Build Your First Layout

Peter Vassallo
Item #12829

Perfect for building model railroading skills, this compact layout will not take up too much space and does not require a lot of specialty tools to build.
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This all-new how-to book is perfect for anyone getting started in model railroading or looking to build a simple, compact layout. Build Your First Layout features the small, easy to build Northspur & Tiburon Railroad from experienced modeler and Model Railroader author Peter Vassallo. You’ll get step-by-step instructions and all the basic techniques needed to build an operating layout including:

  • Benchwork
  • Tracklaying
  • Scenery
  • Structures
  • And more!
Author: Peter Vassallo
Size: 8.25 x 10.75
Pages: 96
Author Bio
Peter Vassallo’s Town of Hamlin switching module appeared in Model Railroader. A mechanical engineer, Peter lives in Albany, N.Y. He’s especially interested in small, sectional layouts.
Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - The Northspur & Tiburon RR

Chapter 2 - Benchwork and track

Chapter 3 - Beginning scenery: making a mountain

Chapter 4 - Scenery and structures: Part 1

Chapter 5 - Scenery and structures: Part 2

Chapter 6 - Scenery and structures: Part 3

Chapter 7 - Finishing and operating

Part of Kalmbach’s Essential Series of publications, Build Your First Layout is a classy 94-page overview of how modeler Peter Vassallo approached the planning and building of his HO layout, the 6 x 4 foot Northspur & Tiburon RR. The one-level layout features five towns, 11 structures, a small lake, a passing siding, spur tracks into industries and a main line loop track that circles the perimeter of the model railroad.

Vassallo built the colorful pike over a year’s time in the living room of his one bedroom apartment using code 100 track for the main line and code 80 for the spurs. The layout trackage allows two operators to attend their trains from either side of the pike. The author details how he built the benchwork from 6- and 8-foot-long pine boards, plywood and Homasote, then laid the trackage over the Homasote to deaden the sound.

The book devotes a number of detailed pages and illustrations to scenery-making, a subject that often is confusing because of the many possibilities of making scenery, and the many types of landscapes in real life. But the author offers plenty of guidance in this department showing readers the tools he used, and how to form mountains, rivers, and foliage. With structures playing an important part in the N&T RR, a good many pages are devoted to how these were fashioned, painted and weathered, along with a list of modeling tools used.

Featuring clear text, beautifully done, extensive photography, and in general covering all aspects of how this model railroad was created from beginning to end, the book is one that any modeler would benefit from.

—Don Heimburger, Heimburger House Publishing Co.
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