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Distance between tracks in HO

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Distance between tracks in HO
Posted by mokenarr on Monday, April 19, 2010 4:15 PM

 Been doing N scale forever and have decided to also do an HO layout..  Question is how far apart do most people space the track in yards and sidings..  Will be a single track mainline so not worried about that...

 

Thanks

 

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Posted by IVRW on Monday, April 19, 2010 4:31 PM
3 and some fraction inches.

~John

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Posted by markpierce on Monday, April 19, 2010 4:31 PM

On straight track, the minimum is 1 and 13/16 inches and the "norm" is 2 inches, but some people like more principally for greater access.

The separation needs to be more than 2 inches for almost all curves, dependent on the equipment and the radius.  See NMRA's website for recommendations. 

Mark

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, April 19, 2010 4:39 PM

My double mainline is 2 inch on center. 

My yards are 2 1/4 inch on center for easier access with fingers.

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Posted by cuyama on Monday, April 19, 2010 6:24 PM
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Posted by selector on Monday, April 19, 2010 6:26 PM

I agree in principle with the statement that one should consider the NMRA specs seriously.  And yet, there really is no substitute for 'field testing' your own circumstances and preferences. 

Suppose, for example, that your widest curves are in the 24" range and the specs say to have 2.25" of separation, or maybe it's more.  You set them that far apart, and then run your monster Rivarossi 2-6-6-6 Allegheny around the inside of the two curves where long passenger cars are parked on the outer of the two.  I'll bet you get an unwanted collision someplace.  The point is that you would have been better off to have used perhaps 2.5" of separation, and you would only know that if you have conducted at least one trial with the very items at your disposal.

I'm not sure that the NMRA specs cover later developments or even outright errors on the part of the manufacturers.  They are guidelines, good ones, but really everyone would be wise to test before ballasting or gluing stuck permanently.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, April 19, 2010 6:58 PM

I always like to stay prototypical.

 Here's my 1 1/2" yard center.

 

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=148937&nseq=690

 

Larry

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 19, 2010 7:53 PM

BRAKIE

I always like to stay prototypical.

 Here's my 1 1/2" yard center.

1-1/2" ? Are you sure? NMRA S-8 sugests 1-13/16" as a minimum. Most prototype railroads consider 13' to be minium. In HO 13' = 1.793" = 1-25/32" +/- , only 1/32 less than the NMRA S-8. recommmendation.

1-1/2" would be 10'-10-1/2", pretty tight for equipment that is allowed to be 10'-8" wide.

Based on your photo that looks more like 2". Are you measuring center to center?

Personally 2" everywhere for all paralel trackage, straight curves, yards, mainlines. But I do have large curves to its not an issue there. Most paralel track commercial products are designed for 2' centers. I use Atlas track which is also designed to give 2" centers for crossovers and yard leads.

Sheldon

 

A gun and a parachute are much the same. When you need one nothing else will really suffice.

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Posted by markpierce on Monday, April 19, 2010 8:24 PM

Distance between tracks is measured from the track centers.

Mark

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Posted by jrbernier on Monday, April 19, 2010 8:58 PM

  Some old yard tracks were laid on 12 '0' centers, and they are really tight to work around.  I have a friend that almost got 'cornered' as a 89' auto car kicked out on an old curved yard track in South Mpls one night.  Sometime in the early 60's the federal regulation specified 15' 0" centers for new construction.  Previous to that, many yard and mainline centers were in the 13'-14' range.  2 actual inches in HO works out to something like 14' 6".  The Atlas Customline track system uses 2" as it's default spacing for yard ladders/crossovers.  I use 2" on tangent track and 'widen' it out to 2.5" on curves(just to be safe).   A lot of folks use 2.5" in their yard tracks as it is easier to re-reail a car with a little 'finger' clearance.

