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A train layout photo

A number of people have asked me to post a photo of some trains, so here’s a photo of a train, with some scenery, mostly hand-made by Yours Truly.

You’ll have to click here to see it, as it’s larger than my blogging software allows.Gatermann will notice that the tender is facing the wrong direction. Just pretend I’m auditioning for Ebay.

The train is a Marx. The locomotive is Marx’s CP locomotive, a gift from my fiancee. It’s one of Marx’s more desirable locomotives because it’s attractive, but common enough to still be affordable. It’s called a CP because it’s loosely based on a Canadian Pacific locomotive of the 1930s. With the exception of the Pennsylvania Merchandise Service car, all of these Marx cars are worth between $3 and $5. The Pennsy car is worth a bit more. It’s not particularly rare, but Marx made a lot of variations of it, and collectors like to get all the variations, which drives the price up.

The tiny gas station on the left is my design. Yes, the sign reads “Farquhar Oil Co.” Now you know the source of some of R. Collins’ fortune. This was one of the first paper buildings I tried to design and I think it turned out OK.

The confectionery and penny store are based very heavily on a series of building-shaped candy containers made by West Bros. around 1914. They were a lot of work but I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. They are paper as well.

The buildings on the right are free downloads from a company called Microtactix. They specialize in wargaming. Those two buildings happened to be about 20% undersize compared to mine, so I blew them up a bit and used them. Not quite the look I’m going for, but they’re close enough for now and they were easier than designing my own.

The tin lithographed train station in the distance was made by J. Chein, probably in the late 1920s. Chein made a lot of tin litho toys; I don’t know if their trains were windup or if they were strictly pull toys. It’s in terrible condition but putting it on the back of the layout obscures that somewhat. Guys like me are conditioned not to worry about scale too much; the Chein station is close enough, looks the part, and cost me a fraction of what a Marx station would cost, which in turn would cost a fraction of what a comparable Lionel would cost.

The block signal behind the confectionery is Marx, as is the red tower. The “snow” is white tissue paper, and the streets, which aren’t very visible, are a cobblestone pattern printed on paper that I cut out and affixed to the tissue paper with tape. Not very traditional and definitely not durable, but it worked.

It’s not much, but it’s a decent start of what I’m envisioning. I think if I draw a neighborhood of buildings in the style of those West Bros. ripoffs, it’ll make for a nice layout reminiscent of what a good toy train layout could have looked like in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as reminiscent of city neighborhoods that are rapidly vanishing forever, to make way for more convenience stores and Walgreen Drug Stores–oops, they don’t call them that anymore.

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4 thoughts on “A train layout photo”

  1. I have returned from my well-deserved sabbatical in Madagascar. As a special treat, I even brought my manservants and allowed them to earn extra money combing my private beach. This money, of course, went directly toward trinkets such as beads, shells, and so forth. I feel satisfied that my visit improved the country’s economy. Philanthropy never takes a vacation.

    David, I must correct your bludgeoning of R. Collins’ "holdings". I know him well, and can say irrefutably that he has a wealth of natural gas, not oil. Those skirts that he wears, I suspect, could be classified as industrial devices, used to hold his gas pockets. I can attest that much is lost to leakage in the open air.

    R. Collins also has strong interest in the dung-burning factories sprouting up around his native island homeland. I do believe that this could surpass golf and self-loathing as Scotland’s most notable export to date. One wonders how they will thatch their roofs, though.

    1. R. Collins Farquhar IV, aristocrat and scientist.

      To the incorrigible French nobleman who proves it is possible, at times even necessary, to buy one’s way into aristocracy.


      Raunche, might I remind you that just last week you won a game of Aristocratic Jeopardy, and the answer, to which you set a new land speed record in responding with the correct question, was "Ich übergebe."

      I will leave the rest of the world to Altavista’s Babelfish to learn the meaning of this particular German phrase. Why it is useful to a Frenchman will be immediately obvious.

      1. I see you have awakened from your drunken stupor, R. Collins. How is your distillery running these days?

        Ich übergebe, as anyone with minimal multilingual capabilities will tell you, is German for the Gaelic Mi liubhair, Gall-maighstir!, or I surrender, English master! The traditional response from a Scot’s conquering English overlord is Gu sail, Gaidhealach cù! – Heel, Scottish dog! For further exploration, I direct readers to the Scottish “government” homepage at For those interested in a sovereign nation state, visit the French prime minister’s site at http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.FR/en/.

        Allow me to offer further insight into Scottish history. From a volume in my rare books collection:


        Racial Characteristics:
        Sour, stingy, depressing beggars who parade around in schoolgirl skirts with nothing on underneath. Their fumbled attempt at speaking the English language has been a source of amusement for five centuries, and their idiot music has been dreaded by those not blessed with deafness for at least as long. The latter is produced on a device resembling five flutes that have grown a piss bladder. Formerly, the Scots painted themselves blue and ranged far and wide over the British Isles, but good fortune prevailed and they were conquered by their betters. What passes for an alcoholic beverage in the dreary province to which the Scots have been driven has enjoyed a short vogue among sales and advertising types, but this appears to be giving way to cocaine.

        Good Points:
        Attractive plaids.

        An Anecdote Illustrating Something of the Scots Character:
        In recent years, the small Scottish Nationalist movement has become so desperate that it’s been kidnapping money and ransoming it for people.

  2. There are still a few old country towns and rail stations scattered around North and South Carolina. (There’s a lot fewer stations.) Places like Winnsboro, Waxhaw and Fort Mill, SC immediately come to mind. These small country towns still retain most of their old downtown / main street charm, and it’s quite a beautiful thing.

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