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What’s the REAL minimum radius of locomotives and rolling stock?

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, February 19, 2018 11:24 PM

Thank you Sheldon.  I don't get what Ricky's rant was about, but whats a wet basement got to do with radius?

If Ricky owns the home, then a wet basement is something he has to deal with.  It can be fixed.

Nobody was picking on him because of his layouts radius.

Mike.

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Posted by cuyama on Monday, February 19, 2018 11:08 PM

Another good complementary reference is the Layout Design SIG's Curve-Radius-Rules-of-Thumb. This distinguishes between what radii might be made to work, what will work well, and what looks good based on car length.

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Posted by Metro Red Line on Monday, February 19, 2018 10:55 PM

gdelmoro

Ever purchase a locomotive or 85’ passenger car advertised by the manufacturer to run on 18” curves only to find it regularly derails on 20, 24 or even 26” curves?  

Yes, that's why I left HO scale and converted to N. I never looked back.

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Posted by Colorado Ray on Monday, February 19, 2018 10:34 PM

railandsail

 

 
rrinker

On my old layout, it's a good thing I tested first. Walthers 85 foot cars would not pass one another when the inner radius was 30" and the outher was 32". I had to open the spacing on the curves to allow them to work.

 

So what sort of spacing between the 2 tracks would you consider a minimum,....like on a helix of say a outer radius if 31" or 32" ??

 

The NMRA Recommended Practice RP 7.2 gives 2-9/16" minimum spacing for modern standards.  Anyone doing track planning should bookmark:

https://www.nmra.org/sites/default/files/standards/sandrp/pdf/rp-7.2_curved_track_centers_july_2017.pdf

 

Since laying track to a 1/16" tolerance is difficult, I'd suggest shooting for 2-3/4" 

 

Also note this is a recommended practice, not a standard or mandatory.  I agree with Sheldon and others that advocate for using as large a radius as possible.  

 

Rick, those of you forced, or otherwise, to use substandard radius curves should not be advising others to do so as well.  What works for you might not work for them.

 

 

Ray

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, February 19, 2018 10:29 PM

ricktrains4824

Well, if my basement were able to hold anything in it other than water... Then I could go bigger than 18" radii.

However, because my basement is more dungeon than useable space, I am forced to use a small space, and, that means I am forced to use 18" radii. 

I don't have a special building just for trains, as I can't afford that. 

So, I guess all of my 6 axle units, and 60' cars should not be running on my layout at all, but they do.... Because I tweak them so they do. Long shank couplers on loco's, and I make sure the trucks swivel freely, all metal wheelsets that are free rolling, and smooth coupler swing. 

So, I make them work. I feel that this makes me a true model railroader.

But, I guess as I use sharp radii I should be a model train collector and a model trolly-er instead....

Come on guys.

Don't harp on us just because we use the space we have, just like you do, as we still put on our pants the same way you do.

After all, if "this hobby is dying" as you all like to gripe about, then you all need every single one of us 18" radii people you can get!

Without all of us sharp radii modeler's, it's no longer a mainstream hobby, but a dead one full of elitist snobs who won't be able to sustain it.

Unless one of you elitist's wants to build me, free of charge, a nice building for a real model railroaders layout with large radii curves, then I guess I am currently stuck with the sharp radii that I have now.

Ok, my rant is over now.

 

Rick,

First off, if your trains are working to your satisfaction, and you are happy, that is all that matters.

BUT, if they are not working, and you ask me why, and I tell you it is because your curves are too sharp, don't blame me, or the manufacturer, or the NMRA - physics is physics.

And not everyone is willing or able to develope the skills to tinker/tweek their stuff to solve such problems.

If fact, today more than ever there is a whole group of people in this hobby who expect everything to work perfectly out of the box......including 85' passengers cars running around 18" radius.

As for your class warfare comments, well there was a time in my life when I did not have my 1000 sq ft heated and cooled train room. I wanted more, I worked hard, I paid my dues in a number of ways, trust me you can't make me feel bad about what I have. You have no idea about my path in life, or my problems, or my blessings.......

But 35 years ago when I was raising three kids in a two bedroom row house and working 70 hours a week, I knew that the given a choice, 36" radius is better than 18" radius. Heck, when I got started in this hobby at age 12, 48 years ago, I knew that 36" radius was better than 18" radius...... 

