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Author Topic: Minimum radius for locomotives  (Read 4514 times)
johnny4UK

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« on: August 28, 2014, 08:21:13 AM »

I have recently purchased a number of N locomotives and rolling stock from an old friend who is moving from a house to a small apartment, and doesn't have room for his train set.
The locomotives are as follows:-
81159. 2-8-0 Consolidation Steam Loco, New York Central (approx. 5" length)
82758. GE EMD SD-45 Diesel, Union Pacific (approx. 4.5" length)
86060. GE DASH 8-40 CW Diesel, Santa Fe B/Y War Bonnet (approx. 4.5" length)
The track is Peco Streamline (flexible) with a number of turnouts.

My question is - what is minimum radius for locomotives to run on (I suspect that a larger radius required for the 2-8-0 than the Diesels?)
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brokemoto

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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 08:35:06 AM »

My experience with the 2-8-0 is that it climbs nine and three quarter curves.  Mine ran fine on eleven inch curves.  There are those who state that their SPECTRUM 2-8-0 will operate on nine and three quarter curves, but none of mine ever would.  Funny thing, the Kato USRA heavy 2-8-2 would go around the nine and three quarter.  It did not like it, but it would go.

The diesels that you mention are modern prototypes, so I have no experience with them.  At least one of them is a six axle (the other one may be, as well, I am not sure).  The Atlas/Kato six axles will go around nine and three quarter curves, but most six axles operate better on eleven inch or greater curves.  There are some six axles that will derail on nine and three quarter curves; the Life-Like/Walthers DL-109 is one of them.
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johnny4UK

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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 09:56:43 AM »

Thanks for your info.
I was hoping to build track on a 24" x 48" board, so your experience of successfully running the 2-8-0 on an 11 inch curve means I should be OK.
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Mike C

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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 10:44:46 AM »

The track will just BARELY fit on a 2' wide board.  If you can add 3 or 4 inches to the width it would be much better. On 2' the track will be right on the edge and not leave room for safety if the train derails.
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johnny4UK

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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 03:07:34 PM »

Thanks for this advice.
I see what you mean - it's better to build in a safety margin than take things to the limit.
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Albert in N
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2014, 10:28:35 PM »

My modest layout base is a 30 inch by 80 inch hollow core door.  It sits on a cabinet base in a corner against two walls.  On the unprotected open sides, I simply cut and attached two strips of lightweight molding from Home Depot.  The molding is roughly a quarter of an inch thick and 3 inches wide and is a dark walnut plastic coating over some lightweight pressed foam plastic product and cheap.  I chose it to compliment the cabinet base.  This gives over an inch above the layout base, which would keep a derailed train from falling off the layout.  I have seen some layouts using clear acrylic safety glass material for a layout edge protector.  Prior to this modest layout, I had a 24 inch (2 foot) wide hollow core door using Bachmann EZ track in a figure 8 with siding track.  On it, I used a smaller finished trim board to protect the edge.  So far, I have not lost a train off the edge.  Even if I had 6 inches from track edge to drop off, I would still use something to protect the open edge, regardless of train scale.  I must confess that for years I had both a small N scale layout plus a larger 3-rail (like Williams or Lionel) O gauge layout in the same room.  Now with a smaller house, I sold the big stuff and increased the N scale layout size slightly.  It is easier to keep a small layout dust free and clean track than on a super sized layout.  There are plenty of us hollow core door layout guys.  It is better to run trains than dream about building a layout, plus climate control inside makes it more enjoyable.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 10:56:24 PM by Albert in N » Logged
johnny4UK

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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2014, 03:13:47 AM »

Thanks for sharing your solution to protecting trains from falling off track boards.
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Country Joe

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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 12:17:19 PM »

I agree with Albert, go with a 30"x80" hollow core door if you can. It's not that much bigger but the extra room real adds a lot. Curves can be bigger and there are lots of track plans available. If you don't have room for 30"x80" how about 30"x60" rather than 24"x48"?
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Albert in N
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2014, 11:37:45 PM »

For many years, I ran N scale on common 11 inch radius curved track.  Sure, I added straight sections, turnouts, and even used a figure eight 90 degree crossing, trying different things.  Once for several years, I had an 11 inch radius outer oval, with an inner oval of 9 and 3/4 inch radius curves.  The tracks were connected with turnouts, plus a couple of inner sidings.  Most of the time, I used a two foot wide hollow core door base cut down to five and a half foot long to fit the space allocated for N scale.  I used Atlas track nails sparingly to attach the track (works with Bachmann E-Z or Atlas Snap Track).  The nice thing is that you can try different layouts in the space available.  Using flex track could be harder, since it is hard to bend the track to consistent radius curves, but it can be done.  The flex disadvantage would be loss of track cutting to fit the ends.  If you reconfigure flex track, it would be necessary to trim the rail ends on curves to fit the opposing track sections.  If the only space available is two foot by four feet, do it and have fun.  If larger space becomes available later, go for it.  My point is to enjoy running trains.  I have known a few "arm chair model railroaders" who never got around to building a layout.  I have had modest S, HO, O three rail, and N scale layouts in the past, settling for N scale only now.   My current layout has minimum 11 inch radius with a larger radius outer oval with sidings.  Mostly, I run diesel locomotives.  When I run steam, my Bachmann Northern and Prairie do fine on 11 inch radius.  A Bachmann Light Mountain liked the wider radius best, but would run OK on 11 inch radius curves (it was traded off at a train show several years ago).
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johnny4UK

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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2014, 02:44:56 PM »

Thanks to both of you for your further thoughts.
Have already constructed 24" x 48" board, and measuring up available space again, I can increase width to 36" which will enable plenty of room for 2 or 3 curves at each end, but will have to stick with 48" length.
Still, enough room to make an interesting layout.
Thanks again
John
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Albert in N
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2014, 10:12:56 PM »

Glad you found more room.   This gives more track options.  Just thinking about a table edge guard.  Inexpensive yard sticks could be pinned on the lower side, and should stick up enough above the table surface to keep trains from falling off.  This could be temporary, or you could paint them to match.  Small wire nails (like used to mount wall pictures) could be used to attach these yardsticks, if clear acrylic strips or trim boards were not readily available.  Yardsticks are common in USA, and I assume also in the UK.  Also on a track plan, a fold over oval using 30 degree or flatter  crossover could be used.  At one house years ago, I had a similar almost square space of some five feet by six feet for an HO layout and had a folded over oval layout from Atlas track plans.  It was fun to watch the train cross over and gave more running space for the train to return to the same spot. 
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