David Bisno’s Layout Gallery

After many years of collecting beautiful European model locomotives, club member David Bisno, a retired ophthalmologist with a fascination of all things Swiss, finally got around to building his long-dreamt-of layout.   In 2011 David visited about a dozen ETE members in New England and a like number with impressive layouts in northern and southern California. Greatly appreciating the help and advice of those who would become friends, in 2012 David set to work with the goal of creating a Swiss, alpine, winter wonderland. A few pictures showing the evolution of David’s layout appear below.

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Bisno Table

Panorama East side


David experimented with different building techniques for his scenery and has focused on depicting a Swiss alpine motif in the dead of winter. Switzerland normally gets a lot of snow and David is capturing that look splendidly. The photos below show one of the passenger stations from a train driver’s perspective and a typical Swiss chalet lit up for nighttime running.

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Bisno Chalet Station

Bisno Chalet beside Sta

There are two stations, one on either side of the layout, with trains traveling through the Alps from one to the other. A continuous loop allows twelve trains, each releasing another upon entry into a station. In the scene below, an old-time Swedish passenger train has just arrived mysteriously at one of the stations (maybe a wrong turns in Denmark and Germany?).  David even included a subway station on a lower level of the layout, visible at eye level from the facia.

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Bisno Swedish lit passenger train

Bisno outdoor above, Subway below

David’s challenge!

David found it challenging to create realistic track curvatures, coping with the direction of travel, angle of ascent, downhill grade, track tilt, tiny screws, tight connections, overhead clearance…and everything had to be within arm’s reach. Once the skeleton was completed and the track laid but before any scenery was developed, it would be time to do the wiring.   Fellow ETE member, Ed Sehrt, taught David the ins and outs of “digital.” Thirty five tiny signals – with 8 wires from each, were installed to control the movement of trains.  Not having been impressed with the quality or the amount of light emitted from commercial signals, David fabricated his own from base metals and micro LEDs.  Pictures of the end result appear below;

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Bisno handmade signals

Bisno_Layout 013a

Connecting a skating rink to a gondola lift is a Zűrich tram.  Announcing the arrival and departures of trains at the two stations is heard in French and German language.

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Bisno Zurich Tram

Bisno Bavarian Village on narrow gauge line

With encouragement from fellow ETE members, David embedded a standseilbahn (funicular railway) on his layout that is shown below.  As one car ascends the hill, the other descends and the counterweight of each provides propulsion, in the prototype world of course.


Thanks to ETE enthusiast, Boyd Misstear, a BEMO rack rail locomotive ascends a steep incline. Overhead are hot air balloons and emergency helicopters hover while below are downhill skiers, brave canoeists on glacier fed streams and a miniature Bavarian band.

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Bisno Saturday 011

Bisno Rack rail climbing w balloonBisno Narrow gauge rack track



Two shots (above) include a corner of the layout showing the transition from actual mountains on the layout to prototypical photographs of Swiss alps that are pasted to panels mounted on slight stand-offs directly on the side walls. David constructed the side walls of the room with contoured edges that fit seamlessly to the ceiling, eliminating any sharp edges to detract from the viewing experience. He then mounted miniature rope lights behind the photo panels in to further add to the sense of depth and realism.

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Bisno_Layout 002a

A very unique ice skating rink is also included in a foreground scene on David’s layout. When operating, skaters glide around the ice..a sure attention getter! By 2014 David had his viaducts, tunnels, mountains, lakes and rivers. Thirty years of planning and collecting; two years of building; hours and hours of wiring. Three stations, 12 trains, 35 signals and 335 feet of track. A few frustrations; new friends, much joy and continuing satisfaction.   Finally getting around to the project after sixty five years of dreaming, David had created his winter, HO, Swiss, winter alpine, model train layout and is shown below as a proud parent of his creation.

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