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Sleeper Spacings

1431 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Nick Holliday
What should be the standard uk sleeper spacing in OO?

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hello pete

How long is a piece of string?

It varies from railway to railway. weather its mainline or branchline, how well it was built/maintained, and at the particular location of any given sleeper it varies depending on how close it is to a rail joint (and what type of joint it is).

Asking for a "standard" spacing is simply impossible.

Its a bit like catenery that people keep asking for OO track but they dont understand that its so much more complicated than that. if they make accurate catenery then people will complain that its far too complicated but if they make it so people can use it on their train sets it would be too simple and look stupid.

Track is much the same.

Making your own track is really not as difficult as people make out and with a little effort you can produce something that you can be justifiably proud of.

Sorry i couldnt answer your question.

Dont forget that if someone makes track for OO they will have to make tools for each of the different railway companies because of the different chairs.....

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If that be so Peter, and I don't doubt it, then why is there all this fuss on a lot of forums about being unable to buy scale track, with regard to sleeper spacing, from people like Peco? From what you say it seems they would have to produce many different sleeper spacings for people modelling different areas. Surely a no, no for any manufacturer. Personally I am quite happy with my choice of Peco product and I have to make such huge compromises in other areas of my modelling that scale sleepers would be very low on the list.
I would have thought that in the "pre-computer" age sleepers may very well have been laid by eye, or a couple of notches on someones shovel !

Never thought about the different chairs for different companies though !
I have just been doing some very rough calculations...

If memory serves me correctly the approximate dostance apart for sleepers in the real world is about 32 inches, that is just less than one of my strides. (Try walking track sometime, it's very annoying trying to avoid half stepping on the ballast!) This equates in OO to .422 inches.

I suspect that's just confused the issue!


Hello Pete,
To make it easy, in OO gauge we can say that the correct sleeper spacings would be at about 12mm to 13mm measured from the centre of each sleeper to the centre of the next.

Whilst I agree with Peter (aka pedro) that it is impossible to give a definitive measurement that suits all, any track with this spacing would be acceptable to all but the "idiot rivet counters".

Anyone confused over why there is such a debate on the accuracy of Peco track should at this point measure the distance between centres on a length and see if they can come up with any wider than 7.5mm.
If you can't make it any more than this, remember when you lay your next track that you are using a product which has about 60% more sleepers per length than true scale would be. (One of the reasons I don't quibble about minuscule inaccuracies on a new loco)
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Would it not be a simple matter then of just removing every other sleeper?
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that the sleeper spacings on Peco track was set buy Peco over 50 years ago to give them a chance in the export market, hence why it has always stated OO/HO on the packets. I have cut a piece of flexi track myself and moved the sleepers only slightly further apart and I must say that it did improve the look.

Ok thank you to all of you I want to try the track ballesting method described in the latest BRM DVD and I wanted to get it something like right.

Whilst Pedro's answer is strictly correct, it doesn't really Peter in his quest for more realistic trackwork. Ignoring the different types of chairs, which might be specific to a particular time and railway company, (various types of which can be found in the C&L and Exactoscale ranges) in general the normal spacing for transverse sleepers on plain track was around 2' 6" or a convenient 10 mm in 4 mm, centre to centre. This spacing would be closer at each rail joint, perhaps only 2' 0", and often a wider sleeper was used (12" as opposed to 10" elsewhere). Wooden sleepers were, before WW1 or thereabouts, 9' 0" long, later reducing to 8' 6". When working with OO gauge it is better to consider the "overhang" rather than the actual length, so a OO gauge sleeper would be either 33.5 mm or 31.5 mm long, to take into account the 2.5 mm (I know 2.33 mm) narrowing.
According to the current Railway Group Standards available on the Internet, new construction, using Continuous Welded Rail, should have sleepers at no more than 700 mm centres on straight track, reducing to 650 mm elsewhere. (8.5 mm in 4 mm). The document, dated October 2003, also states "Jointed track shall have sleepers spaced at not more than nominal 760 mm centres" (Back to the 2' 6" of yore.)
Sleeper spacing for pointwork is another matter, and is another can of worms, but it is likely that the spacing would normally be around 2' 0" but a number of parameters have to be taken in to account, including the track geometry and the need for maintenance, as well as railway company preferences.
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