Model Train Layout, A Photographic Guide For Beginners
H.O. Model Railroad Layout
We are creating a 1970’s era H.O. model railroad layout on an 8’ x 4’ sheet of plywood. This hub’s purpose is to help the beginner learn how to do the set-up procedures so that the chosen configuration lies in a realistic landscape.
The person building the H.O. model railroad needs to decide the height of the layout he or she can comfortably work at. A 38-inch-high layout might be a comfortable height for a medium-tall railroader. When you are putting in hours at your train hobby, you do not want to strain your back, so be careful in determining the height you choose.
Get yourself some 2” x 4”s and appropriate brackets to build the sawhorses when you go to purchase the 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood.
When you are ready to begin work in the room you have chosen to build your layout, cut the 2” x 4” wood to the height you want your table to stand. Screw on the brackets, stand up the sets of ‘legs’ and place the 4’ x 8’ on the top.
Preparing the 4' x 8' Plywood Sheet
If the 4’ x 8’ (or 8' x 4') has a finished topside, you need to rough it up a little with sandpaper.
Apply one coat of acrylic paint to the top side of the plywood sheet. This prepares it for the bonding adhesive which you next apply so that you can place the grass mat on top.
Woodland Scenics is one brand of believable-looking grass which comes in mat form. This can be purchased through Walthers or any number of dealers. Alternatively, you can buy different shades of artificial grass which you sprinkle on to a layer of glue. Sprinkled grass in light, medium and dark colors is effective and useful when creating a smaller scene or H.O. diorama. But a grass mat works just fine on a large flat area.
Matted Grass Wouldn't Place Well on this Diorama
Need to Back Up a Little
Digressing a bit, if the 4 x 8' plywood sheet is not finished smoothly, it will have knots in it. You can use LePages’ Polyfilla to cover the knots and cracks in the wood. Apply the Polyfilla before the acrylic painting is done. Let the Polyfilla set for an hour. When it has set, sand it smooth and brush the surface clean. You will notice that the Polyfilla doesn’t set ‘rock hard’ which is important because you might have trees and other pieces of scenery with which you will be puncturing the surface.
Apply the Pollyfilla to the Plywood
Paint it, Glue it, Lay the Grass
Once you have smoothly sanded the 4’ x 8’ plywood sheet and painted it with acrylic paint, let it dry for a day. Next, paint on a layer of white glue so that you can lay the grass mat in place. The glue has a two hour set-up time, but you can apply the grass mat within a minute and it will adhere strongly.
It is a three-person job to lay the grass mat in place carefully on the large piece of plywood, corner to corner.
Thank you for Joining Me in this First Phase
This is the first phase of the 1970’s Era Motive Power H.O. Layout we are building. Initially, we are building it small -- on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. But with the Bachman E-Z Track, we will be able to add a perpendicularly-abutted 4' x 8' plywood sheet to the layout any time our hearts desire.
We have never used E-Z Track before nor the simple grass mat method. We have always done our layouts in the laborious and painstaking ways, giving untold attention to every spike in the tracks and every sprinkle of colorful grass. This is our new adventure in the basement. We hope you will join us for the next phase. We'll give you a shout when it's ready.
We'll call it, "All Aboard!"
Postscript: The collective 'we' in this hub is my railroading husband who does 99 to 100 percent of the work -- and me -- the one who likes to make the trees from scratch when natural materials are available.
Below is a link to a website which has many different shapes of layouts. Free software is available on the site so you can download your desired layout.
Great Little Website to Visit
- Model Railroad Layouts
This site has numerous layout plans you can download for free.
With a little bit of Glue and Elbow Grease
© 2012 Pamela Kinnaird W