I just got the go ahead to have a layout built professionally.  I’ve contacted two hobby shops that build layouts and am waiting for a response from one in NJ.  I’m not in the league for the premier builders but does anyone have some suggestions.  I’m looking to build a 5 1/2 X 10 layout.  

I have a plan designed. Basically two loops, 054 and 042 with a tunnel, second level with my amusement rides and incorporating my Lionel 213 bridge. If you know of anyone in the SE PA area that might be interested let me know. I would work along with them if it would help keep the cost down. 

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Are you a member of LOTS or LCCA?  Ask fellow members in your area to come by one night a week and work on the layout. Three or four helpers working 3 hours each Monday night will get a lot of work done on any model railroad.  Ham on rye sandwiches and a few cans of refreshments go a long way towards keeping the work crew happy.  John in Lansing, ILL

I haven't had a layout built, but from what I have seen with layout building services getting a full layout built with everything including scenery puts you in the premium service level in terms of cost, I have seen how much even a small layout will cost done like that and it isn't cheap. I hope you find someone who can do what you want at a price level you can afford, but you may need to compromise, maybe get someone to build the table, lay the track and wire it, then maybe do the scenery yourself, perhaps with friends and such helping.

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

I agree completely with Rattler’s suggestion.  With thrown you are leaned N.Y. toward, you’ll enjoy it SO much more if you build it yourself, with help.  No one builds a perfectly fine railroad but at least you have the satisfaction knowing you did it!

Try LCCA.  They’ll set you up and its really aa great away to get into the hobby.  There are always people nearby, especially in the Northeast.  So many videos, so little time, yet so much fun when done😉


Have you gotten in touch with Nicholas Smith Trains (http://www.nicholassmithtrains.com/store/)? They don't build layouts but they have connections everywhere. The store is close to Wayne. Drop by if you haven't. Choo choo barn in Strasburg - same deal. Lance Mindheim (https://lancemindheim.com) builds layouts but not for 3-rail O gauge. But his web sites have tons of info on having a professional layout build and how to design and build your own. Not cheap! Figure around $1,000 per day. Folks who use TrainWorx can spend into the six and seven figures zone.

A 5 1/2 x 10 layout is not too big. You could do a lot yourself, but it depends on which aspects of the hobby you enjoy. For example, there's a thread on the forum now about Mianne benchwork. It's a wonderful system and lots of guys buy it to save building their own. I have the tools and carpentry skills but I still ordered Mianne (it took four months by the way) because I really didn't want to get a bunch of lumber from Home Depot and saw, glue, screw, sand, etc. So, in this case, many of of us pay someone to do some work for us.

If you haven't had a layout in a while, maybe just set up a small loop or two to see what you enjoy. If you pay for a layout based on your current thoughts and experience, you might not enjoy it when it's done. Our tastes change. You can spend enough money on the hobby as it is!

On the other hand, a profession layout builder can help you define and refine your layout so that it will make you happy.

Personally, I'm just not much into scenery, so most of my layouts have none! I like to build the track and wiring infrastructure and run big locomotives. I have a DCC system in addition to Lionel Legacy, and I like fiddling with decoders, etc. So that's what I like. I have track and trains for HO, On30, three-rail O and G which I swap around on my Mianne benchwork depending on my interests at the time. I like the big trains best and I don't have much more space than you do: 9 x 15. I can build an empire in HO, but I generally find the trains too small and the sound feeble. I love the detail though.

I think it's better to have trains than not. If you've got some $$$ to pay someone to help, go for it rather than being stalled at the start.



If you're building a layout that's basically 10 by 5 you can definitely do it yourself. And if you're just running Loops of track. You spoke of design I'm curious if you have a design? Design meaning do you know what your railroad is where your railroad is and what your railroad is going to be doing? Or are you simply just running Loops of track and watching trains running circles? There's a big difference between an operational layout in a display layout. Most people will grow bored quickly if they're trains are just running around the same Circle. So you need to think about what it is you want to do before you do it. Lots of food for thought I?

Thanks for all your suggestions. I currently have a layout that takes up too much of the space of the room. It is 5 1/2 feet deep by 15 feet wide with a 2 foot by 6 foot yard.

What I plan to do is take the yard platform down and a 5 1/2 foot x 4 foot section of the layout leaving a 5 1/2 foot by 10 foot platform. I will then reinstall the track forming two loops with 042 and 054 curves. Once the track is in place I will do the wiring and make all the electrical connections.

At that point I would like to hire someone to ballast the track, do some scenery, ground cover and other detail work to make the layout look more realistic.

I know what my capabilities are and just want someone to help make my layout look more professional. I also know my limitations.

So, if anyone is interested I’m located in Wayne PA near King of Prussia and am willing to compensate you for you time and provide all materials. My guess is it will take about four or five days to complete the work.


 A very big Part of the fun in model railroading is building the layout'.. The most difficult item is the table.  Spend the money you have budgeted, for a "Miani table.  Tim will custom build it for you to your exact specifications.  Height of legs, length, with, etc.  Very easy to put together...  After that the rest goes pretty easy.  Try it, you'll like it, and it will be an original built by you'... ANd you'll have fun....  Once the table is up, put down some track.  Run a train, and get a feel of how you would like things to develope.  Like most folks, you'll change configurations many times.   Don't get bogged down with technical details, play it by ear... It's a lot more fun that way.  Remember rule # 1.  Your RR, do it your way'..

 Quarter Gauger 48'




I agree with last post........Do it yourself. I am currently building a 9 foot by 27 foot layout and my first thought was to get help because I had never had more than a loop around a Christmas tree........But I am so glad I decided to try and do it myself. I make mistakes but I am learning and when I get something right the feeling of satisfaction is wonderful............Jump in the water and get wet! You can do it yourself.


I find it very curious that members responding have not taken the time to read my post. I have a platform. I don’t need Mianne or anyone else to build the bench work. I’ve been in their hobby since 1995 and have built a number of layouts.

I’m looking for someone with the skills to do the detail work and am willing to compensate them for their time and skills.

Folks are probably responding to your initial post, which doesn’t say anything about you having a platform nor how long you’ve been in the hobby. I responded to that post. As for your later post, bear in mind there’s always some lag between a new post and someone typing a response to an earlier one.

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