Track & Strcuture testing

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Woodie, Mar 31, 2001.

  1. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I have well tested my layout using all rolling stock and engines to see if I've laid it well enough. Both directions too. At what point should I consider the track, bridges, curves parrellel curves etc to be OK? Should I run for an hour with out failure? Full throttle? long sets? speed through turnouts etc? Sudden stops on inclines etc with long sets? What is an acceptable speed loss for an incline (and reverse, speed up for decline). Also will adding extra ballast to the engine prevent wheel spin on an incline? (hand built engine with Black Beetle drive train, middle carraige of elecric passenger set, currently no ballast).



    PS. Please dont tell me my inclines are too steep! Ive used 6' of track for a 3 1/2 inch rise.
  2. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    I just ran across this thread and wanted to give you at least a little help.
    I consider my benchwork successful when I can circuit at 3 speeds without a problem in both directions, pulling the same number of cars. I usually run a Proto 0-8-0 first then my smallest engine, a Climax. If both are fine I break out the balast and set the track for good.
    Speed loss on any incline will be dictated by which engine your using and of course the number of cars. (but, you knew that) Typically, I try to mimic what I’m going to be running on those tracks and take that into account when I build it. My incline was going to be to steep so I used a switchback. This is for my Logging train so it wouldn’t apply to other other layouts.
    Extra engine ballast has a positive effect up to a point. Again it depends on the horses under the hood! I’d add weight and run a few cars up your incline slow, listen for slipping wheels or excessive motor stall. If the engine stalls adding ballast might not help. Slipping wheels can be made to stick but I would rather lighten the load.


    Rush Run River Logging Co.

    [This message has been edited by Shay2 (edited 04-06-2001).]
  3. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    Thanks. Now I'm getting the hang of it, I've developed a few "test sets". Because of varying weights in rolling stock (from quite heavy, resin moulded kits to featherweight fixed wheel freight stock) i've found they all behave differently. Especially longer light stock, with heavy stock trainling. I've set myself the parameter of 20 mins of free running of each across new/relaid track before I consider it good enough to fix. (I'ts only a small layout, so I get a few revolutions of the track in 15 mins). The inclines are OK, however sudden loss of power can cause a bit of a jackknife if the stock is long and heavy. (Not a major disaster, but off the tracks anyway).

  4. George

    George Member

    Hello Woodie!

    You're on the right track with your testing, but try these steps too.....

    1. Take your most troublesome pieces and run them through everything in both directions.

    2. Take your longest pieces and test them on the curves, and passing each other on the curves where you have multiple tracks. Again, a clearance issue.

    3. Check out how both two and three axle trucks take your curves and turnouts.

    Now, finally, the test of truth....

    4. Take a string of three freight cars hooked up to an engine, and BACK IT UP through everything to see if it derails anywhere. I've found this to be the true test of track work.

    Did you super elevate any of the curves?

    George. [​IMG]
  5. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Woodie,
    Sorry, I have been away for awhile.
    George is correct, try a few passenger cars in reverse around the whole layout, if they stay on, your in business, if not look at the trouble spot and feel with your fingers to see if there are any sharp bits.

  6. George

    George Member

    Shamus, you're right about using passenger cars, they'll find trouble a lot faster than a 40' boxcar. I use freight as one time I tried using passenger cars and I lost a Burlington Northern 10-6 sleeper over the edge! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]!!!!!K E R S M A S H!!!!! [​IMG]!

    I don't find the total loss of a freight car as stroke inducing as a passenger car sliding out of sight into the great chasm of 1:1 scale. Gee, I guess I should have put some wooden molding protruding above the layout edge about 1/2"? Perhaps I should not have had the track so close to the edge of the layout for optimum radius on the curves too!

    What a never ending learning process this hobby is, eh? [​IMG]

  7. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    All sounds good, especially the reverse bit. What do you mean by "super elevate" the curves? I also found the kadee couplers loosen after a while and dangle down, catching on the turnouts. **KER CATAPULT**

  8. jimnrose

    jimnrose Member

    I'm also in the track testing mode and will take your advise. You mentioned "super elevated curves"; on HO scale is the pitch defined by an angle or is it established by dimensionally elevating the outer rail? Also what is the angle or dimension?
    Thanks, Jim
    I'm assuming it's better to "super elevate the curves"; is that correct?
  9. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    "Proper" superelevation is supposed to elevate the outer, and depress the inner rails --- but that would probably mean extra work, or at least more advance planning.

    I've found on past layouts that although superelevation looked great, it didn't really seem to make any measurable difference (with models) keeping trains on the track. But that of course would depend on running trains at prototype (as compared with toy train) speeds.