  Many prototype lines are now spacing mainline tracks wider to allow for m-o-w crews to remain 'mounted' while a road train passes at restricted speed.   IIRC, the new UP construction uses at least 20', and BNSF has been using something like 25'-30' track centers on new construction or when adding a 2nd or 3rd mainline track.  Considering the tight real estate we modelers work with, you made decide to keep thing s tight just to save space!

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 19, 2010 9:06 PM

jrbernier

  Some old yard tracks were laid on 12 '0' centers, and they are really tight to work around.  I have a friend that almost got 'cornered' as a 89' auto car kicked out on an old curved yard track in South Mpls one night.  Sometime in the early 60's the federal regulation specified 15' 0" centers for new construction.  Previous to that, many yard and mainline centers were in the 13'-14' range.  2 actual inches in HO works out to something like 14' 6".  The Atlas Customline track system uses 2" as it's default spacing for yard ladders/crossovers.  I use 2" on tangent track and 'widen' it out to 2.5" on curves(just to be safe).   A lot of folks use 2.5" in their yard tracks as it is easier to re-reail a car with a little 'finger' clearance.

  Many prototype lines are now spacing mainline tracks wider to allow for m-o-w crews to remain 'mounted' while a road train passes at restricted speed.   IIRC, the new UP construction uses at least 20', and BNSF has been using something like 25'-30' track centers on new construction or when adding a 2nd or 3rd mainline track.  Considering the tight real estate we modelers work with, you made decide to keep thing s tight just to save space!

Jim

Jim, thanks for the information on current practices. It is interesting that the prototype is widening clearances.

I model the 50's and as such sometimes forget things are changing now days.

I have always considered the 2" standard close enough to prototype for my era when 13' was common and some tight trackage was 12' as you mentioned. And yes, 2" is 14"-6" when scaled out.

My curves are 36" radius an bigger so I have never bothered to widen spacings on curves. I have no problems even with 85' cars or articulated locos, but i don't run many 85' cars, most are limited to 72' - 75'.

Sheldon

A gun and a parachute are much the same. When you need one nothing else will really suffice.

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Posted by markpierce on Monday, April 19, 2010 9:24 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I have always considered the 2" standard close enough to prototype for my era when 13' was common and some tight trackage was 12' as you mentioned. And yes, 2" is 14"-6" when scaled out.

The Southern Pacific's mid-twentieth-century standard for distance between double tracks and between main track and sidings was 14 feet, equal to 1.93 inches in HO scale.  More distance was required when there was an object between the tracks such as a signal column where clearance of 8.5 feet from the closest edge of the object, making the distance between tracks something on the order of 19 feet.

Mark

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 5:59 AM

markpierce

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I have always considered the 2" standard close enough to prototype for my era when 13' was common and some tight trackage was 12' as you mentioned. And yes, 2" is 14"-6" when scaled out.

The Southern Pacific's mid-twentieth-century standard for distance between double tracks and between main track and sidings was 14 feet, equal to 1.93 inches in HO scale.  More distance was required when there was an object between the tracks such as a signal column where clearance of 8.5 feet from the closest edge of the object, making the distance between tracks something on the order of 19 feet.

Mark

This too is interesting, and thanks for the historical data. I model the east, the Mid Atlantic and Appalachia to be specific. Signals are more commonly on signal bridges, not between tracks, real estate more of a premium, and exsiting restrictions often made increasing clearances very expensive.

Fact remains, and is now well documented, 2" in HO is a realistic, reasonable, and convenient spacing.

Sheldon 

A gun and a parachute are much the same. When you need one nothing else will really suffice.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:07 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

BRAKIE

I always like to stay prototypical.

 Here's my 1 1/2" yard center.

1-1/2" ? Are you sure? NMRA S-8 sugests 1-13/16" as a minimum. Most prototype railroads consider 13' to be minium. In HO 13' = 1.793" = 1-25/32" +/- , only 1/32 less than the NMRA S-8. recommmendation.

