini bulbs were wired in series to add up to 12v which matches my lighting voltage.  The antennas were from some plastic toy.





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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Ive seen those dishes before, but even after hours, i can't recall what they are from.

Doesn't that cover make that a relay tower?

Hey I've got that trailer too. But no cover slats.

  You know, two years ago I was short an outlet for Christmas lights on my little tree layout. I wanted a set lit along side the rails. No outlet, but I had plenty of lights, so I clipped off two strips of 8 lights each and used them off the track power, lol.

Chasing a burnt one is still the pits though, luckily, you can likely use an ohm meter on those "if".....knock on wood.


Thanks for the reply.

Yes that makes it a mcirowave relay tower.

Finding burned out bulbs is often a problem especially the colored ones where seeing the filament is harder.  I use multimeters all the time for testing bulbs, batteries etc.  I have several mostly the cheap Harbor Freight ones in the house, shop, garage and train room.  I even keep one in each car to check garage sale speakers for ohms and a burned out coils.


Post 30    11-15-2016

Trolley for Main Street

A trolley track was added to Main Street.  HO gauge Bachmann trolleys were chosen and are easy to find at train shows.   This is a 027 TOY train layout so HO gauge is in the running.  HO gauge is on the small size, S gauge is about right (20% less than O) and O gauge is a bit too big.  This trolley line was built in the early 1990s.  I have since picked up a Lionel O gauge trolley but it would overwhelm my Plasticville more or less S scale buildings.  On my Main Street, I like my smaller trolleys and like my 027 and O gauge trains to be bigger and overwhelm my building.  It is all about the trains !

The HO track was recessed in the street and an HO gauge switch was added near one end to allow two trolleys to go into an HO trolley barn.  The switch is remote controlled from the new control panel as well as a track selector slide switch to activate the live track section in the barn.

An HO DC transformer is used for the trolleys and is on the right of the new addition control panel.

The fun part of the trolley was figuring out how to stop and start the trolley at each end of the Main Street line and how to reverse the DC polarity on the track and the ends automatically like the bumpers reverse the Lionel O gauge Trolley.  First I cut the one HO track rail about 7 inches from each end to give a section that would be un-powered and stop the trolley at each end of track. These end track sections also must be powered with the correct polarity to restart and reverse the trolley.

A trolley timer/controller was made from a small 1 RPM gear motor similar to those that power a micro wave oven turntable, which are easy to find in street trash on trash day.  A cam disc was sawed out of ½ inch plywood with high humps and lower sections.  Two micro roller armed single pole double throw switches were mounted together to act as an double pole double throw switch and wired in an X to switch track DC polarity when activated.  This allows the trolley to start and run to the other end of track which is dead.  The timer allows the trolley to stay there for about 30 seconds.  Then the micro DPDT switch is activated by the timer cam and that end of the track is powered up with DC that has the polarity reversed and the trolley takes off for a 5 sec run to the other end track, stops and stays there 30 seconds until it is activated with the track with reversed DC polarity and off the trolley goes again.

This was a fun project to figure out, build and to watch operate.


HO Trolley Barn at one end of the Main Street Trolley Line

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 112


Trolley Line HO Switch

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HO DC Transformer for Trolleys on Right side of New Addition Control Panel

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Trolley Timer to Run and Reverse Trolley - Brown Box to right inside New Addition Control Panel

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 010


Trolley Timer Wooden Cam and Double Pole Double Throw Roller Micro Switch

Addition Traint 9-26-2016 2016-09-24 005


Overall View of Main Street and Trolley Line

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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 31   1/28/2017

Installation of remote operating Lionel 12834 Gantry Crane

Been slack in posting on this thread with the holidays and recently the flu.  I am back now!

I obtained a remote operating Lionel Gantry Crane 12834 awhile back.  I got a good deal as one of the crane legs was broken off, just up my alley.  A little epoxy glue fixed that.  It took some time to install with the crane controls having to be added next to the turntable control and the installation of the single rail tracks for the crane to operate on.  I need to come up with a way to make the crane move on the crane rails without finger help!

The operating gantry crane is now the most popular accessory to operate on the layout and it is challenging to load and unload a gondola car with canisters.



Train & Crane 4-3-2015 003

Lionel Gantry Crane 12834    Note also in picture above:  A Lionel Tie ejector car picked up at a train show which keeps the interest up.



The crane controls are close to the crane which is important to keep things moving.  Crane controls are on the left.

Also pictured is my Williams, BL2, one my very few more modern engines with can motors.

Train & Crane 4-3-2015 011


We pickup canisters with washers glued to the top and 1/2 pieces of 027 rail seen in the truck.

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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

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