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How to Build an H.O. Model Train Layout -- All Aboard for Part 2

Updated on June 19, 2014

Yes, At First the Layout looks Unrealistic

Place the grass mat on the 4' x 8' plywood as described in Part I.  Then place your buildings on the grass mat.
Place the grass mat on the 4' x 8' plywood as described in Part I. Then place your buildings on the grass mat.

Part 2 of a Four-Part Photographic Guide

In the previous hub on this subject, I explained the how’s and the why’s of roughing up your 8' x 4' plywood sheet, applying a coat of Polyfilla or some similar substance and then laying the grass mat. This is my husband’s first time at doing a layout the ‘easy way.’ This is a 1970s Era Motive Power H.O. Layout he is building, using Bachman E-Z Track. Prior to this, he has always built his layouts in the painstaking method of – not using Bachman E-Z Track and – putting in every spike in the tracks. He will be using other shortcuts in this project, too. But it will turn out to look very realistic.

An 8' x 4' sheet of plywood is a nice size to start with – for beginners. Later, the H.O. layout can be enlarged by perpendicularly abutting another 4' x 8' sheet of plywood to it, adding another track configuration to the existing one and using the other methods described in this hub to build a realistic landscape.

The Buildings will need to be Weathered before being Glued Down

These buildings have not been weathered yet.  The three vehicles in this photo have been weathered to look more realistic.
These buildings have not been weathered yet. The three vehicles in this photo have been weathered to look more realistic.

You will need a Large Bottle of White Glue

Source

List of needed materials

Materials needed AFTER you have already completed Part I as described in the hub, Model Train Layout, A Photographic Guide for Beginners which included

  • 8' x 4' sheet of plywood
  • sawhorses to hold the plywood
  • 8' x 4' grass mat which can be ordered from Walthers.com
  • white glue to lay the mat.

Now, for the procedures in Part 2, you will need

  • White Glue from any hardware store
  • Bachman E-Z Track
  • Woodland Scenic Roadkit
  • Your selection of buildings, cars, trains and people figures
  • A sharp knife with which to score your asphalt road
  • A small container of dirt (Boys just like to have fun.)
  • A small container of sand -- or several containers with several shades of sand
  • A good spouse to willingly bring you a snack while you are so hard at work



Place your buildings. Initially, the landscape will not look realistic.

Just Plain Green Grass Until You Put in the Roads and Parking Lots

Source

How to Build a Realistic-Looking Model Train Layout

As described in Part 1, lay the grass mat atop the glue on the 8' x 4' plywood sheet which you have affixed to sawhorses at a height just right for you.

Place the E-Z Tracks on top of the grass mat in whatever configuration you have chosen.

Place the buildings and vehicles in the approximate places you want them to be on your future landscaped layout.

If you just can't wait another minute, get out your trains and place them on the train tracks.

If you are happy with the location you have chosen for each building and if you are never going to move away from the house in which you are building this model train layout, you can now glue down the buildings. But life can be unpredictable, so I don't recommend it.

Now comes the fun. Cut out swaths of matted grass to form roads and parking lots on your envisioned landscape.

Take your Woodland Scenic Roadkit and read the instructions in the box. The package includes a black paint which, when applied, looks like asphalt.

Apply the 'asphalt' look to whatever areas of your landscape you want. If you create a road of asphalt, you may want to put a line down the middle of the road, but make it look 'weathered'. To make the road lines, you 'score' it because underneath the asphalt is the shade of white from the glue you used to lay the grass mat -- which you have torn away in places.

Next, if you want some of the roads on the model train layout to be dirt roads, you need to apply a layer of glue on the road surface. Sprinkle a layer of dirt on top of the white glue.

Now decide where you want to make parking lots and roads even more realistic-looking by adding another layer of glue -- here and there -- and adding a layer of pale-colored beach sand atop the glue.

The E-Z Track does not lay even-steven with buildings as track does when being laid the old-fashioned way of modeling, so each building has to have its foundation to be on the same level -- yet look natural. This takes some detailing.

To fully enjoy the creation process of your railway kingdom, make sure you have your favorite snacks on hand. If you have a spouse, this is the time she or he will be delighted to hear you call out, "Please bring me a dessert. I'm working so hard on this -- I've worked up an appetite."

Enjoy! Lots more detail work to do in Part 3 and 4 -- coming up.

Glue is Applied Prior to the Dirt and Sand Layers

Compare this Photo to the 'Just Plain Green Grass' Photo

Dirt roads and parking lot are completed to look like one of many small towns in rural Canada.
Dirt roads and parking lot are completed to look like one of many small towns in rural Canada.

Woodland Scenic Roadkit Asphalt-Look Prior to Further Detailing

Further 'Scoring' of Painted Asphalt Road

Railroading is Hard Work. You've Earned a Break.

Don't hope for homemade baked goods though -- when you call your spouse to bring in the goodies.  Spouses have hobbies, too, eh?
Don't hope for homemade baked goods though -- when you call your spouse to bring in the goodies. Spouses have hobbies, too, eh?

A Lot More Detailing Required Here, For Realism. Coming in Part 3

© 2012 Pamela Kinnaird W

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    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Kinnaird W 

      5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Thank you for visiting, Eiddwen. Maybe it's good that your partner is not too in to it. Being married to a railroad buff or model railroad enthusiast is sort of like being a golfer's widow.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Kinnaird W 

      5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I'm glad you enjoyed this, billybuc.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      5 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub which I keep for my partner;he has begun work on a layout but hasn't done too much Maybe this will inspire him.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is something I have always wanted to do, and it is still on my bucket list, but I need to get with it. Great process and photos; I loved this and will remember this when I get that bucket list out and finally decided to do this. Thank you!

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