Distance between tracks

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Printman24

New Member
Would like to build an HO layout with two main lines ... how far apart would the tracks have to be to be realistic?
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
The general rule is about 2 inches on straight portions and 2.5 to 2.75 inches on curves depending on the radius of the curve and now long any individual car or engine will be.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
And that is generally measured between centerlines in each case. Whatever you do, think of possible/likely future needs. You may be operating a short engine and 40' boxcars now, but the heavy majority of us 'upgrade' before long when we develop a strong hankering for a larger locomotive and longer cars. So, as much as it may seem unlikely, or that it goes against your credo at the moment, you may want to give yourself as much room as possible to account for contingencies.

-Crandell
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
And that is generally measured between centerlines in each case. Whatever you do, think of possible/likely future needs. You may be operating a short engine and 40' boxcars now, but the heavy majority of us 'upgrade' before long when we develop a strong hankering for a larger locomotive and longer cars. So, as much as it may seem unlikely, or that it goes against your credo at the moment, you may want to give yourself as much room as possible to account for contingencies.

-Crandell
It would be a good idea to address tunnel and bridge clearances as well. When I started, I was running 2-6-0's and 40' boxcars. Now I run Challengers, and "Plate F+" cars like double stacks and auto racks. I've had to modify 2 bridges and 3 tunnels because I built for the small stuff. While it may be a case of art imitating life, I'd rather not have had to rip everything apart and redo it.
 

nephthyr

Member
Also consider turnout geometry for cross overs, I wanted to use 2" for my main lines but the turnout geometry forced it to be greater, I could have cut the turnouts but that would have limited their re-use one day when I build a larger layout.

I'd say sticking with 2.5" is a good idea, it also looks more realistic if the two tracks aren't on top of each other. Just my 2c worth.
 

dave1905

Active Member
Since about WW1, real main tracks are nominally 13 ft apart (1.8 inches) but normally range up to about 15 ft apart (2 inches). Second main tracks in rural areas that have been added or completely rebuilt since the 1980's might be 20-25 ft apart (2.75 - 3.4 inches).

So I wouldn't really worry about prototype. It really depends on your curve radii. Nominally 2 inches will work, BUT if you operate long equipment on sharp curves then you will need to increase the distance between tracks on curves.

This chart developed by the NMRA has information on recommended track center spacing:

http://www.nmra.com/standards/sandrp/s-8.html
 

RailFanRick

GTW Lives!
I use 2.5 inches as a minimum on my entire layout with no problems from any loco's or rolling stock. also gives you a lil extra room for turnout swithches, signals etc...:cool:
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
Check clearances with your trusty NMRA gauge. This gets really important if you are going to be shoehorning 4-8-4's or SD-70's through 18 or even 22" radius curves. That overhang will getcha!
 

stationmaster

Crusty Old Geezer
This chart developed by the NMRA has information on recommended track center spacing:

http://www.nmra.com/standards/sandrp/s-8.html
I build interchangeable modules for my layout. Dave1905 gave you the best advice. All of my modules conform to NMRA standards and Best Practices as closely as they possibly can.

I found that by using the information, collected and refined by the mistakes and observations of others, I limited my mistakes and thus saved some money by not having to fix all of the errors.

Bookmark their site. A lot of good information there.

Bob
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
The general rule of thumb is, take two switches, both of them must be the same. Connect the two switches at the diverging routes. The space between the straight parts of both switches is your ideal spacing for straight track.

For curves, it all depends on what you are running. Will you be running mostly small/medium diesels? Will you be running large steam? Will you be running a DDA40X?

If you don't know or run a variety of stuff, it's best to lay the track so that an engine that swings way out like a DDA40X or a 89'6" hi-cube box car could make it without hitting anything on the track next to it.
 




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