Now I have room for 36" radius, in fact I have room for 42" radius for the most part..........

Why should anyone build you anything? I earned mine, Howard Zane earned his?

As for the hobby dieing, or not, I'm not invested in that question, at 18" radius or 36" radius.

But there is no question the hobby is changing, and part of the change is a wider "gap" between modeling styles, budgets, interests, skills, and overall expectations and approaches.

It's a big tent, again, if it's working for you and you are having fun, great, but don't criticize those with bigger/different goals or higher standards.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Monday, February 19, 2018 9:40 PM

Well, if my basement were able to hold anything in it other than water... Then I could go bigger than 18" radii.

However, because my basement is more dungeon than useable space, I am forced to use a small space, and, that means I am forced to use 18" radii. 

I don't have a special building just for trains, as I can't afford that. 

So, I guess all of my 6 axle units, and 60' cars should not be running on my layout at all, but they do.... Because I tweak them so they do. Long shank couplers on loco's, and I make sure the trucks swivel freely, all metal wheelsets that are free rolling, and smooth coupler swing. 

So, I make them work. I feel that this makes me a true model railroader.

But, I guess as I use sharp radii I should be a model train collector and a model trolly-er instead....

Come on guys.

Don't harp on us just because we use the space we have, just like you do, as we still put on our pants the same way you do.

After all, if "this hobby is dying" as you all like to gripe about, then you all need every single one of us 18" radii people you can get!

Without all of us sharp radii modeler's, it's no longer a mainstream hobby, but a dead one full of elitist snobs who won't be able to sustain it.

Unless one of you elitist's wants to build me, free of charge, a nice building for a real model railroaders layout with large radii curves, then I guess I am currently stuck with the sharp radii that I have now.

Ok, my rant is over now.

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by zstripe on Monday, February 19, 2018 7:45 PM

railandsail

 

 
rrinker

On my old layout, it's a good thing I tested first. Walthers 85 foot cars would not pass one another when the inner radius was 30" and the outher was 32". I had to open the spacing on the curves to allow them to work.

 

So what sort of spacing between the 2 tracks would you consider a minimum,....like on a helix of say a outer radius if 31" or 32" ??

 

My rule of thumb and experience has been to make it wider from the get-go and not worry about ''what if". Hence 32'' outside curve, 28'' inside curve....that is center line to center line.......I have run 89ft flat cars and just about any engines on that system without issue. As a matter of fact......all the curved turnouts that I have run across are designed that way. It does not really look any different than  closer spaced curved trackwork. You then don't have to worry about it working. Two more inches is no big deal...if You want it to work always.

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 19, 2018 6:54 PM

I didn't go back and update the track plan, so I don't knoww aht I ended up using. There are some shots on my web site of the old layout, all the way at the bottom, where you cna see the center spacing widen out for the curves. It was enough to clear the actual rolling stock that was going to run - I tried lots of combos until I found the absolute worst case - one of them was one of those huge hi-cube cars, the wheels are well set back on those so they have a huge overhang.

 Best advice I can say is to mock it up and try it - either tack some flex with pins, or print full size if using CAD and set the cars on - I pinned down some actual track and tried various combinations of inside car overtaking the outside car and outside car overtaking the inside car, lining up the worse inside overhang with the worst outside overhang, etc. Was it an extra 1/2", for a 2.5" center spacing? Or was it an extra 3/4"? I don't remember, that was 14 years ago. I know it worked - never had an issue no matter what was run, including some Walthers cars purchased AFTER the testing was done and track in place. I'd think at 30" radius for the inner helix track I wouldn't go below 32.5" on the outer track. But agian, test it with what you intend to run. I had no locos with excessive overhang like a Big Boy or anything so i didn't test locos. The various long cars were worse on overhang than the biggest loco, a 4-8-4.

                                      --Randy


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Posted by railandsail on Monday, February 19, 2018 6:40 PM

rrinker

On my old layout, it's a good thing I tested first. Walthers 85 foot cars would not pass one another when the inner radius was 30" and the outher was 32". I had to open the spacing on the curves to allow them to work.

So what sort of spacing between the 2 tracks would you consider a minimum,....like on a helix of say a outer radius if 31" or 32" ??

