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Question on transitions to steep grades

2781 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Big John
I am building my railroad using the Richard Smith system of elevated 2x4 platforms. The area in my back yard that is the sight of my railroad has a very steep drop in elevation. From the high end to the low end 50 feet away there is a 6 foot drop. I plan to make a large portion of the railroad level and my platforms will be elevated from a low of 6 inches off the ground to a high of 3 feet off the ground. I plan to have a logging operation in the lowest area with a Bachmann Shay and Heisler pulling log loads up to the highest portion where the saw mill will be located. What is the steepest grade I can use with these engines that can pull at least three log cars and a caboose up from the tree cutting area to the saw mill? Also, how do I make the transition into the steep grade from the low level platform and out of the top of the grade to the high level platform? I don't want the engine to look awkard entering and leaving the grade section. I don't want to hit the cow catcher going up the grade or push the nose in the air comming down off the grade. Any recommendations would be appreciated. I have pictures of my area but I haven't been able to post them yet. Still trying.

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On my layout I transition from level to 4% grade and back to level using about 2 ft of "transition" track. I kinda cheated on mine. 1st time I tested transitions on a temporary torture track, I used a single 12" section where the underside of the rails were curfed enough to allow the track to be curved vertically so I could get that transition to grade. It worked but was labor intensive but it gave me another idea. So on the current layout I simply used several short sections of track with thin wood shims undernieght to support the gradual transition to grade. The joiners naturally allow a certain amount of vertical flexibility, enough to be used for transitions. Caviet, my layout in indoors so the shims have full support of the benchwork, and my layout is small so I dont have the luxury of long gradual transitions like those decribed in other posts.
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