Maximum permitted operating grade, G Gauge?

14012 views
29 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Maximum permitted operating grade, G Gauge?
Posted by hoofe116 on Monday, January 29, 2007 6:06 PM

Okay, you gurus of G Guage:

After critically examining my proposed layout (approx 60' x 20' w. a possible 20x20' extension) of two major varying altitudes and two different lateral grades, how steep, in inches per foot, can I lay track? I intend to pull no more than 3 cars--4 counting bobber--with a Porter-type engine. It will be a mining/logging layout. I don't care a lot about scale grades, though it would be good to at least attempt to hold 'em to 6%.

I have my first engine coming to me: an LGB pumper car. I'm going to turn it into an 0-4-0 switcher woodburner. Perhaps w. saddle tanks, not sure yet. I'm looking for pictures of such an engine. I also need a pix of a backhead, for gauges and whatnot.

Thanks,

Les Whitaker

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Centennial, CO
  • 1,192 posts
Posted by kstrong on Monday, January 29, 2007 6:23 PM
I like to suggest that keeping grades to 4% or less (4" over 100"--just over 8') is really the most you want to do. You start treading into the 5 and 6% arena, and you begin to limit yourself. Even with the short trains you mention, the lightweight locos you plan on running won't be good for much more than 3 or 4 cars on that grade.

As for backhead details, etc., try Trackside Details. An 0-4-0 from the LGB handcar will be an interesting project. Any particular reason you're starting with that, and not something like Bachmann's new 1:20 side-tank porter?

Later,

K
  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,343 posts
Posted by Curmudgeon on Monday, January 29, 2007 7:03 PM

Most narrow-gauge had 4%, altho some notable exceptions were more.

Standard gauge, 2%.

Saluda was a REAL exception to that.

That works out to 4" in 100" for a 4%.

I have 150' of continuous 4%, and in dry weather, my lead Shay (first battery r/c unit ever in the Bachmann Shay line) will pull 28-34 loads with no wheelslip.

Do it every operating session.

New, shiny wheels, 12 cars.

 

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 300,865 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, January 29, 2007 7:55 PM

It doesn't hurt to keep in mind that excessive grades also put extra strain on the engines.

 

ER 

Moderator
  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Monday, January 29, 2007 8:02 PM
Les:
When you exceed 4% grades you start having some problems with pulling power, especially with the lighter engines.  If you introduce curves into the grade, again you are reducing the pulling power of your engine.  You could do as I did when designing my layout,  make a "ramp" from three lengths of 2x4's and test the tractive effort of the engine on various slopes.  (three 2x4's end to end for a length of 24 ft, with 1x4 splicing at the joints.  Prop one end up on bricks or lumber of various heights.  Things to watch out for: 1) slipping drivers (drive wheels begin to spin faster than the engine is moving up hill - can burn out a motor or strip gears)  2) sliding (stopping the train on downhill run and watch it slide on the rails after the drive wheels stop turning - derailments and other damage.  

I have over three hundred feet of track at 1.5% or less on my "main system", however, the trolley line I'm working on to the top of the waterfalls will push 7.5%, it might even hit 8%!!!!  My long term plans include installing some LGB "racks" (as in cog railway) and bashing my streetcar to have a rack drive.  Drop over to the LGB site and have a read on their rack drive trains.  $500 is a bit much to spend for a "kit-bashed" unit.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 300,865 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 7:24 PM

I have 200 m track and i have 4 % grades on R3 curves and R2 curves and on a straight. The straight is ok, the R3 curve is just acceptable to me and the R2 curve i wish i didn't have.

By unacceptable; i am taliking about slippage, running backward when stopped and loss of pulling power, especially if your track is even slightly dirty.

If you can help it do not have anything worse than R3 with a 4 % grade ; i wouldn't do it again.

