Premade layouts


I am looking for a premade ho train layout under $100. Any help would be appreciated.Thak you

cv_acr's picture

$100 layout

Sad to say you'll probably have a hard time with this since the raw materials going in to such a thing will be worth more than that unless you pick up older toy train equipment secondhand at a flea market or garage sale or from someone who doesn't want it anymore, but you will not get quality for that price.

joef's picture

At that price

At that price in HO, you'll get a few feet of track in a loop and a couple turnouts. Quality will be just slightly above junk-level.

One loco, plus a nice powerpack will come to $100 easy, and then you'll need rolling stock - another $100 without breathing hard.

Then you get to the physcial plant - the layout and the track - with no scenery: the lumber and track will easily exceed $100 depending on how many turnouts.

So the price of entry into the hobby from a standing start with nothing will be $200 - $300 at least.

If you instead want a layout that's something of quality (so it doesn't derail every two minutes), then be prepared to spend some money.

Ideally, you would want to do DCC from the get-go ($150 for a basic system, and $20 for a decoder) and then get some decent turnouts (Peco and MicroEngineering are the closest to the NMRA spec but they also cost more - circa $20 each) and do a careful job of laying the track and wiring the layout.

In the short term, if you prefer to do this right, build yourself a test track on an 8 foot 1x6. Put down two parallel tracks with a crossover between them. Get yourself a nice loco, buy a starter DCC ssytem, and install a decoder in the loco and test it out on your 8-foot long test track.

Go find a modular club and join. Then build a module or two to hone your hobby skills.

Just slapping together a "cheap" layout is a recipe for frustration, IMO. Once you've had your fill of poor performance and derailments, you'll go find some other hobby - and that's not the way to approach this hobby.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

LKandO's picture

How To Spend Ben

If only a toy for someone else is all that's desired then K-Mart or e-Bay.

If for yourself Joe's advise is always spot on. I would add to it join a local club, spend Ben on a loco with decoder, enjoy the hobby at the club until you have many Ben's in your pocket.


All the details:        Just the highlights: MRH blog

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

 Even the railroad in a box

 Even the railroad in a box comes in at a bit over $100:

Photos and video of this product can be found here:

I saw this product at the National Train Show in Philadelphia a few years ago and I felt it was a good start for a beginner. Note that this railroad does not include the track, structures or the rolling stock. It is only the layout.

Sometimes eBay has layouts for sale but even those start in the thousands. I hope you find what you are looking for.


MR did an article....

A few years back MR did an article over several issues on a "basic" layout. A  4'x6' if I remember right, paper buildings a few cars, locos and DCC... they were pleased to have an entry level layout for $500. I think you would be hard pressed to get even that today since there have been several price spikes since then.  I think Joe is spot on, maybe even a little generous in his thoughts. 

What is your plan or vision of the $100 layout?  Some here might be able to meet your goals and stay closer to your budget thoughts



I am low budget too. What I

I am low budget too. What I did was get an atlas track plan book and built my own layout from their plans. Cost more than $100. But not much more. And I have been adding on a little here and there for the past year. I have probably $500 -$600 invested so far. I's starting to resemble something now..... If you are really intent on getting an out of the box set up. Here in ohio, and maybe nationally is a store called hobby lobby. They sell mostly craft type stuff, but they have a limited amount of model railroad stuff. The good thing is that every other week or so, they post a coupon on their website for 40% off any 1 item. They have n and ho scale sets in DC and DCC (bachmann). I'm sure you can find what your looking for there. If there's one near you.


cv_acr's picture

DCC vs. Standard Direct Current Wiring

If you're only ever going to have one engine on the tracks (if he's looking to spend $100 he can't afford more than one engine in that budget) then DCC (digital command control) is completely unneccessary. If you're running more than one engine or train independantly, then DCC offers more realistic control.

I'm a huge proponent of DCC but it needs to be recognized that DCC is not necessarily for everyone and there are some cases where paying out the cash for a system is a total waste.

When I started in model railroading, I set a budget.

I told my wife I would save $10.00 per week for model railroading supplies, and that was my budget.  It seemed like it would take forever to save up enough to have a model railroad, but it was a blessing in disguise.  At the time I started in the early 1980's, $10.00 was about 1 hour take home for me.  I decided shortly after I started to model the Santa Fe, and I wanted to be a prototype modeler.  One of my early mistakes was to buy 2 Athearn Trainmasters.  They both had the same engine number, so I thought I would look up what number series they should be in order to get the correct nuimber on the second one.  Then I found out that the Santa Fe never had Trainmasters!  By taking my time to save before buying a locomotive or rolling stock, I was able to make sure the model that I was buying was based on an actual Santa Fe prototype, and not just a model of something that the manufacturer decided to paint in Santa Fe because painting Santa Fe on a model guarrantees extra sales.  With the higher prices today you may need to budget more than I did, but on the other hand, when I retired in 2004 as a refrigeration mechanic, I was making 2 1/2 times as much as I was in 1980!  That $10.00 per week = $25.00 per week when I retired.  If you do a budget, and plan what you want to build, you can have what you want instead of what you think you can afford.

LKandO's picture


Come to think of it I am involved in railroading because of a less than $100 layout. It was O instead of HO but same same. Had I added a sheet of plywood, some 2x4 legs, and a cheezy grass mat I would have had a less than $100 layout (using the term very loosely). The whole story is here in a blog entry.


All the details:        Just the highlights: MRH blog

When I was a kid... no wait, I still do that. HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, RailPro

Rio Grande Dan's picture

$100.00 train set only comes one way

It's a video game made by microsoft Games calles Trains and costs about $45.00. in the game you get plenty of track turnouts engines and cars to build yourself a virtual Railroad.

If you want a small Qualliety HO Railroad on a 4X8 table top that is trouble free and one that will give you hundreds of hours of fun figure on $1000.00 from start to finish.

The least expensive  Model railroad kit with everything as far as track and scenery would be made by Woodland Scenics and if you click on the following link you can see what they have.

hope this helps.


Rio Grande Dan

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