Lot of thought goes into how you want to arrange your layout.

Wow, it is scary how fast time is flying by! I have been taking advantage of the good weather we’ve had lately and getting ready for old man winter. The nights are getting cold and the woodstove has been fired up a few times already to heat up the house. I have been busy hauling, cutting up, splitting and stacking firewood and getting some car maintenance done in preparation of a long winter. It’s scary how fast time is flying by! Halloween is right around the corner. Hope you are enjoying the fall season.

A lot of time can be devoted to thinking how to arrange your layout. Deciding where the most logical location is for the different buildings and the different features of the model railroad can take a lot of thought. Getting the different elements to fit within the model railroads boundaries can add to the difficult task. Following a prototypes arrangement may help in the placement of the buildings and etc., but then things still might have to be moved around to fit the confines of a layouts size and/or shape. A freelance layout allows the builder more freedom to include the elements they want in their layout. That freedom may also create more questions like where to locate the team track and the best location that works well for both the railroad and the town.

I studied the track plans for my layout a long time in trying to decide on where to locate things like a small switching yard, turntable and roundhouse, and train passenger/freight station. Even though a lot of thought was put into planning the layout a change of ideas can come along unexpectedly. I had a small brain storm (small brain equals small brain storm). The location where I originally pictured the train station would go, suddenly looked like a great place for an idea I had from an old magazine article. I decided there was just enough room on the layout in this area to squeeze in a twisted, steep dirt road that heads up to the mines. The roads switchbacks, wood retaining walls and steep drops along the edges would add some character. Because of the tight location on the layout, the roads switchbacks are a little too tight but I think they are believable to the viewer. A poor truck driver will probably have to do a three to five point turn with larger trucks negotiating around the switchbacks.

I started the project by taking a picture of the layout where the dirt road was going to be located. I loaded the photo into Photoshop and played with the road idea to kind of get an idea what the road would look like. I drew the route of the road on the photo first to get an idea which way it would fit the best. Then I drew in the mountains around it. This was not to scale, but it gave me an idea where to start. The road is marked in red in the photo below.  This Photoshop picture is not to scale and does not show the exact route of the road, but it helped get my imagination flowing. The hardest part for me was to visualize how to cut the road into the mountain.  I did some thinking and decided to try a new technic for me. I wanted to try to cut the road into the foam mountain by using an electric foam cutter. But I did not want to purchase one. So I got my soldering gun out and removed the soldering tip from it. Then I removed the mounting nuts off another soldering tip I didn’t use much. These two mounting nuts from the soldering tip will be reused on a custom made tip I made from a heavy clothes hanger. The wire of the clothes hanger had no paint on it so no fumes would come from it when it is heated up by the soldering gun. The outside width of the wires need to be the width needed for the dirt road. I took a photo of the setup so you can see what I’m trying to explain. The soldering gun heated the wire up in about five to ten seconds and worked great for cutting the road into the foam mountains!

The building of the new mine road can be read in the “From the Very Beginning” story. When reading the story, look for the article dated    11-04-2017. Please check it out. I hope it gives you some good ideas to work from on your train layout. And as I usually say; keep it fun, relaxed and happy N scale modeling!


Tips for Those New to Model Railroading

Tips to Help You Get Started With On Your First Train Layout

Seeing the large layouts in the different model railroad magazines may make you want to build your own train empire. The point I really want to stress  is to start small if you are just getting started in model railroading. A small layout will give you a taste of the different aspects of putting a layout together like  carpentry skills to build the benchwork, laying the track down, wiring the track and other tasks like  track maintenance. Starting out with a large layout can be too overwhelming and a sure way to end in failure and not finish the layout. A small layout will give you experience in the different skills of model railroading. It is much easier to complete a small layout and you will be able to add scenery and details to tell the stories you want. You can always add onto the train layout later if you decide to. You could also build a larger layout one section at a time and add them together.

The larger the model railroad layout is the more money it will require to build and maintain it. So a small layout fits a small budget much better. A layout does not need to be big to have fun. A small shelf layout can take up very little space. It could be setup as a switching puzzle that can be very entertaining for a long time and provide the possibility to do some scenery work too!

There are some disadvantages of a small layout that you should keep it mind. You’re limited to running short trains.  Larger locomotives do not run well or look good on the tighter curve radius of a small layout. The rolling stock is limited to shorter lengths.

