N scale radius versus HO

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by joefryfry, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    All that math hurts my head..Thanks for posting the information..:thumb:
  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Ah...now I see my problem...I'm not an "expert modeler".

    Thank heavens. I was starting to worry about it. :rolleyes:

    You see, I define a "serious modeler" very simply as someone who wants to put a lot of effort into his/her layout for the sheer satisfaction and enjoyment, not as someone obsessed with numbers, statistics and arbitrary standards, and my venerable grandfather, a double-bladed axman lumberjack in the Trinity Mountains, taught me that "an expert" was merely an idiot in a three-piece suit. :cool: Sure, track clearances and tunnel clearances need to be checked, but not with a micrometer and a 500 page manual of specifications. Know how the old timers did it? They followed the test train with a pick and a sledgehammer and knocked off anything that "rubbed a tad too much!

    As for relating "old school layout design techniques" to more modern practices...huh? Either you are modeling "old school"...or you ain't. Check out any "expert, serious modeler's" narrow gauge layout to see what is possible, or just take a look at real life - what tech-spec manual did the Royal Gorge Hanging Bridge, still in use today, come out of?

    Where did the Corkscrew Gulch Turntable, installed on a mainline, come from?

    Where did the "switchback ladder" concept used in the Rockies come from, since it defies "standard" railroad practices of the times?

    Who came up with the idea of trestles that both curve and climb simultaneously, when every "expert" engineer "knows" what a bad idea that is?

    What demented soul engineered a successful climb to Climax Pass, at an altitude of 11,333 feet and an 8% prevailing grade?

    Who was the railroading "expert" that decided to build the Alpine Tunnel and drill over a mile-and-a-half through the Continental Divide at over 11,000 feet, defying the laws of nature, weather, ventilation and stress in fractured granite in the process?

    Who came up with the kind of switchback loops in the Rockies that look like the route was laid out following a drunken and demented sidewinder in the terminal stages of epilepsy? You know, the route that reached towns no one thought possible? And made millions from the gold mines that were inconveniently discovered in some really lousy locations according to "standard engineering practices and specifications"?

    Whose idea was it to carve right through a gigantic boulder while building the Phantom Canyon railroad? That one certainly isn't in any engineering textbook I've ever seen.

    If the old time railroad surveyors and engineers had stuck to their "practical" and "expertly derived" guidelines, there would never have been a Transcontinental Railroad, let alone any railroads serving the gold and silver mines of America. Those hardy souls would have immediately recognized that it "just couldn't properly be done" and left on the next "properly" built train out of town.

    The truth is, we build our layouts with the widest possible curves and the gentlest grades because our little toy trains won't run properly under conditions that real locos and trains handled all the time, and rather than work out the bugs, we opt for the easy way out.

    But I'm an old time mountain railroad enthusiast, one of a rare and dying breed from the sounds of it, and I'm planning my layout to reflect the triumphs and realities of that bygone era. But then my father was born in the last stagecoach station remaining in America and raised in a tiny California gold rush town in the High Sierras where the motto was "
    Talk's cheap, but good whiskey costs money", and the first time the town hired a "properly educated and trained engineer" to rebuild the only bridge across the river through town, he damned near killed every living soul who lived there.

    You see, the old bridges were rebuilt each year out of wood, but that "properly trained and educated" engineer knew that steel was much, much better and would not wash away in the annual snow-melt run-offs - he had the tables, charts and graphs to prove it to the town officials - and it didn't - it held the debris and tree trunks caught up in the water until they formed a dam which built up an enormous amount of water until it finally gave away and swept the entire town away along with it, and almost everyone who lived there. Those old wooden bridges, built by men with less schooling and a lot more actual knowledge and common sense, were built to be "fail safe" - the brand new steel bridge wasn't.

    To paraphrase an old hymn: "Give me that old time railroading; it's good enough for me." :cool:
  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ah,Enter "all things railroad"..There is no glory in step grades and sharp curves on railroads that is why many choose to follow river valleys and not climb a grade.
    That is why Saluda grade is no more. Tennessee pass was shut down by UP.

    As locomotives got larger and heavier those old wooden trestles meant for light engines gave way to steel bridges.That's called modernization.

    Actually it cost millions to climb that grade,cut through that mountain or tunnel their way through and millions more for upkeep.

    I can't think of any railroad that was willing to tunnel through mountains,blast deep cuts through hills and climb steep grades but,it was a necessary evil that couldn't be avoided.
    In the rationalization of the railroad plant many costly routes has been abandon or spun off-even more with the mega mergers.
    The truth is, we build our layouts with the widest possible curves and the gentlest grades because our little toy trains won't run properly under conditions that real locos and trains handled all the time, and rather than work out the bugs, we opt for the easy way out.
    Indeed..We are bound by space limitations unlike the real railroads and use the biggest curve possible including 9 3/4 radius in N Scale and in HO some go as low as 15"!:eek:

    We can go back and forth till the cows come home and not answer the simple question that was asked."N scale radius versus HO?"

    The simple answer is the largest you can use.And in our MODELING WORLD that's the best curve possible for our limited space.

    Its as simple as that.No need to over complicate the simple or overstate the obvious.Let the "experts" do that since that's the only thing they are actually good at.
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Pete, that post was most helpful, but what about the 66 degree curve, is that possible?
    Would that be 10.6" radius in HO?
  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I just came across a real operation that featured grades of 17% and 27% and ladder switchbacks, not to mention some of the wickedest curves imaginable.

    Of course, these guys weren't "serious railroaders" - just guys with a very difficult job to do every day to make a living.

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