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HO scale road widths

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HO scale road widths
Posted by hustle_muscle on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:48 PM

I'm trying to plan out the town part of my layout and I want to add a 2 lane road to begin with. How wide do they need to be (still building my first layout, don't know a whole lot about that stuff)?

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Posted by PennCentral99 on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 9:22 PM

Seriously?  that depends.  the 2 lane roads in your area may be different than the 2 lane roads in my area or someone else's area. Also, the 2 lane roads of yester-year are different than the 2 lane roads of today.

Bottom line, it's 1:87 the size of what you are trying to model.  Measure the real road (in feet), divide it by 87, then multiply it by 12 to give you the inches for your layout.

Or get a scale ruler.....

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Posted by Guy Papillon on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 9:29 PM

I have a rural road on my layout that is 26 scale feet wide and it looks good. I also have a town street that is 30 feet wide. When I recently bough a Walther's Crossing Gate I found it was perfect for that street.

I remember measuring the wight of he street I was living on when I was a teenager (that was many years ago) and it was 30 feet. 

What is most important though is that it should looks nice to your eyes.

Guy

Modeling CNR in the 50's

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Posted by zstripe on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:21 AM

A gravel road and a dirt road,are just that..Width of highways and streets,will generally be attributed,to the Era. (time) and part of the country,you are modeling..

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Posted by rogerhensley on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 5:51 AM

Street Widths

Removed

Roger Hensley
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Posted by dominic c on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 6:08 AM

These post are helpful. An easy way would be to grab a few ho vehicles and use them as a measuring stick.  Maybe use a large semi trailer cab and a regular size car to give you the space you want between the vehicles

JC

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 7:10 AM

The bottom line is: WHO CARES HOW WIDE THE ROAD IS.

To make a road in its full size scale width takes up a lot of real estate, and you are usually NOT looking for that kind of adherence to prototype as compared to "What looks right" on your layout.

If you have model roads, then you need model cars and/or trucks. Put these on the road first and then shape the size of the road around the scene that you are creating.

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 9:45 AM

I am with the Lion on this one.  Everything on our layouts is so cramped that for the roads to be the ONE thing (well OK, in addition to the rolling stock and gauge of the rails) that is full prototype sized tends to create a very awkward scene.  On most layouts our towns are separated by what in the prototype would be just a few city blocks, after all.  Passenger stations are built just a brisk walk away from each other.  Most structure kits are either small prototypes or selectively compressed or in some cases are closer to 1/8" scale but with taller doors that are HO for our HO people to walk through.  If our urban city block is maybe 1/3 the size of a real one, and that is the case at most layouts I have visited, to have it bounded by full scale width roads is going to look very strange.

The main thing is that roads or streets  should look plausible once there are vehicles on them.  In reality if we were driving on our model road we might feel the parked cars are to close to our car for comfort but for model purposes it should  be OK if it would be possible to drive on it.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:39 PM

I agree with Lion and Dave on this:  the roads should suit your modelling era and locale, but should also suit your available space, and you should be able to make them "look right" even if they don't match prototype specs.
On my late '30s era layout, every town has some roadway, but since it's merely an element of the scenery, I don't want it to dominate the scene.

Here is the largest town on the layout.  The street is an important artery and is wider than others elsewhere but still only a lane in each direction, with room for on-street parking.  More importantly, it's only 2' long, and much of that involving tracks, either at street level or overhead on a bridge:


In the same town is this side street.  It dead-ends at the tracks and is mostly under a double-tracked bridge.  Its purpose is to serve two industries and make their existence more plausible:

 


While the roads are an important element of the area, I didn't want them dominating the scene.  This is, after all, a train layout.  Here's an aerial view of the area:


The next town along the line is South Cayuga.  Obviously, the town is connected to the rest of the area by roads, but the railroad is its main artery.  While the town still needs to be developed, there'll be only this short  segment (about 18") of road, plus a snippet of another coming from off-layout to the station, at right:


The next road along the tracks is River Road.  While it's fairly long, the two bridges and the Speed River, parallel to the road, will dominate the scene, and the area will be fairly-heavily forested:

The road literally narrows to nothing as it recedes in the distance:



Beyond the tunnel is Elfrida, and like South Cayuga, the modelled roads are minimal, with a short stretch into town and an access from off-layout to the small station:



Another country road more-or-less in the middle of nowhere is Indian Line.  It and its crossing are really the main scenic element here....


