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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Guide to Making A 3% Grade Measuring Tool​

By: Ntrainlover
When it all comes down to modeling a layout, some people mdel hilly areas while others model flat areas. This How to would not apply to those with a flat layout. For those of you wanting to model hilly areas, you problably want your tracks going up and down grade, but the question that has been asked numerous times by other model railroaders is what percentage would be scale for HO. I have been doing some reasearch and found that around 3% or less would look and operation wise work correctly. If you have weak locomotives, I suggest going less than 3%, not doing grades, or replacing the motor so your engines will be able to handle them. Most modern engines made by higher quality brands should be able to.

First, to start out with you will need a small piece of plywood, plexigass, or cardboard. You will also need a 2ft long level(Must be 2ft long) and some tape.

Secondly, take the cardboard and mar a 3/4 of an in line across it.

Third, Line the bottem of the level up on the lin, leaving the 3/4 of an inch facing downward.

Fourth, Tape your measurement to the level.

To use this start of by puting the free end of the level on the highest riser. On the riser you want to be down 3% set the 3/4" pice facing down. Now slide the lowest riser up and down till the center buble reads level. There you have it, you have made a 3% grade simply.
 

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That's a very economical way to make a grade. I've written an article on grades for model train layouts at:

http://modeltrains.about.com/od/layoutconstruction/tp/track_grades.htm

And, just so folks know, Woodland Scenics offers flexible foam grades in 2%, 3%, and 4%.

http://www.woodlandscenics.com/items.cfm/Inclines
I actually read your article prior to joining this site and it caused me to have some questions that maybe you or anyone else can answer.

1. I am planning to have my turntable sitting on a hill, so my locos wouldn't be pulling any freight up the grade, would the 4% be fairly safe since they wouldn't be hauling any weight?

2. I also have looked at the foam grading and was thinking about purchasing some of it. Has anyone used it, and if so, did you use it to create your grade and keep it in there, or did you just use it as a helper in creation to create the grade out of wood and pull it out once it was created?

Thanks for any help.
 

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Brad,

For what it's worth, I recently built an HO layout with a 4.5% grade ... I knew it was steep going into my plan, but I thought I'd give it a shot. My locos run up (solo) no problem. At around 5 or 6 cars, they're starting to spin a bit, but still make the grade. In retrospect, I certainly wouldn't go any steeper, and would likely dial it back a bit.

I made my grade out of "Pink Stuff" insulation foam (Home Depot, etc.). Here's what I did ...

My rise was along a half-circle ... 22" radius track for 1/4 turn and 18" radius track for another 1/4 turn. Total rise was about 2.75". Total run (circumference, really) is via a little math: 2 * pi * Radius / 4 for each for each quadrant, with pi = 3.1416. I deducted 1" from each radius, to run my math at the INSIDE edge of the 2"-wide track risers. For my half circle, that yielded about 60" of run. (2.75" rise / 60" run = 4.5% grade.)

Next, I cut out a long, slender triangle from 2" think pink foam ... 2.75" x 60". Then, I sliced this crosswise into 48 little pieces ... each about 1.25" length x 2" depth (thickness of foam) x Varying Height (depending where along the triangle I was). Then, I glued these down to my board (in proper rising-height sequence) with their inside corners just touching each other at my "inside radius" marks, i.e., 17" and 21".

In the end, it's a pretty similar result to the store-bought foam grading. But you might consider making your own, as it's quite easy, if you do a little math ahead of time.

Best of luck,
TJ
 

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thanks TJ... that is a great idea and includes more modeling, which is what one reason, not nearly the main reason though, why I decided to start this hobby.
 

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Very nice contributions, all around----you guys are pros! Thanks for sharing.
 

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Based upon the first method using the level taped at an angle and setting it at 3/4 inch for a 3% grade, I am not a mathemitician (not even sure that I spelled that correctly) but over a 2' length the benchwork would have gone either 3/4 up or down depending upon the uphill or downhill of course. In theory (again, not mathmatically inclined) over10 feet of track, it will rise 3 3/4 inches, correct?
 

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Based upon the first method using the level taped at an angle and setting it at 3/4 inch for a 3% grade, I am not a mathemitician (not even sure that I spelled that correctly) but over a 2' length the benchwork would have gone either 3/4 up or down depending upon the uphill or downhill of course. In theory (again, not mathmatically inclined) over10 feet of track, it will rise 3 3/4 inches, correct?
the easiest way to figure out he height is that for every 100", you would go up 3"... 10' is 120", so you would go up 3.6"
 

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5.7,

Your math above is good ...

3/4" rise in 24" (i.e., your 2' level) run = 0.75/24 = 0.03125, or 3.1% ... essentially a 3% grade.

Expanding that ...

3 3/4" rise in 120" (i.e., 10') run = 3.75/120 = 0.03125, or the same 3.1%.

If you want to nail the 3% more precisely, use 3 5/8" rise for 120" of run.

TJ
 

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My rise was along a half-circle ... 22" radius track for 1/4 turn and 18" radius track for another 1/4 turn. Total rise was about 2.75". Total run (circumference, really) is via a little math: 2 * pi * Radius / 4 for each for each quadrant, with pi = 3.1416. I deducted 1" from each radius, to run my math at the INSIDE edge of the 2"-wide track risers. For my half circle, that yielded about 60" of run. (2.75" rise / 60" run = 4.5% grade.)

Next, I cut out a long, slender triangle from 2" think pink foam ... 2.75" x 60". Then, I sliced this crosswise into 48 little pieces ... each about 1.25" length x 2" depth (thickness of foam) x Varying Height (depending where along the triangle I was). Then, I glued these down to my board (in proper rising-height sequence) with their inside corners just touching each other at my "inside radius" marks, i.e., 17" and 21".

I knew I couldn't use trestles. There simply wasn't any way I could keep the track level. It would bow down and then the wheels would spin. It's also a half circle and comes off a switch - PITB for the last several weeks. I had even considered soldering the tracks together to give them the strength to not sag. This will work I think.

Thank you.
Steve
 

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Steve --

I think you may have just set the record for the oldest dead thread resurrection, at over 9 years! :D

I'm not really sure what you're asking (or commenting on). You quoted much of tjcruiser's post (next time, just hit the "quote button in the lower right of the post you want to quote), but your comments don't seem to directly relate to what he wrote.

Anyway,there are several ways you could potentially use trestles on a grade, without soldering track joints (although that's a good idea anyway), and sectional track shouldn't sag if you have a support at every joint. Could you clarify what your issue is, and we can probably get you through it.
 

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LOL - no worries as I sometimes only get a piece of things. What he talked about, the long triangle of material, and then cutting it into 1" or small pieces, made sense to me. I don't do math, so I simply took his measurements, made the long cut, cut that into pieces, and stuck them under the trestle as he suggested. My little 462 climbs the grade in slow gear without a problem!

I can now use the extra width on top to lay my track bed and cover the foam material on the sides with either brick or rock, you know paper print stuff. Took about an hour to do and works fabulous!!

Thanks - Steve
And always my pleasure to renew something really old.:D
 

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Wow ... I guess it worked! From all those years ago! I am happy the old, dusty thread got pulled out of the archives, Norton. Enjoy!

TJ
 
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