Skip to main content

In a post I did on new years eve, I asked everyone what their goals for their layout are for 2013.  Most of you said lay track, do scenery, or work on projects that are long over due.  Forum member david1 gave some great advice, and said work on the layout every day, if it is only for 10 minutes or 3 hours.  It doesn't matter just do something.

I took that advice and am running with it.  1st day I started a simple custom bridge and cut the river out of the foam that the bridge will go over.  Day 2 I did a little plaster cloth on a small section of my layout.  Day 3 I did a little more plaster cloth.  Tomorrow I might wire up a switch that isn't done yet.  All small projects that take 10 minutes or less.    

My point is normally I would have waited until I had 3 or 4 hours free to do all of this in one chunk, and it wouldn't already be done.  After an hour or so I might get a bit bored and find something non layout to do, like waist time watching TV.   I am much farther ahead then I was just 3 days ago and if I keep up this pace I can really accomplish a lot this year.  

I was thinking we could have this thread to just post each day what we accomplished on our layout.  Some days we would get more then others.  We could look at this thread as encouragement to do more each day.  No a layout is never done but by just putting in 10 minutes or 3 hours each day, we can all be a big step closer to being finished.

So what did you do today on your layout?

Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I plan to "plant" a few more bushes and remove the smaller, more fragile trees along the base of the layout. All too often they are bent, damaged or knocked over from my leaning over them. The slightly large trees will stay as they work best around the edges and are less fragile. That was today's plan but never got to it. 


I did run the track cleaning car around for an hour or so. Picked up a huge amount of crude, even without fluid. Excellent products (Centerline car). 

I've been looking into the possiblity of tearing out my mountain and redoing it with skiers and maybe a cabin if I can squeeze it in. Lot's of napkin scribbling and measuring so far but it's looking like my next project. I did sandblast a pretty beat up set of Lionel 2440 passenger cars today, was going to paint them red and black but my grandson is really pushing me to do a Ravens passenger set since no one makes them, along with a red and black set, along with a red and green Christmas set, along with a orange and black Orioles set, etc., etc. ,etc.



I went up to work in the train room for just a few minutes after dinner last night--emerged several hours later.  But did get to work on several things: cut out and super glue pieces of packaging plastic onto people feet, landscaping around the church and Granato's grocery, and final detailed painting on a laser-cut garage.


Time sure flies when you're having a train moment!

I just received my MTH R36 NY Worlds Fair subway set the other day. I was doing a good run of it today along with setting up all the station stops for "auto mode". Added the correct MTA logos (thanks to Steve (SIRT) for the artwork). The cars really look great with those logos added. Next project is to add passengers to the cars.

I have been designing my new Super O Layout.  I designed my way out of a few issues today, and now have a very workable layout design.  22ft x 46ft for phase 1, which is about like the last layout, but now with some room to grow in the future.


Will be up late tonite working on benchwork which is about 1/2 done.  I should be gandydancing in a week or two!

worked 8+ hours, Picked up kids from daycare, Cooked them supper.

Then ran the Christmas loop for the younger ones for a half hour while I ate.

They still love it despite it being just a elongated loop.

Then I went into the Computer room and worked on designing the corner liftout for my benchwork in Solidworks 3D modeling software. That is ongoing, eventually the entire layout may be modeled. 

Getting this corner liftout right is the key to the new layout. Without it I am dead in the water, I must have access to the basement behind it.

Once It is in place and working I can convert to around the walls for lots more space and trackage.

After several false starts I made my control panel for the South side. I started with a 1/4" ply but it was warped. It's only an 8 X 12 piece.   Anyway I was going to use a piece of 1/2 ply; but the toggles are too short. So I gave up my idea of a wood / paper/ plexiglass sandwich and used a recycled lamenated sign. I'll have to etch the diagrahm on there.  Now I don't like that screwhead on the switch control so I stopped work until I find better screws.




Images (2)
  • DSC00617
  • DSC00616

Just for kicks I'm making a gauge panel that lifts up. It's out of site when not using. It contains:
Amp meter
Volt Meter
Timer (it logs the hours and minutes I'm running trains with running total)
Kill button ( big red knob you twist and shuts everything down except TIU)
Thermometer (attached to brick)

I run mostly command and prefer all electronics out of sight. If someone is visits that's interested I lift panels and remove covers to show all the cool electronics. I love this hobby. Just felt like doing it. Total time to complete: 3:45 min of fun? I hooked timer up quickly last week and I'm at 11 hours track time. Cool toy but don't let wife see it...kidding

I swapped a 180 watt brick with a 135w one. Then I took the 135 watt brick and hooked it up to a Powermaster which is now feeding power to all the accessories. After that was up and running, that freed up the last circuit I was using on my ZW, so it's ready to be removed from service.


