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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My layout is going to have some pretty good grades on it, long ones too! And I plan on pulling mixed trains with heavy cars. Will battery power hold up to the challenge for this type of operation, or should I go with track power?
 

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You did not say what kind of locos you were planning for your mixed trains.

The problem with heavy grades is not the power source but the robustness of your locos. I use a pair of B'mann shays and they pull heavy trains up stiff grades (using battery power). I have seen a similar shay pull 28 cars up a 150 foot 4% grade at Dave Goodson's when I visited a few years ago - and of course, he uses battery power.

A Connie would not budge 28 cars on a 4% grade and is quite likely to strip gears.

Now, if you plan to double head SD-70s you can pull some really long trains ... but charge up some heavy duty D cells for the job.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I plan on having mostly Bachmann locomotives, a K-27, 3-Truck Shays and Double Headed Annies, and probably a Connie. I'm not so much worried about the locomotives making it up the drag, that's what pusher's are for:cool: I just don't want to set up Battery power and then one trip around and the battery is drained.
 

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There will be no problem with properly installed battery RC with the locos you refer to. My shays routinely run our whole 3 hour saturday morning ops session with stiff grades and good sized trains. I should add that I never just run continuously in a loop but am engaged in lots of switching.

I would be careful with the Annies and the Connie. For example, a 10 car train on a 4% grade uncompensated for a curve is about the limit of a Connie and certainly well beyond stock Annies. Double headed or otherwise you can easily strip gears in those locos.

You also didnt say what kind of cars you would be running. But that big K-27 suggests AMS cars roughly 3-4 pounds each. An Annie would not drag even 5 of them plus a caboose (more than 20 pounds of train) up a 4% grade.

Regards ... Doug
 

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I think instead you should think about reducing those grades.
 

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What are you going to use for brakes on the downhill side? Steep grades turn layouts into roller coasters in a hurry.

I have 3% grades, and I am satisfied with what I have. But if I were to do it over (and I will someday), I will either have no grades, or less than 2%.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My railroad will basically be in a 'L' shape, measuring along the ground it would be approx. 150 linear feet, (approx. 300' of track) the overall rise will be around 16' by the time you reach the top end, with approx. 10' of that being in 1/2 of the layout. I plan on making the first large elevation change with the old Colorado trick known as the Georgetown Loop, I'm hoping to gain 4-5 feet in this feature alone, with the remainder being a switchback and a reverse loop (or wye) at the end. and I want to keep the grade at 4% max. My Annies will most likely remain on the lower (less severe) portion of the layout, but will probably double head a short train up the "hill" on occasion.

Right now I'm working on 'Improving' the first of my Annies, when I considered switching to battery power, but the thought of my high grades I didn't want to be in a situation where I would be changing batteries every 20 minutes.
 

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Your operational plans sound much like the old Colorado Midland Ry., a particular favorite of mine. Their mainline grades ran up to 4.5%! Most of the Midland's lokies were ten-wheelers. The three classes of 2-8-0's were used mostly in helper service. If you are going to have really long grades it could make for some especially interesting ops where battery power would be a real asset.

I would add one lokie for approx. each five cars on the grade. This wouldn't be too far from what the prototype did and should protect your engine gears. A helper station at the foot of the main grade to add helpers and a couple of runaround tracks at the summit to remove them would be a real hoot. A 12 car train might only need one lokie on level track and have to stop at the helper station to add a helper in the middle and another on the rear ahead of the caboose to ascend the grade. While all three lokies could be controlled with one transmitter you would also have the option of separate engineers running each and coordinating movement with whistle signals. I love this [:)" border=0>]

I think your plan is very doable with batteries and certainly the ops would be greatly enhanced over track power in this particular instance. One other option too if you're not sure is to use track power for the main train running and batteries just for the helpers to give them more independence. Then you could verify for your self if batteries will do the job as you'll still have track power to fall back on. Just don't skimp on your battery packs.
 

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Battery power will be quite fine on a 4% grade. My dad's railroad has some long runs of 4% grades, and we've been running battery power on that since the early '80s. The key consideration with batteries is current draw, which is simply a function of load. With the switchbacks you're planning, you'll invariably have to limit the lengths of your trains so that they'll fit on the tails of the switchbacks. Given 12' of track on the tail, that's maybe 6 cars plus a locomotive. That's on par with what my dad typically runs on his railroad, and he'll get around 2 hours from his batteries. Without knowing the cars you plan on pulling, I'd imagine even the 4-6-0s wouldn't have much trouble with a train like that on the 4%, assuming they're not overly heavy, and are free-rolling.

Later,

K
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm mostly planning on pulling Bachmann and AMS 1:20.3 cars. Yes I like the idea of mid train helpers and battery would greatly enhance this. I pondered over DCC for a while, but half of my layout will reside under evergreens, and I'm not too thrilled about having to keep the track 'super clean' for DCC ops.

