The author has been enjoying model trains for decades and enjoys helping others with his hobby and introducing newbies to it.
Don’t ever use the lack of space as an excuse for not having a model railroad setup of your own. Not when you have micro-layouts like these measuring as little as five-inches square in scales as large as GN15 (1/25). Be inspired by these videos of diminutive model railroads to go and build your own.
At the end of this article, please take the poll and add your thoughts using the Comment box.
Created by Yukata Nakai, this DCC HOn30 (1/87 scale on N-scale, or 0.354”, track) gem excites a continuous loop on two levels using three turnouts, a water feature, and a small Japanese town with modeled interiors in nearly all of the structures.
The tiny stores and street lamps also light up in the dark with the flip of a switch or two. Measuring 23.82” x 16.10” x 11.81” (605 x 408 x 300 mm), this example is one of many that Nakai sells online at Yuta Atelier. You’ll need to use Google Translate to transform the Japanese website text into English.
Measuring 15” x 20”, this N-scale (1/144) micro by Steve’s Trains puts a loop of six-inch-radius Kato Unitrack on foam insulation. It looks beautiful from all sides and is perfect if you like to watch a consist go round a mine scene with two tunnels. Steve built it with his four-year-old son. Take a look at his website, which describes over half-a-dozen N-scale layouts that he’s built.
Matthieu Tremblay’s HO-scale (1/87) switching layout measures 1’ x 6’, not counting a one-track staging yard off to one side. The construction relies on expensive and heavy but sturdy extruded aluminum for benchwork that is topped with wood.
Everything conveniently sits on industrial shelving that also stores his model railroading supplies. Three turnouts provide plenty of switching opportunities for the plastics plant and the concrete warehouse.
Keeping It Tiny
You can’t get any smaller in HOn30 than this jewel that measures only 8.7” x 6.3” x 2.17” (221 x 160 x 55 mm). The track oval has a minimum radius of 1.58” (40 mm). Possibly only one type of model train could negotiate the tight curves: products from MinitrainS. Toward the middle of the video, you can barely see how the switches and speed control are integrated into the basswood base, making for a micro that can go anywhere.
Big Scale in a Small Space
At GN15 scale (1/25), the Yellow Ridge Uranium Mine, located somewhere in Canada, represents the largest scale in this collection, in a space measuring 48"x30". Nick Wright takes advantage of the size by piling on the details like highly weathered equipment and expressive figures. One corner features an operating dump.
The smallest micro in this collection measures only five inches square. A friend challenged Jason Pierce to build a railway on top of a box of Turkish delights, so he created Yorokobi, which means “delight” in Japanese. This Z-scale (1/220) wonder stores in the box and is powered by a battery-operated controller.
Hiding the Fun
This stylish circular coffee made of African mahogany not only highlights Peter Waldraff’s woodworking skills but also conceals a 36-inch-diameter N-scale micro-layout with spring, summer, and winter sections. The top of the mountain lifts off to show the power source: an NiMH rechargeable drill battery that eliminates the need for unsightly power cords. You can also watch a video of how he built this custom piece.
Honoring the Past
Callum Wilcox offers Amiens 1918, an HOn30 layout that boasts several distinctive features. It’s built on a British product called “Baseboard in a Box” that measures 28.74” x 3.74” x 8.15” (730 x 95 x 207 mm) and fits in a plastic wrapping box for easy transport to exhibitions.
The atmospheric World War I theme, which is set in the Argonne Forest of France, honors his grandfather who appears on the layout as a soldier and introduced Callum to model railroading. And he constructed the model entirely in a hotel room. The video is the sixth in a series that reveals how he made the layout. Be sure to check out his SDJR7F88 YouTube channel, which contains links to his numerous projects.
Which is your favorite layout?
© 2020 Aurelio Locsin
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2020:
So many people are fascinated by model trains in all of their guises. You do such an excellent job of showcasing them.
Marlene Bertrand from USA on April 25, 2020:
I am so fascinated by all of these structures. The tinier, the more fascinated I am with the set. I like the idea of the micro set because of the cuteness factor.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 24, 2020:
I am amazed at just how small these micro layouts can get for those who love model railroading. Perhaps more people will be getting them in the future.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 04, 2020:
This has introduced me to a side of model railways that I knew nothing about. I especially liked the coffee table idea.
John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona USA on April 03, 2020:
You have opened up a whole new venue for activity with my grandchildren. I love the Turkish Delight - amazing how small it is and that it fits in the box!
It's time for me to get a train set started. I am an amateur gold prospector, so I can see an Arizona theme with a train that runs through mining territory.
Great hub. Thank you.
Don on April 03, 2020:
Kuta is obviously a pro at building micro-layouts. He is superb at fully utilizing the 3rd dimension, height. Learning a lot, bookmarked his page.