Of course I was "testing" the new configuration, so I didn't want to unhook any wires from the ZW while the trains were running So for now the ZW is still in place with wires hooked to it.


J White



My railway time was mainly spent on locomotive maintenance. I had been awaiting some replacement parts from Lionel which arrived in the post yesterday. So I was busy swapping out a smoke fan motor and replacing the pilots on my F7s. The Legacy F units are such an absolute dream to work on, they are my favourite locomotives. 

Bought some metal shelving at Ocean State Job Lot to organize my "warehouse" room of trains. At $20 to $40 they are a great buy and I haven't been able to find them anywhere else. These are ALL METAL, no partical board so they are light in weight while still strong enough for storing boxed cars, engins, accessories etc.. The room is a mess right now and I have to get it organized!!!


Paul Goodness

Hey, I like this thread so much I'm posting to it !


I am trying to work on the layout every day. Not drudge jobs, though. I did too much of that prior to the Holidays.


Today I finished the wood planking for platforms by Munoz Station and weathered the tracks with Bragdon powders. I also started work on a small section house. Took some photos of the interior detail of my diesel shed.




Grandson Micah arrives 7:00AM (Sat. 1/05/13) with his GP20.  We spent some time hooking-up a TIU, Passive mode, signal only to the tracks.
The GP20 did not smoke well so we spent some more time improving smoke output. Re-arranged the fiber wading in the smoke fluid chamber. Added smoke fluid to the dry fiber wading.   By the time his father came, 1:00 AM, we had the GP20 running well. Still a little gear noise, but I think it will wear in.

What did I learn today from a 10 year old. ?
(1.) You can crash you engine without crashing it. Apparently there is a DCS crash sound sequence.
(2.) There are (3) different smoke volume controls.  Low, medium, high.
(3.) The number boards can be turned on an off.
(4.) There is a special place on the train shelves for his engine.

(5.) We'll run the engine "shiney" for awhile, until it gets older, then we'll weather it with grimmy black to make it look used.  
(6.) Lunch is at 11:45AM.

 Now that was a GREAT Day


Last edited by Mike CT
Originally Posted by pennsyfan:


Isn't it great to share the hobby with the little ones? I never had so much enjoyment before my Grandson's got interested.


Great layout pics, thanks for sharing!

I 100% agree.  I have a 2 1/2 year old son and his eyes just light up every time he sees a train.  I have really enjoyed just running trains with him, and he is learning how to use the Legacy remote to control his favorite train, the PM 1225.


As for the work ont he layout today I was able to switch out some pins on some of my Fastrack Switches to make it mate better with my Gargraves track to leads to the wye. I used some Gargraves to Tubular track pins that a forum member sent me and it worked great.  I had to open up the switch and pull out the Fastrack pins.  Took me about 10 minutes per track and now the transition is so much more smooth then what it was.  

I haven't had much time to work on the layout over the last 2 weeks with my inlaws in town.  But they left on Wednesday and my progress has started to move forward on the layout again.  I have started to install a covered bridge that forum member Alex Malliae has built for me.  He also should have a water wheel done for me by next week, and after I receive it I will finish cutting my river out exactly how I want it.  I will spend the next 2 or 3 weeks laying plaster cloth over the entire layout.  


What have you done on your layout today?

I started applying Roberts Brick Mortar on my new MTH Heartbreak Hotel.  Started building a new Clever Model's structure, just waiting for my lights to show up from China. Started scenicing a yard area on the layout.  I am going to work on another Clever Models Structure tonight and probably weather the Hotel and a Lionelville structure.






Images (3)
  • IMG_4036
  • IMG_4037
  • IMG_4035

I put together a dummy K-line MP-15 today.

Last Tuesday a friend showed up at my layout with 2 K-line Alco FA's and 2 K-line EMD MP-15's. Only 1 FA would run. By the end of the day I improved the Alco FA that would run. Replaced the E unit in one of the MP-15's with one that I had, Installed the trucks from the damaged MP-15(broken shell) on to the second FA. Just like the 1 to 1 scale railroads we had to do some cutting on EMD trucks to get them under the Alco FA.