1-1/2" would be 10'-10-1/2", pretty tight for equipment that is allowed to be 10'-8" wide.

Based on your photo that looks more like 2". Are you measuring center to center?

Personally 2" everywhere for all paralel trackage, straight curves, yards, mainlines. But I do have large curves to its not an issue there. Most paralel track commercial products are designed for 2' centers. I use Atlas track which is also designed to give 2" centers for crossovers and yard leads.

Sheldon

 

Sheldon,That may look like 2" but,its 1 1/2"  center to center.I should have place a "brakeman" standing between the cars.

On some of my short lived temporary yard(such as the pictured  layout-a bad job) layouts I do not follow S8.

I use Atlas #4s  with flex track and I add a slight inward turn curve.

When I was a student yard brakeman they taught me to lay down if I was between  yard tracks and  a string of cars starts to move.

Why?

 The spacing is close and one could become dizzy and fall into the moving cars and another factor is you won't be hit by a protruding load or metal strapping.

Larry

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:15 AM

markpierce

Distance between tracks is measured from the track centers.

Mark

That's the way I have always understood it.

I got out a pair of Atlas HO scale flex track and set them 2 inches apart on center.  In other words, if you lay two pieces of track next to each other, 2 inches on center would be the distance between the left rail of each piece of track (or the right rail of each piece of track).

Sometimes, modelers ask, "How much separation is there between the two tracks", meaning how far is the left rail of the track on the right from the right rail of the track on the left.  If the tracks are 2 inches on center in HO gauge, the distance between the left rail of the track on the right from the right rail of the track on the left is 1 5/16 inches.

For what it is worth, the distance between the two rails on a piece of track in HO gauge is 11/16 inch.

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:48 AM

BRAKIE

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

BRAKIE

I always like to stay prototypical.

 Here's my 1 1/2" yard center.

1-1/2" ? Are you sure? NMRA S-8 sugests 1-13/16" as a minimum. Most prototype railroads consider 13' to be minium. In HO 13' = 1.793" = 1-25/32" +/- , only 1/32 less than the NMRA S-8. recommmendation.

1-1/2" would be 10'-10-1/2", pretty tight for equipment that is allowed to be 10'-8" wide.

Based on your photo that looks more like 2". Are you measuring center to center?

Personally 2" everywhere for all paralel trackage, straight curves, yards, mainlines. But I do have large curves to its not an issue there. Most paralel track commercial products are designed for 2' centers. I use Atlas track which is also designed to give 2" centers for crossovers and yard leads.

Sheldon

 

Sheldon,That may look like 2" but,its 1 1/2"  center to center.I should have place a "brakeman" standing between the cars.

On some of my short lived temporary yard(such as the pictured  layout-a bad job) layouts I do not follow S8.

I use Atlas #4s  with flex track and I add a slight inward turn curve.

When I was a student yard brakeman they taught me to lay down if I was between  yard tracks and  a string of cars starts to move.

Why?

 The spacing is close and one could become dizzy and fall into the moving cars and another factor is you won't be hit by a protruding load or metal strapping.

Must be an optical illusion there because based on the math, there would only be 1/8" or less between those cars, it looks like way more than 1/8".

Sheldon

A gun and a parachute are much the same. When you need one nothing else will really suffice.

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Posted by cmurray on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 7:06 AM
BRAKIE

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

BRAKIE

I always like to stay prototypical.

 Here's my 1 1/2" yard center.

1-1/2" ? Are you sure? NMRA S-8 sugests 1-13/16" as a minimum. Most prototype railroads consider 13' to be minium. In HO 13' = 1.793" = 1-25/32" +/- , only 1/32 less than the NMRA S-8. recommmendation.

1-1/2" would be 10'-10-1/2", pretty tight for equipment that is allowed to be 10'-8" wide.

Based on your photo that looks more like 2". Are you measuring center to center?

