Things I Did Right on my HO Scale Model Railroad

The Maple Valley Short Line is a work in progress. As I shared in “Mistakes I Made on my HO Scale Model Railroad,” model railroading is a great teaching tool because there is always something to learn. I suspect that any serious model railroader would say the same thing.

HO scale pencil drawing of track plan

This is the pencil drawing of my track plan. Each grid section represents twelve inches square. The layout is twenty-one feet long. The end sections are forty-eight inches deep, sixty inches wide. The middle section is eleven feet wide, and thirty-six inches deep.

I originally planned to have a tunnel at the east end (Maple Valley) of the layout. I chose to leave the track exposed. The drawing shows two spurs in Maple Valley, I decided one was enough.

The Maple Valley line runs through the middle of the layout from end to end. The two mainlines run around the outside of the layout, allowing constant running of two trains.

I have always enjoyed an over-under track plan. So, the outside mainline curves inward and winds over the middle of the layout. The inside line curves outward and crosses through two tunnels.

I am probably in the category of the old-school train set kind of model railroader. I love turnouts, but switching moves are not the main purpose of the layout. I just like watching trains run. I like getting down on eye level and watching the trains roll by. I love listening to the sound of metal wheels clicking across the rail joints.

The literal center of the Maple Valley Short Line Model Railroad is the Maple Valley River. To move trains over the Maple Valley River at a height of four inches required a trestle. I started building the trestle before the 1 1/2 inches of pink extruded foam was dredged.

At the end of the project, I think the trestle is the trophy of the Maple Valley Short Line Model Railroad. It’s beautiful. The river is clear, the bottom is visible with sticks, rocks, and all kinds of other things usually found on a river bottom.

Three Tower Bridge is also an exciting area on the MVSL. It started out as three support structures, then I built the bridge deck. The nice thing about detached bridge supports is the ease of moving them into the best spot under the deck.

Another amazing focal point on the Maple Valley Short Line is the factory on the back of the layout. It is just beyond Three Tower Bridge and a long supply line runs in front of the building.

The print behind the factory gives depth to the scene. The factory was originally a free-standing model. I cut the sections to make it a facade. In the post, “How I Created My Own Factory Backdrop“, I explained the process of building and lighting the structure.

I’ve been an HO scale model railroader since I was fifteen years old. When I look at the pictures of the Maple Valley Short Line, I have to admit, I’m amazed. A fancy picture-taking phone has a lot to do with it, but everything I have learned in well over fifty years in the hobby has taught me quite a bit.

The hours of tedious work it takes to have smooth curves with absolutely no joint kinks is fully rewarded in smooth running, and is well worth every minute.

I still have a lot to learn, and a long way to go on the Maple Valley Short Line. There are many episodes to complete for “Scandal at Maple Valley,” inspired by a melted matchbox car I found in a barn.

I agree with whoever said, “Model railroading is the best hobby in the world.”

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