December 2, 2022

A small S-gauge layout with big ideas

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John Mansueto’s display has two levels and lots of action with vintage and modern trains

A small S-gauge layout can give a lot of play value. For proof, see John Mansueto’s layout in the November-December 2022 publish.

It’s like many of the compact O and S gauge layouts spotlighted in Small train layouts for small spaces, the 2021 special issue of Classic toy trains. Sbedrooms, garage cabins, corners of living rooms and parts of basements are suitable for creative builders who pack a lot of railroad action.

Modelers with less than 100 square feet at their disposal often increase the activity and animation on their layouts by adding levels. The main lines gradually rise from the platform on trestles or climb slopes leading to mountain tunnels. Huge reliefs do wonders to multiply the operational and visual interest of a compact display, and a large number of manufacturers depend on them.

Mansueto took a different approach in the roughly 110 square feet he could devote in his home to an S-gauge layout. He recognized the benefits of a multi-layered display, but he had other things on his mind than the mountains.

This talented hobbyist envisioned an elaborate city, something like New York (where he attended art school), as the site for his post-war and modern-era trains. John wanted his dream S-gauge layout to occupy two levels, with beams, bridges and integral structures to create illusions of greater depth and complexity than actually existed.

CTT subscribers can see the piste map here.

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