The Layout

I read somewhere (recently) during this fascinating honeymoon period where I’m learning about toy trains before it all devolves into super micro-rivet counting and macho posturing and becomes “not fun”… that you become a “model railroader” when you pick your toy trains up off the floor.


This isn’t really true (I hope). But… the layout. The Layout in bold and maybe italic… that is the thing. The Model Railroader (bless His holy name) starts with DAT.

Here’s mine!

New York, New York

I bought a piece of foamboard that already had some concrete stuff sprayed on it, and then I put down the track I had stashed away since 1985. When I bought that track, I had intended to make one oval inside of another, so that two trains could run at the same time. That was the master plan. Nothing more complex than that.

It took thirty-five years for me to actually put that plan into operation, but I think I’ve proved my point that when I want to do something, I’ll get it. Eventually. I’m reminded of that old movie where Frank Sinatra pushes a cannon across Spain. You know the one.

Or, maybe, the story “One Thousand Dozen” by Jack London.

See the movie. Read the book. Enjoy.

So I attached the track to the cement-coated foam using The Mining’s super double sided sticky foam tape. I don’t recommend doing that, but it did stick the damn track down good and firm.

I downloaded a “panorama” of New York and printed it out using some free tools. The result took a big chunk out of my workshop/pantry but I’m used to working in cramped spaces.

I got another metal shell for the old Arnold Alco FA2 model. I really like the way this thing runs. It’s NOTHING like a modern n scale locomotive– but it’s still functional. Goes very slow and VERY fast.

Microscale Clear Part Glue for the windows. A red glaze modified the decal.

I like the Penn Central because it’s easy to paint. Black. Can’t miss with black.

Here’s an old loco I bought on eBay for a tenner. It’s a Bachmann from 1987 and the twenty year gap between this and my old locos really shows. It’s still an antique, but it’s from a different, later era. It runs quietly and SLOWLY compared to the pre-historic locos that I have, but they are running at scale supersonic speeds, so that’s a bit silly.


I experimented with creating some “weeds” to go with my theme of urban decay.

I don’t like the usual stuff you see in model railroading. I don’t like endless forests and mountains and the Frosty Creme where the modeler would have asked Peggy Sue to the prom if he had gone to the prom. The barber shop, the general store, the gas station with the hot rods.


The Penn Central was born in rust-belt America and I want my LAYOUT to reflect the gentle sensibilities of The French Connection and other fine cinema from the golden age. I’m planning on installing a totally abandoned factory, surrounded by lonely, forelorn street lamps and many weeds made out of hairs from cheap paint brushes (eww).

At no time will any of my return to an earlier, simpler time fail to reflect beloved memories of porn theaters in Times Square and little guys named Ratso saying “I’m walkin’ here! I’m walkin’ here!”

4 Replies to “The Layout”

  1. Welcome (back, it seems) to the World of Trains. Delighted to have found you here after a noted absence from the ATF (no, not the ATSF, that was something completely different). From a very quick browse around (it’s early morning this side of the Pond, and there’s a magpie going berserk outside the lounge window, demanding my attention to refresh the fat balls) I’m tempted to just say ‘keep on trucking’, but I guess that has to be ‘Keep on Railroading!’. Anyway, Grusse aus Dordogne, the Dodger.

    1. I’m like the old guy at the hotel who stayed past the busy season. I keep falling into better circumstances by mistake.

  2. Hey Dan,

    Lookin good. Only thing is, that New York skyline isn’t showing a lot of fire and smoke. Just sayin.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. This does give me an idea about how to use those LED’s I just got. Let’s see… I’ll need some red-tinted clear plastic wrap and some flickering LED’s to make a “fire”…

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