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, January 29, 2018 9:02 PM

BRAKIE
Even being freight only ISL I wouldn't settle for anything less then 22" since industrial curves can be sharp..

What I didn't say was that those curves are in a tunnel and all you see is the straightish stuff. Plus my long cars are 34' and my biggest engine is a Roundhouse old-time 2-6-0. 

That does not include the climb to the logging camp made by the geared engines. I admit I have a 16.9 inch turn there. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, January 29, 2018 5:54 PM

SpaceMouse
Just so you and everyone knows, the minimum radius on my mainline is 19.6"

That should be a half step above the 18" curves and still on the sharp side.

Even being freight only ISL I wouldn't settle for anything less then 22" since industrial curves can be sharp..

Larry

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, January 29, 2018 5:30 PM

BRAKIE
Everybody isn't lucky to have a full basement for a layout nor the funds to build a special layout building or join a super nice club with a super layout. These modelers make do on what the space allows.

Just so you and everyone knows, the minimum radius on my mainline is 19.6"

18" users, I thumb my nose at you.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, January 29, 2018 5:23 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Larry, luck has very little to do with it, I still work hard every day at age 60 to provide a nice lifestyle for my family..........

A lot of modelers work hard every day and still not lucky enough to have a full basement,funds for a layout building or a nearby club. You heared on the news how the middle class is struggling.

Even when I worked on the railroads I never had the funds for building a special layout building nor did I have a full basement-my son and his friends claimed that for their D&D game table,my son's pool table and the wife claimed what was left for a chest freezer and washer and drier. 

Larry

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, January 29, 2018 5:02 PM

BRAKIE

 

 
riogrande5761
 
Paul3

The 18" radius crowd is a drag on the hobby.  Look, if you want to run trolley-like curves, run trolleys.

 

Basically this is my mantra as well.  Unfortunately the intro to the hobby for so many is the old 18" curve supplied in most train sets.  Ug!

 

 

 

 

And we will forget about the skilled modelers among us that is force to use those 18" curves.

Everybody isn't lucky to have a full basement for a layout nor the funds to build a special layout building or join a super nice club with a super layout. These modelers make do on what the space allows.

I have notice the growth of shelf  switching layouts so,maybe the old 4x8' looper with its tight curves is falling from favor?

 

 

Larry, luck has very little to do with it, I still work hard every day at age 60 to provide a nice lifestyle for my family..........

There us nothing wrong with 18" radius, just don't complain that your $80 a piece high detail RTR 80' passenger cars will not go around them.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, January 29, 2018 5:01 PM

Silly computers.......

    

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, January 29, 2018 4:40 PM

I think as has been mentioned, the problem isn't really 18" radius curves so much as people - often 'newbies' - expecting to run SD90s and 85' automobile cars on them. When I added the first "blob" to my shelf layout for a reverse loop (28"R), I was able to fit inside of it a 22"R oval of track with a switch coming off it leading to a two track 'yard'. I call it my "high line" (it's elevated 4-5" above the main) or "logging line" as the 'yard' is based on a small logging camp. It's just a oval using one 9" straight section on each side, but my small steam engines and older style 36'-40' cars are fine on it. My Spectrum 2-10-0 can take around 80-90 seconds to go once around the oval.

Plus it's a lot easier for doing break-in runs on new engines than setting up the oval on the floor in the living room was!

p.s. Athearn heavyweight RPO, Baggage, and Coach cars are all models of cars that actually were less than 80'. I think the Coach is 70' (as were many real coaches) and the head-end cars are both around 67'. The Walthers / Rivarossi 60' RPO, Baggage, Coach and Combine are also all based on real cars that were only 60' long. (Many railroads had 60' RPOs.)

Stix
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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, January 29, 2018 4:01 PM

riogrande5761
 
Paul3

The 18" radius crowd is a drag on the hobby.  Look, if you want to run trolley-like curves, run trolleys.

 

Basically this is my mantra as well.  Unfortunately the intro to the hobby for so many is the old 18" curve supplied in most train sets.  Ug!

 

 

And we will forget about the skilled modelers among us that is force to use those 18" curves.

Everybody isn't lucky to have a full basement for a layout nor the funds to build a special layout building or join a super nice club with a super layout. These modelers make do on what the space allows.

I have notice the growth of shelf  switching layouts so,maybe the old 4x8' looper with its tight curves is falling from favor?