...but it's less than it appears:

This road in Lowbanks is the main road into town, and while it's often quite busy, the total width at its widest point is only 20':


As a view from above reveals, both branches of it peter-out as they head towards Lake Erie, also unmodelled Whistling :


In most cases, roads can be somewhat condensed in width where they're an important element of the scene, and where they're a peripheral part of the area, try to create an illusion of width without eating-up a lot of valuable layout real estate.


Wayne

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:25 PM

Nice Pictures, Wayne.

One *can* carry the road to the opposite extremes.

I want to model a portion of Empire Boulevard in a corner of my layout, and it clearly will take up the entire corner, as is intended. After all, I am modeling a SUBWAY and the street above is, in this neighborhood at least, every bit as important as the buildings.

To the left in this photo are two traffic lanes and two parking lanes. I am standing on the sidewalk on what I can call the *South* Boulevard

In between the two pedestrian boulevards is the six lane Empire Boulevard proper. The four track main line of the Brooklyn IRT is below this part of the road. Not seen in this picture is the Franklin Avenue shuttle that passes perpendicularly under this road just above the IRT tunnel. The Franklin Route is what is modeled on my layout, although street signage will stairways will proclaim the existence of the IRT line.

This shot looks in the opposite direction. So from left to right there would be buildings a sidewalk, the residential parking street, the pedestrian boulevard as per the top photo, the six lane highway proper, another pedestrian boulevard aother parking street, the south sidewalk and then more buildings.

You cannot see the buildings in these photos, and so I'll not need to model them: It will be a model of the street. Nonetheless, some drastic compression is in order. I'll have to cut off one traffic lane from each of the side roadways, compress the boulevards, and reduce the highway to four lanes.

Plant lots of trees, put in picturesque park type lighting, install the subway stairways and call it a day. Maybe someday I will be able to afford populating the vignette with veicles and people.

To the south of this scene I will construct a mosque.

ROAR

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:41 PM

Thanks for your kind words, Lion.

For your urban layout, modelling the street, even if it takes a full corner of your extensive layout makes sense, and it should contribute greatly to a convincing big-city scene, even when selectively compressed.  Your photos also show that even those modelling city scenes will often need trees, and lots of them. 

Any chance we'll be seeing a narrow-gauge logging subway? Smile, Wink & GrinLaugh


Wayne

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 5:34 PM

doctorwayne

Any chance we'll be seeing a narrow-gauge logging subway? Smile, Wink & GrinLaugh

Wayne

I wonder if that two foot gauge tramway that once ran under Chicago ever carried timber as cargo.

I also wonder if any heroic (or masochistic) modeler ever modeled it - in any scale.

Back to the original topic - all two lane roads are NOT created equal.  In rural Tennessee I routinely drove some county roads that might have had twenty feet of pavement once, but the curb-free edges were (and are) chipped and well worn.  In rural Texas, a farm-to-market road will have 24+ feet of solid pavement and eight to ten feet of macadamized shoulder.

The street in front of my house, in a (very) late 20th century suburb, is 45 feet between curbs - and it isn't even a through street.  Add in sidewalks and setbacks and the front walls of the houses are over a foot apart if modeled accurately in HO scale.  If modeled, selective compression would definitely be in order.

Luckily, on my layout the typical 'road' is two ruts in the mud.  The only paved road is (mostly) virtual, and it's only 6 meters of concrete wide.  (And now you know why the little rural freight houses are still active and LCL is still thriving...)

