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Hello everyone

We are currently planning our first garden train layout. We have five acres so there is no shortage of space to play in, but the big question is how much slope (%) can most trains comfortably run in ??? Our property is on a hill which may cause some challenges for laying some track. I have heard that 2-3% grade is acceptable, does anyone have any thoughts on this. 
Thanks
Jamie 
 

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Yes, this is a FAQ, and you have the right answer in general. Plan for no more than 2%. Then when things get tight, you can go over a bit. There are exceptions, like if you only run geared locos or really short trains, but 2% is a good rule of thumb.

Also, whether or not a train will "make it" is only part of the question, steeper grades wear on your locos more.

Regards, Greg
 

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According to the literature most G scale loco's can handle up to a maximum of 4%. In my experience they really don't like any slope at all. Were it me, with that much room to locate my layout, I'd choose the flattest spot available and try to limit grades to less than 2%, if any.
 

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I had one section where I did run a four percent grade. It is a long pull--about fifty feet--and there was no way around having a relatively steep grade at that point because of the nature of the elevated setup. This steep gradient works for some engines and consists but definitely not for others. I eventually found a way to bring that one section down to something under three percent and was able to achieve much more satisfactory results pulling long passenger consists no less.
 

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OF course you also have to consider what you are interested in modeling. An old time logging or mining railroad wouldn't quite look right with only a 2% grade. On the other hand, a modern mainline train wouldn't look right with a grade as steep as 2%.

That said, my logging railroad has a long 5% grade with a five foot radius curve in the middle. I run short trains, but anything with at least two motors does OK. For as often as I run trains, any shortening of life expectancies isn't a problem. I also check periodically to make sure that the wheels on the cars are turning freely.

But with 5 acres, why not both? Two separate lines, two different railroads. Two? Heck, four or five.
 

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I'm about 4.95 acres short of your potential, and with a back yard that slopes away from the house, the topography dictates narrow-gauge grades of up to 4% with 8' diameter curves.  Needless to say, there are no 80-car freights here, nor multiple unit lash-ups of monster diesels. ;)  I concur that for "class 1 mainline"  operations, 2% would be a maximum, and even that much will limit the length of your trains.  If you think that you might ever be interested in running live steam, keep things as flat as you possibly can.  That said, have fun building your railroad!  There's nothing as exciting as a "clean slate" to get the dreaming started!:D   
 

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I have a tendency to be semi-abusive with my locos so you can take this with the grain of salt it probably deserves.  I have a mainline that has a roughly 5% grade that my Aristo U-23 regularly climbs towing seventeen cars.  It had problems initially with slipping but after adding another pound and a half of lead, no problems.  It'll do that for an hour and a half on a fully charged ryobi eighteen volt drill battery.

Mark
 

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I have about 300 ft. stretch of grade running from yard level to 8 ft of elevation. I tried to keep it at a max of 2% and was able to do this (mostly â€" might be a couple of 2.5% spots). I have a main line operation running all diesel except a Aristo Mallet. I have to limit my consists to around 30 cars â€" not because of the grade but 2 tight turns which I plan to correct in the near future. I run 2 & 3 axel - 3 unit lash-ups on battery power. Mostly SD 45s Dash 9s and  4 GP 38s. I weight my cars to prevent wind caused problems (a car falling from 7-8ft in the air makes for a real bad day RRing). It takes about 10 -15 minutes to pull the grade to the summit at prototypical speeds (10- 15mph).   

 

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Posted By markperr on 01/14/2008 2:15 PM
I have a tendency to be semi-abusive with my locos so you can take this with the grain of salt it probably deserves.  I have a mainline that has a roughly 5% grade that my Aristo U-23 regularly climbs towing seventeen cars.  It had problems initially with slipping but after adding another pound and a half of lead, no problems.  It'll do that for an hour and a half on a fully charged ryobi eighteen volt drill battery.

Mark
I guess the question is how long is the grade? That's quite a slope you have there. I have never really checked mine, but I know that long parts of it are fairly steep for the trains I run over it, probably in the three percent range.It is good to hear that some of our members have really successfully tested the full limits of what our trains can do.  


