center track spacing for hidden staging tracks

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I am building a STRAIGHT (10ft long) hidden Staging track under main shelf layout...
What would be a good center track spacing amount for the 4 tracks? 1" 1/2 ? or do I need 2" (no curves)
I want to keep them as close to the front of the layout for any derailments as the main layout will be only 5" above

Thank you !


Well-Known Member
In one of my visible staging yards I have them on 2" centers. Too close for me. While I can get my fingers on each side of a car, I cannot see to re-rail them unless there is nothing on the track closer to me. Yes, I can many times eventually get them re-railed by feel but it is not easy. 5" probably isn't enough for your hand to clear other than flat. Do a mock up to be sure, first to judge the spacing, then to judge the overhead height. Remember that I said that mine were visible yards and I still have issues. After the first yard, I made them 2 1/8" in the other two.


Staff member
I'd got at least 2". That 1/2" isn't going to make much difference and you'll have no room to fix anything with them that close. In fact, if you have room, go 2-1/2" and then you can probably get your fingers in there.


Loveably weird
I agree with Willie. Try and get more vertical spacing between levels. With a 5" space, any derailments will likely result in having to remove most of the rolling stock just to get to the derailed car. I'd try and get 12" if you can.
And Bob is correct, 2" spacing is awfully close. 2-1/2" is still close but better.
Since it is staging, I'd think the closest spacing which allows your fingers to 0-5-0 cars/locos without derailing others, is the deciding factor...Scale doesn't matter.. It's still 1:1 scale fingers !


Active Member
Most HO cars are around 2" high +/-. 5" isn't much wiggly room, i.e. to keep from knocking over other cars in front or even behind. 7-8" would give you more wiggle room. You might think about adding 2-3 rerailers on each track. Also make the staging area out in the open & run cars & locos over any inch of track to find any bad track work THEN put it under the layout!
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You may wind up inventing new cuss words as you derail the cars in front trying to rerail a car in back. You definitely need more verticle space.

I gotz an idea that might end THAT. With enough distance, was thinking: Have staging on separate raised sub roadbed stalls staggered the way theatrical audience seats are from the side view, so that each train is above or mostly above the one in from of it, hidden behind a dividing wall. With 3-4 tracks it may not be too tough to design 2-3% grade on-ramps up; highest climb perhaps beginning its ascent sooner. If below benchtop, all trains would be going down hill into each stalls. All trains would converge onto the single throat, half way down, but with longer climb up and out..Perhaps a low helix could be involved with this somehow. Maybe a stub end stalls for a small(er) MRR... I do, though realise this may already have been done..Just a 'trainbrainer'....M
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Well-Known Member
......from another discussion thread on this forum...

Staging Track Mock-Up

Nervous over clearance
Mon, 2018-06-18 09:31 — railandsail
I woke up this morning having had nightmares over access to my staging area(s) 'buried' under those large plywood decks just overhead. I'm going to do a mock-up today to investigate my concerns.]/quote]
I am far LESS nervous this evening. I did a mock-up this afternoon (very crude), and I am real happy with the way it turned out. I placed a couple of pieces of plywood on my 'outdoor bench' and separated them by 7 1/4". Then placed some random pieces of track and a loco and a tender I had handy. Plenty of space..

I then added in a piece of square steel stock that will be utilized in a 'horizontal manner' to support my plywood decks. In this photo example the steel support frame was placed right at the front of the staging access. In reality the staging tracks are recessed back from this sort of steel framing.

Then I added 5 tracks as I have planned on my staging...

Looks like I could get away with only 12-13 inches of staging depth from the side walls of the shed. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to