An O Scale Switching Layout

Helotes Switching Company Serving Helotes, Texas Industrial Area

Engine Maintenance Area

Locomotives with sand tower.

Maintenance area and Helotes Grain Company.

North End


The North End – Helotes Yard, UP exchange rightmost track.

Another view of North End.


Track finally installed!

Well, it’s been awhile since I updated the blog. I have pretty much completed laying the track and necessary wiring. In fact, I’ve been doing some switching already. Here’s some pictures…

The North end where the HSC yard is located.

The East end of the Helotes Industrial area is to the left. The North end is the leg to the right where the HSC yard is located.









East end with the Standard Furniture Company on the left, the team tracks on the right and the BNSF main line that runs to Eastern Texas.

Another view of the East end.










The FedEx Transfer station is on the left. On the right is the Helotes Grain Company and in between the two is the Deep Rock Oil and Gas Company.

The HSC engine maintenance yard. I’m planning on enclosing the yard with a chain-link fence.


Laying Track – Day 1

I finally have started to lay the track. I’m beginning with the Helotes Yard module.  Completing the power hook-ups comes next.


Rebuilding the layout – First Module

Finally at a point where I can set my layout back up. I am starting with the North End of the “L”-shaped layout. I really wasn’t happy with the original track and wiring so I am starting over fresh but with basically the same plan.

The 1″ MDF board, 30″ by 48″ is fastened to the Kam Konnect module.

The top is fastened with hinges.

Another view of the hinges.

The Train Room – new floor

The new floor is installed and it came out great! I can now start setting the layout modules back up.

The carpet has been taken up and the floor beneath is being prepared.

The linoleum tiles are put in place.

The Train Room Re-worked

I’m having new flooring put in the room where the layout resides. This meant moving everything out. Fortunately, it was easy to disconnect the modules and move them temporarily to another room. This is exactly why I decided on building my layout based on modules. Of course I have to admit that the reason I need to put in new flooring (vinyl tile) is because it was difficult to move the  modules on the original carpeting. It should be much easier with the new floor. Here are some “BEFORE” pictures. The “AFTER” will be posted when the installation is done.

The work bench is stacked high with things that will later be stored neatly away…I hope!

Not only was the carpet making it difficult to move the modules even though they were on wheels, it was pretty ugly with a lot of spills.

I have an old mechanic’s tool chest that fits in one of the closets to store my tools. I will probably build some shelves in as well.


Module Top

Since this is an O-Scale layout I wanted the surface to be solid so I installed MDF board on  each module. I hinged them so I could easily work on the wiring rather than crawl underneath. I used standard door hinges from the local big-box hardware store. I have found that once I finished the wiring and tested everything I would rarely need to mess with it again. My prior N-Scale layout used thin plywood for the surface. I also had remote switches controlled from a control panel. This current layout only has manual Gargraves switches. This means the only holes in the surface are feeder wires to the track.

Three hinges to each 4 foot module. I found that without the other modules connected for stability that it had a tendency to tip if I opened the top too far. Be warned if you try this!!

The track comes right to the end — no joiner track. This works well with the big O-Scale engines.

A good view of the end of one of the 4 foot modules. The ratchet locking device and the alignment holes are visible in this photo.

Joining Modules Together

This photo shows how tightly the modules join together…Nice!

I use a T-Handle Allen wrench to lock the modules together. Rock solid!

END SW-1500 Diesel Electric Switcher Locomotive

Click on image for more information.

The second locomotive on the Helotes Switching Company layout is the SW-1500. The EMD SW-1500 was a 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) Diesel-electric locomotive intended for switching service and built by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division between June 1966 and January 1974. 808 examples were constructed.

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