HO-scale track plans are easily the most popular type in the model railroading world because they balance detail with space considerations. The ratio of 1/87 scales an average man down to the height of an inch, which packs a lot of model rail operations into a room or a basement. Grab something to eat and drink, so you can relax and enjoy the work of some of this scale’s finest craftsmen.
© 2018 by Aurelio Locsin
SMARTTInc HO-Scale Track Plans
Set in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this example of HO-scale track plans by Scale Models, Arts & Technologies, Inc, epitomizes the custom builder’s work. Consisting of five modules measuring a total of 6-by-38 feet, the pike has a simple double-tracked loop traversed by a modern tram. Scratch-built buildings, based on real city structures, dominate the miniature skyline. Highlights include the monolithic Old San Juan Capitol Building and the Art Deco headquarters of Banco Popular, the company that commissioned the layout. Every ten minutes, night descends to the sounds of local frogs, the twinkling of stars and the lighting of building interiors.
Soo Line in Sheboygan
A local news report in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, describes Mark Preussler’s Soo Line layout set in 1954. Watch diesels, steamers and switchers, complete with realistic sound, pull freight and passenger consists through a nicely scenicked basement empire with small towns, a working turntable and small stretches of forest. The videos features close-ups of figures, structures, track work and of-course, trains.
Zane Trace and National Trails
The Zane Trace and National Trails Model Railroad Club produced this professional video about their 40-year old club layout featuring Ohio Southern operations between Zanesville, Ohio and Charleston, West Virginia. Among its features are an intermodal yard, diesel servicing facility, coal company, oil refinery and steel plant. The diesels thunder with sound as they cross multiple bridges and waterways, pass by rolling and forested hills and snake through urban structures. Enjoy it while you can, because the club headquarters was sold in November 2011, forcing a move.
Bruce Friedman’s Chessie System layout sprawls across three levels in a basement measuring 41-by-44 feet. This DCC Digitrax System contains seven power districts, radio controls and 80 decoder-equipped engines. Set in the modern area with lines stretching from Philadelphia to Baltimore, this effort has several yards including one set in the City of Baltimore that can hold 12 engines in its engine terminal plus 150 cars. Major industries cover the Twin Oaks auto ramp in Pennsylvania, which holds 40 auto racks, a GE Logistics Belvedere applicance distribution center, and a Cargill Foods plant in Barksdale, Maryland.
Only three feet wide but over 27 feet long, the City Edge layout by Vic Smith revels in the use of urban scenery. Its track plan is fairly uncomplicated, having only three switches, and favors point-to-point running but is packed with structures that evoke the 1950s to the present day. in Chicago and St. Louis. Many of the structures were kitbashed or cast from urethane by Vic himself. The layout was originally built in sections for easy transportation to model railroad shows but now has a permanent home in his basement.
CSX Downtown Spur
CSX Downtown Spur
The legendary Lance Mindheim is well-known for his modern layouts with modern scenery and a simple track plan that is designed for operation. His CSX Downtown Spur layout stands out as a fine example of this professional layout designer's art. Measuring 17.5-by-21.5 feet, this wonder duplicates modern industrial operations that follows a prototype in Miami. The use of photographs to model the complex weathering and graffiti of concrete structures adds to the realism.
Lone Pine and Tonopah
This masterpiece among HO-scale track plans by Kermit Paul is set in the 1940s and is inspired by the Western Pacific. A 1943 CTC machine controls train movements throughout the 27-by-44-foot basement pike. The centerpiece is a city with Art Deco skyscrapers, a King Kong being harassed by “flying” planes, a movie studios lot, moving cars, sound effects, interior details in the structures, animation and lighting effects.
This layout epitomizes the best of what HO-track plans have to offer.
Aurelio Locsin (author) from Orange County, CA on December 31, 2011:
I absolutely agree. That's why it's my favorite hobby.
Dianna Mendez on December 31, 2011:
Wow! This is serious stuff on model railroads. We used to visit the model train display every Christmas in Cincinnati. They also have a museum downtown. There's just something about a model train display that brings happiness to your soul!