Thomas and Sons

Thomas and Sons is a small industrial layout featuring the yard of a fictional engineering works.

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Trains deliver raw materials…

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… and take the finished products out of the yard.

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Thomas and Sons is built in O scale (1:43) on 9mm gauge track, and represents an industrial railway of 18 inch (457mm) gauge. This scale / gauge combination is called O9 in Europe and On18 in the USA.

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The scenic area of the layout is very small, just 530 mm (21 inches) wide by 470 mm (18.5 inches) deep.

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Thomas and Sons is designed as a home shunting layout, somewhere to enjoy slowly moving wagons to and fro… and back again.

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Building the layout was supposed to be a quick project but it took nearly two years to complete.

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I’ve learnt a lot from making this layout. It’s the first time I’ve:

  • worked in O scale
  • modelled O9 (On18)
  • created anything ‘industrial’
  • made traversers
  • used DCC
  • scratchbuilt buildings
  • tried modelling clay

I guess that’s why it took longer to build than I expected 🙂


Layout Construction

The baseboard is a pine frame with a plywood surface. The scenic part of the layout occupies the central area and there are two traversers, one on either side. The track is pinned to the baseboard with trackpins.

The layout is wired for DCC with Cobalt point motors. The dropper wires from the track and the power feeds for the point motors are soldered to a ‘power bus’, some secondhand OO gauge track.

For the buildings I used components from LCUT.  This picture shows them before they were mounted on foam board and painted. The roofs of the buildings were made with strips of card to represent the tiles.

The stone setts were made by coating the surface with DAS clay and the patterns of the setts were embossed using a range of small tools. The clay was painted with a variety of acrylic paints.

The central scenic area has been framed with scenic back boards and a ‘picture frame’ front. The operator sits in front of the layout.


Many of the locomotives were purchased second hand and repainted.

This little Ruston is an old KB Scale kit, repainted and converted to run under DCC control.

This is a Black Dog / Avalon lines loco which I brought second hand. It was running on an old Grafar 0-6-0 chassis that I exchanged for a Kato 103 chassis.

This is another second hand Black Dog / Avalon lines loco. This loco had some cosmetic repairs and a similar chassis upgrade.

I do like the driver, for some strange reason he reminds me of John Cleese 🙂

This Hunslet is an A1 Models brass body kit with frames and axle boxes made from plasticard.

Rolling Stock

Some of the wagons are scratch built in plasticard on Peco N gauge wagon chassis.

Others have been constructed from commercial kits.

A few wagons were purchased second hand and repainted.

I’ve tried to introduce a little variety, such as these covered wagons.

There is even a tank wagon to supply the works with fuel. This is a converted 00 scale Bachmann tanker.

Wagon Loads

One of the most enjoyable aspects has been building a wide range of wagon loads.

Some of them represent raw materials being delivered to the works and others represent finished products being shipped from the factory.

More Information

You can read how Thomas and Sons has developed here. As this is a blog, the newest work is at the top and the older work at the bottom. If you want to read from the beginning, start at the bottom!