The NCIR occupies two walls of my 10 x 25 railroad room, which is located in the basement of our home.

The previous owner used the area as a shop.  The before photos below are from  2007, when we first viewed the house with our realtor:

I wanted a dry, comfortable area in which to model, but did not go overboard finishing the room.  One thing I made sure of was to maintain easy access to all pipes and wiring.


I gave the block walls two coats of Dry-Lok paint and insulated with 1-inch pink foamboard.  I framed up new 2 x 4 walls (using pressure treated for the base plate), ran wiring and covered with beadboard.  I was going for a look similar to the interior of a railroad depot.

I removed the storage closet and used the area for my modeling workbench:

NCIR's reference library is located adjacent to the shop.  Reference articles from magazines are grouped by subject into binders for easy access.

I insulated the area above the main part of the layout, then installed tongue and groove planking.  The planking is in an area with no overhead wiring/pipes.


I then painted the planking white to help reflect light down onto the layout.

A drop ceiling conceals low HVAC ducts and water pipes above the Commerce Street section of the layout.   

Access to the utility pipes is still thing I wanted to make sure of!  Murphy's law you know.

Upon moving into our house, we found that the previous owners left us two wooden cabinets down in the shop.  These cabinets were not in the best of shape; having paint stains, screw holes, scratches and other various battle scars.  

My modest roster of O scale boxcars consists of beautifully weathered models by Don Smith, Tim Carlson and Jim Lund.  I needed a safe place to keep these beauties while they were off the layout.  So, I decided to go to work on the battered wooden shelves and attempt to transform them into display cases for my rolling stock.

I filled all holes and scratches with wood putty, then sanded smooth.  The cabinets had a polyurethane finish, so I used a white, non-sanding primer as a base coat before painting:


I painted my cabinets to match the railroad room.  Here is one set after 4 coats of brown and two coats of beige: 

After sealing the new paint with a couple coats of polyurethane, I added cut-glass shelving, sliding glass doors, and brass drawer pulls.

I plan to have night-operations on my layout, so I added under cabinet light fixtures to the shelves:

The cabinet lights work off this neat remote control unit I found while Christmas shopping with my wife.  For around $10.00 you get a remote control unit and a receiver that plugs into the wall outlet.  Simply plug whatever device you want into the receiver and then switch it on/off with the remote.


  1. Wow. Those cabinets look great. If you have any more photos, would like to see how the rest of the room/layout is looking these days. Keep up the good work.

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