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What is your thoughts on acceptable vertical clearance in HO?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Southeast Texas
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What is your thoughts on acceptable vertical clearance in HO?
Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, April 12, 2009 2:44 PM

Hi!

I'm in the process of building an HO layout, which has a lower level staging area.  The incline to that area is 2%, and at some point will "disappear into the ground" of the main level.  Sooo, I need to determine the acceptable minimum vertical clearance where I can put the main level plywood over the inclined track - and of course not have clearance problems.

Yes, I have NMRA gauge(s), that indicate (if I read it correctly) a minimum clearance of 3 inches from the top of the railhead to the "ceiling".  This seems a bit low to me, but I'm not disputing it.  I'm thinking 3 1/2 inches might be "better", but I would like your thoughts on the subject. 

By the way, I model the ATSF / IC in the '40s/'50s, and have some large BLI locos, and some dome passenger cars, and other bigger than usual cars.

Thanks, your views are always appreciated!

Mobilman44

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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

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  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
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Posted by wjstix on Sunday, April 12, 2009 4:08 PM

If you need to reach under to re-rail a car, 4" would be the best minimum to go with. But unless you're running double-stacks (which you wouldn't be in your era) 3-1/2" or even a touch less should be fine.

Stix
  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • 1,205 posts
Posted by grizlump9 on Sunday, April 12, 2009 4:25 PM

 hi, i have been using 3" clearance above the top of the rail head for years with no problems.  that is for bridges etc.  if your track is under the table top, as in a staging area, then you must have room to reach things underneath so you might need more headroom.  as for bridges and overpasses, 3 ' works out to 22'9" in HO.  that should be enough for even double stack containers if you run them.  tri-level auto racks were about 19' maximum height and most passenger equipment was shorter that that.  the roads you model would not be cursed with the tight clearances of the Eastern lines such as PRR etc.

to make things simple, just multiply the clearance by 87 for HO scale that will give you the result in scale inches and you can divided by 12 for the feet and go from there.

the era you mentioned (40's/50's) did not have that many high cars.  tri level auto racks had not yet come on the scene and about the tallest thing would have been trailers on flat cars.

i think the main issue you are facing is track cleaning and repair in your staging area.  in that case, the more room, the better.  many plans are drawn up showing hidden trackage that just won't work in real life because you can't reach anything underneath.

by the way, i am an ICRR fan myself.  if you get a chance PM me with more information about your IC modeling.

grizlump

  • Member since
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  • From: Westcentral Pennsylvania (Johnstown)
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Posted by tgindy on Sunday, April 12, 2009 8:11 PM

For appearance as well as clearance - Consider the prototype re-tunneling project at Gallitzin's Tunnel Hill in the Pennsy to Penn Central to Conrail to Norfolk Southern journey...

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=28183

...to handle modern intermodal single-stack and double-stacks.

All of the Gallitzin Tunnel Hill clearances & pictures (1950s - 2000s) are at North East Rails...

http://www.northeast.railfan.net/gallitzin.html

Conemaugh Road & Traction circa 1956

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  • From: Weymouth, Ma.
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Posted by bogp40 on Sunday, April 12, 2009 8:24 PM

For lower level staging the more the better. But you do have limitations. On the decending track, yes go w/ the bare min. even notching or configuring the framework to accomadate your grade and clearance. Try to continue the decent to a comfortable rerailing distance of no less than 4".

Modeling B&O- Chessie  Bob K. 

  • Member since
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  • From: Gahanna, Ohio
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Posted by jbinkley60 on Sunday, April 12, 2009 8:36 PM

mobilman44

Hi!

I'm in the process of building an HO layout, which has a lower level staging area.  The incline to that area is 2%, and at some point will "disappear into the ground" of the main level.  Sooo, I need to determine the acceptable minimum vertical clearance where I can put the main level plywood over the inclined track - and of course not have clearance problems.

Yes, I have NMRA gauge(s), that indicate (if I read it correctly) a minimum clearance of 3 inches from the top of the railhead to the "ceiling".  This seems a bit low to me, but I'm not disputing it.  I'm thinking 3 1/2 inches might be "better", but I would like your thoughts on the subject. 

By the way, I model the ATSF / IC in the '40s/'50s, and have some large BLI locos, and some dome passenger cars, and other bigger than usual cars.

Thanks, your views are always appreciated!

Mobilman44

I've got modern doublestacks which go 3 1/16" .  The minimum I will use is 3 1/2" on my layout.  

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

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  • From: Colorful Colorado
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Posted by Texas Zepher on Sunday, April 12, 2009 8:48 PM

mobilman44
have some large BLI locos, and some dome passenger cars, and other bigger than usual cars.

Measure the bigger than usual cars (or your tallest) and make the clearance bigger than that.  Generally you need acceptable clearance for your equipment. 

Even in the prototype there are clearances where not all equipment can pass.  Notably in your time period one would not find may dome in the NE USA.  Likewise Santa Fe would never dreamed of taking their El Capitan to NYC.  I believe Santa Fe's 2900 locomotives had to be sent out from the manufacturer on barges because the rails went through tunnels and under bridges that were too low for them

  • Member since
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  • From: Southeast Texas
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Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, April 12, 2009 9:27 PM

Hi!

Thank you all for your input!  I have done some actual measurements and while 3 inches would work, I feel more comfortable with 3 1/2 inch.  Note that this clearance is only at the point where the incline disappears under the main level.  It continues downward and ends up with a 6 track staging area a good 13 inches under the main level.

I'm currently doing the lower level wiring (DCC), and will finish the trackwork fairly soon.  Then, its test, test, test, before that mainlevel benchwork is put in place.

Happy Easter to all,

Mobilman44

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Weymouth, Ma.
  • 4,784 posts
Posted by bogp40 on Sunday, April 12, 2009 9:46 PM

mobilman44

Hi!

Thank you all for your input!  I have done some actual measurements and while 3 inches would work, I feel more comfortable with 3 1/2 inch.  Note that this clearance is only at the point where the incline disappears under the main level.  It continues downward and ends up with a 6 track staging area a good 13 inches under the main level.

I'm currently doing the lower level wiring (DCC), and will finish the trackwork fairly soon.  Then, its test, test, test, before that mainlevel benchwork is put in place.

Happy Easter to all,

Mobilman44

Where you will have that extra breathing room of the 13" for the staging, remember you can alter or notch the benchwork somewhat for clearance to decrease the grade if desired.

Modeling B&O- Chessie  Bob K. 

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Germany
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Posted by wedudler on Monday, April 13, 2009 3:36 AM

 My staging yard is located just under Westport. Westport is built in segments - so removable if necessary.

 

I've nearly zero derailments  I can reach in to remove the segments, but I have to remove the trains first.

Wolfgang

Pueblo & Salt Lake RR

Come to us http://www.westportterminal.de          my videos        my blog

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