Sir Rod Stewart reveals his epic model railway city

Sir Rod Stewart IS the rock singer Rod Stewart you know.

This article appeared on the BEEB’s (BBC) website as well as appearing in the UK newspapers. Nancy Thornburn gave me the first heads-up, Club member Earl  Craighill gave me the second. I am not going to count how many others I got. Enough of my twaddle and on with the show:

Railway Modeller front page

He’s one of rock’s biggest stars, but Sir Rod Stewart has finally revealed the fruits of his other great passion – model railways. In between making music and playing live, Sir Rod has been working on a massive, intricate model of a US city for the past 23 years.

He unveiled it as part of an interview with Railway Modeller magazine. He then phoned in to Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show to rebuff the host’s suggestion he had not built it himself. “I would say 90% of it I built myself,” he insisted. “The only thing I wasn’t very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that.”

Sir Rod has released 13 studio albums and been on 19 tours during the time it took to build the city, which is modelled on both New York and Chicago around 1945. “A lot of people laugh at it being a silly hobby, but it’s a wonderful hobby,” he said.

He told Railway Modeller he worked on the skyscrapers and other scenery while on tour, requesting an extra room for his constructions in his hotels. “We would tell them in advance and they were really accommodating, taking out the beds and providing fans to improve air circulation and ventilation,” he said. The scenery and structures are his forte, rather than the locomotives and tracks. “I find beauty in what everyone else sees as ugly – rugged skyscrapers, beaten-up warehouses, things that are very run down.”

Photos of the layout show dozens of highly detailed buildings plus bridges, ships, vegetation and streets teeming with vintage cars and taxis. “When I take on something creative like this, I have to give it 110%,” he said. “For me it’s addictive. I started, so I just had to finish. I’m lucky I had the room. If I’d have realised at the start it would have taken so long, I’d have probably said, ‘No! No! Nah!'”

The 74-year-old singer, who once had a hit with a cover of Tom Waits’ song Downtown Train, put the model city together in an attic at his home in Los Angeles.

Describing the level of detail that went into the scenery, he told Vine that even the pavements had to be suitably grimy.

“You start off with a grey. And then you add a little concrete colour, so every paving stone is slightly different,” he explained. “And the cracks have to have some black chalk… and then you add a little bit of rubbish in the gutters, you add a little bit of rust here and there. I enjoyed the building more than I did the running.”

Fellow musician and model railway enthusiast Jools Holland also appeared on Vine’s show, telling him: “When you get these big scale ones like Sir Rod’s they are like a work of art. They’re like an amazing painting that’s been created in three dimensions.”

Two months ago, Sir Rod revealed he had been given the all-clear after being treated for prostate cancer.”

Pics of his layout:

Rod Stewart’s layout Pic #1

Rod Stewart’s layout Pic #2

Rod Stewart’s layout Pic #3

Rod Stewart’s layout Pic #4

Rod Stewart’s layout Pic #5

The article mentions one of Sir Rod’s hits “Downtown Train.” Here it is:


Vancouver Garden Railroad

If you have half an hour I have two vids of an astoundingly beautiful G scale garden railroad located on Vancouver Island. A Canadian couple gave me a heads up. They told me that when visiting relatives they had been taken to this great garden railroad. Two years ago it was selected by the Victoria Conservatory of Music for a fund raising event as one of 10 outstanding gardens in the area. 600 donors came to see it during one weekend and loved it.

This vid is a cab ride on the Layout. It takes you on a trip over 1,500 feet of a specially landscaped Garden. the layout is called Gartenbahn, Fuehrerstandsmitfahrt.

This vid takes you around the same route in the opposite direction. The views are quite different.

It’s probably the best “true” garden railroad I have ever seen.

The City Edge Layout Model Railroad with amazing Miniature Cars in HO scale

Before you read any further have a look at this blog from a while ago about Minatur Wunderland – the worlds larges HO layout. Now have a look at this blog about the automated road system you saw in first two vids,

A recent visitor told me that the The City Edge Layout Model Railroad  created and built by Vic Smith also has automated vehicular traffic. The layout is located near Lambert International Airport in Bridgeton, Mo, a suburb of St. Louis. Featuring street running and Kato’s Amtrak night running scenes along with Broadway’s Union Pacific AC6000’s transporting Athearn and Intermountain double stack units across the city’s elevated rail structure by Micro Engineering. Along with a nostalgic trip of Broadway Limited Santa Fe’s War Bonnet F7’s pulling a set of lighted California Zephyr cars while a trio of NW2 switcher engines carefully perform some street running down Market Street. This layout runs a variety of trains and rolling stock from many different eras for a wide range of entertainment for layout visitors. This 10 minute vid shows you the layout:

This vid shows the automated street traffic.

Amazing stuff what!

