Making a HO scale micro pizza model railway layout to be more earth-like for scale sized citizens, plentiful plants and realistic railroads rendering.

Terraforming is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying something to make it more Earth-like, usually to make it habitable by Earth-like life. It is something that to date has never been done in the real world, but the concept abounds in science fiction and has done for many years. A model railway builder engages in a sort-of terraforming when he or she builds layout. Especially when when the goal is to make the layout as realistic and earth-like as possible.

Over the last few weeks I have been engaging in “terraforming” the scenery on the HO scale Tropical Pizza micro Layout I have been building. before I could do that I had to settle on a track plan. This is the track plan I finally chose:

The layout started with a blank and flat XPS foam surface on top of the wooden base and frame, and has progressed to having some hills, gullies, and other changes in elevation, as well as all track laid. The end result has provided a good base for the next step – adding ground cover, foliage, buildings, etc.

Here are some photos of the layout as it’s construction progressed.

You may have noticed a different sleeper / tie spacing between the sector plate track (in the quarter circle section in the photos) and the other sections of track. That is because I removed quite a few sleeper / ties and re-spaced the remaining ones to be further apart to give the impression of a lightly built railway. But as the sector track is basically a section of sectional track and I needed the rigidness provided by the piece of sectional track, so it’s sleepers / ties were not adjusted.

I tested what rollingstock and motive power would fit on the sector plate, and found that a OO scale Ruston & Hornsby 48DS and two 22 scale feet British outline wagons fits.

OO scale Ruston & Horsnby 48DS and 2 22 scale feet British wagons on the sector plate

As they fitted (just), I decided to purchase two HO scale 4 wheel NSWGR S trucks, which are 18 scale feet long. This should give me just enough room to have a loco such as an X200 NSWGR shunter / switcher and two S trucks or trucks of equivalent length on the sector plate. I have also been giving some thought to which structures to have on the layout. There will be a port in one section, and at the other extremity of the layout (on the opposite side of the hill that runs roughly down the middle of the layout) I am planning a warehouse with a bamboo plantation nearby. Something like this.

The building in the above photo might be a bit big for the layout and probably doesn’t really fit the theme of the layout, but it gives the general idea of what I am planning. I may try scratchbuilding a more rustic warehouse or freight platform to better fit the space. I am also considering the idea of having a passenger train on the layout (maybe for tourists to the island), so I may add two small passenger depots to cater for that train.

Layout Scenario

I have sort of settled on the general idea for the layout now, too. It will represent a fictional western pacific small island nation, whose main industries are tourism, and bamboo and agave production for export. But how to justify a standard gauge railway when virtually all small island railways are narrow gauge? The railway on the island is standard gauge because the standard gauge railways in Australia, one of the nearest developed countries, were replacing or decommissioning their older motive power and rollingstock creating a huge glut of those items, so those railways were considering all offers for purchase or even giving the items away which was particularly attractive to the somewhat strapped-for-cash small island nation the layout represents. Being somewhat strapped-for-cash, the small nation may also resort to fashioning some rollingstock of it’s own to fit specific purposes.


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