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I am about to start the next phase of my layout, it is about 3 inches taller than my existing board. I know the grade limit is 4% with the 2% grade being preferential (HO) . I have seen some whalter risers but they are all either 1inch or 2 inches . Are we suppose to trim them to size to fit the grade? If I do this by hand with wedges of wood do I need to top the risers with 1/4 inch ply or something else for a base for the track ? Just looking for some direction on my "ramp up to the other 2/3 of my layout.
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You mention your “existing board” top, so is your top plywood? If so, I prefer the “cookie cutter“ method of making grades with plywood since it can handle any desired elevation ramps and provides solid support. It works best if you’ve done preliminary planning and can cut it before it’s all fastened down. If you’ve already fastened down your entire top and can’t or won’t take it up, it may be too late to use this method unless you’ve got a good way to make the cuts while the top is in place. If the curves are gradual and you have a small circular saw, you may be able to set the blade just deep enough to penetrate the top and not harm the joists underneath to make your cuts. You then push up the cut out section to form your ramp using riser blocks from below.
 

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You mention your “existing board” top, so is your top plywood? If so, I prefer the “cookie cutter“ method of making grades....
If you haven't heard of the cookie cutter method of building a model railroad layout, it is a method in which the "board top" is cut using a jigsaw such that parts of the surface can be elevated to a higher level to make grades. Here is a picture that I copied from the internet showing foam board top cookie cutter ramps.
549026


Hopefully this will clarify things for you.
LeRoy
 

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Bob, I'm confused..Do you already have a layout or starting a new one ? If it is a new one please look into 'open grid' and 'L girder' benchwork..If you're talking existing layout there really is nothing wrong with making risers out of anything strong enough..
Unless you're concerned with the look, you can put track right on the risers; the risers then resembling trestle bents...But I strongly suggest you first lay ply or foam subroadbed wide enough (approx: 3.5"-4") to support train cars in a derail, and to give you tooth enough to form rock and earth on either side...
 

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... I have seen some whalter risers but they are all either 1inch or 2 inches . Are we suppose to trim them to size to fit the grade?.
I'm confused by the above. Risers should vary in height from a fraction of an inch up to the desired height. If you need more height, or a steeper gradient, you'll have to supply 'footings' to each of the risers, a not inconsiderable task.
If I do this by hand with wedges of wood do I need to top the risers with 1/4 inch ply or something else for a base for the track ? Just looking for some direction on my "ramp up to the other 2/3 of my layout.
Thanks
Yes, the risers only provide the supports for the grade, but they don't stand in for 'roadbed'. You have to supply that...AND...figure its thickness in adding height to meet other track ends or overpass clearances, such as under or over a bridge. For HO, you can use 1/4" ply of a decent quality to cover, and to span, pylons/risers spaced about 3-6" apart with no problems.

Cookie cutter means using a jig saw to cut the shape and width of the roadbed and bending up the 'free' end, the highest elevation your grade will reach, and fastening that free end atop a riser that gets you to the height you'll need. In that case, with larger spans near 14", say, you'd want 1/2" ply, again of a decent quality.

What you do is form a slot in the base of the main level of the layout and you fasten about 5" of the low end of the cookie cutter grade section with screws so that it sits flush with the level around it...you don't want bumps as your tracks move onto the cookie cutter grade. With that low end firmly anchored, you bend the free end and lay it atop the riser there, fastening it so that its end is rounded to level...just as the bottom end curves up to rise at the rate it needs. What you have, then, is two 'vertical curves', one at the bottom, one at the top, with whatever grade ends up between them. It might be a little steep now because you have taken length from both ends to make that gradual curve into the grade at the bottom and out of it at the top. Those curves will be very useful, even necessary, to keep coupler pins from snagging on the tops of ties that rise too quickly.
 

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Yes, like mesenteria suggested, don't forget that the vertical easements to and bottom will cut into your available length for the incline, making it steeper. (y)
 

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If you include a curve of any radius into the grade increase, you will also be effectively increasing the grade. This is called the effective grade and is caused by the friction of the wheel flanges against the rail sides.

Some have gotten a rude surprise after their locomotives won't pull an average ten or fifteen car train up a 2% grade combined with an 18" or 20" radius curve. The effective grade turns out to be much higher than was anticipated.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for an effective grade calculator. I used this when designing my railroad.

Effective grade calculator
 
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Vertical Easements:

Another nice thing about the Cookie Cutter method is that it automatically creates vertical easements. You have to cut more than enough material for the grade so than there is flat material left after you transition the second curve back to level. The "board top" material automatically eases its transmission from straight to curved and back to straight again. It is a great and easy method of creating vertical curves.

LeRoy
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone ,sorry for any confusion , the board I have now is flat plywood crewed down. I want to exit the flat board to a new section to be built adjacent to it, I need to put in a turnout and then elevate (through a curve) to get to the next board. All of your advice has been very helpful . Thanks
 

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I am about to start the next phase of my layout, it is about 3 inches taller than my existing board. I know the grade limit is 4% with the 2% grade being preferential (HO) . I have seen some whalter risers but they are all either 1inch or 2 inches . Are we suppose to trim them to size to fit the grade? If I do this by hand with wedges of wood do I need to top the risers with 1/4 inch ply or something else for a base for the track ? Just looking for some direction on my "ramp up to the other 2/3 of my layout.
Thanks
Risers can be constant height or incline/decline sets. Search for "model railroad incline/decline trestles" and "model railroad incline/decline risers" -- Woodland Scenics makes these in 2% and 4% (probably other grades) and if I'm not mistaken, they make "incline starters" which work like easements do for curves. As several have mentioned you can just cut a ramp. You'll need 100 inches of ramp length for a 3% grade, more if you "ease" in and out of the grades.
 

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the easements can be cut out of what you will already have .. for example cut 8 inches [four inches angled and 4 inches straight] out of the top and put it into the bottom .. you will only cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch maximum thickness in the middle of the cut, tapering down to zero at the ends ..[ depends on slope]
 

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Easements. Ive had great success with the extra long (10-12") cedar wood shims that are normally used to shim door and window jams. Couple bucks for a dozen or so at a good lumber yard.
 
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