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Planning a Super Elevation

Club member Lawrence has this question for readers:

“How much should I super-elevate my curves? My plan is to use 1/32 inch thick basswood for my super-elevation at the outer end of the ties. I calculate that at around 3 scale inches in HO scale. Is that sufficient to make it worthwhile, or is it too much? I’m just not sure.”

3 Responses to Planning a Super Elevation

  • David Broadsays:

    Worthwhile for what? Appearance or function. I had problems with a couple of curves around 20″ radius where derailments were a problem so I put approx 1/16th inch wooden rod under the tie ends to superelevate the curves and now I can propel 7 coach trains around the curves without any problems.
    For appearance it is quite difficult to actually see any super elevation on UK main lines but I find the improvement in running makes it well worth doing.

  • David Stokessays:

    Superelevation in model railways is a visual attraction that serves little or no mechanical function. Do it – it looks great when done well, and your trains will look great. However, have you considered transition curves on your layout. Now these DO improve the way trains move. A train travelling on a tangent (straight track) will try to continue to travel in a straight line when approaching into a curve, and needs to be persuaded to go round that curve. Without a transition curve the change in direction is a sudden and visually jarring experience. The train doesn’t “flow”. By installing a short, slightly larger radius section of track before the main curve, the train is coaxed into the curve in a well mannered proper fashion . Look up “Transition curves” on the net for how to do it. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Tim Morloksays:

    Super elevations: Proto – average: 3.6″ to 4″ and 6″ max (per FRA)
    HO scale mainline: 4″ = 0.045″, branch line: 2″ to 3″ = 0.0225 to 0.03375 inches
    N scale mainline: = 0.025″, branch line: = 0.0125 to 0.01875 inches (too small to

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