Designing the Port Rowan yard throat

As can be seen on my layout plan, the entrance to Port Rowan on my layout plan includes four switches in a row:

Port Rowan layout plan.

I’m pretty sure I drew these to scale but wanted to confirm just how much space this cluster would consume. I also wanted to see what my options were in terms of frog numbers. I drew the plan with Number 8 switches, but would a mix of Number 7 and Number 9 switches also fit?

The best way to answer these questions is to lay out the switches full-size. So that’s what I did.

I used the downloadable track switch templates thoughtfully provided by Tim Warris on his Fast Tracks* web site. (Thanks, Tim!) These are available in a variety of scales and frog numbers, and are useful for laying down ties for switches built using the Fast Tracks system.

I taped together four Number 8 switch templates (two left, two right) as well as an arrangement of three Number 7 switches and a Number 9. And then I compared the two. This photo shows the results, along with a four-foot ruler to provide a sense of scale. (Yep – S scale switches are big!) I’ve also labelled the switches and the tracks that they serve to make it easy to compare these template clusters to my layout plan:


The arrangements are approximately the same length, at around 64 inches (appropriately enough, given this is S scale we’re talking about). I will reserve my final decision on which arrangement to use until I actually have benchwork up and can connect various clusters of switches with pencil lines for the rest of the track, but I’m inclined to the Number 7/Number 9 mix on the left in the photo for a couple of reasons.

First, it will allow me to build two different switch sizes, including the very long Number 9, which will look great with the passenger equipment travelling through it.

Second, the second Number 7 is the turntable lead, and this track must diverge quite sharply from the main route so it can return to parallel before reaching the turntable itself. It’s not much of a savings over a Number 8, but the Number 7 turnout will save a bit of space – and I’ll take what I can get.

If I go with the 7/9 combination, I will use Number 9 switches in front of the Port Rowan station and for the double-ended siding at St. Williams. The spur at St. Williams will be a Number 7.

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