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Discussion Starter #1
Laid hundreds of feet of HO track on the flat and am about to take it to the next level. Limited experience with straight grades and grade changes. Curved Grades is "fresh snow" and I would humbly accept any advice from those who have experience in such matters as to what to look out for and what problems I may encounter.

I know enough to know its a lot more tricky than what Ive been doing. I noticed the SPACE needed for an 18" radius 90 degree turn on the flat is NOT the same as required for an 18" 90 degree GRADE turn! Even 1% makes a BIG difference!

Thanks for any tips. Im going to try to keep the grade turns 22"-24" and 1-2%
 

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Chip, you mentioned grade changes. The transition from flat to incline, both ends, has to be even more gentle than the grade itself. If you go from flat to transition too quickly, cars might tend to uncouple due to the height change. Make sure you ease onto and off of the incline. Have fun!
 

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Yup learned the hard way about grade changes and try to keep then 1-2%, 3 % max and at 3 coupler issues CAN arise 4% changes you WILL have couplerthe woodland ramps are THE way to go! I made my straight grades variable with 4% in the middle and 1-2% 0n the ends.

I hesitate to put any more than 3% on a curving grade, I want to run long lashups and 4% is pushing the envelope on straight grades I don't want to build what I cant run on.
 

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Just bouncing the plans off the forum if im RONG I'm counting on someone who has done it to steer me right. Really don't wanna mess it up it will be a sweet bit of layout if it comes out right.

Very excited to be back at it after a bout with the shingles and a loss of motivation. Had a blast on this table with all just flat track and some elevation is gonna make it a "real" layout...I might even try scenery this time!
 

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If you have an overpass, you can split the difference (height needed for clearance over the lower tracks). You make the lower ones dip about one inch over seven or eight feet, and the overpass tracks rise about the same, maybe a bit more, to get clearances under the overpass. Through girders are good bets, as are through trusses.
 

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On mine I have a minimum radius of eighteen inches, and a maximum grade of 2.5% ... so far it's worked well with mostly geared steam ... flex track will make it's own easement going to and from the grades and curves .. sectional not so much, lol ..it's HO as well ..mountain logging and mining, 1890's, no 'extra' added 'lectricity ...
 

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Don't forget that both the grade and the curve reduce the pulling ability of your loco, so a curved grade may actually cause your trains to stall. Test your locos before you make anything permanent.

For the Woodland Scenics products, they are awesome, and I've used them on 3 different layouts now. I actually prefer what they call incline starters, which are 4 pieces, each of which goes from 0 to a fixed height (1/2" for 1%, 1" for 2%, etc) instead of one long continuous incline. You use their risers or any foam board to make steps over which the incline starters run if you need a longer incline.
 

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Here is an effective grade calculator for use on curves:

http://railroadboy.com/grade/

I used this to calculate the grades for both my mainlines which rise and fall on 22" and 24" radius curves, but particularly for my ÖBB mountain branch line that turns and rises on 18", 20", and 22" curves. This line is much steeper than the two mainlines and the steepest effective grade is 5.5%.

ÖBB 2143 has no trouble pulling a six coach train up these grades without breaking a sweat.

 

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I have curves on grades of 2% to 3% on my O gauge layout. The curve on the 3% grade is sharper than the ones on the 2% grade. The curves on grades aren’t a problem for most engines, but I do have a few that have trouble starting a load up the steeper grade with the sharper curves. I usually run the locos downhill on that section.

IMG_8404.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the info. Amazing looking layouts Well Done that's the look I aspire to.
 

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On mine I have a minimum radius of eighteen inches, and a maximum grade of 2.5% ... so far it's worked well with mostly geared steam ... flex track will make it's own easement going to and from the grades and curves .. sectional not so much, lol ..it's HO as well ..mountain logging and mining, 1890's, no 'extra' added 'lectricity ...
Outstanding and absolutely Ill start the grade on the straight and keep it 1-2% it should be ok with 22-24" radius.
 

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Don't forget that both the grade and the curve reduce the pulling ability of your loco, so a curved grade may actually cause your trains to stall. Test your locos before you make anything permanent.