Dumont Museum O Scale Train Layout. Sigourney, Iowa

Ever been to Sigourney? I have never been there and ruefully admit that I have never heard of it. I did apologise to a couple from Sigourney who came to visit our layout for my ignorance. They told me of this O scale layout and I have found a video of it – see below.

What little I know is this:

The main layout measures approximately 50 by 90 feet. The layout features MTH DCS and Lionel Legacy systems and an extensive amount of animated scenes. All the scenes were built by Lyle Dumont. While this vid covers but a small portion of the layout it does cover quite a bit of it. The layout is capable of running over a dozen trains at the same time.
Sorry, I can’t get the link to work – please cut and paste to see.
For O scalers I think a visit to this layout would be a treat.

A visit to the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in Point Richmond, CA.

The Golden State Model Railroad Museum is an operating model railroad exhibit located in Point Richmond, California, within the boundary of the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline park. It is located in the Brickyard Cove area and features dozens of realistic city and country scenes, with trains from different eras running on several layouts in different scales. Previously based in Oakland, the East Bay Model Engineers Society, which builds and operates the layouts in the Museum, was founded in 1933 and is one of the oldest continually operating model railroad clubs in the country.Construction of the museum began in 1986.

The Museum operates models ranging from the steam engines and classic passenger trains to today’s modern diesel behemoths and Amtrak passenger trains. The 10,000 square foot exhibit includes O scale, HO scale and N scale models, replicating many California railroading locations. Track layouts include historic scenes such as the Oakland Mole, Oakland 16th Street stations ca. 1955, Martinez’ John Muir trestle, Tehachapi Loop, Niles Canyon, and Donner Pass.

Recently club member Ben Sochacki paid a visit. Ben being Ben even managed to wangle his way into the members only area! Here’s Ben’s pics from his visit. Click on any pic to see the gallery and the pics full size.

Here’s the best vid I could find of the layouts. The vid has some great Moz music at the beginning.


The Christmas Model Train Layout at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis

Never in a million years would I have i known about this great layout had not been for Dr. Gregory Brucker and his charming wife visiting our layout (The Mendocino Coast model Railroad and Navigation Co.) here in Fort Bragg, CA. My experience is that when model railroad fans meet they swap “stories” of their “best” layouts. Dr. Bucker said that he and his wife were regular visitors to this layout with their grandchildren.

The layout is called “Jingle Rails”. It’s “a G-scale model train wonderland containing nine working model trains that wind through a stunning miniature landscape. The exhibit features miniature versions of local treasures of downtown Indianapolis, including the Eiteljorg Museum, Monument Circle, Union Station and Lucas Oil Stadium. The trains then head through the national parks of the American West, passing legendary sites, including grand railway lodges, Northwest Coast Native villages, and wonders both natural and human-made—Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Falls, Old Faithful, the Las Vegas Strip, Hoover Dam, Historic Route 66, Hilbert Circle Threatre and the Indiana State Fair.”

Of the vids I found I like these two the best:

This one is very short =

This one is longer.

Thanks Dr. Bucker and your lovely wife. If I am ever in Indianapolis in the dead of winter you’ll know where to find me!!!!!!

Copenhagen Fields 2mm/ft Finescale Model Railway

Club Member Joe DuVivier sent me this e-mail and three photos:

Tom Knapp and I are working on perspective distorted buildings for my Caspar project. You have to look at the second photo full screen as it is a magnificent panorama. The sense of depth of the scene is unmatched in model railroading. Tom was one of the contributors to this continuing effort. This layout is one of my must-sees when I go to England in 2022 for the National Model Railroad Association annual convention.

An interesting story about this layout, told by one of the group who created it: at a train show in Great Britain an old man was overheard talking to a boy about this display layout, Copenhagen Fields. The old man said he recognized the place. During Word War II he, then a German bomber pilot, had flown over this place and dropped his bomb load.”

Here are the photos – PLEASE click on them to see them at their best – the originals are VERY large and take a bit to load – have patience – it’s worth it.

Copenhagen Fields Layout

Copenhagen Fields Layout


Copenhagen Fields Layout

Copenhagen Fields Layout

Copenhagen Fields Layout

Copenhagen Fields Layout

Tom Knapp wrote this note to Joe:

“The three photos of the Copenhagen Fields layout below were taken at a weekend show in the UK. The last photo shows the back side of the building I built which has the very ornate brick façade on the street side. Tim Watson built the “demolished” building which fills in the odd space on Randall Road.

Note the very hazy effect of the backdrop. It is realistic without taking your eyes off the buildings. And the background structures have less and less detail and the scale decreases the further away from the front, until the ones at the back are basically just massing models.”

Thanks Joe.

Here’s a short vid of the layout:

The grey patches surrounding the rail lines are allotments. Allotments are small amounts of land rented by locals from the Council to grow veg and flowers.

My comment, totally amazing.