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In order to raise a track to cross over itself, as in a simple figure eight, you need a grade that will raise the track to the clearance height. When pulling longer trains, particularly in N scale, it is common practice to use the prototypical practice of pulling the train with multiple locomotives. What I have learned about grades can be summarized in two statements:Always build your layout on layers of foam with most track at the midpoint of crossover elevation. This layout was designed for difficult switching challenges, and the track is therefore a bit denser than in prototype operation, but the design nevertheless allows for some scenery. Finally, I’ve included a second diagram about my choice of industries, structures, and freight cars. If everyone followed the popular rule of thumb, I think it's safe to say that Woodland Scenics would not be selling 3% and 4% foam grade kits.
Maximum grade is a function of three factors: the power of your locomotives, the weight of your locomotives, and the number and weight of the cars in your trains.
While curves can be used to break up the monotony of long straight sections of track, turning a train around with a 180 degree curve, a necessity for continuous running layouts, taxes the limits of a narrow layout.With model train track, grades can also be used to make a layout more visually appealing. The table of clearances includes the lengths of the runs required to raise the track to the specified height for 2%, 3%, and 4% grades in various scales. This will also increase the size of a train that can be pulled up a grade, or the maximum grade for fewer cars. Then you can always split your grades going down for the under track and up for the over track.When building a layout, before you glue down your grade foam and track always test your trains on the layout.
When operating at the maximum capacity of 20 cars (10 cars coming in and 10 cars going out) it can take over an hour to complete all the switching.


However, along with the scale drawing is information about the capacity for each length of track in cars.
The geometry of these turnouts makes them somewhat interchangeable, and I can no longer remember why I used the mediums where I did.
For example,if you have 100 inches of model railroad track, and the train climbs one inch, then the grade is 1%. The NMRA doesn't list standards for tunnel and bridge clearances that I have been able to find. Remember that the track must also descend back to its starting level, so this length of grade is required on each end of the bridge.
Ghost cars are usually put in the middle of a long train, or spaced evenly throughout a long train if more than one is being used. Make sure your locomotives can navigate all your turns and grades, pulling whatever number of cars will be sufficient to ensure you enjoy the layout. Incoming cars are spotted on the yard tracks by an imaginary way freight entering on Yard Lead X. For example a siding with a capacity of four cars must be able to hold four cars, all of them clear of the uncoupling magnet or switch leads at the entrance to the track. This technique requires four half-length track grades instead of two full-length track grades. While modern prototypical diesel trains usually put all the locomotives at the front of the train, I have seen modelers put locomotives in the middle of a train. I haven't seen ready to run ghost cars in local hobby shops, but Randgust makes a ghost car kit and Reality Reduced has a video on how to put it together.


The layout’s switcher must move them to the five industries on four sidings, while removing outbound cars from those sidings and placing them in the yard to be picked up. Using these figures it is possible to convert the plan for any size freight car in any scale. You could convert this to all-mediums or all-shorts, but if you do so please use care to make sure all requirements for track capacity are still satisfied.
Manufacturers of trestle piers and tunnel portals generally exceed this dimension sufficiently to take into account the height of the rails for most model railroad tracks.
My Athearn consolidation class locomotive would pull 9 of its Overton passenger cars over this curved grade with no difficulty.
In doing so it is vitally important to take into account all information provided about the positioning of uncoupling magnets. Any other manufacturer’s turnouts would require some adjustments to the plan, but using track capacity as a guide should yield good results.
This means wheels on lighter locomotives may slip where heavier locomotives can climb a grade. Changing those positions may yield unintended consequences, such as cars that end up parked over magnets and cannot be recoupled.
I personally resent the implied requirement that if one is building a small layout it should be flat.



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