Track Standards

     A. General Trackwork

     B. Clearances

     C. Rail

     D. Rail Joints

     E. Turnouts

     F. Ballast



A. General Trackwork


  1. All track work shall conform to NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices.
  2. All bench work and sub roadbed shall conform to generally accepted carpentry practices using Bugle Head (drywall) screws as fasteners.
  3. Sub roadbed shall be 3/4" ACX plywood. Risers shall be spaced no more than 24" apart.
  4. Roadbed shall be pine strips glued and nailed to the sub roadbed. Shoulders strips shall be installed except between adjacent tracks.
  5. Each rail section shall have electrical feeder wires. Rail joiners shall not be relied upon for electrical connection.

B. Clearances


  1. Buildings, trees, poles, etc., located near curves must have a sufficient distance from the right of way to clear the boiler swing of articulated locomotives.
  2. Multiple track centers on curves must be sufficient to allow articulated locomotives traveling in either direction to clear trains on adjacent tracks.
  3. Tunnel portals on curves must be sufficiently wide to clear an articulated locomotive boiler swing to the outside and 85 foot car overhang to the inside of the curve.
  4. Vertical clearances are to be to the NMRA Standards gauge. Exception: Trolley wire on the branch line is nominally 21ft 6in , but must meet NMRA vertical clearances where it crosses the main line.
  5. Association or member-owned clearance cars may be used to verify clearances, especially within tunnels.

C. Rail


  1. Nickel-silver rail shall be used throughout the layout.
  2. Standard gauge rail size: CODE 100 and 83.
  3. Narrow gauge and dual gauge rail size: CODE 70 throughout.
  4. All rail shall be blackened, weathered, or colored in some manner to give a prototype appearance. Weathered track is not necessary in tunnels.
  5. All visible track shall be hand laid rail on individual stained wood ties. Prefabricated track sections (Atlas flex track) with non-fiber ties shall be used in tunnels, hidden setup yards, and in street trackage. Exception: turnouts and sharp radius curves in streets or other non-visible locations may be constructed using printed circuit board material as a foundation.
  6. Campbell profile ties shall be used for hand lay throughout. Ties are to be stained dark creosote color prior to installation. After sanding, tops are to be re-stained before rail is laid. Turnout tie ends must be touched up after cutting (with a black marker or stain) prior to use. Tie jigs shall be used to properly space tie strips.
  7. Where spiking of rail is required, small or medium head spikes shall be used. Rail shall be spiked every fifth tie (every fourth preferred) except within turnouts. Spikes must be placed in pairs on both sides of the rail in the same tie.
  8. Three point gauging shall be used on curves to provide appropriate widening for long wheelbase steam locomotives.

D. Rail Joints


  1. All rail joints shall be securely connected.
  2. Rail joiners shall not be soldered unless a rail section less than 1 ft in length is present.
  3. Electrical gaps shall be cut wide enough to allow an NMRA standards gauge to be inserted. Rail shall be double spiked on either side of an electrical gap.

E. Turnouts


  1. All turnouts shall be equipped with positive electrical contacts for carrying track power through the points. If a hinge is required in the turnout, it shall be installed on the diverging (curved) rail only.
  2. All mainline turnouts shall be no. 8 minimum.
  3. Turnouts smaller than no. 8 are to be used in trolley and dual gauge areas only.
  4. Single blade boxed turnouts may be used in pavement areas.

F. Ballast


  1. All roadbed shall be ballasted with scale ballast in scenic areas.
  2. Ballast must blend in with adjacent ballasted areas and the color must be appropriate for the surrounding scenery.
  3. No ballast may be electrically conductive.


References


NMRA Standards - Standards and Recommended Practices
NMRA Standards - Trackwork S-3
NMRA Standards - Clearances S-7
NMRA Standards - Track Centers S-8
NMRA Recommended Practices - Standards Gauge RP-2
NMRA Recommended Practices - Trackwork General RP-10
NMRA Recommended Practices - Turnout Dimensions - HO Scale RP-12.3
NMRA Recommended Practices - Guard Rail & Frog Relationship RP-13.5
NMRA Recommended Practices - Guard Rails RP-13.6
NMRA Recommended Practices - Frog & Wing Rails RP-13.7
NMRA Recommended Practices - Flangway Flares RP-13.8
NMRA Recommended Practices - Rail RP 15.1



  Go to page top

  Back to Standards Home

  HO layout main page