Checking Layouts for Model Railroad Gauge Standards

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Drills, hammers and hobby knives are essential tools for model railroading, but in our minds none of them are as worth much unless you can get model railroad gauge of your tracks right. You can build dozens of buildings from scratch, piece together the perfect locomotive and create a landscape that captivates your viewers, but none of that matters if you don’t ensure that your trains have proper clearance and they won’t derail when they come to a turnout.

To guarantee these things, you need to build your tracks according to the NMRA Standards Gauge. In this lesson, we teach you how to use NMRA standards to create well-spaced and cleared tracks on any layout, regardless of the model railroad gauge with which you choose to work.

Checking standards for your model railroad gauge

If you’re unacquainted, the NMRA Standards Gauge dictates proper spacing and clearance for more than a dozen aspects of model railroad tracks. Whether you’re working in HO model railroad gauge or On3, the NMRA Standards Gauge will determine how you build your layout. To help you figure out the best way to utilize the Standards Gauge to check your tracks, NMRA Master Modeler Gerry Leone walks you through a step-by-step demonstration for using your Standards Gauge (which can be purchased in several types of model railroad gauge at your local hobby shop).

In order to give you a good sense of how the Standards Gauge works, throughout his demonstration Gerry explains the terminology that you’ll find when you assess your trains and tracks. He shows you the right way to check track gauge and coupler height, and then teaches you how to check each of the components of a turnout for proper model railroad gauge fitting, including in the flangeways, points and no go spots.

With Gerry’s expert tips and techniques for using the NMRA Standards Gauge, you’ll have no trouble making sure your trains have good clearance and won’t derail from your tracks, no matter the model railroad gauge you pick for your layout.