Rgds iuan

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Jones County, Georgia
  • 1,293 posts
Posted by GearDrivenSteam on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 7:51 AM
Some logging lines ran locomotives up more than 12%. Although rare, it is prototypical. Practical? No. The 6% you speak of is probably over the top. I'd try to stay with 4% or less, as described already.
It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.
  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:51 PM

KS: Okay, thanks. 4" in a 100". My math is rotting away with age. Dead [xx(] In 60 feet, I'd have um ... 720 inches x .04= 28 inches? Two feet plus fudge. Okay, that'd be about 4 feet total if you figure going and coming. Yep, this is definitely enough. Well, probably enough. Since I want both trestles and 'cuts', looks like I'm in fair shape.

It occurs to me that with cuts, I'm going to need forethought-out drains and culverts, ala real world. This is getting more interesting the deeper I get in.

I figured to weight the locos and cars anyway with lead, just to keep 'em on the tracks.

THe reason I'm starting with an LGB handcar is A) it was the first thing I found with a motor that I could afford, B) I've always intended to scratch-build as much as possible because I'm on SS and C) I once earned my living doing fine (small) work. (XP machinist). Now I can do it w/o pressure.

Thanks for taking time to answer.

 Les

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:55 PM

ER:

I'm betting on the fact that little actual 'running' will be done, and LGB and the rest have enough quality built in for many hours of average use, so the occasional overload shouldn't be a serious factor. I'm more a builder than a runner, though I do like running.

Les

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:03 PM

Ttrigg:

That rack trolley sounds fascinating.

I intend to build a trolley line in the future after the main line is up and working as I want it to. That's probably a couple of years down the road. But I've always thought rack systems were 'way cool. No, I'm not about to drop $5 big 'uns for one, but I'm not above seeing how they do it and try to copy 'em.

My next purchase will be a subscription to GR, then the book on track laying, then the rails to start making some track, in that order. In the meantime I've got an Aristo switch to see if I can copy (I believes I can), a railbender to design and build, a jig to make ties, a trial run of track outside, etc. And a power pack. Yeah, gotta run wires, make blocks.

Les

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,697 posts
Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:04 PM
-
Les, Consider my layout, its intentionally going to be steep and twisted...Why?
-
Oh I dunno, probably because all the RRs I like feature sick grades and hellish curves. Guess I want some of that fun more than just the typical round and round.
Will be watching to see what your layout come along here, Good luck!

   Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:15 PM

Iandor:

I hope to keep all my radii to 8' minimum. I doubt it'll be possible in some instances, but that's what I've got in mind. That'll be 16' inside my 20' boundary, which'll leave some wiggle room. I have read a good deal on short radius problems and since I don't intend to have a ton of rolling stock and want space, it ought to do.

I like the oddball stuff: work cars, blacksmith cars, crane cars, etc. The odder looking it is, the more I go for it. I will make a snowplow. I just gotta.

Here, to me, is the attraction of G: It's big. (Well, duh, yeah.) Years ago I had an 027 layout. It was fun and I was young enough to work on it. But it got to be worth $$ so I sold it. Later I bought a potful of HO. Yo, mistake? Couldn't see the stuff. But with G, you can use real power tools and see without a pair of telescopes.

Thanks, as always, for your input.

Les

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:22 PM

VS:

Yo, that's a twisted layout! Thanks for appending it.

I envision doing a lot of trestles because of the uneven nature of the plot.

I'll break ground for the first line, a P to P setup that'll be my 'test track', in the spring or summer. Perhaps I'll have pixes to post then.

Les

Moderator
  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
  • 3,092 posts
Posted by ttrigg on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 7:26 PM
 hoofe116 wrote:
  My next purchase will be a subscription to GR, then the book on track laying, then the rails to start making some track, in that order. In the meantime I've got an Aristo switch to see if I can copy (I believes I can), a railbender to design and build, a jig to make ties, a trial run of track outside, etc. And a power pack. Yeah, gotta run wires, make blocks.


