Need a good climber puller engine

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Biased turkey, May 8, 2007.

  1. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Las weekend I was cleaning the locker in my condominium apartment and guess what ? I found a 50" x 10" piece of plywood. Of course the 1st reaction was: "micro layout" and visiting the Micro/Small layouts website I found the Gum Stump & snowshoe RR Small Layout Scrapbook
    The biggest problem is that there is a portion of that layout with a ... 8% grade.
    Could someone please suggest an N scale switcher capable of climbing such a grade ?
    The 1st enclosed pic is that layout from a Spanish modeler named Ignacio O'Callaghan ( That family name doesn't soun very Spanish lol )
    The 2nd pic of the Gum Stump is from a German modeler named Alexander Kaczmarek , it gives a better view of the grade.

  2. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    In real life, a grade that steep would probably be a job for geared steam.
  3. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Is there any Shay engine in N scale ?

    The 2 engines I could test on a 8% grade tonight is the Fleishmann DB86 tank loco ( it has traction tires ) and a Life-Loke SW9/1200

    But I was looking for an US or Canadian switcher. How about an S1 ?
  4. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I think most decent N scale diesels should be able to handle 3 or 4 cars up an 8% grade. My quick tests here with an Atlas RS-11 and RS-3 show they can handle 5 cars up that grade (that's all that my track would allow!).

    I would suspect the smaller switchers might not be able to handle a lot more, since they're lighter.
  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Atlas makes a 2-truck Shay. Atlas N Shay Steam Locomotive Anyone who has one care to comment on its pulling power?
  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The switchback tails determine how many cars a "train" can have - typically 2-3 in most versions of the GS&S. To test whether your chosen engine can handle the load on a grade, mount a couple of pieces of flex track on a 4ft long piece of wood. Elevate one end of the board 1", 2", 3", and finally 4" and see if the engine will pull 3 cars up the grade.

    In N, you may need a switcher with traction tires to do it. A diesel switcher will generally do better than a steam switcher, and even better if it has a metal shell. Every bit of weight in the engine helps.

    Make sure the grades have a transition of at least 2 car lengths to avoid accidental uncouplings due to coupler over/under-ride. Though this will make the ultimate grade a little steeper, the engine will do better because not all the cars will be on the steepest part of the grade at once.

    In HO, access to the back track that links the middle and lower levels is often difficult if the back of the layout is against a wall. Make sure you can pull the layout away from the wall, or can get your hand in to that track.

    Atlas made an N scale Shay, and is apparently doing another run of them.

    If you don't put a run-around track in the layout somewhere, TWO locomotives are needed to get a train from one terminal to the other. My plan for my version (in HOn3) calls for the layout to be wider so that I can fit a small turnout on the lower level. The turntable will link the back 2 yard tracks on the lower level into a run-around when I want it. I am also adjusting the length of the lower terminal yard tracks to form an Inglenook puzzle should I feel in the mood.

    Just some ideas
  7. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    First, thanks to all the nice members who took some of their time to reply.

    To Squidbait: Yesterday I did some quick climbing test ( I didn't check the slope value ) to find the best puller :
    the Atlas MP15DC is the worst ( It's strange because it's the last engine i purchased 1 month ago
    the Life Like SW9/1200 is not that bad.
    The best so far is the Atlas GP9.
    Tonight I'll check the Fleischmann DB86 tank loco.
    It confirms what you mention: road switchers such as GP's and RS's are better than small switchers.

    To Triplex: Atlas has just released some new Shay, they look very very nice but it really doesn't fit my layout theme. I'll have a hard time to justify the purchase of an expensive logging engine on a brewery theme layout to my wife :-(

    To pgandw: I appreciate the detailed information about the GS&S
    What do you mean by a small turnout ? could you publish your plan in the layout subforum. ?

    When you mention a run-around track do you mean like the one on the picture ?

  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I wouldn't want to build a version of the GS&S without geared steam power. :)

    Sorry about my error. I meant turntable, not turnout. The idea came from another Gauge member. Your photo shows a typical run-around arrangement. My plan has a turntable where the oil storage tanks in the picture are.

    Don't have a software form of the plan at present. It's simple enough, and has been with me long enough, to be held in my head. And I'm still enough of an engineer that I can keep track of dimensions and calcs in my mind. For instance, I had to widen the shelf from 18" to 2ft to make room for the Atlas 9" turntable, and still have the scenic features I wanted.

    I'll see about drawing it out this weekend. I have been doing my modeling on the forums while I search for a job and house in Colorado Springs. All my trains and the tools (more critical than the trains) are packed waiting to be shipped to our new house. I am really wanting to get this move over and do real instead of virtual model railroading again.

    A brief description: the lower terminal will be located at a doghole port similar to many in Northern California where the redwood lumber was transferred to ships to be taken to San Francisco and San Diego. The closest yard track will actually be a spur on a pier serving doghole schooners. The other 2 yard tracks will end at the turntable. Length of the yard tracks has been set up for an Inglenook configuration - 5 cars, 3 cars, 3 cars.

    Tail tracks are 20-21" long, and the switchbacks will peak at about 8%, but most of the grade is actually on the transitions.

    The upper terminal will have the main continue at a diagonal after the bridge to end up at the back corner for future expansion. There will be a spar yarder/loader on a spur in front of the main. A trailing point spur will serve the Woodland Scenics Tie and Plank mill.

    The middle level tail track may be extended around a corner to reach a log pond and saw mill, something like the Mower Lumber Company plan (below) by Carl Arendt, flipped 180 degrees.

    LDE sawmill.jpg

    yours in planning

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