I'm debating on a true switchback, or just working out a 180 degree curve to turn the train back up the hill.

For those of you who run battery power, do you opt for 'lesser grade' track since you don't have to worry about the oxidization interfering with power pickup? Not neccisarily 'cheap' track, but say aluminum instead of brass rail?
 

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I'm using aluminum code 250 track. Since my RR is raised on benchwork I don't have to worry about deer and other wildlife destroying the rail anymore. I don't opt for "cheap" especially on trackwork which is the foundation for running trains. Except for some PHS Rail track I got for a bargain (good quality though) all my track is Llagas Creek. The aluminum is cheaper in price but more than adequate for my needs. It does not like to be stepped on however so be sure it is either out of harms way or very well supported underneath.
 

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On my dad's railroad, we used aluminum because in 1980, it was the only way to get curves wider than what LGB produced. At the time, we used it for track power with no difficulties over the 4+ years we ran power through the rails. When we switched to battery power, we just stopped cleaning the rails. Expansions followed using more aluminum rail because it proved quite adequate and inexpensive.

Once I got through school and finally bought my own place, I opted for aluminum code 250 rail because I liked the smaller profile, it was cheap, and based on my experiences with my dad's line, I knew it would hold up well when built on a good foundation. The only thing I didn't like about the aluminum was having to paint the rails to get them to look realistic. I tried pre-painting them, but the tie strips I was using were so tight that they'd strip the paint off the base of the rail as I slid them on. When I moved, the track stayed with the house, so I didn't have the luxury of taking it with me.

Now, I'm using the AMS brass code 250 track. Really, the only two reasons I'm using that instead of the aluminum is that it was actually comparable in price (don't know if that's still the case) and I decided that I liked the way brass weathered, so I wouldn't have to worry about painting the rails out here. The fly in that ointment is that the particular alloy AMS uses is very slow to oxidize, so it's still--three years later--a bit yellowish.

Later,

K
 

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Posted By up9018 on 04/16/2008 10:28 AM
My railroad will basically be in a 'L' shape, measuring along the ground it would be approx. 150 linear feet, (approx. 300' of track) the overall rise will be around 16' by the time you reach the top end, with approx. 10' of that being in 1/2 of the layout. I plan on making the first large elevation change with the old Colorado trick known as the Georgetown Loop, I'm hoping to gain 4-5 feet in this feature alone, with the remainder being a switchback and a reverse loop (or wye) at the end. and I want to keep the grade at 4% max. My Annies will most likely remain on the lower (less severe) portion of the layout, but will probably double head a short train up the "hill" on occasion.
Right now I'm working on 'Improving' the first of my Annies, when I considered switching to battery power, but the thought of my high grades I didn't want to be in a situation where I would be changing batteries every 20 minutes.




By your description you have a minimum of a 10.7 percent grade. The curves at the bend in the "L" shape, as well as the curves at both ends, will only add additional drag... you effective grade will probably approach 15 to 20 percent!

Me thinks you need to reduce the requirement of a 16-ft rise from one end to the other. Either build trestles on the low end or fill it in, and dig trenches/tunnels at the high end. A 16-ft rise in 150-ft is just too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Pardon me for my poor description, my area is approx 150 linear feet, (75' up one side of the house, and then 75' across the back), but I am estimating there to be approx. 300' of track. The side yard has a slight grade, approx. a 3' rise to a steep hill, i plan on creating a loop to increase the elevation by 4', then run along the side of the hill, up about 3-4' in the 75' run, turn 180' and run up another 3-4' back across the 75'. I'm looking at obtaining some 'heavy' equipment to maybe help reduce the grade and level the roadbed. My overall run will probably be about the same, but I may reduce the overall rise. I will see if i can get some pics uploaded soon. Maybe start another Topic for my 'In Process' work.
 

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5.3% is pretty steep, but not undoable. Perhaps a switchback or helix could cut the grade in half?

You could raise the lowerend with a big, senic trestle or an elevated section. 4ft would be a nice height for that.

Snap a couple pictures of your space and see what ideas flow. This is a very creative bunch and somebody will figure out something really cool for your slope.
 

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My recommendation would be to elevate the rail at the lower end and keep it at a 2% or less grade all the way. Then just either dig or fill to make the topography fit the track. Elevated track is much easier to work on and makes nice photo ops, as well. 4% grades are dangerous, especially with curves where the drag produces side loading on the rolling stock and the first thing you know, you get a string of pearls falling off the track. Very embarrassing when you have people over for an operating session - especially when it's the visitors cars that hit the grass!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I will be creating a new post in the Beginners Forum called the Cripple Creek & Western to record my progress. You will find pictures of my railroad area there.
 
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