What Are our new S Switch Tracks And Why Did We Make Them?
by Lowa on May 22, 2019

We recently introduced two new switch tracks: #18S and #21S.

Switch Track #18S

Switch Track #21S
They are nearly identical to switch track #18 and #21 that we already had. The difference with those switch tracks is that the ground throws of #18S and #21S are 2 studs closer to the track, as illustrated by the image below.

Comparison of track #18 (lef-hand side) and track #18S (right-hand side).
The distance between the track and the ground throw of track #18 is identical to that of the LEGO® switches. Moving the ground throw 2 stud closer to the track has an advanted when building double crossovers. With the standard distance of 6 studs, there's not enough space to put all the ground throw on the inside. The image below shows this results in a 4 stud gap between boths sides of the double crossover. With the new S switch tracks, you can build a double crossover with all the ground throws on the inside. This is a great advantage for building compact layouts. The resulting double crossover has the same footprint as LEGO® set 7996 but the 4 switches are not connected and can be controlled independently.

Double crossover with tracks #18/#21 (lef-hand side) and with tracks #18S/#21S (right-hand side).
Although the ground throws are 2 studs closer to the track, there is still plenty of space for the trains to pass. There is no problem with any of the standard LEGO® trains, i.e. the ones available as sets. If you're using extended MOC trains you will have to verify whether there is enough space. Note that the ground throw mechanism maximizes the space between the yellow lever and the train. The train will get closest to the ground throw when the switch is in the turn position. In that situation, the yellow lever is turned away from the track maximizing the space for the train. When the yellow lever is pointed towards the track, the train will go straight and thus not move in the direction of the ground throw.

LEGO® train 60197 on a double crossover with #18S and #21S switch tracks.

There is no S version of switch tracks #19 and #22. Those switch tracks have the ground throw on the outside so there is no clear advantage in having a shorter version. We are however planning on making an S version of the three way switch track #43. In combination with tracks #18S and #21S, track #43S would make is possible to build an inside version of our triple crossover. It would also allow you to extend that switch to a higher number of parallel tracks.