Wall Mounted Model Train Layout Plan
By Tim Meydam
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Wall Mounted Model Train Layout Plan
What Is a Model Train?
Welcome to the World’s Greatest Hobby, that of model railroading. Just like model cars
and model airplanes, model trains are models of life size trains manufactured and used by
the industry on our railroad track system today and in the past.
Model trains are sized by both scale and gauge. Scale refers to the ratio in size between a
model and its full size counterpart in real life. It is expressed as a fraction or a proportion.
In model railroading, each scale is assigned a letter, so an example of scale as used in
model railroading would be as follows:
O Scale = 1/48 or 1:48
Gauge is the distance between the rails on the model railroad track. This distance is
measured between the inside edges of the running rails.
What is a Model Train Layout?
A model train layout refers to how the tracks lay. Tracks may be configured any way a
person wants them to be. Here are a few examples:
*Circle – often seen around Christmas trees.
*Oval – a circle split in half with extra track added to increase the length of the
*Dog Bone – two circles on either end joined by straight track in the middle to
make it look like a dog biscuit
*Straight – a straight length of track that allows a train to run forward and reverse,
but does not loop around
Where Do I Start?
Deciding what type of model train to buy and what type of layout to have is not that
difficult, but there are a few factors to consider. First, decide where you would like your
model train to be set up and whether or not this will be a permanent set up. (Since you
have purchased this plan, we hope your set up will be a permanent one!) Next, decide
how much detail you are going to put into your layout and who will be doing the work.
Will this be just your project, or will others be involved? Are there parts of the project
you cannot do yourself? Finally, consider how easy the sizes of the train parts are to
manage, especially when placing the train back on the track when it falls off. A general
rule is that smaller hands usually have an easier time handling larger train parts, so you
would want to purchase a G or O scale train for a younger child, an HO or N scale train
for an older child or teenager.
When purchasing a model train, begin with a starter set. Starter sets have all the basic
pieces you need to get a model train up and running. They usually include enough track
to make a basic circle layout, a locomotive, 3 or 4 cars, a transformer with connecting
wires, and a power cord, plus a basic instruction booklet. When you purchase your set,
you can decide if you would like a diesel train or a steam locomotive. Also, if you know
that you want more than just a basic circle layout (for example, if you are constructing
this wall mounted layout), you can purchase additional track at the same time from the
same hobby shop. The sales people at the shop will assist you to make sure the parts you
purchase are all compatible.
Once you have this done, you are ready to get started on your wall mounted model train
layout! Welcome to a world of adventure and fantasy that you will be able share with
family and friends.
Chapter 1: What is a wall mounted train layout?
Simply put, a wall mounted model train layout is a shelving unit mounted around the
perimeter of a room for the train to run on. The track is attached to the shelf, the power is
supplied to the track, and the train runs around the upper portion of your room. Neat!
There are several advantages to this type of layout. The first, and most obvious, of
course, is that this layout saves space. Since the layout is around the upper perimeter of
your room, it does not take up floor or table space. The train is out of the way – no one
will step on it, trip over it, or complain about it taking up too much room. Because of this,
the next advantage is that your train can be left set up all the time. When you want to run
it, you can turn it on and run it. When you are done, turn it off and leave it where it is. It
is still out of the way.
Another advantage to this type of layout is that it can be used with many different sizes of
model trains. This layout lends itself especially well to O Scale and HO scale trains, but
can even be used with the really large G scale trains. Again, the layout solves the problem
of where to put that big train.
Chapter 2: Basic Tools Required
Here are the basic hand tools you will need for this job:
2. Stud finder
4. Screw drivers
5. Tape measurer
6. Carpenters square
7. Hand saw, manual and or power scroll saw
8. Drill and drill bits, power and or hand
9. Wire stripper
11. Paint Brush and or roller
12. A desire to build
Chapter 3: Materials
A: Starter Train set – available at your local hobby or model train store
B. Extra straight lengths of track – also available at your local model train store
C. Shelf brackets – available at your local home remodeling or hardware store
D. ¾ inch plywood sanded on one side to make corners
E. ¾ inch shelving boards to fill between the corner pieces – we recommend 8 or
10 inch wide boards
G. Screws to secure brackets and wood pieces
H. Two wiring blocks – available at your local electronics store
I. 14 gauge wire
J. Plexiglas – amount is discussed in Chapter 6. Available at your local home
K. Four power lock-ons – to disperse power around the track. Available at your
local model train store.
Chapter 4: Plans for a Wall Mounted Model Train Layout
A. Decide where your shelf will be and what type of brackets you will need.
B. The type of brackets you buy will be determined by where your layout shelf
will sit in relation to the doors and windows in your room. You may have to
be creative with mounting your brackets. You may also have to accept the
liability for how they are mounted if it is different than the manufacturer’s
C. For example, when putting up the brackets up for our O gauge layout in our
den, I had to mount the brackets upside down to support the shelf around the
perimeter of our den. This gave me clearance over the door ways and a wide
window in the room, changing the manufacturer’s supporting surface for the
shelf. (Caution should be taken here). So it’s up to you to decide if you want
to change how the shelf brackets are mounted for your lay out.