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 6:54 PM

hustle_muscle

I'm trying to plan out the town part of my layout and I want to add a 2 lane road to begin with.

Well...I would think that a two lane road in town would have at least one parking lane, making it three lanes wide of course.

As others have said, appearance is really more important than actual scale width.

So, when you make your road slightly narrower than scale, plan to not line up the cars to pass each other and a parked car at the same time.  Staggering the placement of the vehicles quite a bit will help conceal the narrower than scale width.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, September 14, 2013 9:49 AM

I'm also in the "what looks right" crowd, and like most of us, I don't have enough space to model roads to scale width, anyway.  I was changing the smoke detector battery one day, and took this picture while I had the ladder out:

At the bottom of the picture, just to the right of center, there's a 4-way intersection.  The top-to-bottom street is 3 inches wide (this is HO) and the left to right street is a very narrow 2 5/8 inches wide.  The narrow street, combined with the narrow sidewalks, create the "urban canyon" feel I was looking for, even though the buildings are only 2, 3 or 4 stories tall.

Viewed from the front of the layout, the 3-inch street with inch-wide sidewalks looks like a broad thoroughfare by comparison.

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Posted by Kyle on Monday, September 23, 2013 4:18 AM
Neighborhood streets, and downtown streets are wider to allow for parking on the sides. If you want to, take your widest vechical and add a scale foot or two on either side if you want to get a standard lane size.
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Posted by Doc in CT on Monday, September 23, 2013 12:47 PM

If you are trying to be faithful to the prototype, as suggested below (or above) go out and measure the street (travel lanes, shoulders, sidewalks) or contact you local zoning commission and ask.

You will find that travel lane widths range from 10 to 12 ft (1 3/8 to 1 11/16 in HO scale), parking lanes from 8 to 10 ft (1 3/32 to 1 3/8 in) and sidewalks from 4 to 10 or 12 ft (single family residential to downtown business).

Without some selective compression or compromise, scale roads can get wide very quickly (2 travel lanes, double sided parking and sidewalks would be about 7.5 inches). 
It is, as others have pointed out, a matter of taste or what looks good.  If the road is at the edge of a layout, just model half of it, or maybe just parking.

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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, September 23, 2013 12:58 PM

If you do want to follow prototype, here is a chart that is suppose to be based on international standards. ( so I was told) Just thought I would throw it in to the mix.

In the end some roads appear to end up just being what they are, following no guidelines in particular. A lot of cheating goes on in the real world too.

Brent

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, September 23, 2013 1:22 PM

Brent,

When I drove a truck,from the US to Canada,,Windsor to Toronto..I used 401 many times,before they widened it and I will surely attest to the fact,that they cheated,on the width of that road,for sure...Laugh

Cheers, Drinks

Frank

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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, September 23, 2013 1:40 PM

Frank

That's what happens when you have a country the size of Canada with a population smaller than that of California. So many miles to pave, and so few people to pay for it.

The 401 may have its shortcomings in Ontario, but you should see it out West. As you can see it takes a steady hand to survive the trip.Smile, Wink & Grin

 ">

SurpriseLaugh

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, September 23, 2013 2:02 PM

Brent,

Thanks,,,for the tease,,,,,I have seen it and been there,,,,,LOVE,that part of the country..From US interstate 5,from Long Beach,CA. to Portland,OR,or Seattle WA......to Vancouver,Surrey or Kelowna BC...I really enjoyed driving a truck and seeing a lot of our continent,,,but it was very hard on the family life,,being gone a lot..Used to take my Son's with me,when they were off for the summer,,that's one of the reason's they can all drive semi's..The wife went a few times,,but what can I say...

Cheers,Drinks

Frank

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Posted by MtnTopBear on Friday, May 7, 2021 9:17 AM
WOW!!! That was rude!
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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, May 8, 2021 8:25 AM

MtnTopBear
WOW!!! That was rude! 

What was rude? You revived an 8-year old thread.

So, this is your first post? Anything positive to contribute?

 

Alton Junction

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