EBMES Logo  N Scale Layout GSMRM Logo
  Updated: January 12, 2021 
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At a Glance


Name: EBMES N Scale
Scale: N (1:160)
Size: 21 x 75 feet (irregular)
Prototype: Southern Pacific and ATSF
Locale: California
Period: 1950's to present
Layout Style: multilayer peninsula walkaround
Layout Height: 48" to 96" (track height)
Benchwork: L-girder
Roadbed: spline
  • Micro-Engineering code 55 in the visible portions of the layout
  • Atlas code 80 in the large tunnel portions
  • Peco code 55 in the hidden staging yard (Mojave) and setup yard (Oakland)
Turnouts: approx. 100 hand-laid
Minimum radius: 24" (most larger)
Maximum grade: 3.0 percent
Scenery: hydrocal over cardboard weave
Backdrop: drywall and masonite
  • 5 mainline radio control cabs
  • 3 tethered "yard" cabs (which can also be used on the mainline)
  • 1 tethered "local" cab for some yards and industries only
  • DCC is available either mixed with analog blocks, or in DCC-only operation on some days
Mainline run: 575 feet not counting double-track or sidings (roughly 17.5 scale miles)



Constructed by the N Scale members of the East Bay Model Engineers Society, the N Scale layout at the Golden State Model Railroad Museum is one of the largest you'll find anywhere. Covering 1100 square feet, and currently 84.35% complete, it includes over 17 scale miles of mainline, over 100 handbuilt turnouts, and several large yards.

Our members operate all kinds of equipment, ranging from steam to the most modern diesel power. We do not restrict the kinds or ages of equipment operated, though most members have a preference for western railroads. Roadnames include Southern Pacific, SantaFe, BNSF, Union Pacific, Burlington Northern, Great Northern, Rock Island, Northern Pacific, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and British Columbia Railway.


The trackplan represents railroading in Central and South-Central California, including the SP route from Sacramento to the Tehachapi loop (and beyond) and the SP trackage from Sacramento up the mountains to Truckee and the Nevada border.

Click on the image to see a larger version of the trackplan, or download a pdf copy here.

As with all such large projects, the actual membership of the EBMES is constantly changing as people move into or out of the area. The layout that you see is the realization of some careful planning over a decade ago but it is also a reflection of each of the many people who have contributed to it.

On these pages, we hope to convey some of the reasons, issues and techniques involved in building a large N-scale layout. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at n_scale_info@gsmrm.org


We wanted to build a model railroad with two main goals. It would have to present a portion of railroading in California to the public and it would have to be interesting and fun to operate. We also wanted to work with the advantages of N-scale, namely running long trains through large scenes. We do have lots of switching potential, but the focus of the railroad is on moving long trains through the scenery of California.

Designing the layout

The space: the original space is roughly a long rectangle 75 feet long by 21 feet wide.

Building a club layout, particularly one which is designed for viewing by the public, is a little different than building a home layout. While some scenes can only be viewed by the operators, the bulk of the layout has to be built to be observed from the public viewing area. The public view the N scale layout from the central aisleway of the building. This constraint dictates that the layout have a "layered" look, with low scenes at the front grading up to tall mountains in the background.

We owe a lot of our success to careful planning. Even as membership changes over the years, we are still committed to the original trackplan as drawn up over a decade ago. We have made very few modifications and this has allowed us to spend almost all of our energies going forward.

The layout was designed and built in stages, ensuring that there would be a functional railroad right from the start. Because of this, our railroad has continued to be operational even as major sections have been added.


All Aboard! for a tour of the layout....

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