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A fun, large-scale Halloween display

By Dale van Ingen | October 13, 2021

This portable holiday layout travels in a 1956 GMC pick-up truck

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A Halloween display layout on a truck

I love collecting and displaying large-scale trains. I also love showing off my 1956 GMC pick up at car shows, or even at the front of my driveway at home. I decided to combine the two and make a mobile display layout!

Man standing next to a layout in a pick up truck
The author poses next to his portable layout, which fits inside of a 1956 GMC truck. He enjoys displaying it during various holidays.

The layout is an easy build. My truck has slots on the truck bed sides, for wood rails to slide into. I use ¾” plywood board with 2 x 4 pressure-treated boards under it for support. I cut small 2×4 pieces, about 6” long, to place under pressure-treated boards as extra support. I eventually added 1 x4 “stiffeners,” to keep the board from bending when I lifted it in and out of the truck (see photo below). (Note: the board has come in hand as a makeshift box cover when I need to haul construction materials.)

Back of a pickup truck with plywood and track on top
The track is secured to the plywood base. There is room for storage underneath the plywood. Photo by Dale van Ingen

I fastened the track onto the plywood base, so it stays in position while I drive. I keep the trains and other decorations in the bed of the truck. When I get to the display location, I set everything up quickly. To power the track, I use a spare car battery with a power inverter, which allows my transformer to control the trains. I hide the transformer in the truck bed, under the plywood, so I can walk away from the display without worrying about the controls being tampered with. The car battery provides many hours of operation and enjoyment.

I’ve done displays for Halloween, Christmas, and a few other major holidays. It’s a small layout, and having it displayed on the truck makes it a nice height for viewing. Watch a video of this layout!

For those interested, the truck is a ¾ ton, with a V8, original running gear, and Hydramatic transmission. I added disc brakes. See more photos in the photo gallery below.

Back of a pickup truck with plywood and track on top
The track is secured to the plywood base. There is room for storage underneath the plywood. Photo by Dale van Ingen
Back of a pickup truck with plywood and track on top
Plywood leaning against a fence
The plywood is easily lifted and removed from the truck. Photo by Dale van Ingen
Plywood leaning against a fence
A large-scale Halloween model train
A Halloween train is ready to roll. Photo by Dale van Ingen
A large-scale Halloween model train
Halloween décor
The author poses fun Halloween décor on the plywood. Photo by Dale van Ingen
Halloween décor
A large-scale Halloween model train
Setting things up on the layout display. Photo by Dale van Inge
A large-scale Halloween model train
Cat next to a large-scale display
The author receives some display “help” from Butter the cat. Photo by Dale van Ingen
Cat next to a large-scale display
A Halloween display layout on a truck
The display is set up. Photo by Dale van Ingen
A Halloween display layout on a truck
Back of a Halloween display layout on a truck
The backside of the display. The author adds to the holiday fun by posing a full-size skeleton in the truck’s cab. Photo by Dale van Ingen
Back of a Halloween display layout on a truck
 Halloween train on gauge-1 track
The author attached a plastic skull to the front of an engine for more festive fun. Photo by Dale van Ingen
 Halloween train on gauge-1 track
Nighttime scene of lit holiday display
Dusk is approaching, and the lit display looks even spookier. Photo by Dale van Ingen
Nighttime scene of lit holiday display
Nighttime scene of lit holiday display
With festive lights, the display even looks good after dark! Photo by Dale van Ingen
Nighttime scene of lit holiday display
A display layout on a pickup truck
The author displays his layout for other holidays too, such as Christmas and Labor Day. Photo by Dale van Ingen
A display layout on a pickup truck
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