--Ron at the CRD in CC-AK
 

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Posted By chaingun on 01/16/2008 10:29 AM
I have about 300 ft. stretch of grade running from yard level to 8 ft of elevation. I tried to keep it at a max of 2% and was able to do this (mostly â€" might be a couple of 2.5% spots). I have a main line operation running all diesel except a Aristo Mallet. I have to limit my consists to around 30 cars â€" not because of the grade but 2 tight turns which I plan to correct in the near future. I run 2 & 3 axel - 3 unit lash-ups on battery power. Mostly SD 45s Dash 9s and  4 GP 38s. I weight my cars to prevent wind caused problems (a car falling from 7-8ft in the air makes for a real bad day RRing). It takes about 10 -15 minutes to pull the grade to the summit at prototypical speeds (10- 15mph).   



Sounds like your set up is very similar to mine.  I am running an average of seven feet off the ground and have definitely had some wind problems. In any case, this sounds like quite an operation: yard level to eight feet in 300 feet. of run.  I like it.  My kind of model railroad.


--Ron at the CRD in CC-AK
 

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Chaingun (might want to sign you name at the bottom of your posts):

What weight have you picked for your cars, like 40' ones? Interested in what you came up with. If you have to weight over 3 pounds, you might consider ball bearing journals or wheelsets, since the grades will hammer you.

Regards, Greg
 

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I use 1% on mainlines and no more than 3% on secondary lines. If it is for a logging road I will go to 4-5% but it does cut way down on the number of cars that can be pulled.

Art
 

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Greg,
I use chunks of 3/8 X 2 1/2 inch steel inside box cars & gons, I also use 1 lbs. sealed plastic bags of shot I got out of leg weights I got from Wally World. I am getting ready - to get ready - to start retro-fitting after market journal bearings or ball bearing wheel sets on all my rolling stock. Sooo much to do so little time. Yes?
Ron,
Ya it definitely gets interesting when I get one of those 20+ mph wind gusts with a mixed consist up in the breeze! LOL! And if it’s a double stacked intermodel unit train look out below!

Best, Ted
Ted Johnson
GYT&S RR
(Grit Your Teeth & Spit RR)
Bouse, AZ
 

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Greg,
I use an average of 2lbs per car but I may load out the first 1/3 of the consist with more weight. I do this to prevent the first few cars from being pulled over by the weight of the trailing cars at the two tight curves mentioned in my first post. Car weighting is the school of hard knocks here on the GYT&S. Over time I have gotten a “feelâ€� for how the consists needs to be weighted and what length I can get by with. The picture in my earlier post is of my “Tehachapi Loopâ€� where I can cross over the rear of the train with the engines but… I need a consist of around 50 cars to do it. Pulling a 50 car con. is no problem with my motive power, but as I stated earlier the two tight curves prevent me from hauling more than 30 â€" 34- cars in a consist. Sooo I hope to be able to increase the radius of these two curves in the near future allowing me to get whaaay crazy! LOL!
Best, Ted
 

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As a rough rule of thumb, you halve the number of cars you can pull with each 1% increase in grade. Say you could pull 50 cars on the straight and level, you might pull 25 cars on 1%, 12 cars on 2%, 6 cars on 3% and 3cars on 4%. This is without curves (especially sharp curves). I don't guarantee the numbers, but it illustrates the principal.

This leads to an example of ruling grade. I was watching an engine hauling 14 cars, but when it got to this 6 foot section of track it started slipping. What was happening is that the engine was maxed out say on the 2% section but when it hit the 3% section it couldn't pull as much. I couldn't tell by eyeball the grade change by looking at the track, but the engine running was very noticeable. This means that it is well worth the effort and care to put your track in as smooth as you can. Also I recomend that the grade on curves be less than that on straights, so that your curves don't slow you down so much.

Terl
 

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Posted By Terl on 01/19/2008 2:52 AM
As a rough rule of thumb, you halve the number of cars you can pull with each 1% increase in grade. Say you could pull 50 cars on the straight and level, you might pull 25 cars on 1%, 12 cars on 2%, 6 cars on 3% and 3cars on 4%. This is without curves (especially sharp curves). I don't guarantee the numbers, but it illustrates the principal.


Terl
That's pretty darn dramatic. Very useful. Thanks for the info.
 
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