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Track spacing questions

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Track spacing questions
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, August 07, 2017 8:55 PM

Hi gang!

How far apart should HO scale yard tracks be so that a car can be picked up by hand?

How far apart should double tracks be for a 'safe' crossover?

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, August 07, 2017 9:59 PM

2" works well for the occasional reach in, and doesn't look way too far apart. A fiddle yard sort of thing, I'd want bigger spacing, but I have large hands. Simple parallel tracks (not a yard situation) can be close together for a more scale appearance and 'normal' cars won;t hit, at least on straight track. Oddball equipment (my iCar iPhone camera car, for one) may need better clearance. On curves - it all comes down to radius, but 30 and 32" concentric curves did not work for me with various combinations of full length passenger cars - the end of a car on the inside track would hit the center of a car on the outside track if they passed at just the right position. Luckily I found this out BEFORE the track was fastened down and made some adjustments to increase the spacing. Same cars if the curves had been 40 and 42", probably ok. I had no problems with 40 and 50 foot cars, or even shorty 60 foot passenger cars at 30 and 32". 

                                            --Randy

 


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Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 5:33 AM

As Randy alluded to, this is not a question with a "one size fits all" answer. 

It's very tempting to get yard tracks as close as possible, but I've found a bit more space tends to look better and of course make it easier for the "0-5-0" switcher to handle cars.  If you are into scenery, a little more spacing gives you the opportunity to plant some weeds and "car junk" that eventually litters most yards. 

I've walked refinery yards that were solid stone (or shell) ballast.  That made it easy to walk in all kinds of weather, but it was boring.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 5:56 AM

hon30critter

Hi gang!

How far apart should HO scale yard tracks be so that a car can be picked up by hand?

How far apart should double tracks be for a 'safe' crossover?

Thanks,

Dave

 

I install yard tracks 2 1/2 inches apart for easy accessibility.

Not sure I understand your question about the spacing of double tracks. Are you asking about the spacing of two mailine tracks with a crossover? In that instance, my spacing is 2 inches.

Rich

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:30 AM

A good place to start for track center-to-track center spacing is NMRA S-8 (.pdf download). Note that spacing is wider in curves and varies by the type of equipment. The recommended tangent (straight) track spacing may not be wide enough for some folks' fingers.

hon30critter
How far apart should double tracks be for a 'safe' crossover?

I don't understand what "safe" means in this context. Some clarification might help.

Byron

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 10:55 AM

According to John Armstrongs "Track Planning for Realistic Operation", in his chapter on minimum standards, he recommends 2.0" centers for yards with parallel track.  I compromise that with spacings that a yard ladder of turnouts give and it may be a bit more.  For staging I used 2 1/16 centers.

Here is my yard:

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 10:59 AM

My "fiddle yard" has 2 1/2 inch spacing.  Part of that happened for the very reason being discussed:  sticking my fingers down between cars.  The other reason is that part of the yard is on a curve, and the curved tracks are spaced out accordingly.

 

Ed

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 12:31 PM

7j43k

Part of that happened for the very reason being discussed:  sticking my fingers down between cars.

 Ed

That reminds me of a cartoon in Model Railroader magazine where a guy has a guest pro model railroader visiting him in his basement.  In the cartoon the guy hosting the pro reaches down to pick up a locomotive.  The visitor shouts out, "what are doing"?!!!!!   The layout owner explains he has to pick up his engine because for some reason having to do moving it.  Then the pro explains how he should change his track design, giving him a professional tip, so he doesn't have to pick up his trains.

Apparently in the olden days, it was considered bad model railroad ettiquite to touch trains unless absolutely necessary!  So we don't need no stinking large gaps between tracks in yards eh!?!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by davidmurray on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 1:56 PM

In yards it might also be wise to consider ease of reading car numbers.  A wider, say two and a half inch space gives greater ease in looking over one car to read another cars number.  Useful when switching.  This cuts the number of tracks in any given width.

Dave

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 2:22 PM

davidmurray

In yards it might also be wise to consider ease of reading car numbers.

 

 

Just read the numbers on the car ends.  The prototype put them up high so that we could read them in our yards.