May I suggest spend a few (thousand) hours reading the old postings on this forum.  There is more information available, with pro's and con's on most everything. There are some most excellent discussions here and over on LSOL on road bed construction, rail quality, how well (or not) different types "weather" and or rot out.  Yes, by all means get your subscription and books, but do a bunch of reading here on line!!   I've even gone so far as to print the postings and put them into a notebook for reference and "light reading" on rainy nights.

Tom Trigg

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 300,865 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, February 01, 2007 1:52 AM

Les

I don't think you are as comfortable with metric as i am but if you want to do easy grade calcs, get a metric measureing device and do all your length and height measurements in metric, as follows and it is the easiest thing to work out % gradeint.

Do all horizontal measurements in meters and all vertical measurements in centimetres and divide the height by the lenth and you will automatically have % gradient eg 4 metres with a crise of 20 cm = 20 / 4 = 5 % Do not do your measuremnts in imperial and convert them, as the conversion will just muddy things up.

Rgds Ian

 

  • Member since
    August, 2003
  • 6,434 posts
Posted by FJ and G on Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:26 AM

12%, give or take 5

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,697 posts
Posted by vsmith on Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:32 AM
Ahhhh. CASS! Gotta go there before I die!Tongue [:P]

   Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 300,865 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, February 01, 2007 1:58 PM
Gears and Motors IMHO are the hardist hit when grade is way over.
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 300,865 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, February 01, 2007 7:02 PM

I wouldn't do what has been doen unless i had too; too many adverse byproducts.

Rgds Ian

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Thursday, February 01, 2007 7:25 PM

FJ&G:

What was that, a roller coaster?<G>

Les

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Florissant, Missouri
  • 493 posts
Posted by hoofe116 on Thursday, February 01, 2007 7:33 PM

Tom:

The WWW is probably the best thing that's happened since writing was invented. Has there been any estimates of the amount of knowledge, free, out there, just for the reading?

Of course I'll read the older posts, that's a good suggestion. I want the 'how to' book because the info's compiled already. (I'm such a busy old retired guy). Actually, I'm still trying to figure out questions to pose, and generally, given a decent book/magazine, it'll be there, plus.

I take it 'LSOL' is Large Scale OnLine? I'll Google that and see.

Thanks for taking time to answer.

Les 

 

  • Member since
    August, 2004
  • From: Whitmore Lake, Michigan
  • 350 posts
Posted by markperr on Friday, February 02, 2007 10:18 AM

I would not recommend adding weight to your cars for the purpose of keeping them on the track. Instead, install metal wheels.  They're heavy enough and puts your center of gravity right down near the track as well as keeping wear and tear off your wheel bushings.

 Mark

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,697 posts
Posted by vsmith on Friday, February 02, 2007 3:52 PM
 hoofe116 wrote:

FJ&G:

What was that, a roller coaster?<G>

Les

Cass Scenic RR, old logging line turned scenic train, features the largest Shay geared locos ever built

http://gottrains.com/cassrailroad/

 

   Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,697 posts
Posted by vsmith on Friday, February 02, 2007 3:54 PM
 hoofe116 wrote:

Tom:

The WWW is probably the best thing that's happened since writing was invented. Has there been any estimates of the amount of knowledge, free, out there, just for the reading?

Of course I'll read the older posts, that's a good suggestion. I want the 'how to' book because the info's compiled already. (I'm such a busy old retired guy). Actually, I'm still trying to figure out questions to pose, and generally, given a decent book/magazine, it'll be there, plus.

I take it 'LSOL' is Large Scale OnLine? I'll Google that and see.

Thanks for taking time to answer.

Les 

 

you can also check out www.Mylargescale.com or www.Largescalecentral.com both also have good info, but you dont have to pay to join.Wink [;)]

   Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    November, 2014
  • 1 posts
Posted by sherrard on Sunday, November 09, 2014 3:26 AM

Hello

I’d  be grateful for advice about proposed grades on the G Scale garden layout I’m about to start building.

