S gauge track questions

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  • Member since
    January 2021
  • 14 posts
S gauge track questions
Posted by EKW on Thursday, April 20, 2023 10:23 AM

I am trying to plan for a layout and have some concern and questions.

My concern is that it seems that traditional S or American Flyer track options are extremely limited in every fashion when it comes to manufactures of track. Seems the options are original AF, Gargraves, Lionel trackage, switches, and other track sections. Plus, American Models But that is it as far as I know. 

My question is what brand of track the all-around choice would be to accommodate both traditional and newer S gauge trains from all manufactures of S gauge with the least or no issues. This makes planning a layout difficult when your switch limitations make for such a wide gap between parallel tracks. Unless you use American Models track but I don't know even if they are still making track.

Anyhow thank you for your time.

  • Member since
    October 2006
  • 139 posts
Posted by Laurastom on Thursday, April 20, 2023 12:23 PM

Track selection for S gauge high rail is limited at this point in time. MTH sold the Showcase Line to Scale Trains. Scale Trains intends to reintroduce the SHS/MTH track but it seems to be low on their priority list.

It is possible to find SHS/MTH track in the secondary market, enough to build a medium sized layout. Their flex track is also available from online sellers. The problem is no crossings were made and ony 20"R turnouts were made.

If you want sectional track with built in roadbed then today Lionel FasTrack is the only track currently in production. It comes in 20"R and 27"R including turnouts. It is the most complete sectional track system made. Lionel FasTrack for a medium size layout will not be cheap.

American Models still makes their track system including wide radius turnouts and two crossings. It does not include roadbed and will require some cutting for more complex layouts. AM also makes flex track for their track system. All the track looks to currently be in stock.

Gilbert track and the interchangeable GarGraves track is available in any quantity and is inexpensive. There are only 20"R turnouts, however, Lionel makes 5" adapter sections that would allow 27"R FasTrack turnouts to be used with Gilbert and/or GarGraves track.

Fox Valley Models (FVM) made .138 flex track and #5 turnouts. Those items are sold out and a new production run is promised but who knows when. This is not sectional track.

SHS/MTH, Lionel FasTrack and FVM track all use the same .138 solid Nickle/Silver rail. It is the smallest profile rail that will allow operation of any S gauge equipment made, past or present. It also allows running equipment with scale profile wheels, I do it on my layout built with SHS/MTH track. To solve the turnout availability challenge for my layout, I paid to have #5, #6 and #8 turnouts custom made using rail stripped out of MTH flex track.

AM track uses code 148 rail, taller and thicker than the .138 rail. It is solid NS and allows operation of all S gauge equipment made, past or present. The turnouts will require some modification to reliably operate equipment with scale profile wheels.

All S gauge equipment made will run on Gilbert track. The Big Boy does require some modifications to the fixed tender truck to reverse through turnouts. It also requires narrowing the pilot and trailing truck sideframes to avoid hitting the accessory actuating rails. I run my 25" long Big Boy on Gilbert track layouts, it looks stupid but it works. Equipment with scale profile wheels will not run reliably on Gilbert. I own American Models engines with scale wheels, they work great on the SHS/MTH track but need to be double headed because of the lack of traction tires.

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