Model trains
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S scale is a scale in model railway|model railroading. Modeled at 1:64 scale, S scale track gauge (space between the rails) is .884 inches [1]. S gauge trains are manufactured in both DC and AC powered varieties. S gauge is sometimes confused with Standard Gauge (toy trains)|standard gauge, a large-scale standard for toy trains in the early part of the 20th century.


S Scale is one of the oldest model railroading scales. The earliest known 1:64 scale train was constructed from card in 1896[2]. The first working models appeared in England in the early 20th century[2]. Modeling in S gauge increased in the 1930s-1940's when CD Models marketed 3/16" model train kits made of wood, card stock, and metal components. At this time, the scale was denoited as "CD," not "S." CD gradually faded from the model railroad scene in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

The letter "S" was adopted by the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) in 1943 to represent that gauge that was half of #1 gauge (1/32). And as they say, the rest is history. A.C. Gilbert's improvements in 1/64 modeling and promotions of S gauge largely shaped the world of 1/64 modeling today.

The first mass-produced 3/16" scale trains appeared in the 1930s when American Flyer marketed a 1:64 scale train that ran on three-rail track similar to that of Lionel Corporation|Lionel. In 1946 following the end of World War II, A.C. Gilbert's American Flyer introduced an S-gauge train running on two-rail track[3] for greater realism, and S gauge entered what many consider its heyday (although there is more available in S scale today than was available during this period) . However, during that period, Lionel outsold American Flyer nearly 2 to 1. American Flyer's parent company went out of business and the brand was sold to a holding company that also owned Lionel in 1967.

Lionel re-introduced S gauge trains and accessories under the American Flyer name in 1979. Another S manufacturer, American Models, entered the marketplace in 1981 and is now also one of the major S suppliers. S-Helper Service, another major S gauge manufacturer of locomotives, rolling stock, track and other products, began operations in 1989 and delivered their first S products in 1990. And while the S scale market has seen a number of brass model manufacturers, today the major brass model supplier in S scale/S gauge is River Raisin Models. Today's S gauge/S scale modelers have a greater selection and higher quality products, from a wide range of manufacturers, that at any time in the past. In addition to the basics of locomotives, rolling stock, and track, various manufacturers now offer S scale structures, detail parts, figures, other scenic items, bridges, and more. See the S Scale section in the Model Train Wiki for more information.

Narrow Gauge[]

  • Sn3½ - 3 foot 6 inch gauge on 16.5mm gauge track (the same as HO gauge)
  • Sn3 - 3 foot gauge on 14.3mm gauge track.
  • Sn2 - 2 foot gauge on 10.5mm (the same as HOn3 gauge) or 9mm gauge track


The National Association of S Gaugers serves as an organization to promote all forms of S Gauge model railroading. The S Scale Model Railway Society also works to promote the scale in the UK. More S scale organizations can be found here.

  1. [ S Scale MRS: Standards
  2. 2.0 2.1 S Scale MRS Standards: History]
  3. S Scale Model Railroading:"S" Scale History