Is This The World’s Smallest N-Scale Train Layout?

There’s just something about miniature worlds — they’re just so relaxing to look at and ponder. Think you don’t have ample room for a model train layout at your place? You may not be thinking small enough. [Peter Waldraff] knows a thing or two about hiding train layouts inside of furniture (that’s one solution), but this time, he’s built a track in plain sight that’s meant to sit on the bookshelf. The whole thing is just 5.5″ x 12″.

This N-scale layout was three years in the making, mostly because [Peter] was waiting for just the right little powered chassis to come along. For the layout, [Peter] started by creating custom flexible track by removing pieces with a sharp knife. He glued down the track to pink foam and used nails to hold it in place while the glue dried. He also built a wood frame around the base to stabilize it and hold some of the electronic components, including a switch made from an old ballpoint pen.

Then it was time to start decorating the thing, beginning with a couple of buildings made from more pink foam that are both lit up with LEDs. Eventually, [Peter] added a bunch of details like streetlights, animals, and garbage cans that really make the layout pop. As far as the engine goes, [Peter] picked up a Tomytec TM-TR02 on eBay and built a trolley out of two broken cars. [Peter]’s build is something you just have to see for yourself — fortunately for you, the build and demo video is after the break.

Like we said, [Peter]’s usual territory is hiding train layouts in end tables and coffee tables and the like, so it’s nice to see what he can do given different constraints.

7 thoughts on “Is This The World’s Smallest N-Scale Train Layout?

  1. It’s worth a look at “” on the Wayback Machine – there are various versions over the years – Carl Arendt ran the site for many years featuring small-layout designs and builds in several different scales. The layouts weren’t generally as small as this one (the smallest operating one was the size of a shoebox I think), but the range of designs was incredible.

    1. I understood the Title to mean that this is the smallest N scale layout, not the smallest layout.

      As someone who has a box of N scale track, railcars, and a couple of locomotives sitting unused, this inspires me to think small which increases the possibility of actually having a working layout.

      1. When looking at possible buildings, people, and automobiles for my model railroads, I use my own “Rule of thumb”.
        I don’t limit myself to such items made specifically for model railroads, so I am open to acquiring toys, or Christmas village sets, or other knickknacks. For instance, if the height of a door 🚪 on a building is the width of my thumbnail, it is N scale, twice that is HO scale, and twice that is O scale. People, autos, and animals are scaled accordingly.

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