  10. George

    George Member

    Sorry I haven't kept up better with this one fellows.

    In a nutshell, super elevated curves work like banked curves on a race track. Super elevated curves are supposed to counter the effects of centrifugal force on a curve, enabling a highballing train to roughly maintain speed without significantly slowing down. Keep the schedule! [​IMG]

    Bill Stone is correct, though with a Lionel, it might keep the train on the tracks.

    Here, we're doing this more for aesthetics, not functionality and it also depends on the type of road your recreating.

    For a class 1 railroad, super elevation on curves is a must. I've made them in the past, learned from mistakes, and am building them into my present layout now. There was one good article about them in one of the mags in the past ten years you can cross reference for yourselves, and the topic truly warrants an article here, @TG.

    How do you do it? As mentioned above, the outside rail of the curve is elevated slightly higher than the inside. The elevation is begun at least a foot before the curve starts. Sounds familiar???

    I took a 1"X2" stick with a nail in one end, and holes to fit a pencil to draw various radii along the length. On cardstock, draw the desired arc. Take "T" pins and tack down a half width section of cork roadbed with the centre of the cork along the outside of the arc. Trace another line along the outside of the cork. Remove the cork, and cut out the cardstock. Write the radius size on the piece you have AND USE THIS AS A TEMPLATE TO TRACE OUT AND CUT MORE PIECES.

    The first time I tried this, I made the mistake of having it near a crossing which made for major headaches. Keep away from switches, just like the prototype.

    Formula? I don't remember the nitty gritty, and what I usually do is "Eyeball" it as one steamer fireman taught me. In the real thing, just as an example, the steepest super elevated curve on the New York Central is at Peekskill, New York. At this location, the outer rail is a full 4 inches higher than the inside rail. It may not seem like much, but to people in the industry, I've found out that this is an eye opener.

    In "HO scale on a 24 inch radius curve, I began with one strip of thin cardstock underneath the outside piece of cork 14 inches before the curve started. Every four inches, I added another strip until I had four thin strips sandwiched underneath the outer strip of cork. When coming off the curve, just reverse the process. I had a fifth strip, but removed it because "It just didn't look right" being too steep. On a wider radius curve, I would increase the four inch transition to six to make it a bit more gradual.

    RESULT. If you stuff the inside of the curve with trees, hiding the ends from view from the opposite ends, the effect is quite visually pleasing. Like the real thing, whether moving fast or slow, you will be thrilled to see your engines and equipment "leaning" into the curve just like the real thing. The viewer tends to see the train already leaning into the curve, than to notice any kind of transition as it occurs. Funny how the oncoming train commands the attention of the spectator, so use it.

    Time to make some of you cringe. How did I fasten it down? No glue, no nails. I STAPLED the strips down. They're easily removed to correct mistakes with needle nose pliars, and any good staple gun will drive the staples down flush with the surface of the cardstock into Homasote. Then I used track nails to affix the cork down on top of it. Remember, the inside piece of cork roadbed remains flush with the deck.

    As mentioned before, cheque your work by running your most finicky equipment over the transition area before you glue anything down or ballast. If your wheels leave the track on one side of the truck, either cheque the weighting, or space out the strips in the troublesome transition area a bit more than they are. You may have to play with it somewhat to achieve satisfaction. [​IMG] If box cars wobble, tighten the screw on the truck and check for loose weights inside.

    Super elevation is one of those things that add a nice touch that you've seen in life and film, but never thought of doing on the pike. Tediously time consuming? Yes, but well worth the reward, I assure you!


    [This message has been edited by George (edited 04-30-2001).]

    [This message has been edited by George (edited 04-30-2001).]
  11. George

    George Member

    Shamus, talk about the prototype!

    You did it the RIGHT way! [​IMG]

  12. JeffGerow

    JeffGerow Member

    Just wanted to add a note to the adding engine weight part of this thread (as opposed to the superelevation part...) -

    If or when you add weight to the engine, make sure to keep it balanced -- the engine should balance on the center driver (or between the two center drivers). It's not always easy to do, but will make a big difference in how well it pulls (and stays on the track). The more weight in the engine, the more the engine will pull, however, that also puts more strain on the motor, so there are tradeoffs. Make sure that the wheels slip before the motor stalls (a stalled motor is destined for a melt-down)...
  13. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi all,
    A quick way for Super elevation on curves is to track pin just the inside sleepers only, this will in effect lift the outside just enough for ballast to be inserted. I have this arrangement on my tracks.

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