Expert specializes in model train layouts for small rooms

EVERETT — Mike Scheerens has been a model train enthusiast his entire life.

When he was about 10 years old, he watched his father, James, build tracks for HO-scale trains, one of the largest models available. When his father tried a smaller model called N-scale, Scheerens remembers the size was better suited for him.

“He tried fiddling with the N-scale and he couldn’t do it because it was too small,” said Scheerens, 47. “He threw it away and I took it out of the garbage later and fixed it. I got it working.”

That fascination with model trains hasn’t disappeared. Scheerens earlier this month published a book, “Apartment Model Trains: Two Examples,” to share what he’s learned about building model train layouts in small apartments. It’s also a way to preserve the ideas he originally posted to a website.

Scheerens in December 1999 started building a model train layout that would loop throughout his roughly 500-square-foot, one bedroom Everett apartment. He attached the railway to wooden planks and positioned them under cabinets in his kitchen, around a stacked washer and dryer, and eventually around his bedroom.

He designed paper mountains and painted broken foam pieces with beads on it to look like seawall or rock. His basic construction tools were a 25-foot tape measure, a 45-degree triangle, pencils, a handsaw, Elmer’s wood glue and a cordless screwdriver fitted with drill bits.

The whole arrangement had to come down in 2007 when Scheerens, who works at Boeing, moved into a two-bedroom apartment. He dreamed up a layout supported on the tops of bookshelves and plastic storage containers. The layout wasn’t completed in 2011 when Scheerens moved again into his approximately 900-square-foot home. He started in September to build another layout where his black Lionel locomotive can now pull several cars along part of his living room wall. He’s planning to expand the route throughout his home.

“It’s kind of like an art,” he said.

Scheerens said he’s found most of what he needs to build his layouts at local hobby and hardware shops.

One store which supplies Scheerens and others who build model train layouts is Broadway Hobbies in Everett. The store hosts a train club so people can share their layout ideas and problem-solving tips. The club’s discussions often include ways to build layout in small spaces, said Lou DeBenny, the store owner.

His store also sells magazines and books that can help create layouts, DeBenny added. Still, the most common problem he’s heard when it comes to building happens when the designing and buildings is supposedly complete.

“The beauty is that the second they say they’re done, they want to do something different,” he said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491;

More in Local News

Lynnwood plans $12M in sewer improvements

The city wants to be ready for an anticipated population boom around the mall and light rail.

Driver dies in apparent high-speed crash near Snohomish

A passerby found the severely damaged car off Chain Lake Road Saturday night.

Jim and Marcia Hashman during a visit to the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe in 2014. Jim Hashman, who taught music at Mountlake Terrace High School in the 1980s and ’90s, died Jan. 31, after struggling with ALS for several years. (Herald file)
Despite ALS, he lived his life with joy and purpose

Former Mountlake Terrace High School music teacher Jim Hashman died Jan. 31.

Failing embankment on Marine Drive awaiting permanent fix

In the meantime, a 20 mph speed limit is in effect at the spot south of Norman Road.

Pair now face federal charges in pot shop heist

They are being prosecuted on robbery, drugs and weapons violations.

Families feel betrayed after wrongful death bill falls short

Rejection of proposed changes in the law angered and shocked parents who lost adult children.

New 116th interchange enters final phase

The Tulalip-led project will ease backups at the I-5 overpass.

He found his story in the history of another man

Mario Vega first began researching the life of Haji 5 years ago, when he was a senior at Monroe High.

Summit focuses on salmon restoration

Shawn Yanity, the Stillaguamish tribal chairman, says “extinction isn’t an option …”

Most Read