Main Layout – Points Testing & Incline Tests

When designing the new layout I had planned for inclines on the main running loops, however thinking back to the test layout and all the problems I had there, I thought I had better do some testing to make sure it would be reliable. One thing I really don’t want is to have constant derailments and not be able to run a train without lots of frustration, that is an easy way to loose interest or loose the fun from a layout.

In this first video I’m using my Athearn GP60 with a mix of passenger and freight cars of different lengths, running at different speeds to test out the new points. These are large radius electrofrog points from Peco. The idea here is to use a train with a tighter radius limit to make sure there wont be any issues switching tracks later on when the track is fixed down.

This train combination should give me a nice mix to cover most situations – these are deliberately the more fussy cars to try to find issues quickly.

In this second video I’m testing various trains up and down an extended 4% incline set from Woodland Scienics. The ‘extended’ part means I have added in some level sections at 2 inches high to try to make the grade a little easier.

During the tests one of the trains split and a short recovery operation started.

First – Lima HST, DCC fitted, lights from Express Models and cab interior from Hornby spares.
@00:36 – Athearn Genesis EMD SDP45 with Tsunami sound and Athearn SD40 in Southern Pacific livery & recovery operation.
@10:30 – Hornby EWS Class 90, DCC fitted and lights from Express Models.
@12:00 – Hornby East Midlands Trains HST.
@15:40 – Athearn SP GP60 in Southern Pacific livery (DC).

In addition to the trains in the video, a Lima class 66 was tested and failed to make the incline with a train even with a full run up at full speed.
The pair of bachmann class 20s off in the siding in the video also made the incline without issue.

From these tests, I think its better to have the main line on a flat level without any changes in grade, although most of the newer trains have no issues, older trains have problems and that inclines in general tend to be problematic. One issue I noticed right from the start is that the track tends to lift on the corners, making one rail higher than the other. I want this layout to be reliable and as trouble free as I can, therefore the mainline is going to be flat, and I’ll create another line on a higher level which will be more varied. This gives me something interesting while still having a reliable main line, at least that is the idea.

Please feel free to share any comments or experience you may have with inclines and gradients you may have, as I’m interested in what others have done or had issues with.

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