 

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, January 29, 2018 3:46 PM

Paul3

The 18" radius crowd is a drag on the hobby.  Look, if you want to run trolley-like curves, run trolleys.

Basically this is my mantra as well.  Unfortunately the intro to the hobby for so many is the old 18" curve supplied in most train sets.  Ug!

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, January 29, 2018 11:29 AM

Paul3

The 18" radius crowd is a drag on the hobby.  Look, if you want to run trolley-like curves, run trolleys.  Is that so hard to figure out?  If you must have 18" curves, don't buy 89'/85' cars.  Don't buy 6-axle diesels or 8-coupled steamers.  Just stay with 4-axle/6-coupled locos and 40'/50' cars, or if you must run passengers buy the old toy train stuff with truck-mounted couplers.  Stop demanding that high-end scale models in excess of 50' long must go around ridiculous curves.  Live within the reality of short curves.  Goodness knows there's plenty of shorter models already out there.

Sheldon,
My problem with the shorty passenger cars is that they look like Lionel 100% of the time.  My 85' cars may look like Lionel on 30" curves, but on the straights and in the terminal, they look realistic.  And since my old layout had more straights then curves, they looked better most of the time.

 

Well Paul we have been down that road before, and I'm not interested in another trip.

I will only say, once again, for the 300th time, not every passenger car ever built was 80-85' long........ and I don't model the New Haven........

With your other comments, I agree completely. Yes, I'm a "radius snob", 36" is my bare mainline minimum. Most are more like 42".

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Paul3 on Monday, January 29, 2018 10:46 AM

The 18" radius crowd is a drag on the hobby.  Look, if you want to run trolley-like curves, run trolleys.  Is that so hard to figure out?  If you must have 18" curves, don't buy 89'/85' cars.  Don't buy 6-axle diesels or 8-coupled steamers.  Just stay with 4-axle/6-coupled locos and 40'/50' cars, or if you must run passengers buy the old toy train stuff with truck-mounted couplers.  Stop demanding that high-end scale models in excess of 50' long must go around ridiculous curves.  Live within the reality of short curves.  Goodness knows there's plenty of shorter models already out there.

Sheldon,
My problem with the shorty passenger cars is that they look like Lionel 100% of the time.  My 85' cars may look like Lionel on 30" curves, but on the straights and in the terminal, they look realistic.  And since my old layout had more straights then curves, they looked better most of the time.

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Posted by gdelmoro on Sunday, January 28, 2018 6:15 AM

Drumguy, please let me know how the Big Bou does. Good to hear the Challenger holds a 26. I would like to get a couple of those larger locos added to my collection.

Gary

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Posted by Drumguy on Friday, January 26, 2018 9:22 PM

gdelmoro

 

 
Drumguy

I think the biggest factor in the minimum radius game is speed. The manufacturers are trying to market to the largest possible base. Therefore, “minimum radius” is a more desirable advertising metric than “desirable radius.” More folks have minimum 22’s Than 32’s +, so they tell us it will work on a 22. It’s not deceptive advertising, it’s just marketing. It will work on a 22—at 10% throttle. For mainline passenger speed, it will need something significantly wider.

My minimum radius is 26, most are 30, but I like those big articulated steamers, so I’m willing to slow them down to navigate that 26” curve.

 

 

 

That’s interesting Drumguy, Are you talking about decopods? Or Big Boy locos.  I have never tried them because i thought it just wouldn’t work.  I have a 1990’s riverarossi 4-6-6-4 I’m thinking of converting to DCC but I really would like to find some way to test run it first.

 

I have a BLI 2-8-8-2 cab forward, BLI T1 4-4-4-4, a BLI Challenger 4-6-6-4, and they will all run a 30” curve at full throttle—but slower is safer and looks better. All of them can handle that one 26” curve at full throttle, but makes me a bit nervous and it looks stupid. But it is what it is, due to the odd shape of my room, I had a spot that simply required a tighter curve. I slow the T1 a bit more on curves— it’s not articulated, so very unforgiving, although it is extraordinary well engineered, IMOP. BLI Big Boy will be here in a week or two. We‘ll see how that one fares.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, January 26, 2018 3:57 PM

Sometimes you have to read the fine print...I've seen ones where the manufacturer will say something like 'can be adapted to take 18" radius curves, 24" curves recommended". So you might have to trim back the centersill on a passenger car a bit for example, if you want to use it on the sharper curves.

