I follow a number of modeling blogs that may be of interest if you like fine modeling. Here’s a selection.

Llangunllo is the layout of Geoff Forster from the UK. It’s a single scene layout fed on both ends via multi-track sector plates. The focus is a small country stop set some distance away from the village it serves. This modest sized layout is a wonderful example of excellent modeling and thoughtful design.

Geoff recently wrote about a course correction he made after realizing the layout had drifted away from the original premise. He considered what was happening and why, then took steps to get back on track before it was too late. You can read the post via this direct link.

I do enjoy Geoff’s work. We share the same views about the craft and I’m so pleased he finds the time to read this blog.

Also from the UK, Jim Wright-Smith is building an ambitious P4 (4mm finescale) layout based on Birmingham England’s New Street station. This large project is the polar opposite of Llangunllo in terms of the traffic and Jim has captured the gritty urban atmosphere and density wonderfully. Of course, I was immediately drawn to the handlaid P4 trackwork and stunning is the word that comes most readily to mind.

The stellar craftsmanship also extends to the structures and rolling stock. I also appreciate Jim’s view that the craft is a journey rather than a destination. The Workbench page on Jim’s site is worth exploring, as is the rest of it.

I’m developing a great interest and appreciation for the British exhibition layout concept and one of the finest of these is a privately owned 009 (4mm scale narrow gauge using 9mm track, roughly like HOn30 here) layout called County Gate by John de Fraysinnet.

County Gate is larger than my layout in size and was built for the exhibition circuit. It’s an impressive layout crafted to exacting standards. As with many such layouts, it’s a self-contained presentation with its own lighting system, automated DCC operations and impressive signage and interpretive display materials that help viewers understand what they are looking at.

I’ve spent many enjoyable hours reading John’s blog and website and find this aspect of the overseas hobby intriguing to say the least. And while you’re on the site, do be certain to click on the Cliffhanger link near the lower left on the home page. I guarantee you’ve never seen a layout like it.

Not to ignore the homeland, The Shortline Modelers is a west coast based site run by Shawn Branstetter. Shawn brings a graphic designer’s eye to his modeling and this site is full of excellent modeling, useful techniques and other good stuff to explore. I’m happy to give the site a shout-out as the more exposure given to fine modeling, the better in my view.

I realize that overseas and finescale modeling isn’t to everyone’s taste and that’s fine. However, there’s a great deal we can learn from fellow modelers around the world, if we can get over our provincial bias. I’ve found that the more I expose myself to excellence in modeling, regardless of the subject matter, the more inspired I feel towards my own work. As a certain well-known Canadian from Toronto says: “Enjoy if you visit.”



  1. P4newstreet

    Thanks for the mention Mike, it much appreciated


  2. Iain Robinson

    I’m a huge fan of all these resources, but especially Geoff’s…it evokes the spirit of an area I know well, very successfully. Birmingham New Street is a tour de force of craftsmanship and engages me deeply even though I am not fond of the prototype…that says something, surely! Thanks for the link to the Shortline Modeller’s site…I have already picked up five useful ideas from it. Cross-fertilisation, inspiration…the web is great!

  3. mike

    You’re welcome Jim. Happy to do it.


  4. mike

    That’s wonderful Iain! I’m glad you found it so useful.


  5. Geoff

    Many thanks for mentioning Llangunllo Mike and for your very kind and generous words.

    We can indeed learn so much from our fellow modellers regardless of their chosen prototype, scale or gauge. Over the years I’ve picked up so many useful hints, tips and techniques by opening my eyes to the bigger picture.

    Thanks for reminder about ‘The Shortline Modellers’ blog which had somehow slipped off my radar, I must post a link on my own blog for the benefit of myself and others.


  6. mike

    Hi Geoff,

    It was my pleasure. I enjoy following progress on the new layout as I did with Pennhydd. As I find other sites of interest I post the links and explain why I think others would benefit from the site.


  7. Odds

    Hi Mike, my first comment I think. I very much agree with your attitude to modelmaking. I also follow the blogs you mention, through Iain’s. In fact that’s all I do! First my e-mails, nearly always junk, then facebook, where my work comes from and then Iain’s blog and links therefrom.

    I’m not interested as such in American railroads, although I defy anyone to diss. a Shay, but some of the attitudes to scale scenic work are remarkable. Some of your fellows also have that can do attitude like Aussies and particularly Kiwis. Woodie Green and his 132nd scale Radio controlled layout with crooked rails and rusty, weed strewn track is a case in point. He was doing it when everybody said it couldn’t be.
    But, I still maintain, that NOBODY makes a tree like George Stokes! In fact most trees on most layouts are cartoon lollipops, even these days.
    Keep up the good work, however unpopular you become. That proves you are doing it right!

    “I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member!”

  8. mike

    Hi Martin,
    I see you got things sorted out.

    I won’t debate the best tree modeler, as I’m happy to see them, or anything related to the landscape, get the attention it deserves.

    Glad to have you here.


  9. Shawn

    Thank you very much for the list and for mentioning Shortline Modelers! These are fantastic resources.

  10. mike

    Welcome Shawn. Great to have you aboard. It’s my pleasure to share great modeling resources.

    We all get into a rut and it’s good to learn from other perspectives. I do ask folks to sign comments as a courtesy even if your user name is your actual name.