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Maximum Grade for incline for HO

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  • Member since
    January, 2008
  • From: Hennepin, IL
  • 22 posts
Maximum Grade for incline for HO
Posted by hennepin98 on Saturday, August 30, 2008 12:46 PM

I have kinda a wierd question.  I am looking at putting a 2 track shelf around the top part of my garage.  What is the maximum grade of incline that I can put in?  I want to tie it in with my main layout, but the only way I can do that is a fairly steep incline to get it up to where it clears the doors and windows in the garage.  I have some passenger cars and auto haulers that require 22" + radius and I cannot fit that on my standard layout.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!  I do not have any certain track type that I am using yet if that makes any difference.

 I am just getting started with all of this, therefore I am open to any/all suggestions.  If you would like photos to show my room, please let me know and I will be happy to send some to you.

 Thanks In Advance!  Nic

  • Member since
    January, 2007
  • From: Eastern Shore Virginia
  • 3,165 posts
Posted by gandydancer19 on Saturday, August 30, 2008 12:58 PM
What % of grade are you looking at with your available space limitations right now?

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

  • Member since
    August, 2004
  • From: Virginia Beach
  • 2,150 posts
Posted by tangerine-jack on Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:40 PM
Well, how long is a piece of string?  That depends on what you need.  As for max grade, you could go as high as 10-12% if you only want to pull one or two cars and don't mind the ramp looking silly.  What you are pulling with, what you are pulling, and max amps available determine max grade.  Rule of thumb is to use the lowest % possible (normaly less than 4%), but you may have to do as the real railroads did, and that is to double up on motive power, shorten trains or blast.

The Dixie D Short Line "Lux Lucet In Tenebris Nihil Igitur Mors Est Ad Nos 2001"

  • Member since
    November, 2007
  • 1,089 posts
Posted by BlueHillsCPR on Saturday, August 30, 2008 2:01 PM
As a rule of thumb I try to stick to a maximum of a 3 inch rise in a 100 inch run but that's just me.  Opinions will vary.
  • Member since
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  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
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Posted by selector on Saturday, August 30, 2008 5:11 PM

A ramp is a tool.  People who use tools as part of their professions are taught that the use of the correct tool for the work is what permits efficiency and longevity, both in form and in function.  This applies to both the tool and the user.

Once again, a ramp is a tool.  What work must it do?  What conditions?  What will use the tool, and how?  These may sound like weird questions about a hobby, but they are very important if you don't want to waste time, materials, and money, and if enjoyment of the tool is going to be important in the end.

Logging railroads had steep grades, but they also had special tools.  Their locomotives were purpose-built, just as were the tracks on which they performed their work...including the grades/ramps.  Terrain dictated what grades were necessary to get to where the collected resources were.  If they were too bad, steam donkeys were used to relay the logs down to where the trains could safely go.

You have constraints.  One of them is space.  Another is the weight and tractive effort of your chief tools, your engines.  You need to determine how much of a grade your chief tools will manage.  You can do tests on the basement or living room floor to determine the highest grade your trains will work for a given number of cars (called the load).  If you will necessarily have to build curves into the grade, you will learn that your train will have to be somewhat shorter because grades suffer when curves are incorporated.  Or rather, the engines do.

This is a long way to say that no one can answer your question but you.  It would be a sound investment of time to do mockups of various grades and determine "..what the maximum grade for incline in HO" is for your particular circumstances.  My engines are not the same as yours, most likely, and my space is not like yours.  So my engines will behave differently on my grades.

I hope that helps to orient you to the solution you need.

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Ft Wayne IN
  • 332 posts
Posted by BRJN on Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:28 PM

In real life, railroads avoid grades like the plague.  A 6% grade is considered unreasonable, unless something really valuable is at the end.

In the hobby, we have tended to become more like the industry.  Most people think little of building a 1% or 2% grade on their mainline, but consider 4% a helper district; get extra locomotives.  (Tony Koester had a discussion of his experience with train length, engine power, and max slope in a recent Model Railroad Planning, perhaps the 2007 edition.)

There have always been steep grades for short distances, little-used tracks, and really short trains (as in engine plus finger's worth of cars).  But if you plan to run long trains up and down this ramp, better make it shallow.

Modeling 1900 (more or less)
  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Altus, OK
  • 21 posts
Posted by Snow on Sunday, August 31, 2008 11:57 AM

I too am building a shelf layout around my garage.  I have a grade going down to a 'hidden' staging yard under the main layout on the shelf.  It's a about a 5 in drop over a distance of about 6 feet (this is just off the top of my head) but it works out to be about a 6.4% grade.  My Athearn GP-50 can pull a train of about 16 cars (longer than will fit in my clasification yard) up the grade with a bit of a slow down as not the entire train is on the grade at the same time.  My Athearn GP-38 won't do it without help however.  Realisticly a bit steep for a main line but I was constrained by space,  I have seen commuter rail lines this steep in real life though.

Thing you have to watch out for is the transisition from level to incline track.  If you do it abruptly the cars will become uncoupled, espically with long cars.  I tweaked it using layers of cork roadbed so a 89f autorack could safely transverse the grade without uncoupleing or bottoming out.  

Another problem i have encountered is that the metal snowplow on the front of some of my locomotives will touch the rail coming out of staging and causing a short.  Still working on a solution to that one! :)

Good luck!

 

  • Member since
    August, 2004
  • From: Amish country Tenn.
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Posted by loathar on Sunday, August 31, 2008 2:56 PM
 hennepin98 wrote:

I have kinda a wierd question.  I am looking at putting a 2 track shelf around the top part of my garage.  What is the maximum grade of incline that I can put in?  I want to tie it in with my main layout, but the only way I can do that is a fairly steep incline to get it up to where it clears the doors and windows in the garage.  I have some passenger cars and auto haulers that require 22" + radius and I cannot fit that on my standard layout.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!  I do not have any certain track type that I am using yet if that makes any difference.

 I am just getting started with all of this, therefore I am open to any/all suggestions.  If you would like photos to show my room, please let me know and I will be happy to send some to you.

 Thanks In Advance!  Nic

It sounds like you want to go from a layout which is probably about 4' high up to clearing doors and windows which are probably about 6.5' high. That means a rise of 2.5'. You would need 100 feet of of track to make that a 2.5% grade. If what I've described is what your trying to do, I don't think it's practical.
One good quality loco can pull about 15-20 cars up a grade that steep.(give or take)
Do you have room for a helix??

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 4,102 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, August 31, 2008 5:48 PM

Hi!

If you are trying to get an HO 10 car plus trains up a grade with one loco, then 2% (2 parts rise in 100 parts length) usually works OK.  If you have serious pullers with straight runs, then 3% would probably work OK.  Getting over 3%, train length and power needed to pull said trains is really a factor.  As an earlier poster said, real RRs avoid grades like the plague for the same reasons................

Good Luck!!!

Mobilman44 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Indiana
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Posted by Flashwave on Sunday, August 31, 2008 10:42 PM
Tip. If your trains are short enough, PUSH them upgrade. long trains will dive off, but when fighting the steepest grade in the US at 5.89% Madison Railroad discovered that pulling uphill was a good way to buy new coupolers regularly. the enigne on the back usually helps counteract gravity for short string shoves. but it;s bette rofr 6 cars than 60.

-Morgan
PR, CEO of the Madison Railroad in HO. no, not that one, the one based off the City of Madison Port Authority.
Exchange Passes? PM me.  
Green Signals Dad, Love ya.

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