The brown brackets in this picture are installed upside down to avoid the door molding.
1. Locate the tallest door or window in your room. Do this by measuring
from the floor to the top of the molding along the top of the door or
window. *Why? Doors and windows are not always set at the same
heights in a room. In addition, settling that occurs as a home ages can
cause doors and windows to sit at different heights.
2. Once you have identified the tallest door or window in the room write
this dimension down. Add a 1/2 inch to that measurement for clearance.
Find the corner of the room closest to this door or window. Start your
measurements for your brackets from this corner. (Remember to check
B. Install shelf brackets level with one another around the perimeter of the room.
1. If your measurements do not line up with studs, make sure to use dry
wall anchors when installing your brackets.
2. Take the dimension you took above and transfer to the wall 6 inches
from the corner. Make a mark here for your first bracket.
3. Next, measure 22 inches from the corner at the same height and make
a mark for your second bracket.
4. Then make a mark 26 inches from the corner at the same height and
make a mark for your third bracket.
5. Do this along both walls from this corner.
6. Install your brackets at the marks. Make sure the supporting surfaces
of your brackets are above these marks and are level with one another.
Use a level to make sure.
7. Mark off and install the shelf brackets for the other three corners of the
room. Use the same measurements method as you did for the first
corner and keep the brackets level with the brackets for the first
8. Install other shelf brackets along the wall to support the boards that
will fit between the corners. The amount of brackets will vary
depending on the length of board or boards you use to fill in between
the corner pieces. The height of these brackets should match the height
of your first bracket you mounted.
9. If you are careful to keep your brackets level and your supporting
surfaces even, your shelves should clear all doors and windows in the
room and your train should run smoothly once it is installed.
C. Cut out your corner shelf pieces
1. Cut 4 pieces of 3/4inch plywood to 2ft x 2ft square. Your local lumber
yard might do this for you if you don’t want to cut these pieces
2. Take one of the 2 ft. x 2 ft. pieces of plywood. Select a corner and
mark that corner as “A”. This corner will be the corner that butts into
the wall. Run your finger from corner “A” diagonally across the board
to the opposite corner. Mark this corner “B”. See Fig.1
3. Run your finger from corner “A” along one side of the plywood to the
next corner. Mark this “C”. Measure form corner “C” toward corner
“B” the width of your straight shelving and make a mark. See Fig. 2.
4. Now go back to corner “A” and run your finger from corner “A”
along the other edge to the remaining corner mark this corner “D”.
Measure form corner “D” toward corner “B” the width of your
straight shelving and make a mark. See Fig. 3
5. Tie a string to a pencil. Put the point of the pencil on one of the last
mark you made. Run the string to the corner marked “B” and hold it
down. Draw an arc; running the pencil between the marks you made
joining both marks. See Fig.4
6. Cut along the arc line, using a scroll saw. See Fig. 4
7. Discard Corner “B”. Your piece of wood should look like Fig.5 when
done cutting it out
8. Repeat this process or trace your first board for the other three
2 ft. by 2 ft. pieces of plywood.
D. Measure and fit your straight shelving.
1. Set your corner pieces into the corners on the corner brackets.
2. Measure the gaps between the corner pieces and cut your straight
shelving to fill these gaps. See Fig. 6
3. Install additional brackets as needed to support your straight shelving,
keeping them level with your corner brackets. Set your shelving pieces in place to
insure everything fits correctly.
4. Remove all shelving pieces from brackets. Paint shelving according to
your decorating scheme. Let dry 24 hours.
5. Install all the shelving and secure it to brackets.
6. Your shelf is now ready for you to start assembling the track.
E: Remove track from starter set and assemble.
1. Assemble curved pieces in all 4 curves of your layout. Give yourself
approximately 3 inches from the center of the track to the wall (Do not secure
curves to shelf at this point as this will be done later.)
2. Measure the distance between curves and get the extra track you will
Your local dealer should be able to help you out and be a great resource to help
you. You can also look in the manual of your starter set for the manufacturer’s
website, go to that website, and see what lengths of straight track they offer.
3. Assemble the track. Make sure you have enough power hookups around
your track layout to distribute the power evenly through the layout. This is important for
large layouts and could change the length of the pieces you buy to finish your layout.
4. After layout (track loop) is all connected, secure it to your shelf.
5. Now you’re ready to proceed to wire your layout.
Chapter 5: Wiring your layout
A: Find a location for the transformer that was supplied with your starter set.
Place this according to your specific situation.
1. Up high out of view so little hands cannot change your set speed.
2. Down at desk level so you can change the speed as you would like.
B: Mount 2 wiring blocks to wall or train shelf (place these out of view)
1. You can purchase these at Radio Shack or your local electronics store.
C: Run 14 gauge wire, one red and one black, from the transformer to wiring
blocks, keeping colored wire and blocks separate (black to black and red to red), then
from each wiring block to each track supply hookup - red to center rail and black to outer
*Lionel recommends 14 gauge wires to be used. See the owner’s manual that
came with your starter set for proper hookups of your specific set.