For my repair work my friend gave me the MP-15 frame and the broken shell.

Today installed Lionel dummy trucks under the MP-15 frame and added my good non-damaged K-line shell to make a new dummy engine. The engine will go to the paint shop in the near future. For now it looks like "Johnny Cash" built it. 

All I did on today on my portable O-gauge layout was look at it because I am working on some N-scale projects right now.


I got the painting and track completed over the last few weeks. The weather is going to be great this weekend and I have three days off, so I will get a good start on the scenery starting tomorrow.

Making a switch control panel out if oak. It will control 16 turnouts. Indicator lights will be tiny LEDs. Keeping it very small so it tends to blend in with the layout front. I  have Legacy control of the switches also. These are just for fun.  Using different color LEDs to represent different areas for turnouts; such as yards, crossovers, coaling area. Routes will light with different LED colors which I'm hoping my mind will recognize after using for awhile which patterns set which routes. Time will tell. Just blew first try by drilling one hole out of place. I'm staining and sanding second attempt now.

We got to Train Central about noon; ordered "sandmiches" and then being it was a no-school-holiday we had visitors back to back all afternoon.... So we just ran trains and taught 4 or 5 lads how to use the remotes..... we had a couple of engines drive into the caboose in front of them - but no damage..... even when we lost a dozen hopper cars off the track in a tunnel..... One gentleman was an HO guy and he said that it must have cost a fortune to add DCC to all of these engines..... LOL....  


These guys grabbed seats on the stairs to the attic for a bird's eye view....






Images (1)
  • Visitors_01212013_800
Last edited by MrMuffin'sTrains

Today I uploaded photos to Shutterfly of work I have been completing since mid December.  I have been rather dormant for months and then the “get busy on trains bug” bit me.  I have considered making up a train with some coal hoppers and tank cars.  Several years ago I purchased nine 2 bay coal hoppers.   So in December on a lark I started looking on ebay for tank cars.  I like the K-line versions because they are relatively inexpensive, the trucks are tolerably close to the steam era and the tank cars are close to steam era as well.  I bought a few here and there on ebay that were in good condition but as inexpensive as I could buy them.  I bought 10 at an average cost including shipping for $23.00 each, but one of them was a heavy model that I chose not to use for my project.  I disassembled nine of them and painted them flat black.  I made up some signage on the computer with a black background and white lettering and glued them on the cars.  They are not as good as decals, but it works for me.  I have completed other projects that I will post later.  Here are a few pics.



Last edited by pennsynut

Started painting the frame for the new control panel. Mounted up the broken control panel so that when I'm done paiting the new one, I can just remove a few screws from the piano hinge, and attach it to the new frame.


My Dad took these curves out and smoothed them out as they were just toooooo much for the 4-12-2. With flanges on the 1st and 5th driver.....this "S" curve just wasn't cutting it!




Images (1)
  • IMG_0590

Another project that wanted to get into was making PRR design signals.  I did some research on the web and found this sight.

The design specs on the signals were just what I needed to start building.  I used , masonite for the bases;  9/16 inch wood dowel for the poles for rigidity (painted nickel to mimic weathered aluminum);  ¼ inch grid screen for the ladders;  Hobby Lobby wood discs that were just a little less than 1 inch in diameter for the faces.  I tried to drill holes in the discs that were properly aligned but even with a template it was quite difficult to do.  Then I glued bright yellow paper on the back of the disc.  It looked pretty good from a far, but the faces were just a little bit too small and the yellow did not stand very well.  Eventually I settled on a different method.  I used the drawing feature on the computer and made close to one inch circles, filled black. Then I was able to make very small circles for the lights filled in yellow and dragged them to precise locations on the black circles.  I did the same for the lower signal arms and cut them out.  The paper was quite thin and was white on the back.  I had some 3M spray adhesive that I sprayed on black hobby stiff paper and placed the print out on the black paper.  I cut each signal (32 round, 32 arms!!!) then glued the round on the discs for the upper signals and skinny stick pieces painted black for the lower arms.  I know that the actual signal displayed are in most cases not appropriate and would result in havoc in the real rail world but I can tolerate the fiction. Here are some pics.



trains jan 21-03 009

trains jan 21-03 010

trains jan 21-03 011

trains jan 21-03 012

trains jan 21-03 013


I finished weathering and installing the stockade fence for my scrapyard.  Cleaned the track with ISP alcohol and some old flannel.  I also unpacked and ran the caboose and box car I got from a plankowner110 yesterday.  Bill it was nice meeting you, they look great on the layout! Then just sat and watched the trains run for an hour.



