After a weekend of progress, and with a bit of work during the week, the new cameo is born. At this stage it’s nothing more than a quarter-inch plywood box built around a layer of thick EPS foam board. If that sounds flimsy, it isn’t. There is plenty of structure here to support 1:48 models.

I designed it to hang on the wall via a French cleat system and that works as intended. I’m pleased with the the integrated lighting and backdrop and how they all contribute to a clean presentation, one that’s focused on the modeling instead of the surroundings.

My friend Chris Mears observed how tempting and easy it would be to add legs to something like this and, in turn, the mandatory shelves and subsequent clutter that’s certain to follow. His point being that such a visually busy mass would command more attention than the modeling itself and I completely agree.

Beyond finishing the last few details, like a proper routing for the power cord, the only additions will be simple staging cassettes on each end. Like the cameo, they too will hang from a French cleat and allow the train to leave the scene in both directions. Unlike the cameo, they will not have their own lighting. It’s hard to judge from the photo but in person, there is plenty of spill over light to see with. I’ll provide more details as things progress.

As much as the modeling on stage, I believe the overall presentation is just as critical to the layout story being told. I wonder why we shortchange this aspect so much?

More to come soon.


PS: Silly me, I neglected the completely mundane stuff like it’s eight feet long, 24 inches high overall and 15 inches wide. What was I thinking?


  1. Simon

    You forgot to share the trackplan.

    He said, dead-pan style.


  2. mike

    Trackplan??? We don’t need no stinking trackplan! He responds with equal sarcastic incredulity.


  3. Simon

    Ah, a reference to one of my favourite lines!

    PS – Proves that however serious we may take our modelling, we don’t do the same to ourselves!

  4. Craig Townsend

    His track plan is this:

    On a serious note, great idea on French cleats. I haven’t ever seen anyone do that before.


  5. mike

    That’s actually pretty close Craig.


  6. Chris "track plan" Mears

    It appears that all of the good one-liners are already taken. Guess that’s what I get for arriving so late to the French cleat party.

    Looking at the photo, I see cars familiar from previous photos of your old layout and I believe more recent photos from 13th and North. These cars become constants and seeing them in two or more places sort of feels like we gain a sense of their origin or destination.

  7. Simon

    “It appears that all of the good one-liners are already taken.”

    Tsk, tsk, Mr. Mears… I am sure with just a little pointing you in the right (or left: no need to be handist about it!) direction should lead you to turnout a humourous remark…

  8. Galen Gallimore


    I’ve been mulling over this post for a while. I’m right in the midst of track-laying and the heady, early-days enthusiasm of a new railroad project. I had been planning to use Blue Point turnout mechanisms and push-pull rods but hadn’t yet installed them. Now I don’t think I’m going to. Instead I will use either a center-over-spring and my finger to throw the points or simple friction to hold them in place. Why the change? Your clean fascia.

  9. mike

    Thank you Galen. Could you use the Blue Points without the rods by simply reaching underneath to throw them?


  10. Galen Gallimore

    Certainly, and I plan to conceal the panel for structure lights in a similar manner, hiding it just inside the fascia. It is not the sort of control that needs to be accessed by any visiting operators (I say this like there are any…not yet at least) so I’m happy to put it out of sight.