The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading

  NUMBER 182


© February 19, 2012   

 ©Discover Live Steam. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.

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Building a Railroad "Grade" Crossing


Written by Darrin Warren
Design by Elton Warren

Last year we hit a spot on the Dewey Nutwood and Tyrrell railroad when we ran out of room to expand without crossing the gravel driveway. The discussion and observations of many crossings began and mostly ended with rails laid in concrete. Heavy consideration was given for this idea but dad came up with another plan. The plans that dad came up with was for a wood and steel solution. The following is how we constructed the crossing.

The first was the material, we needed a 14’ crossing so dad decided that the crossing should be made from 2 ½ X 2 ¼ X 5/16 angle iron. The angle from the local steel supplier came in 20 foot lengths leaving us with ten 14” long lengths to be used as cross supports. The rails and cross supports were cut to length with a cutoff saw and placed on saw horses and clamped in place. The cross supports and rail were drilled and bolted together using 8 grade 5/8 in bolts.

Time to add the decking. At the lumber store we picked out the straightest 2” X 12” X14’ treated piece we could find. We trimmed 2 1/2” off each side leaving a perfect fitting 6 ½” Inch piece for the middle. Next we bolted the wood to the steel using ½ carriage bolts so that the top of the bolt would be rounded (like I see them on full scale crossings). We used 4 bolts at each cross support, two for the inside and one each for the outside.

Before fastening the outside wood, notches were cut and holes were drilled so that the crossing can be bolted to the track.

Once everything was bolted together and the track connectors were mounted it was time to move it into place. This should be a three man job as the 14’ crossing was extremely heavy and a little awkward. We lifted it onto a small garden trailer and moved it that way.

Once we had it just about in place we had to prep the driveway for the install. The first thing was to move away all the loose gravel which was about an inch or two thick. Then with a pickaxe we grooved where the angle would go deeper into the drive way. It took a couple of trial and errors and leveling to get the crossing secure. Using various other garden tools we packed all the hollow space with loose stone.

Finally we bolted the crossing in place. Ballasted with gravel and it was time to take the maiden voyage. Since this was all dads design it was only fair that he get to take the first ride across.

Since the installation of the crossing, about 8 months ago, there have been many cars, a concrete truck carrying 3 yards, a truck carrying 12 square of shingles and a septic system cleaning truck driving over it. At this point the crossing has not moved or bent. Also the drive way has been snow plowed three times with no sign of problems.

Although this was built on a groovy track railroad, I see no reason why the design could not be used on profile rail.

Total cost of the project was under $200.

If you would like any additional information on this project feel free to contact me at



Written by Darrin Warren
Design by Elton Warren

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