I looked around the layout half way through spending significant time underneath it rewiring accessory leads and dismissed the thought of continuing today. I looked at the projects on my table and thought "maybe tomorrow" I thought of going to Lowes for more wire. Nah..too cold out today. I ran trains instead. No wonder I have a backlog of half finished projects as I spend too much time playing with trains. 

Originally Posted by Super O Bob:

I just finished all the benchwork on my new layout.  Tonite is cleaning all the table tops off so they can be painted.  And starting to glue some foam down to prepare for roadbed laying.

Bob, I loved all your You Tube videos of your previous layout. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do this time!

I put Woodland Scenics risers under the loop on one side of my layout.  The loop is O84 and O72 Fastrack.  I raised the upper level on six inch blocks of styrofoam around to the other end of the layout and stuck a few pieces of foam under that loop.  I test ran one diesel around the whole setup.  I have a spot that I need to extend the benchwork so there is support under the track, and three corners that I need to fill in.  I installed another  O72 cross over, bringing the total to three, and installed a turnout for the yard lead.  Yesterday evening I unpacked the Big Boy and tested the fit on the outsid loop.  I needed to make a little clearence adjustments, but everything checked out OK.  Now I need to finish the benchwork so I can start on the other side.     

Originally Posted by electroliner:

I looked around the layout half way through spending significant time underneath it rewiring accessory leads and dismissed the thought of continuing today. I looked at the projects on my table and thought "maybe tomorrow" I thought of going to Lowes for more wire. Nah..too cold out today. I ran trains instead. No wonder I have a backlog of half finished projects as I spend too much time playing with trains. 

You sound like me. 



Hi Everyone,  Really enjoy this post!  I don't have an Iphone yet, so I can't easily post during my daily comute.  I hope Jumijo was kidding about putting a flat screen TV where his layout is located!


This is more of a "what i did over my summer vacation" than what i did today.  My house was built in the 1960s and for lots of reasons I decided that the popcorn ceilings needed to go, unfortunately, one of the rooms had my layout in it, which needed to be dismantled.  So, I am attaching a few pictures of that layout,  which I had built on four kitchen cabinets in the bedroom of my oldest son, who finally moved out a few years ago.  About 10 years ago, in a basement storage room, I had built a layout that has the look and feel of a Lionel Display Layout. It has Atlas track and the curves are not big enough for my bigger engines, so i will be adding a loop of track with 54 inch curves on extensions added on to this layout.  Over the Christmas break, I added more storage, on a shelf in the storage room closet. Take care,Dave    










Images (8)
  • IMAG0456
  • IMAG0464
  • IMAG0469
  • IMAG0472
  • IMAG0479
  • IMAG0490
  • IMAG0831
  • IMAG0859

I spent a long time planning my layout. I realy got into the layout construction phase after winter settled in here inNorthernNew YorkState (and after my wife threatened to use my train room for quilting if I didn't get moving!) My lower level basically consists of a folded dogbone with the right side containing a five track yard and a ladder track, and the left loop containing a reversing loop. I have plans for the upperlevel, but that part of the project is a long way off. I used Gargrave track and Ross switches. I installed Gargrave uncoupler tracks on all the yard tracks, and also on a siding coming off the reversing loop on the left side. Included are some photos. I have spent the last several days (including today) on my knees under the tables running and connecting the wires for the electrical system. I am learning to do the electrical as I go.



Finally got the 2nd attempt at the control panel to the point where it could be installed and wiring process began.


Did some of the wiring at the bench where it was easy to get to and work on. 



Built the frame work for the panel and got it painted.



Started wiring up the Tortoise Switch Machine toggles with LED switch point indicators (green/yellow) for normal and diverging routes.



Images (3)
  • IMG_0615
  • IMG_0624
  • IMG_0633
Originally Posted by Rixster:

Brewman.....where did you get that extra wide tunnel portal?



