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Custom HO Guard Rails

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  • Custom HO Guard Rails

    The recent posts by Fastlap about his F.I.R. Track guard rails ( F.I.R track reconstruction page 2 ) has inspired me to continue with guard rails for my track. I've been thinking of trying something new and now have worked it out. To me RCA 18ga. 2 conductor speaker wire looked enough like armco rails that it might just work. I used "Shoe Fix Glue" to hold the Evergreen posts to the wire as super glue or epoxy really didn't hold. Also found out that enamel paint never quite dried and stayed sticky and acrylic just didn't stick well so I bought some lacquer spray paint and it works great and dries in maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Overall I'm really pleased with the results of how this turned out.

    Here are the pictures.

    This is the jig I made to construct 2 or 3 tier rails. The file is used as a weight to hold the posts to the rails as the glue dries for a few minutes.

    Rails with posts glued on.

    Fitting to location.

    Painted, ready to install.

    Set in place.

    RCA 18/2 Speaker Wire (I bought 100' rolls but it's available in several lengths.) Home improvement stores is one place to find it.

    The glue that works - really amazing grip and easy to use. It's made to hold soles of shoes to the uppers so it dries really strongly. You can find it on Amazon or eBay.

    So, that is what I've started. I"ve only got 50' or more to do but I think these will add a lot to the realism of my track.

    Last edited by Mini Mojo; 01-14-2022, 09:16 AM.

  • #2
    Looks good. Now you need some poles with loudspeakers on them around the track. I mean, you have the speaker wire laid and all……


    • #3
      Not trying to steal anybody's thunder here, but I thought folks might be interested in my experiments with 3D printing Armco guard rail.

      I was trying to develop guard rail for my new, routed 1/32nd scale track. I tried to simulate the 3-high construction commonly used on Grand Prix tracks. I came close, but due to the limitations of the printing process I was not able to create the small vertical gaps between the three elements of the railing.

      For those interested in the printing process, I used a gray grade of PLA, printed on a Creality Ender 3 Pro. I printed without a raft or brim, using Elmer's School Glue as an adhesive. In all of my trials I printed the railing in a circle or spiral, attempting to create the maximum length of railing in a single piece. I figured I could open up the curve of the railing to make the radius I needed, and probably straight sections as well. For inside-corner railings I figured I could reverse the print, so the railing was convex instead of concave.

      My first attempt included posts printed integral to the railing, with holes down the middle for mounting screws. It was successful, but I was not happy with the scale of the mounting posts.


      So I revised my model, making the posts smaller and tried again.


      Eh, okay, but printing enough guard rail for my track would take, like, maybe a week. So I tried printing the railing in a spiral instead of a circle, and this time without mounting posts, with the idea they could be printed separately and then assembled to the railing.

      This was much more to my liking. I found I could print over 7 feet 4 inches of railing in a single job. It took over 15 hours to print, but no problem. I could just let it run overnight. Still a ton of printing, but much less trouble overall.

      I should point out I was able to create end tapers similar to those used on the real Armco barriers. If you look hard you can see them in some of the photos here.

      And that is where I left it. I decided to use clear Lexan as my crash barriers. Less of a visual obstruction and easier to install. Not at all authentic from a modeling standpoint but great for racing.

      To better illustrate the length of the spiral-printed railing I slipped it into a slot of my HO oval track. That's quite a bit of railing to fit on a 3D printer build plate.

      I tried to attach the STL files for the spiral railing, but I couldn't get it to work. So if anyone would like a copy of those files -- free fer nuthin' -- just send me an email at '' and I'll try to send you copies. That includes both the concave spiral and the convex spiral.

      Ed Bianchi

      Last edited by HO RacePro; 01-15-2022, 08:52 AM.


      • #4
        Karl, great idea!!! I may try this myself. I think the wire will take the impact of the cars quite well. Thanks for the idea!


        • #5
          Ed, I can't see any of your photos. Can you print in 1/64th scale? Gary


          • #6
            Gary, yes the rails should take an impact quite well. Another good point is once made, they are still quite flexible before you install them.

            I bought the RCA speaker wire at Menard's (Home Depot should have some as well, or Amazon) and chose 18 ga. as it seemed to be the best size scale wise for my layout. (I race T-jet/Dash-jet up to AFX size cars mostly. If your cars run a little larger then maybe 16 ga. would suite you better.

            When you buy the speaker wire, pick rolls that haven't been opened and re-wound back on the spool - it's a pain to have to untwist and wind it back on the spool it so it's straight and not twisted for gluing.

            I tried some different glues but the "shoe glue" worked way better than anything else. It dries in a few minutes and holds different materials together much better than I even imagined it would. I can do about 10" at a time in my jig. I should have made it a couple feet long now that I'm pumping out the rails but it works OK. I do a few inches, let them dry for a few minutes and move it over a few segments as necessary and do a few more inches. Once I got my method down it goes fairly quickly. I'm doing about 2' to 4' a day generally and am approaching about halfway on how much railing I'll need. Most of it is 2-rail with a few sections of 3-rail and inside the pit lane some 1-rail so you can create it as you need it to be - just plan your jig accordingly.

            Once it warms up enough to paint these outside I'll post some more pics as the rails are installed. Make sure to test your paint on a short section. I found the fast drying solvent based lacquer worked great. Enamel and acrylic not so much. The enamel took forever to dry completely - was still sticky after several days on the speaker wire and the acrylic chipped off too easily in my opinion. Here's the paint I'm using. There are other colors. I'm sure there are other brands that will work.

            Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer from my experience so far.



            • #7
              Making progress on the guard rails. Hope it warms up enough here in Minnesota for some outdoor painting for these in a couple of weeks.

              Probably closr to halfway done building these rails. They'll all look like they belong and will be straightened out when they're installed. A great thing about these is they are so flexible that they can fit where you want them to be.



              • #8
                Rails are all built and painted. Just getting them laid out and ready to install.



                • #9
                  Those guardrails are going to improve the looks of your layout tremendously (and it looked great before)!


                  • #10
                    Thanks, xltjet, I appreciate the comments. I'm hoping to have the guard rails all installed in a couple weeks or so.

                    Next track project will be spectator fences and spectators (too bad I can't sell them tickets but I don't have a conversion factor for HO scale money.)



                    • #11
                      Guard Rails built, painted and installed. A bit of work but worth it in my opinion. Much more to scale than the commercially available rails.



                      • #12
                        Very nice! They also have some "imperfections", like real rails that have taken a few hits.


                        • #13
                          WOW!!!!!! That looks really good! Sorry for all the !!!!, but this turned out really nice. Great work.


                          • #14
                            Thanks, fastlap!!!! Glad you like them.

                            And don't sweat the exclamation point quantity - those are relatively painless. ;-)

                            The project took several hours to construct the rails and a few more for installation (usually an hour, give or take, at a time) but I'm very happy with the result. Being made out of speaker wire they are very flexible and with a bit of attention they can be lightly pushed in or out with your fingers between the posts to make them look more straight.



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