Lest you think we have a standard gauge bias here at M:160, we’d like to set the record straight right off the bat by confirming that we want to showcase all forms of 1:160 modeling.  So that includes narrow gauge modeling, especially when it’s this good.

We’ve been fans of Chris Schmuck’s small layouts since he and his 2’x4′ Erie themed layout first popped up on the Atlas forum back in 2003.  Since then he’s shared his exploration of small layout nirvana with the internet community at large, as we’ve been able to follow along on several N scale, Nn3, H0n3, and Z scale layouts.  He’s got a knack for creating photogenic scenes in tight quarters without having them look cramped.

His latest foray into Nn3 has piqued our interest of late.  At a mere 9″x16″, it qualifies for a micro layout.

That’s 144 square inches, right?  No sweat, right?  But remember this is Nn3.  You’re not going to find Chris’s rolling stock at your local hobby shop.  The nifty boxcabs are custom etched brass shells over fabricated running gear.  The mine cars they’re pulling are custom etched brass bodies to fit Z scale freight trucks.

And if that wasn’t time consuming enough, Chris had to hand lay the track.  Micro Engineering cd40 rail over circuit board and wood ties was laid on a subroadbed.  Minimum radius is a tight 2.25″, while grades on the over-under track plan reach 5.2%.  Benchwork, if you can call it that, is simply layers of foam insulation board which was also carved into landforms.  A photographic backdrop anchors the layout and helps set the overall scene.  Masonite or other hard board is

There are two stub turnouts modeled on the line, but they are there solely for looks.  Chris has the skill to construct operating versions, but the joy in this micro layout is simply to let the trains run the circuit negating any need to worry about functioning turnouts.  Check out the video below.

With Chris already showing a base layer of scenery on the whole layout, we’re really hoping he makes it over the hump and finishes this layout before moving on to another.  Not that we can fault him for a bit of shiny object syndrome, as we suffer as well, but if he can get some trees planted and button it up we’ll be really excited.  You can catch the latest updates from Chris over at

One Response to Fun in Nn3: Chris Schmuck’s Micro Mining Layout

  • Matt Kelly

    Saw this in the Jan/Feb 2012 N Scale Magazine
    , Truly Amazing and Majorly inspiring! Great work keep it up

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