track spacing

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by R.B. Turner, Jul 10, 2002.

  1. R.B. Turner

    R.B. Turner New Member

    Using minimum radius of 24" and a max of 28", can anybody advise me on the spacing between adjacent trcks. I believe I have heard/read that 2-1/2" is enough as a rule of thumb.
  2. BDC

    BDC Member

    Depends on which scale you're talking about. I think 2" for HO is prototypical and a little over 1" for N. I would say to go 1/2" wider than your fattest finger. If your tracks are too close together, you'll end up playing dominoes with your cars! :eek: Not what I would call a satisfying experience.
  3. Jim de Bree

    Jim de Bree Member

    NMRA standards

    You might want to check out the NMRA website. They have a lot of that type of info. Check out this page S-8 of the NMRA standards. It lists the apprporaite clearance clearances for different radii curves in whatever scale you're using.
  4. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi R.B., My experience with NMRA standards is that they result in excess spacing. For example, I believe they recommend 2 1/2" spacing for parallel tracks at 30" radius. I use 2" (30" and 32") with no problems. I have a helix with 24" and 26" radius (actually 23 7/8" and 26 1/8") and found 2 1/4" works. Bear in mind the helix trackage is hidden, so appearance doesn't matter. I think for appearance's sake, 2 1/2" would be better. Of course a lot depends on the equipment you plan to run. Best bet is to set up a 90 degree curve of double track and see what spacing clears your longest equipment. Use a long car with trucks mounted close to the end for the outer track, and a long car with trucks set in from the ends for the inner track. This combo will give the most thorough test. Don't forget you can go back to 2" spacing on the tangents. If you use easements into the curves and superelevation, the added spacing won't be so noticable.

  5. R.B. Turner

    R.B. Turner New Member

    Thanks for the help gentlemen. I am in HO. I have read an old book by Linn Westcott and he says 2-1/2" in the curves and 2' on the straightaways. That, along with your advice has settled it for me. gary, you speak as if you've done this before? :)
  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Randy, Yes, I've been at it for some time now. A clarification: In the above post I mentioned that 2 1/4" worked for radius of 23 7/8 and 26 1/8, but that for appearance sake 2 1/2" might be better. I was refering to the appearance of passenger cars passing each other. Although they clear on my setup, they look much too close. The clearance is about the thickness of shirt cardboard. You need to compromise a bit on the appearance of the trains passing each other and the appearance of the track when no train is in the scene. Prototype track would typically be a little less than the 2" generally accepted. Using 2 1/2" starts being noticably wide, IMHO. Of course the best advise is to use the largest possible radius, particularly on double track mains. Obviously the track spacing issue is non-existant for single track, where tighter radius won't be as noticable.

  7. R.B. Turner

    R.B. Turner New Member

    Thanks Gary. I have been out in the shop this morning laying out the curves etc. on the plywood I am going to use for sub-roadbed. I am going to have a double track main for main part of the RR. Also there will be a third line running with the double for part of the run. This third line will be basically a big loop that I can run engines on etc. for testing and maintainance while not interfering with the mains. I have no desire to do switching or any prototype stuff. I like to make up a train and watch it run around. I will have switching in my yard and a few switches between the mains for moving trains out of the yard and on to their respective routes. I like big MU consists with long trains. That's my "thing".
  8. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    I purposefully made one of the corners on my layout a 30" radius curve, while most of the others are 22". Trains look really kewl on that one, coming around to merge with a line that goes off the layout............

    PS - my major passing tracks are 2 1/2" apart. It was originally 2", but I like the looks of 2 1/2" better. Personal preference, I suppose <shrugs shoulders>.
  9. R.B. Turner

    R.B. Turner New Member

    Mike, I am on break from plywoodin'. Need frequent breaks to rest bad back. Any way, with my fat hands/fingers, I am going with 2-1/2" all around. That point was made earlier in this postbt BDC. I think he had one heck of a good point that I hadn't considered yet.

    As for the "Rock", I have become more aware of that RR and stumbled across a picture of a GP-9 that was painted "the route of the Rockets" or something to that effect. Man, what a beautiful paint scheme. Do you have a bunch of those on your road?
  10. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member



    I went with Jim on this one and used the NMRA Standards (S-8) as he mentioned. Just print the page off, highlight you gauge, rollingstock type line with a highlighter, adn read the separatation figure off for the given radius.

    Just need a ruler then, to lay your track curves down.

    I haven't had a prob with them and all my rollingstock goes round.

    I didn't have much rolingstock when I laid down the track. I really had no idea of what I would by/build, hence couldn't really set up a "dummy" curve and test it with rollingstock.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you test with the rolling stock, as Gary suggested, you should also check on your widest cars/locos. If you plan to use articulated steam, you get extreme clearance problems.
    Straight yard tracks should have a little bit of finger room built in to handle re-railing, or at least you should think about it.
    When you get down to 24" curves, prototype clearances no longer are a consideration; you have to go with what works.
  12. R.B. Turner

    R.B. Turner New Member

    I am going to take the advice on spacing in the yards. I will try and keep them a little closer. It all depends on how well my switches will work spacing wise. On the mail line I settled on the sub-roadbed being 7-1/2" wide with the mains 2-1/2" apart. I thought that would give me room for ballast and weeds etc. without the chance of stuff getting onto the rails.

    I am heading to Lowe's for more plywood this morning.
  13. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member


  14. R.B. Turner

    R.B. Turner New Member

    Yeah Mike, drool. I wanted to get one of everything. The good news is they are building one on the south side of Columbus, Ohio. It's about 7 miles from my house. I am presently driving 30 miles to get to one. Of course there's a Home Depot on the way too.

    As Tim the tool man would say, " Oh Yeah, Tools--OH OH OH"

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