 

Ed

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Posted by carl425 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 3:03 PM

riogrande5761
Apparently in the olden days, it was considered bad model railroad ettiquite to touch trains unless absolutely necessary!

It is still my goal to never touch the trains.  I was taught that it is good to set goals - even if we don't attain them. Smile

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 4:33 PM

Goals are good!

Even with John Armstrongs minimum spacing in yard tracks, you can still grab train cars if necessary.  But we should avoid it if possible!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 4:43 PM

The industry tends to make double track "stuff" for 2" centers, for a long time now.

Atlas Custom Line turnouts build yards with 2" centers with no cutting......

That is slightly wider than prototype spacing, but seems to look fine with our models.

For the last 3 decades I have always stayed with 2" centers, yards, mainlines, stagging and even curves.......but my curves are large, 36" radius and above, with most being above 40" radius.

So for me, one size does fit all, at least for this question.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 4:54 PM

davidmurray
A wider, say two and a half inch space gives greater ease in looking over one car to read another cars number.

A flexible and real-time car-routing method (such as car cards and waybills), vastly reduces the need to do this -- for example, the car cards and waybills are kept in standing order to match the cars in the track.

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 10:33 PM

I read the numbers while the cars are on the yard lead being sorted. The cars match the car cards in order so I don’t need to read the numbers while in the middle of the yard. And as Sheldon mentioned above, my yard spacing is based on Atlas turnouts. I have a separate fiddle track for adding and removing cars from the layout. It doubles as the RIP track. It is on the edge of the layout and my fingers easily reach both sides without bumping into anything. This is also where I test coupler height.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 1:00 AM

cuyama
hon30critter How far apart should double tracks be for a 'safe' crossover? I don't understand what "safe" means in this context. Some clarification might help.

When I said 'safe' I was referring to the 'S' curve issue. I guess a better way to phrase the question would be - "do crossovers on tracks with 2" spacing work OK or is it 'safer' to place the tracks further apart?

Sorry for not stating the question better.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 1:09 AM

The reason I asked the questions is because I want to make sure that our new club layout design works properly, so I was looking for some real life experiences.

Thanks for your input everyone.

Dave

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 5:37 AM

hon30critter

 

 
cuyama
hon30critter How far apart should double tracks be for a 'safe' crossover? I don't understand what "safe" means in this context. Some clarification might help.

 

When I said 'safe' I was referring to the 'S' curve issue. I guess a better way to phrase the question would be - "do crossovers on tracks with 2" spacing work OK or is it 'safer' to place the tracks further apart?

Sorry for not stating the question better.

Dave

 

The performance of crossovers depends on the turnout angle/number, not track spacing - bigger is better.

#6 is a good minimum for crossovers.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 8:20 AM

hon30critter
do crossovers on tracks with 2" spacing work OK

Yes, for tangent (straight) tracks in HO. As Sheldon notes, frog number is typically controlling factor.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 9:54 AM

carl425
 
riogrande5761
Apparently in the olden days, it was considered bad model railroad ettiquite to touch trains unless absolutely necessary!

 

It is still my goal to never touch the trains.  I was taught that it is good to set goals - even if we don't attain them. Smile

 

Guys,This is the main reason I use KD magnets for hands off uncoupling.

I also use a 1-1/12" or 1 3/4" centers for my older industrial yards since you can stand between the tracks and reach your arms out and almost touch the cars with your finger tips. We wouldn't ride the sides of the cars after dark.

As far as switching the majority of the modelers I've watched over the years cherry pick their cars instead of pulling the whole string in order to classify those cars into distention blocks...

 

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 11:25 AM

BRAKIE
I also use a 1-1/12"

No, you don't. It doesn't fit with HO standard gauge. We have been over this many times before. That's less than 11 scale feet. Mathematically that doesn't make sense based on Plate B or Plate C dimensions for prototype freight cars, which is 10' 8" across.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/254250.aspx

The photos you have posted in the past show more than 1½" track center-to-track center spacing.

Maybe you are measuring something else.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 11:38 AM

Since this is my first layout, I wanted to minimize derailments or other issues, so I also went w/ 2" center-to-center between track.  I have that spacing in the yards and only have one mainline.

Why hold my breath that the trains won't touch by going with less space?