Originally it was my intention to limit grades to 2% gto 2.50%, with minimum radii of 6’ (app 1800mm).  Howver, the reality is that I think I may end up with grades of up to 3% to 3.5% in places with occasional radii of 5’ (app 1500mm).

Desired train lengths are basically: 

(A) Bachman Spectrum steam outline loco with up to three cars,

(B) Aristocraft or USA Trains single diesel with up to seven or eight cars,

(C)  Aristocraft or USA Trains multiple lash-up diesels (at least two, maybe three locos) with up to fifteen or so cars.  All cars will probably be fitted with steel wheels..

Can anyone advise if I’m likely to achieve the train consists stated above without stalling the trains, burning out loco motor(s), stripping gears or worse?

Many thanks.

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Norton, MA
  • 394 posts
Posted by piercedan on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 5:45 AM

If the 'pumper' car is the 2001 Gustav, then it hhas a very small motor and not very fast at that.

You would be much better off with a porter engine.

All the small LGB engines with a single geared motor are weak pullers.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,697 posts
Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 9:54 AM

sherrard

Hello

I’d  be grateful for advice about proposed grades on the G Scale garden layout I’m about to start building.

Originally it was my intention to limit grades to 2% gto 2.50%, with minimum radii of 6’ (app 1800mm).  Howver, the reality is that I think I may end up with grades of up to 3% to 3.5% in places with occasional radii of 5’ (app 1500mm).

Desired train lengths are basically: 

(A) Bachman Spectrum steam outline loco with up to three cars,

(B) Aristocraft or USA Trains single diesel with up to seven or eight cars,

(C)  Aristocraft or USA Trains multiple lash-up diesels (at least two, maybe three locos) with up to fifteen or so cars.  All cars will probably be fitted with steel wheels..

Can anyone advise if I’m likely to achieve the train consists stated above without stalling the trains, burning out loco motor(s), stripping gears or worse?

Many thanks.

You should be OK with 3-3.5% with those ratios but keep in mind that the more cars you pull and the steeper the grades the more wear your putting on your engines, and these days replacing worn gears can be a major headache, as for train lengths that's going to vary engine by engine, the best way is to experiment what each will easily pull over that grade and then hold to that, if its slows or hesitates, reduce a car and see what happens. I have have some engines that pulled like real champs and one or two that were absolutely pathetic, one Buddy L loco couldn't even pull the weight of its own bobber caboose over my original indoor line (5% grades).

Remember Aristo is dead! They aint coming back, at least not in the way they once were, so any Aristo engine you purchase may have almost no ability to be repaired if you smoke the gears. A/C has very limited repair capability and if their are no spare parts I doubt you'll ever get it repaired.

Bachmann's latest incarnation of the 4-6-0 Annie has perhaps the best gearbox in LS today. Beware the 2-8-0 Connie unless someone has upgraded the gearbox to a "Barry's Big Train" drive. Also stay away from the tiny 2-6-0 Industrial loco with those grades, the Spectrum's C-19, 2-6-0 Mogul and the 4-4-0 REALLY need 8' to 10' diameter curves, but the Annie will run like a champ on even R1 curves (4' dia)

FYI In LS we generally use DIAMETER not Radius, to distinguish curvature.

Steel wheels certainly do help, if you have very deep pocket, ball bearing wheels are the very best, they reduce rolling resistance to almost nothing and eliminate binding thru curves.:cool:

   Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Centennial, CO
  • 1,192 posts
Posted by kstrong on Sunday, November 16, 2014 12:07 PM

As I mentioned on another forum, you shouldn't have any troubles with the trains you're looking to run on grades of 3 - 4%. While considered "steep" for garden railroads, they're generally accepted to be the maximum practical grade. Obviously, flatter is always better if you can swing it, but I don't know that I'd compromise on other features just to save a percent on grade.

