grade question,

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by ewik, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. ewik

    ewik New Member

    Hi I have been lurking around here for a few months reading trying to learn all I can by reading every ones posts. I did a few searches on the topic of grade but could not seem to find the answer for my exact question.

    The question of what grade to use is a frequently asked question it seems and the most common answer seems to be 2%. So I went out and bought the 2% grade set from woodland, when I got it home I realized that it was never going to work for my lay out. I am building a small n gauge layout 30" x 60". I need to get high enough to cross over the track. My first plan was to have tunnel portal but I need to get up over 2.5 inches. what it means is that ether my station has to be in a curved part of the oval, or one of the tracks that goes closest to the station will be on a grade while the 2nd one will be flat.

    before I get to the question of grade a bit about the trains I want to run on it.
    My main locomotive is a kato ALCo PA I also have a kato F3, as for cars I have 2 sets of the Corrugated Budd Passenger Cars.
    so most likely I will have one Loco and up to 8 passenger cars

    so here is the question

    taking in mind I don't care about being prototypical. is there any reason I can not use a 4% grade. will my trains make it over this grade? do I need to add a locomotive? I could try a 3% grade but a 4% would fit my space better. I could do a 2% or 3% if I ran everything the other direction with 4 % as the decline.

    any ideas?
  2. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge first of all. The thing with that steep of grade, is that you will need a bit of a transition to it. (which will take up even more room!) I wouldn't go more than 3%. I think that you loose 50% of your pulling power for every 1% grade increase. (APPROX) So if your locomotive will pull 24 cars on the flat, it will only pull about 12-14 on a 1% grade, 6-8 on a 2%, 4 on a 3% and only a couple cars on a 4%, so you can see it will hurt your pulling ability. I have found that this formula is pretty close on my layout.
  3. seanm

    seanm Member

    You can, but it will look sort of odd too unless you do some tricks to mess with the scenics.

    Something you can do is think of not going UP from the base but down AND up... If you dip the track and raise the track you may be able to make the overpass. Also you don;t need to have much in the way of support where the track cross as long as the span is not too wide support below the upper track can be minimal directly above the lower track.
  4. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris Member

    Just a comment. If you've only got 30" of width your min. radius is going to have to be 14". That's going to be VERY tight for running passenger cars. A 19" min. radius is much preferred. Right now I'm trying to see if I can get my smooth side Kato passenger cars to run reliably and look decent on 17" radius with some easements. I've only got 36" to work with so it's a squeeze.

  5. ewik

    ewik New Member

    Thanks every one.
    SD90 that was exactly the answer I was looking for. I am not to worried about how it looks I am going to hide as much of the steep grade as I can. I did not have enough room to for a larger turn. I think my next layout is going to be a larger one I am finding that I can not do what I want in this size but if I expanded to a 4 x 8 layout i can do a lot more of what I want.
  6. sams

    sams Member

    welcome to the gauge :)
    do you have a trackplan that you can post?
  7. garyn

    garyn Member

    While not prototypical, welcome to the reality of a small layout.

    I have the infamous 4ft x 8ft layout, with an upper level that I reach via a 4% grade. And yes this grade does impact the pulling ability of the engine, so you will NEED more engines to deal with the grade...just like the prototype. So I would say, don't be too concerned about a 4% grade, just be willing to put on extra motive power.

    As for the passenger cars...I have 11"r curves, and as was said, a modern 85ft car is just too long and looks funny. But, if you want to run...then go ahead. I personally look for the old Arnold 65ft shorty streamlined cars, or the Bachman shorty heavy weight cars. These shorter cars look better on small layouts with tight curves.

    Gud luk
  8. ewik

    ewik New Member

    I set up the 4% grade and the single kato PA1 pulls 8 passenger cars with no problem, but I see that even with the 4% it is not back to Sea level soon enough. I think I am going to start over make the layout bigger. I don't have room for a 4 x 8 layout but I can go 4 x 6 I think. Then I can use 17" or 19" on the visible turns. I plan to have one turn in a tunnel, and one or two turns in an orchard or redwood trees. I have been experimenting with expanding radiuses in my turns so on the back side of the layout the turn may be 14" and on the front side the radius may be 19".
    I think i will use a cross over track now instead of having one track pass over the top of the other. I don't have a track plan, I did a few but I found what I really needed to do was get a bunch of track and try stuff out. I am using the kato track for my first layout.

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