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 9:42 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The performance of crossovers depends on the turnout angle/number, not track spacing - bigger is better.

Sheldon and cuyama,

OK, that makes sense. Thanks.

We will be using Peco Code 100 large turnouts for most of the crossovers. In a couple of places will use Peco Code 100 curved turnouts because there aren't any straight sections long enough to accommodate straight turnouts.

FYI, the smallest turnouts we will use are Peco Code 100 mediums, and those will only be used on secondary track like yards and spurs.

Thanks

Dave

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 9:49 PM

hon30critter

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The performance of crossovers depends on the turnout angle/number, not track spacing - bigger is better.

 

OK Sheldon and cuyama,

That makes sense. Thanks.

We will be using Peco Code 100 large turnouts for most of the crossovers. In a couple of places will use Peco Code 100 curved turnouts because there aren't any straight sections long enough to accommodate straight turnouts.

Thanks

Dave

 

Just my opinion, but why PECO code 100?

Personally I don't care for the European/toy curved frog geometry of PECO code 100.

And I really don't think they make for a good crossover. 

The straight frogs of an ATLAS #6 Custom Line is a much better geometry, better look, and more prototypical for North America.

But that's just me......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 9:51 PM

Where you use crossovers in curves, you will need to check for proper track-to-track spacing all along the straight-through (non-crossing path). This will require a bit of tweaking in CAD or on the layout surface. And because it is a curve, that spacing will need to be more than 2".

Note that the frog in a PECO Code 100 Large is a bit tighter than you might expect (about a #4½). So be sure to check your longest and stiffest equipment through a straight Code 100 crossover before committing.

The Code 100 curved turnouts use the same frog, but there is no internal S-curve in a properly designed curved crossover.

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 10:07 PM

The only yards on my layout are staging yards, where the track centres vary from 2" to 3".  Almost all cars are handled at these locations, either being placed on the layout or removed from it and returned to their respective boxes...

There's no double track on the layout, either, although all towns have passing sidings on the mainline.  Track centres there vary from 3 3/4" down to 1 3/4". 
This is the area of 1 3/4" centres, dictated by limited layout depth and the need to include other items...

...including a turntable...

Space is so tight that the 90' turntable is only 89' long! Smile, Wink & Grin

While I generally wouldn't be picking a car off the tracks there, it's certainly possible to do, even with a train on each track - simply touch the roof or top of the car, tilt it away from the other track, and then pick it up.

Wayne

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 10:09 PM

cuyama
Note that the frog in a PECO Code 100 Large is a bit tighter than you might expect (about a #4½). So be sure to check your longest and stiffest equipment through a straight Code 100 crossover before committing.

Is there a better turnout (i.e. larger frog) that you would recommend? We want to have live frogs (so I can run my critters - selfish eh?!). One club member has used Fast Tracks jigs extensively. We have considered going that route.

Thanks

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 10:10 PM

Thanks Wayne.

Tilting the cars will work on double track but we need to be able to pick up cars in the yard too where there will be several tracks.

Dave

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 11:54 PM

hon30critter
Is there a better turnout (i.e. larger frog) that you would recommend?

Many clients and friends are happy with PECO Code 83. Available Electrofrog or Insulfrog. Not as inexpensive as Atlas, but offers a nice relatively compact curved turnout.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, August 10, 2017 5:21 AM

hon30critter

 

 
cuyama
Note that the frog in a PECO Code 100 Large is a bit tighter than you might expect (about a #4½). So be sure to check your longest and stiffest equipment through a straight Code 100 crossover before committing.

 

Is there a better turnout (i.e. larger frog) that you would recommend? We want to have live frogs (so I can run my critters - selfish eh?!). One club member has used Fast Tracks jigs extensively. We have considered going that route.

Thanks

Dave

 

For straight turnouts I actually prefer ATLAS code 83 Custom Line. They have metal frogs that can be powered but require a relay or contacts to change polarity. I power all of mine and use mostly #6 and #8.

They make into crossovers with 2" centers with no cutting, and make 2" center yards with no cutting.

For curved turnouts Walthers has some, and so does PECO code 83, but I generally scratch build curved turnouts if I need them.

Sheldon

    

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