A small S gauge layout can give a lot of play value. For proof, check out John Mansueto’s layout in the November-December 2022 issue.
It’s like many of the compact O and S gauge layouts spotlighted in Toy Train Layouts for Small Spaces, the 2021 special issue from Classic Toy Trains. Spare bedrooms, garage stalls, corners of living rooms, and parts of basements work for the creative builders who pack in lots 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. Main lines gradually rise from the platform over trestles or climb grades leading into mountain tunnels. Enormous landforms work wonders for multiplying the operational and visual interest of a compact display, and a great many builders depend on them.
Mansueto took a different approach in the approximately 110 square feet he could devote in his home to an S gauge layout. He recognized the benefits of a multi-layer display, but he had something other than mountains in mind.
This talented hobbyist envisioned an elaborate city, something like New York City (where he attended art school), as the site for his postwar and modern-era trains. John wanted his dream S gauge layout to occupy two levels, with girders, bridges, and structures integral to creating illusions of greater depth and complexity than really existed.