S-Gauge Railroading
Bill Mixon


The term “gauge” refers to the distance between the outside rails of the tracks.  The term “scale” refers to the proportion of the model to the prototype. All of us are guilty of using these two terms, scale and gauge, interchangeably.
Prior to WWII, most of the large trains were toy trains ( tinplate) ,“O” gauge ,and had three rails.  American Flyer trains were the same: tin plate and ran on three rails. Some time in the 1930’s, Lionel started making 1/48“ “scale” trains which ran on 3-rail track.
When A.C.Gilbert bought out American Flyer, he began producing 1/64“ “scale” trains that ran on 3-rail track.
After WWII, A.C.Gilbert began producing 1/64” “scale” trains that ran on  2-rail track.
He called this new track “S” gauge . The “S” stood for the word scale.
I will be writing articles about S-Scale in this newsletter.  If you have any questions you need answered, or a subject you would like to see written about,  please call or e-mail me at bmix425@aol.com.


What do you call them?  Switches or turnouts?
During the 1950’s, all my friends called them switches. Lionel and American Flyer both called them switches in their literature. Only in the last 10 years or so has the term “turnout” become popular, especially with the “scale” builders.
Regardless of what you call them, switches are  an important ingredient of model railroading. You need them to create sidings and train yards.
Most switches in O,HO,N,and G gauge require a block, or insulating track, to work properly. Your siding, beyond the switch , must have separate power to run your trains.
American Flyer switches are unique.  They automatically provide a “block” to the unused section of track.  There is a small slide switch,( Figure 1), which can be set for 1 train operation or 2 train operation. With the slide switch set in the 1 train position, all connecting lines to the switch will be powered.

If you set the slide switch on 2 train operation, only the continuous tracks will be powered.  For example, with the frog set for the train to run straight through the switch, (Figure 2), the siding or curved part of the switch has no power.

With the frog in the curved position, ( Figure 3), the siding now has power, but the track beyond the switch is now without power.
This was an innovative idea by American Flyer and makes it easy to add sidings to your layout.