Hi Rick and Harry, I used the heavy clear plastic container that the K-Line tunnel portals came in as a mold, which I then poured modelling plaster into. I made two and spliced them together.  You can see from the picture that it lacks much of the detail, but it looked ok after painting.  To give it extra strength, I added a wood brace on the back.  If I had it to do over again,  I would not have put the portal on a curve.  I had to trim the sides a few times to allow for overhang from some of my larger engines. 




Images (2)
  • IMAG0884
  • IMAG0885

I didnt do any actual work on the layout today, but ran trains with my son. 


I also have started talks with Alex Malliae about building a new feature of the layout.  This will require a large rebuild of the corner closet that cover the sump pump.  It will also cut down on my asile space but I think the end results will be well worth it. 

Really worked on the railroad yesterday setting up a newly acquired ZW-L to replace my two ZW's.  Had to run some new wire under the layout as I have the railroad divided into two power districts and the ZW's were in different locations.  Now the ZW-L powers both districts.  I was up until 3:30 this morning running trains.  So I guess I did do something on the layout today! 


Tom, like the new vignette.  Well done!


Worked on my wesite this afternoon and wrote about the new ZW-L.  Bo 


Visit my website Bo's Trains at  

I have decided to upgrade my layout wiring to operate all my switches and uncouplers using the MTH AIU. I have also removed my switches from track power and will be running them from aux transformer power.  I am also adding track detection blocks by isolating one of the outer rails. This will allow for realistic block signalling.


I have rewired 2/5ths of the layout and have used up 800ft of 4-wire phone cable so far.


In the pictures below, I have mounted my AIU's to a movable pannel (1/8" plywood) so I can do all the wiring on my lap while sitting in a chair. This only requires that the wire runs have an extra 3ft length so I can pull the AIU pannel out from under the layout for easy access. I have found this very practical, since there are about 100 wires to teminate for each AIU.



0003 train detection connections

Isolated outside rail by cutting rails and removing track pins on Lionel Fastrack, to create a train detection circuit. this will allow for block signals

0005 AIU out for wiring

AIU with extended wires, so you can do all the wire connections while sitting comfortably in a chair.

0006 AIU board wired

Wire labels and color codes, created using excel spreadsheet, allows for easy tracking of wire connections. Each 4-wire phone cable is labeled, and the colour codes indicate where each strand color for the cable should be connected.

0007 mounted under layout

AIU is hanging on 2 screws, under the layout. this view is in a closet, so there is no scenery and skirt. The AIU's in the rest of the train room are hidden by a skirt that hides the under table mess. In my train room, there are bankers boxes under the layout that store all our "stuff". This demands that the train table be as large as possible in order to store the many bankers boxes.


Images (4)
  • 0003 train detection connections: Train detection by isolating outside rail
  • 0005 AIU out for wiring: AIU mounting board can be pulled out from under layout and placed on your lap, while sitting in a chair
  • 0006 AIU board wired: AIU mounting board with labeled teminal strips
  • 0007 mounted under layout: AIU placed under layout. this view is inside a closet, so there is no scenery.
Originally Posted by Putnam Division:

I fired up my new Railking New Haven Hudson.

I re-wired the inner loop at the far side of the layout (where I was noticing slower speeds).







I wrote down a plan of projects for the coming 6 weeks.....that is sure to be broken at some point!



I like your idea of the old rail line leading to the scrap train, I'm going to steal it!

Originally Posted by Jdevleerjr:
Originally Posted by Super O Bob:

finished the roadbed on a 46ft long straight double track main.  It is perfectly straight, thanks to a laser sight!

Wow Bob, I wish I had the room for a 46long straight!


this layout is long and skinny.  It gets very hard to keep such a long straight perfectly straight.  I set up a datum line with a laser and measure off that.



While I watched the Red Wings game I decaled a Legacy 0-8-0 for a Grand Trunk Western.  I will clear coat it tomorrow, 1st witha  gloss coat to hide all the decal edges and after that dries with a semi gloss or dull coat.  Havent decided on that yet.  Just have the front number board to do and paint the cab window frames red and it will be all done.  Next up a Soo Line Mikado.  


Yesterday I drilled holes in the platform to insert Christmas lights in the buildings on my layout. When my Dad gets a chance, he is going to build me a dimmer box for them (it's handy having an electrician in the family) so I can dim them.


Today, I used my rivet press to make the screw holes bigger for my American Flyer track. Tomorrow, I finish laying it out and securing it down.