The smaller scales of model railroading like Z scale and N scale take up a lot less room for a train layout but also require more patience. Because of the small size of the locomotives and rolling stock, good hand coordination and dexterity are needed to place the small wheels back on the tracks and to work with small details. So the HO scale or larger maybe a better way for some people to go.

Many of the newer model railroad layouts are wired for Digital Command Control (DCC) which has many more options available than an older Direct Current (DC) setup. All those different options of DCC do add up to more expenses. I use the old DC wiring system which keeps things simple and the cost down. I can still run two or three locomotives at once on my layout. There are more slide switches to operate on a DC setup but that can keep things interesting when running more than one train at the same time.

Another way I kept the cost of the layout down was to use the older track switches or turnouts that have the solenoid switch mounted on top of them. They are not as pretty, but the cost is lower than buying the prototype looking turnouts and also having to buy the under the layout switch motor too. I had to make some sacrifices but also have kept the overall expense of building the layout down for our small budget.

For good information on building the benchwork, wiring the layout and other good information to help build your model railroad layout, check out the following link;     build your model railroad. 

Model railroading can be an expensive hobby with all the new exciting technology and gadgets available nowadays but it is possible to enjoy model railroading on a small budget. Keep the layout small and simple at first and just get a feel for the hobby. Model railroading is a great escape from a hard days work or the stresses of life. Escape into a world of your imagination.

Until later, keep it simple, relaxed and happy N scale modeling!

Can you help me name my model railroad?

I am having a hard time deciding on a name for my freelance model railroad. What’s a railroad without a good name? Definitely know the setting would be in the Colorado Rockies. The narrow gauge tracks heading west out of Denver up the rugged Rocky Mountains to the mines of Blackhawk, Central City or the Rio Grande Southern Railroad heading through Ophir, Trout Lake and Lizard Head have been at the top of my list for areas to model.

This model railroad layout is four feet by eight feet in size. Being a compact layout makes it hard to model towns like the ones mentioned above. My freelance model railroad will have a small town in a mountain valley. There will be a roundhouse, turntable and facilities for steam locomotives to be serviced before heading up the mountain pass. Across the tracks there is a team track and a small town. There will be a mine or two up in the “mountains.” I like the era of 1920 or 1930s, but there isn’t much available in N scale modeling at this time. Now if you are talking Hon3 scale or larger then there is a lot available but not in N scale. So I’m forced to model the 1940 or 1950s

I had a friend who has passed away now, that inspired me to try my hand at doing some scenery work. The local model railroad club, EVMRR had a one square foot contest coming up and Bob supplied me with most of the materials I was going to need to get me started. Bob Trump helped and inspired a lot of people over the years and I want to dedicate this layout to him. So I have tried to come up with ideas using his initials or a combination of his and mine. His initials; BT and mine; JH. The only one I kind of liked was BT&H RR. Bone Tired and Hurting Railroad. So for now the railroad remains nameless until the final decision is made.

If you have any good names for this model railroad please email me at jbhammdesigns@gmial.com. Click on the Contact/About link at the top of the page and leave me a message. Thank you for any of your ideas. This could get interesting.

I included a link to the Estes Valley Model Railroaders if you would like to check it out. Estes Valley Model Railroaders

Anyway until later, keep it relaxed and happy N scale modeling!


Did you notice that something disappeared!?

Landscape Photography by Joe Hammond

Click Link above to find where the landscape photography’s home base is!

Are you wondering where the Landscape Photography Went?

As I set the website up I learn new things along the way. Since this website is titled to be “N Scale Modeling”, I believe that having the landscape photography on the website too is confusing the search engines. They are asking “Is this site about trains or landscape photos?” So to try for better results, I needed to eliminate the beautiful landscape photos completely from this website. This way the website is only about model railroading.

The landscape photography does have a home at;


Inspire4desires.com is still a little rough around the edges and some misspelling here and there but still worth checking out. There is also quotes and words of thought that you may enjoy. It will not be updated as much as this website but I do have new stuff I want to add to it when I can.

Just wanted to let you know what is going on so that’s all for right now. As always, have a good day, keep it relaxed and happy nscalemodeling!



“FROM THE VERY BEGINNING” has new material added today!!

The story of how I started  with my present N scale model railroad layout has officially started. It’s just a start with lots already to be uploaded. Please come back soon and see all the goodies in store. 

This photo shows more rockridge (white foam board) being added to the layout in the far background.