D. Make jumper hookups on the unused connection terminals on your wiring
blocks. See Fig. 7 for a diagram of how to do this.
E. Unpack your train from the starter set and set it on the track.
1. Plug in you transformer and apply power to your train. (Be careful not
run it to fast at first, or you may derail it and it may plummet to the floor!)
Check to make sure the train runs smoothly around the track.
Chapter 6: 2 inch Plexiglas guard.
The Plexiglas guard is a safety device that will prevent your train from
falling off the shelf should it derail.
A: Measure along the inside of train shelf. Go to your local home remodeling
store, purchase and have the store cut 2 inch strips to fit your measurement.
B: Drill holes in Plexiglas prior to mounting to train shelf. Place holes 3/8 inch
from one edge, approximately 6” to 8” apart.
C. Align holes in Plexiglas with center of shelf edge and screw in place.
D. See Fig. 8
Chapter 7: Basic Model Train and Track Maintenance
A: Train Maintenance
1. Lightly lube pivot points (see owners manual for the proper lube
points on your train set)
2. Lightly lube pivot points on rolling stock. (Rolling stock refers to your
train engine and cars.)
3. Don’t put too much lube on. This will get on the track and you will
have to clean your track more often.
4. Clean all parts of the Engine that will be touching the track.
B: Track Maintenance
1. Clean track with a track cleaner and a clean cloth to remove dirt
and oil from the track for good electrical contact between train and
2. Once a month you may have to go around the entire track layout
with an eraser to remove tough dirt. Follow this up with a cloth
dampened with track cleaner.
3. Track cleaning train cars are available. These will do light track
cleaning and are fun to watch.
C: Dust your layout often.
Chapter 8: Adding scenery to your layout
This chapter will describe some simple finishing techniques to the layout. Due to the
nature of this layout, there is not a lot of space for fancy landscaping, buildings and other
scenery that you might have seen added to large model train layouts on tables. However,
here are two different finishing techniques you can do that will save you some space and
give your layout a unique look.
A: Wall Paper Border Background – add a background landscape, a town scene, a
seascape, or any background you like with a wall paper border.
1. Measure the height of the wall between the surface of your layout shelf
and the ceiling of your room. If your room has moldings, measure to
the bottom edge of the molding.
2. Purchase wall paper border with a width as close to your height
measurement as you can find. You may have to trim some of your
border, so make sure the design you choose has parts of the design that
are not important and can be trimmed off along either the top or
3. Take your height measurement and mark it on your wall paper border,
starting at the edge of the border you do not intend to trim off. Using a
straight edge, mark a trim line along the edge you want to trim off and
trim, using a utility knife along a flat cutting surface. (If your border is
the exact width of your measurement, you will not have to do this
4. Apply your border on the wall between the surface of your layout shelf
and your ceiling, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. If you would like your background to be removable, would like to be
able to change backgrounds, or if you have an uneven wall, apply your
border to strips of ¼ inch plywood, cut to the same width as your
measurement. If you are using this method, you can wrap the extra
border around the edges of the plywood rather than trimming it off if
you choose to. If you want the background to be permanent, you can
screw the plywood panels in place between the surface of the layout
shelf and the ceiling of your room.
Wall paper border background, showing a farm landscape.
B: Painted Background – if you, or someone you know, are artistic, you can use
the border technique described above, but instead of purchasing preprinted wall
paper borders, paint the background scenery instead. Use the plywood border
strips, precut to your measurement as described above, and paint the scenery
directly on to the wood. If you prefer, you can cover the wood with the painting
surface of your choice before painting scenery. Allow to dry, then set into place
and secure with screws if the background is meant to be permanent.
Once you have completed your background technique, you can add details to your
layout with scale accessories from your local hobby shop. People, vehicles, trees,
signs, buildings, and other details are all available for purchase in the same scale
as your train. Remember that your layout does not offer a lot of space for detail,
but you can add interest, especially on the corners where the track curves. Shelf
space here is somewhat wider and allows for a building or two, a small area of
landscaping, or maybe even a tunnel. Also remember that you do not have to add
all the details to your layout at once. A few here and there are fine for starters,
then add some more later as time allows. How detailed your layout becomes is all
up to you.
If you do decide to add scale accessories to your layout, make sure to secure the
smaller pieces to your layout with craft or hobby glue. This will prevent small
parts from falling on to your track or off your shelf to the floor below. Turf,
shrubs, trees, people, signs, poles, and other small objects should all be secured.
Larger accessories may also be secured, but may stay in place without glue,
depending on their size and weight.
In this plan we have given you the instructions for building your own wall
mounted model train layout. By following this plan, you should be able to
purchase the materials, build the shelf unit, lay out the track, wire the track and
supply the power, start up your train, apply safety features, add scenery, and
maintain your layout. We hope you enjoy your layout and, if you have read this
far, maybe you’ve already built it! But if you haven’t, it’s time to get started!
Let’s get that train running now!