Certainly the Bachmann w/ 3 - 4 cars will walk up and down those grades all day long without issue, as will an Aristo or USA diesel with 7 - 8 cars. Those are not unreasonable loads for those locos by any means. The larger problem you might encounter will come with your Aristo or USA lash-up with 15+ cars in tow. The grades aren't going to be problematic, but the curves might. A train like that can easily push 30' - 40' in length. When you start dragging a train that long through 5' radius curves, you risk "stringlining" the cars on the apex of the curves, causing derailments. This will be especially noticeable if there is a good deal of drag on the train from something like electrical pick-ups for lights, or really stiff-rolling wheels. With 5' radius curves, you're turning 180 degrees over 15.7' of track, so if you've got a 40' long train, you've got most of it going opposite directions with only a small part of it on a curve. That rarely (if ever) looks good.

If such trains are a high priority for operating on your railroad, I'd consider engineering the line to safely accommodate those trains. The rest will prove no trouble at all. The grades can remain on the steeper side of the equation (3 diesels will be ample power to handle them), but I'd look to push the curves to 6' or 8' radius if possible. Many folks looking to run trains on that magnitude gravitate towards a 10' minimum radius. They're more aesthetically "balanced" with the trains running on them, and it just reduces the headaches associated with long trains, lots of drag, and tight curves.

Good luck!

Later,

K

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 8 posts
Posted by bustedthumb on Friday, July 24, 2015 2:02 PM

Consider reading "The Impossible Railway" by Pierre Berton.  This is the story of the construction of the prototype - Canadial Pacific Railway.  Read pages 430-439, a chapter entitled "The Big Hill".

In this book the target grade was 2.2%.  Near the end of construction the CP needed to create a 4.4% section that was about 8-miles long in order to stay on schedule.  This section of track was in the Selkirk Range (Western slope of the Rocky Mountains).  The CP sought a variance from the Canadian government which was granted.  There were several runaway trains, several deaths, etc. inspite of special safety precautions.  Eventually (about 25-years later) the design was modified to achieve a more reasonable grade.

  • Member since
    August, 2016
  • 12 posts
Posted by tgood on Monday, January 08, 2018 3:04 PM

My garden railroad has violated every known rule in G scale railroading.

Examples:

LGB track for main line and turnouts to spur lines. 

Spur lines are new brite PLASTIC track and switches.

Engines are 9vdc R/C TOY engines New Brite, Sciencetific etc.

Main line is 20vdc.

Engines have a reducer to 9vdc in each tender along with 2 or more 9 vdc Lithium batteries in parallel. 

Batteries automaticly recharge when on the main line.

As 9vdc engines go off the main line the 9vdc on board batteries take over'

Freight cars are light weight new bright. box, gondola, tank, flat cars and scratch built. Anything cheap!!!!

Two sciencetific engines pulling together can pull 24 new brite box cars with ease that is with the help of added weight in each engine. and frog snot.

Main line engine is a Brachmann 4-6-0 and it does quite well pulling 12+ cars.

I have an identical 4-6-0 battery R/C that runs with the 18vdc unit and they pull quite well together.  Whats nice is that the battery unit can unhook and retrieve cars from the plastic track.

With this system reverse loops are no problem just have a section that can go dead while the battery units are on it and reverse polarty and walla full steam ahead.

As a retired Firefighter and electrican this is more fun than bothersome. 

Besides as time goes by I can upgrade to the REAL stuff.

Oh yes my smoke units are E-cigarettes with an aquariumn air pump sandwitched into a small plastic pill bottle and boy do they smoke.

This whole setup produces a mainline railroad and a unconnected short line railroad.

I have dismantled all the engines, cleaned, lubed and trick them out

Plus repainted them to look not as TOY engines but more realistic.

My short line??????

The Brandywine & Lenape RR between Wilmington DE and Chads Ford PA.

All Aboard,

John Tgood

pictures to follow as soon as I can figure this web site

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Garden Railways newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Garden Railways magazine. Please view our privacy policy