BTW, a good test is to get some say Atlas or Bachmann 18" radius "click track" and run the cars or engines through there. If it works on the "click track" but not on the layout, you might have a kink in the track or something - just enough to make things not take the curve.

Stix
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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, January 26, 2018 2:27 PM

Lone Wolf and Santa Fe

All I know is that if the box says it requires 22 inch radius or larger that it won't run on 18 inch curves.

 

 

Great answer that completely sums it up... Thumbs UpThumbs Up

Those passenger  cars I shoved around the wye was up to par with correct wheel gauge and coupler height.. The engine I used was my favorite Atlas/Roco S4 that would crawl from tie to tie. A steady hand on the throttle was required to maintain a slow steady speed.

If that was a DCC layout I would have used speed step two or three. I understand today the club is DCC and has rebuilt the wye with larger curves.

 

Larry

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Friday, January 26, 2018 12:33 PM

All I know is that if the box says it requires 22 inch radius or larger that it won't run on 18 inch curves.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, January 26, 2018 8:55 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
But are your long cars close coupled at scale distances eith body mounted couplers and working diaphragms?

Yes..I had to back complete passenger trains around a rather tight wye (21" curves IIRC) in order to turn them.Again it was all in the wrist.

I trust you know 90% of switching problems is in the wrist?

I never had to worry about that gibbly gook babble since I found solid track work with wheels and couplers in gauge will give you endless hours of derailent free operation.

Larry

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Summerset Ry.


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, January 26, 2018 8:17 AM

BRAKIE

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

OK, if you really want to understand what goes on when your train goes around a curve, here is some light reading:

http://webspace.webring.com/people/ib/budb3/arts/tech/curv.html

The website this info comes from is full of detailed technical info about model trains:

http://webspace.webring.com/people/ib/budb3/index.html

Sheldon

 

 

 

Sheldon,I know none  of that gibbly gook babble and been backing long cars through #4 switches with those so called terrible "S" curves and around curves.

Its all in the wrist. Control that and one will be surprise how forgiving our models are.

 

Yes Larry, I understand.

But are your long cars close coupled at scale distances with body mounted couplers and working diaphragms?

Sure with talgo couplers, and enough spacing and truck swivel, almost anything is possible.

If I wanted that look I eould just buy and run LIONEL.........

That gibbly gook is called physics, math and engineering. Without it, trains real or model would not work.........

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, January 26, 2018 7:11 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

OK, if you really want to understand what goes on when your train goes around a curve, here is some light reading:

http://webspace.webring.com/people/ib/budb3/arts/tech/curv.html

The website this info comes from is full of detailed technical info about model trains:

http://webspace.webring.com/people/ib/budb3/index.html

Sheldon

 

Sheldon,I know none  of that gibbly gook babble and been backing long cars through #4 switches with those so called terrible "S" curves and around curves.

Its all in the wrist. Control that and one will be surprise how forgiving our models are.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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Posted by gdelmoro on Friday, January 26, 2018 6:56 AM

So I’m glad I asked the question. As always I lean something from forum members. Here I leaned about calculating minimum radius based on truck spacing and that the couplers as well as the particular string of cars influences minimum radius. Also got a new website.

Finally, as I have learned the hard way “Assume it’s trackwork until proven otherwise” Geeked

Gary

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Posted by gdelmoro on Friday, January 26, 2018 6:44 AM

Drumguy

I think the biggest factor in the minimum radius game is speed. The manufacturers are trying to market to the largest possible base. Therefore, “minimum radius” is a more desirable advertising metric than “desirable radius.” More folks have minimum 22’s Than 32’s +, so they tell us it will work on a 22. It’s not deceptive advertising, it’s just marketing. It will work on a 22—at 10% throttle. For mainline passenger speed, it will need something significantly wider.

My minimum radius is 26, most are 30, but I like those big articulated steamers, so I’m willing to slow them down to navigate that 26” curve.

 

That’s interesting Drumguy, Are you talking about decopods? Or Big Boy locos.  I have never tried them because i thought it just wouldn’t work.  I have a 1990’s riverarossi 4-6-6-4 I’m thinking of converting to DCC but I really would like to find some way to test run it first.

Gary

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