Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!


Upper Level Track Clearance And Gradient

Shane models HO and asks readers:

“I want to run a double track to a proposed new upper level on my 4×9 setup and want to know how high to make it above the lower level. I don’t want the gradient too steep but still want enough clearance for access and for trains to run under the top level. Sorry if that sounds confusing.”

4 Responses to Upper Level Track Clearance And Gradient

  • Graemesays:

    Hi Shane, I run a double level in OO scale.The distance between levels is 15 inches, this sounds a lot but believe me when trying to access something at the back of the layout it’s pretty tight.Any way I’ll tell you how I did it, firstly my layout is in a U shape, 3.2 x 3.2 x 3.2 metres. To gain another level I built a double track helix at both ends one for going up one for going down, then after putting down the base boards it was quite dark so I had to add led strip lights. You could build a helix at both ends or even just one end. The gradient I used was 2% mainly because I like long rakes of wagons and a decent loco can manage this quite easily at that grade.The down side is I used 3rd & 4th radius track which in turn made the helix pretty much a 4foot square and the amount of track required huge, but you could use flex track. The helixes work very well, but as I was saying take up space, one other thing if the distance between levels was any lower it makes viewing hard and you lose interest in the lower level and concentrate on the upper level so you may as well have left it at one level.hope this helps regards Graeme

  • donj1044says:

    Shane == If you want a second level on your 4 foot by 8 foot table, you would have to start raising the track at the 8 ft edge of the table. You will need that much to get a nice rise so trains may pass under the raised track. You need at least three to four inches to do this.
    That also depends on the size ( height) of your rolling stock. Double stack cars may require more space to pass under. I hope this helps you. The best thing you could do is to expand your layout space by another table. Good luck and stay in touch.
    DonJ A Ferroequinoligist
    Raleigh, NC 27519

  • Tim Morloksays:

    Hi Shane; I am in the process of creating a 15.5 ft x 17 ft room in the back of my 2 car garage for a multi-level HO scale layout. I designed plans to have an upper shelf style continuous loop double main passenger level above a larger freight/ switching level that is an extended dog bone style. In designing the passenger level, I want the run to go from a 60 inches at the main station along the back wall to 72 inches along the front wall with a mountain town and a bridge over the doorway. In order to fit the 12 inch rise into the 15.5 ft width and keep the ascending grade at 3% or less, I have to include a 50 inch radius Tehachapi loop on one side. On the other side a 120 inch L x 54 inch W rounded peninsula will give me a less than 2% grade for both mainlines. So to answer your question: you would need a larger layout or a double helix, which would take up about 4 sq ft., in order to get the desired separation between levels. Best of luck, Tim

  • skipsays:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a photo or image related to your comment (JPEG only)

Download Your Free Catalog

N Scale Track Plans

Watch Video


Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

Submit your model train questions here.

Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.

Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

Scenery Techniques Explained

Everything DCC



Model Train Help Ebook

Bringing Your Railroad To Life!

Scenery & Layout Ideas

Share With Friends


Submit Your Article

Would you like to write an article and have it published?

Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

Submit Your Article Here

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.

Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

Model Railroading Blog Archive

Reader Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.