Off to the home of John Pratt to see his “S” scale modular railroad and HUGE collection of fine-scale brass and craftsman S scale locomotives and cars. While most “S” scale railroads are “toy trains” there is a long history of S fine scale.
S scale is generally associated with American Flyer toy trains, or really S gauge as American Flyer didn’t really stick to scale but did use S gauge as their track standard. But at one time S was simply a common model railroad scale. Over the years S has become a much less modeled scale in the fine-scale crowd, but a few die-hard modelers still prefer S as their scale of choice.
Back to the models of John Pratt. Most of the freight cars are scratch-built and are some old craftsman kits. The passenger cars and locomotives are a mixture of brass models, kits, and scratch builds.
From the S Scale SIG:
S Scale is the common name for modeling at 1: 64 or 3/16″ to the foot. Railroad modeling in S Scale is principally divided into standard and narrow gauge modeling. Standard gauge modelers represent a real world track gauge of 4′ 81/2″ using a track gauge of 22.42 mm or 0.883 of an inch. Narrow gauge modelers typically fall into three classes: Sn42 representing a real world 42″ track gauge at 16.5 mm or 0.650 of an inch, Sn3 representing a real world 3′ track gauge at 14.3 mm or 0.563 of an inch and Sn2 representing and real world track gauge of 2′ at 10.5 mm or 0.413 of an inch (the same as HOn3 gauge track.)
The standards or recommended practices for modeling in S have been uniformly set and adopted by both the National Association of Model Railroaders (NMRA) and National Association of S Gaugers (NASG). Complete standards are also available from the S Scale SIG on this site.
Dating back to the 1930’s, S Scale trains were first commercially produced in the U.S. by Cleveland Models primarily through kits composed of cardstock and wood. In the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s S was primarily associated with the American Flyer line of toy trains. All that time a small but dedicated group of modelers kept scale modeling at 1: 64 alive through conversions of Flyer and other rolling stock and engines, scratch-building and the products of a small group of dedicated manufacturers such as Ace and S Scale Loco and Supply. S became know as the scratch-builders or modelers scale for good reason. S Scalers were often some of the most innovative and inventive model railroaders.
The 80’s and 90’s saw S emerge as a mainstream scale with the introduction of manufacturers like American Models, S-Helper Service, PBL and S Scale America. Brass importers such as Overland, Omnicon and the S Scale exclusive River Raisin Models all contributed models equal to or in may cases bettering those found in other scales. Vendors such as Lehigh Valley Models, BTS and Banta introduced outstanding structure kits while Titchy and Grandt Line provided precision detail parts.
Today’s S Scaler is faced with enough products to satisfy the average layout builder the quality of which equals or exceeds the best in the industry. S offers all the essentials for a dedicated hobbyist to build an outstanding model railroad. Manufacturers like PBL or S-Helper Service have set the de facto standard in their respective categories. River Raisin Models in standard gauge and PBL and Train and Trooper in narrow gauge have all raised the bar for brass imports. A whole host of additional manufacturers provide a wide range of detail parts, structure kits, rolling stock and locomotives. Now is better than ever to consider modeling in S Scale.
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