Personally 2" everywhere for all paralel trackage, straight curves, yards, mainlines. But I do have large curves to its not an issue there. Most paralel track commercial products are designed for 2' centers. I use Atlas track which is also designed to give 2" centers for crossovers and yard leads.

Sheldon

 

Sheldon,That may look like 2" but,its 1 1/2"  center to center.I should have place a "brakeman" standing between the cars.

On some of my short lived temporary yard(such as the pictured  layout-a bad job) layouts I do not follow S8.

I use Atlas #4s  with flex track and I add a slight inward turn curve.

When I was a student yard brakeman they taught me to lay down if I was between  yard tracks and  a string of cars starts to move.

Why?

 The spacing is close and one could become dizzy and fall into the moving cars and another factor is you won't be hit by a protruding load or metal strapping.

When 2 HO box cars are placed side by side on 1 1/2" centres, the box cars are touching! There's no way your tracks are on 1 1/2" centres. Sorry!

Colin ---------- There's just no end to cabooseless trains.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:32 AM

Colin,Sorry,but those are 1 1/2" centers by measurement.

The tracks was so close I couldn't uncouple cars by hand(the famous sky brakeman)..

============================================================

Must be an optical illusion there because based on the math, there would only be 1/8" or less between those cars, it looks like way more than 1/8".

Sheldon

-------------------------------------------

Indeed..Those tracks looks farther apart then they actually were..

BTW..That nasty layout was built after I got out of the hospital after having my heart attack in '05..It lasted about 3 weeks before it was torn out.It was one big mistake built during a time of personal worries and deep depression.

 

Larry

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 10:26 AM

Gentlemen, if you will permit me my interjection...

I measured out two lengths of flex just this minute, ensuring an accurately measured 1.5" between track centerlines, and then placed two BLI H2a 70 ton coal hoppers on one of them.  Viewed overhead, I didn't bother to place hoppers on the track next to them because there wasn't a hope...I was perhaps 3/8" too narrow.

It may be that some HO scale cars are quite a bit more narrow than others?  Otherwise, it doesn't seem possible to have functional track centers spaced less than 1.9".

-Crandell

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Posted by markpierce on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 10:58 AM

BRAKIE

Colin,Sorry,but those are 1 1/2" centers by measurement.

Brakie, but aren't you in N-scale?

Mark 

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Posted by UncBob on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 11:29 AM

 Accurail 40' steel boxcars

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 12:23 PM

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Posted by markpierce on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 12:51 PM

UncBob

  Accurail 40' steel boxcars

You'll regret laying track that close together.

Mark

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:22 PM

markpierce

BRAKIE

Colin,Sorry,but those are 1 1/2" centers by measurement.

Brakie, but aren't you in N-scale?

Mark 

 

Mark,At the time of that layout my primary scale was HO..I changed primary scales from HO to N back in '08..I still have lots of HO even after selling 70% of it..I use some of my HO at the club and the remainer is stored in flat plastic storage boxes.

Larry

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:23 PM

markpierce

UncBob

  Accurail 40' steel boxcars

You'll regret laying track that close together.

Mark

Indeed...

Larry

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Posted by UncBob on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 2:23 PM

markpierce

UncBob

  Accurail 40' steel boxcars

You'll regret laying track that close together.

Mark

 

Where did I say I was laying tracks that close ?????

I was just trying to show what a 1 1/2 distance was like 

 

I have mine at 2  1/2  inches

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Posted by cthart on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:18 PM

BRAKIE

I always like to stay prototypical.

 Here's my 1 1/2" yard center.

 

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=148937&nseq=690

 

If this is HO scale, then the rails are 16.5mm apart (0.65in). Measuring across, the track to track spacing is about 45-50mm, ie close to 2inches.

Not the 1 1/2 inches claimed.

Cheers,

Colin

Colin 't Hart Frösön, Sweden http://www.flickr.com/photos/cthart/

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