Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ignorance is bliss... There's an app for that...

"To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence." Mark Twain

There I was.. all smug and confident that I had this whole helix grade thing figured out.  I measured and divided and was careful (so I thought) the second time setting the grade.  I got all the sub-roadbed installed, the cork roadbed laid down, started laying track and I even ran an engine a short distance on the top loop.  All was well and right with the world.. until I got my new iPhone..

I've been exploring all the features and apps available and I downloaded a bunch of model railroad related apps.  One of which was a gradient level developed by Kevin Snow at

I knew I had some slight variations in the grade but I figured they were minor.  I started checking the spots that looked a little steeper than the others and I found short sections of 4% or more (by short I mean about one foot in length).  Most of the grade coming up the helix were within 2% with a few spots less than 1%.  I was devastated and even now I'm not totally sure where to go from here.  If I hadn't upgraded my phone, and picked up this app, I wouldn't have known.   I'm thinking of laying the rest of the track and testing a full 12 car train with the heavy 2-8-0 to see if it has a problem with the short steep sections.  After these sections the grade levels out considerably so maybe it will be OK.  If not then I'll have to loosen up the loops and try to even them out, AGAIN.


  1. Can you pop the subroadbed supports loose at the ends of each 4% stretch and let the subroadbed find a happy medium?

    - Eric

  2. Ralph, my words exactly.

    Eric, that's probably what I'm going to do. I think part of the problem has been I've been trying to do this by myself and I really need an extra set of eyes and hands to make sure everything is spot on. A couple of the guys might be stopping by next week to give me a hand doing what you suggested. Thanks. :)