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Track Standards

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:10 am
by Glenn Brooks
Does anybody know if Clubs adhere to any de facto safety standards for setting superelevation on curves or leveling track? If so, any numbers?

For example, Iam leveling and tamping some mainline I finished laying, and trying to level all low spots that drop over 1/4” per foot across the track. Also wondering how much superelevation is to much?

Just wondering if there are some excepted rules of thumb to go by.


Re: Track Standards

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:33 am
by NP317
I would expect that no super elevation will be your goal.
With your tight radius curves, and low operating speeds, there should be no need for it.
I can just picture that high speed run through your woods...

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:30 am
by rkcarguy
I dug up a IBLS article some time ago that mentioned super-elevation wasn't typically used in model railroading. It's a formula of speed and tons of weight of real trains that makes it work, and the reduced speed and weight just don't really amount to anything at a smaller scale. I think it could actually worsen the situation, and potentially cause a long train to flop over on a tight curve.
As for leveling, I think the flatter everything is, the better...... unless the bumping around is wanted as part of the experience I guess.

If that's the case, here is some inspiration: :shock:

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:07 pm
by cbrew
my two cents,
leveling track is/should always be the goal, but it only takes a winter or two to screw that up. as for as super-elevation /positive camber its better then finding negative camber. being a bit top heavy, I came close to derailing my tender when i find a rapid transition to a negative camber. in playing with positive camber at the local club on tight curves. I found with just a few (2 to 5) degrees, the inside flange would often ride the rail head instead of the outer flange. which will help to keep stuff on the rails. so it can be a good thing when dealing with flanges that like to climb.

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:12 pm
by Pontiacguy1
We did some super-elevation on some of our curves at our club, which hauls the public on a regular basis, and we found that it didn't help. In fact, some riders actually shifted their weight against the super-elevation when they felt it leaning them to the inside a bit, as reported by some of our engineers. Because of this our board of directors policy on all curves is now to make it as flat as possible. If there is a slight super-elevation, then no big deal, but we don't try to put in any, and you definitely don't want it to tip to the outside.

If you are hauling the public and you need super-elevation on your track, you're probably going faster than you should be. I realize that you are not hauling the public, but with low speeds you should not need it at all. I've seen a few tracks where it would be useful, and where it was used, but that is typically some place where there is a lot more track, wider curves, and higher speeds are possible. I would be willing to bet that small branch lines and narrow gauge railroads didn't bother with super-elevation on their curves. For most of us, that's more like what our operations are like anyway.

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:34 pm
Back when we were planing our RR we were thinking of something like 1/2" super-elevation, then we consulted with long time friend Don Angerhofer, and he suggested between 1/4" and 5/16", and that is it.

We started curve #1 in 2007 with 100 foot radius, 7-5/8" gauge, and 5/16th super-elevation, as seen in the first photo.

Because there are only three of us, we are not a club, nine years later after installing several curves we have the second photo. At first we pre-made curved sections, but quickly found it easier to install curves by laying down on a moving cart, as seen in the second photo.

We now use a laser level to level track and set super-elevation, but still try to keep at that suggested amount.

Straight track is made up in ten foot sections at 7-9/16" gauge; still have a few more curves to go!

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:13 pm
by johnpenn74
I will cast a vote in support of super elevation. Having worked through a couple of curves I feel it is well worth the effort.

In the past I have used a plumbers level that has fractional inch drop / 12". I recommend using 3 targets 1) level, 2) minor tilt (say 1/4 in 12") and 3) major tilt (say 1/2" inch in 12") Note that the Mojor is twice the minor. This will give you about 1/8 and and 1/4 across your track gauge.

In practical application, the key thing is to make some notes as to what you are doing, as the track will work out of level or tilt and you need to know where the tilt starts and whether it is major or minor. The prototype actually puts little plates on the ties with the inches of elevation. Indicating where zero is, then when the minor is achieved and then when major is acheived (if you used that much in a particular curve) Also, you might overdue it. I have put in superelevation that later proved to be too much. Put in 1/2 when all that was needed was 1/4. So knowing what went in is useful if you are correcting it to some lower level.

There is no universal calculation for super elevation as the amount of tilt is based on track radius and target operational speed. The same applies for our models; not so much due to physics but due to rider response. I have come to believe that super elevation does not work when riding cars are set up with too much play in the bolster / truck connection. Sure a care with lots of bolster play can go over really rough track, but If the car is too loose, the rider will react trying to either stay perfectly erect or trying to lean in, and not really achieving either one due to the cars instability beneath him , often resulting in a derailment. Think about a steam locomotive, it will lean based on the track superelevation. Cars on the other hand will level out if there is enough play in the bolster.


Re: Track Standards

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:36 am
by johnpenn74
Here's the level I use.

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:30 pm
by Glenn Brooks
John, did you scribe the lines in the level, or find one that was made that way?

FWIW, I’ve gone back through my lay out and taken out most all the superelevation. Except for a curve on one trestle, where I have 5/8” on a 50’ radius - but it’s 12” gauge. In order to level this out, I need to unbolt all the lag bolts across 7 bents and jack up the low side, then insert spacers and redrill the vertical supports. and put all the lag bolts back in. Not a quick job to say the least. I’ll see what happens after a few test runs.


Re: Track Standards

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:38 pm
by NP317
Install 1/2" thick tie plates to nearly level the track.

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:37 am
by johnpenn74
The picture is a standard plumbers level. Available as at any hardware store.

Re: Track Standards

Posted: Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:01 pm
by Cary Stewart
There is one caution I would make. Dead flat is fine. A small amount of super elevation is also acceptable but don't even think about a 1 1/2degree angle. Another term for this is positive camber. Now avoid at all costs a negative camber on any curve of any degree of curve. This can happen if the road bed is not tamped or rolled enough and sags with the outside of the curve being lower than the inside. How do I know this? At LALS about 15 years ago we made an addition to the layout called Smith Valley route. It was done in a great hurry and quality suffered. I am not sure if the curve with the negative camber has been corrected yet. Our west end bridge system needs to be repainted. One possibility is to remove all steel sections, transport to another location for sand blasting and painting. If this option is used then the Smith Valley route may become the main line. If the public is riding on that track every weekend then we must fix that negative camber or the riders will enjoy a strange feeling. Not good.