Visit to Hugh Boyd’s N Scale Layout

Hugh’s article in the Orderboard does not begin to capture the scope and significance of his layout.  Upon entering the layout room one is nearly overwhelmed by the fine bench work, the complete command and control system, the vast array of motive power and rolling stock, and, finally, the pristine cleanliness of the entire operation. Tuesday afternoon, Amy and I visited Hugh Boyd’s layout after her regular school day.  She brought her camera and took dozens of photos.

The layout features many structural details to protect the equipment and to keep visitors safe including safety nets under structures where trains run close to the edges and plastic walls strategically placed along the edges of the platforms to prevent visitors and operators from bending any of the many signal towers or knocking trains off the track.  Incidentally, the platforms are supported by metal channels and other metal structural elements to keep the equipment level and otherwise in perfect operational shape.  All support pieces are securely attached to the walls and nothing touches the floor except for the perfectly clean carpet and one or two well-placed items of furniture.  This makes everything under the table easy to get to.  Hugh’s work bench is small, portable, and mounted on casters so as to roll under the layout when not in use.  Apparently, this is all he needs to do the unimaginable amount of work that has gone into this layout.


Many of us have seen the fine control panel gracing the southwest corner of the club layout.  If anything, the many control panels on his home layout are even finer.  They have frames assembled from readily available metal frame parts.  The track plans for the panels, prepared with Atlas’s RTS 8.0 Freeware, tax the capabilities of home and commercial printers because of their generous sizes.  The momentary contact switches for the Kato turnouts actuate relays so that the routes can be indicated by LEDs with dual lighting.  Besides running the complicated block signaling system, many circuits are devoted to preventing collisions between trains.  Each track around the main line has twenty-two separate blocks grouped into a smaller number of ensembles for signaling purposes. Finally, video cameras are strategically placed to aid the operator with operations that are out of view of the control panels.

The wiring is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.  Cables run in well-directed secure bundles out of the way but accessible because there are no structural members touching the floor that block access.  Circuit elements are mounted on panels that swing on hinges into a horizontal position just under the train platforms. The connecting wires enter in just one bundle for each panel so as not to prevent the panel swinging down for free access to the elements.  It is amazingly simple to reach every part in the unlikely case that something needs to be debugged.

The trip to Hugh Boyd’s layout has been a lesson to me on the importance of layout tours to which I have devoted very little time previously.  In the future, you can expect to see me if you hold an open house.  Many more of Amy’s photos can be seen in the file which one can download and play on the free version of Microsoft’s PowerPoint Reader which you can get at

Tom and Amy Wayburn

May 27, 2010

Houston, Texas