Werner Balsterholt - HO Scale

A brief history.  This layout started Christmas 1972 as an oval around my parent’s Christmas tree when I visited them in Chicago.  After Christmas I packed up my train set  and drove back to my apartment in Maryland.  I subsequently put the track on a 4 X 8 piece of plywood in the basement of my apartment building.  Not a whole lot of scenery, and only a building or two.

I moved from Andrews AFB in 1976, and the board and track, as well as the train set, moved with me to St Louis.  There I stored everything because I was in the middle of studying for my Masters degree at St Louis University and my apartment did not have enough space to set up the ‘layout’.  

The ‘layout' languished in storage until 1978 when Ann and I got married and we bought our first home.  The home had a basement and during the next four years I added a second 4 X 8 piece of plywood in an L-shaped configuration.  Additional track, equipment, and some more buildings followed during the next four years.  However, all track was nailed to the boards - no elevation!  The layout was elevated by using saw horses - nothing permanent!!

In 1982 I received orders to move to Norton AFB.  The two 4 X 8 boards moved with us, all the equipment was boxed up, and this is how it was stored in our garage in Redlands, CA.  I never unboxed any of the equipment, and the boards and saw horses just leaned against the garage walls for the next three years.

1985 found us moving again, this time to Offutt AFB in Omaha, NE.  The boards and the boxed equipment obviously moved with us, but when we bought our home I again had a basement to ‘set up shop’.  During the next four years I started to create some scenery and added an elevated area to the layout.  The layout was still in an L-shaped configuration, but now it was starting to look a little like a model railroad. I added a small midwestern town to the layout, and some small hills - a little like the Omaha area.

I retired from the Air Force in December 1988, and for the next six months I finished my MBA and looked for a job.  In the meantime, I tinkered with the layout and continued building more scenery.  I finally received a job offer in March 1989, but that meant packing up the layout one more time because I was moving to Salt Lake City, UT.  This time moving the boards was not as easy, so I created a ‘sandwich’ with metal stanchions and two additional 4 X 8 pieces of plywood to allow the movers to load the layout without damaging the scenery.

From 1989 until 1994 I continued to work on the layout, but expansion was limited to creating a more permanent structure to support the layout.  This all changed when we purchased our second home in Sandy, UT and Ann gave me a 14 X 27 foot room in the basement for my hobby.  From 1995 until 2011, fixed benchwork and a massive expansion of the layout took shape. I added mountains, tunnels, bridges, and other scenery, and basically filled up the room.  The layout you see in the photos was the completion of my ‘adventure’.  When we moved in 2012 I had to take apart what I had created because everything was ‘built in place’ - not movable!

I’m sure other members have similar stories, but hopefully this one did not bore you.