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Sample Cadrail Layouts

Sandia's Layout

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HO - 8' x 14'
18" min. radius
#4 turnouts

Update: This article was last updated in 1998. The layout drawing and images were updated in 2008.


We thought you might enjoy seeing our HO scale model railroad.

Our half-garage size HO layout has never had an exact prototype or overall plan for the layout. It has just developed in our imagination and evolved into wood and plaster as time and energy allows. The basic theme is the D&RG narrow gauge from the early 1900's, although we did not really know that at the time when much of this model was constructed.

3D Views of Sandia's Layout




Photograph of real model.


Cadrail 3d view at same angle.


A closer look.


A work in progress

Currently in its third revision, this railroad has been in the design-construct mode for many years. It has been rearranged each time it moved to a different building. The layout is made up of 2'x4' modules that can be disassembled for easy transport.

As the layout was rebuilt in the past, it slowly evolved from a more complex triple loop that could support operation of multiple trains with lots of cars to the simpler single loop you see here. The master builder's (me) philosophy has changed with age from glassy eyed train freak with grand delusions of a monster railroad empire to one of simple, clean detail that has a possibility of reaching an advanced stage of completion. In other words, we think a layout with less track and nice buildings and scenery is much more desirable (Keep it Simple Stupid). Our favorite time is spent building the thing, not running it. Everyone has their favorite.

Work on the railroad has been slow the last few years as time and interests changed. Most of the buildings were made more than 10 years ago and have been lovingly moved from one layout to the next. No doubt a better job of representing real life prototypes could be done today. But, we don't care that much. They look good to us.

How it's made

The railroad is totally scratch built (except for track and rolling stock). Bench work is basically 2"x4" frame with plywood track base. More recent track base is 1" pine. Scenery consists mostly of plaster of Paris applied to screen. The rockwork is all hand carved using a fork and putty knife. Masonry you see around the bridges is all hand carved into the wet plaster with a kitchen knife. Color is added by many applications of acrylic paint diluted with water. Much of the color is also common hobby spray paint. Woodland Scenic's ground foam and track ballast has been added over the colored plaster. The trees are mostly furnace filter variety with some natural twigs and lichen. Everything is glued down by spraying with dilute white or wood glue or anything else that's handy.

I am big on trying to use whatever materials can be found in the junk pile. Some pieces of wood on this layout have been recycled a half dozen times or more. With this attitude, the construction takes various twists and turns to accommodate the available materials. Parts of the thing are A-1 class construction while other parts are "ok for now". After all, this is just for fun, right?

Plan View


Coal Tipple


View from the trestle




Download toms 21a.exe (986kb)

These files require Cadrail Version 9 or the Cadrail Demo to view and print.

How to use these self-extracting files


Note: this is a complex drawing with lots of detail. The time needed to draw is dependant on the speed of your computer. These large files, take longer to draw on the screen.



Photo Tour

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      Key to photos.


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Photo 9: The overall view.

Photo 1a: Just a short distance from the station, the train must crawl over this high, shaky trestle.

Photo 1


Photo 2: A pony truss provides good clearance where the main lines cross.

Photo 2


Photo 3a: A brick arch spans this canyon just before plunging into a long rock tunnel. Photo 3


Photo 4. Leaving the tunnel a combination wooden trestle and truss support the train.


Photo 3b. The return trip follows the lower level track back to the station.


Photo 1b. This tricky crossing between the upper and lower levels required several combinations of bridges spanning rough terrain.




Photo 1 - c,d,e,f: This wooden trestle has stone
abutments and footings. It is a combination
trestle with two trusses.



Building Review

Photo 5

Photo 5: Multiple level retaining walls
hold this structure on the mountain.


Photo 6

Photo 6: A water tank and coal tipple stand
in the foreground. The roundhouse with operating
turntable are visible in the background.


Photo 7: This view shows the turntable, engine house,
coal tipple, water tank and station.




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      Key to photos.



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