Re: Tie Spacing

Dale Buxton

Interesting question. I've just always used a commercial tie spacing jig.

What you are seeing in the photos of the Durango Line, are the affects of decades of deferred maintenance and time saving. When several rotted ties were often located together. Rather than dig them all out and replace them, a replacement tie was put in between 2 bad ties. This cut down on time spent at the task and the amount of ties needed to make the repair. 

On a whim, I just looked at the NMRA web site and oddly I found nothing on tie spacing. That's very strange. They have recommended practices for just about everything else under the sun for model railroads. So I typed in " FRA tie spacing" and  that took me the "Railway Tie Association". There I found that they suggest 19.5 inches center to center for tie spacing. Searching deep into the FRA web pages gave me a spacing of 19 inches between tie centers. So there you go. A modern standard for tie spacing.

I agree that you should go to "Fast Tracks" web site and buy some tie templates. I just checked there and they say 22 inches between centers for mainline track and 24 inches for branch line for 3 foot gauge.

I am willing to bet the the San Juan Extension (Durango Line) was built with a tie spacing closer to 24" (or grater) to save on tie cost and construction time. Safety was the very last thing thought of in those days. Just Get-er-done and make money for the stock holders. Another one of many reasons why railroads had such appalling safety records a century and a half ago. And why there are so many laws governing safety on railroads today. 

Dale Buxton

On Wed, May 29, 2019 at 7:56 PM David Hunt <david.hunt@...> wrote:

I looked through the group archive but didn't see a discussion of this topic.


I'm getting ready to start hand laying the track for the HOn3 portion of my layout.  When looking at pictures of the D&RGW between Antonito and Durango in the late 40's and early 50's it looks like the ties aren't spaced much farther apart than the width of a 5"x7" tie.  Many ties seem to be placed even closer than 7" apart.  This is quite a bit closer together than the ties on the Micro Engineering flex track that I used on my last layout.


This surprised me a bit.  What are the experts here in this group using for the spacing between their ties?




Dave Hunt


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