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Discussion Starter #1
The engineers here at the MM&G finally came up with a good idea. They designed the following level car to help when it's time to ballast the track. Works great.




Regards,
Mark
 

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Cool! One word of caution, though--make sure the level is accurate when laid on its side like that. Not all are, and you may find your readings to be a bit off. (Voice of experience.) One way to check--lay the level upright, and compare those readings to what you get when it's on it's side. If they're the same, then you're in good shape.

Later,

K
 

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Judging from the vials, it's clearly meant to be used that way.
 

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Old style Levels were made with a glass tube of uniform internal diameter that was curved overall to provide a "top" place for the bubble to settle into. If placed on its side there would be not "hump" for the bubble to settle in. Turn it upside-down and the bubble could split in two to settle at the ends.

New Levels are made with a barrel shaped internal tube, so no matter which way the tube is layed, as long as the axis is horizontal, the bubble will settle into the hump in the middle in the same position.
 

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Tom, I had made exactly that assumption with my level, which looked similar to the one Mark used. When my father-in-law saw me using the level on its side like that, he cautioned me about the potential problem. Sure enough, it was different. My other torpedo level was fine. Both were fairly new (10 years at the oldest), so I don't know if it was an "old vs. new" issue, or a "cheap vs. expensive" issue. A quick check before you leave the store will put all doubt to rest.

Later,

K
 

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Thats a cool looking car. I do believe tho it would not be that accurate as you would need a reliable way to zero the level I just use the tried and true line buble for cross level measurement. Later RJD
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Level is relative anyway.
In my case, grade consistency is more important. What derails cars more than anything is when the grade rotates (Twist) from one side to another too quickly over a short length of time. It's ok if it twist over a longer length. It's the sudden transitions that get you. When this happens one wheel, on the lead axle can loose contact with the track, which is a bad thing. The twisting would be indicated by the two bubbles on the ends.

What I look for is movement around the center of the glass tubes. If it goes from one outside limit to the other, then one side of the track needs to have it's ballast raised or lowered. It's not so important to have everything "Level" but consistent. It would be nice if the center bulb could be calibrated to show the percent grade. It probably could with some experimentation, but I have not had the opportunity or time to try and accomplish that. Now that would be interesting.

Anyway, it's turned into being a valuable addition to the rail maintenance gang here.
Regards,
Mark
http://community.webshots.com/user/mvgilger
 

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There is a simple way to tell if the level is working, and even if it is giving a level reading. You need the car, a piece of track, and a deck of cards or stack of paper.

Step 1 set the car on the track. Does not matter whether it is level or not.
Step 2 use the cards or paper to shim up the low side until the level reads level.
Step 3 turn the car around an set it back on the track.

If the car still reads level after step three, it is a good leveler. You can use this technique to check any level (did you ever drop your level?) to be sure you are getting a level reading.
 

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Sure enough, it was different. My other torpedo level was fine. Both were fairly new (10 years at the oldest), so I don't know if it was an "old vs. new" issue, or a "cheap vs. expensive" issue. A quick check before you leave the store will put all doubt to rest.




Sounds like Susan's 4ft "crooked." She insisted that everything be leveled to the micrometer, and I'm not exaggerating, but her level was off. I finally marked one end of it, and always pointed that end North or East, so at least everything was crooked to the same direction.
 

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I will hazard a guess as to how many people out there are NOT going to check the level of their track. Almost all, is the answer. If it tracks a train OK, then it is as level as prototype trackage. Most Garden Railroads are far more level than the real deal. Plus, look down a real rail and tell me your rail weaves and twists like that! I don't think so! Even the cross country high iron is pretty loosey-goosey compared to most backyard layouts. So, don't worry. Be happy! The level car is real neat, though.
 

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I think it is a great idea. Check your side to side level, especially at your turnouts, as this can cause some real headaches when operating.
 
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