For the Woodland Scenics products, they are awesome, and I've used them on 3 different layouts now. I actually prefer what they call incline starters, which are 4 pieces, each of which goes from 0 to a fixed height (1/2" for 1%, 1" for 2%, etc) instead of one long continuous incline. You use their risers or any foam board to make steps over which the incline starters run if you need a longer incline.
Yes I have the starters and that is the way I do the straigts. This line around the mountain will be a series of the ramps going up a line of bases built to height. I'll custom cut each box for each ramp so they should give me a continuous % for each section 2% coming off the straight and 1% around the 180 around the "back" of the "mountain" I have a long wall for a nice gentle slope on that end so the really long trains I'll run em down the s curve if its too much to haul em up. I don't know what the limit my DD 40 AX can pull Its done 54 on the flat no problem and that just all I could get to stay coupled. im rambling...LOL

Thanks for the feedback.
 

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I don't think anyone has cited this particular aspect: A curve, any curve, adds some amount of drag to the train (as if the train is longer and heavier)..If you plan on maximum grades to be 2.5%, except for maybe an engine and only 3 cars, the curve will cause the train to behave as if it's climbing a, say, 3-3.5% or more, grade. The loco doesn't stall, its wheels slip and spin in place...So, in order to prevent that, the sad fact is, your curved upward-grades will call for perhaps 1.75% for the same given train to climb it with no problem.
But, if constructing the higher slope is unavoidable, you now have an excuse to bring in a pusher at the rear. You could even have a dedicated pocket track with a pusher nesting in it for each job up the grade... M
 

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When ya start sticking stuff under the track and spaced apart, you're going to have droopy track between the spaced out risers.
Plywood, i.e. thick plywood, i.e. 3/4" provides its own very smooth easement in grades as well as easement into and out of superelevation in the curves. That won't work well with the 1/4", i.e. cheaper sheet of plywood though.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I don't think anyone has cited this particular aspect: A curve, any curve, adds some amount of drag to the train (as if the train is longer and heavier)..If you plan on maximum grades to be 2.5%, except for maybe an engine and only 3 cars, the curve will cause the train to behave as if it's climbing a, say, 3-3.5% or more, grade. The loco doesn't stall, its wheels slip and spin in place...So, in order to prevent that, the sad fact is, your curved upward-grades will call for perhaps 1.5% for the same given train to climb it with no problem.
But, if constructing the higher slope is unavoidable, you now have an excuse to bring in a pusher at the rear. You could even have a dedicated pocket track with a pusher nesting in it for the each job up the grade... M
Excellent points and a good excuse to lay more track and get another loco! Thank You it is an aspect I needed some insight on.
 

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That's called 'effective grade', as I mentioned, when the grade and the curve is combined. It is automatically calculated in the grade calculator I included in my link.

If you haven't looked at it yet, you will enter the grade percentage and the curve radius and it will tell you what the effective grade will be.
 

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Another option for "risers" if you have scrap wood laying around.

https://www.modeltrainforum.com/showpost.php?p=2301100&postcount=65

No scientific measurements here, but the train does slow down noticeably when it hits the grade, then again when it hits the curve.

But, if constructing the higher slope is unavoidable, you now have an excuse to bring in a pusher at the rear. You could even have a dedicated pocket track with a pusher nesting in it for the each job up the grade
I really like this idea. May incorporate it on the other end of the layout where the grade is a continuous curve.
 

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I don't think anyone has cited this particular aspect: A curve, any curve, adds some amount of drag to the train (as if the train is longer and heavier)..If you plan on maximum grades to be 2.5%, except for maybe an engine and only 3 cars, the curve will cause the train to behave as if it's climbing a, say, 3-3.5% or more, grade. The loco doesn't stall, its wheels slip and spin in place...So, in order to prevent that, the sad fact is, your curved upward-grades will call for perhaps 1.75% for the same given train to climb it with no problem.
But, if constructing the higher slope is unavoidable, you now have an excuse to bring in a pusher at the rear. You could even have a dedicated pocket track with a pusher nesting in it for the each job up the grade... M
Actually, that's exactly what I said in my last post. I just didn't get technical. I said both grades and curves reduce pulling power, which, again, isn't strictly true, but it summarizes the effects succinctly.
 
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