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Blackstone test on 4% grade

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  • Blackstone test on 4% grade

    I have wanted an idea of how my Blackstone equipment would perform on a steep grade. This afternoon I set up some straight sections of Protraxx track (like Peco's Unitrack, uses same joiners, but is HOn3 gauge) right on top of my 4% switchback on my On30 layout. I did some tests with my locos and here is what I found:

    C-19 2-8-0 can handle a maximum of:

    4 freight cars

    2 freight cars with caboose

    2 freight cars with coach

    2 coaches

    In my opinion, this is a reasonable expectation for such a steep grade, I am not one of those who expect to march an 8-car train up a 4% grade with a C-19...that's a job for a big K-26 mikado!

    K-27 2-8-2 'Mudhen' can handle a maximum of:

    5 freight cars

    4 freight cars with caboose (a little iffy here, the loco was right on the line of slipping but ok - the wipers in the caboose cause drag, and I could remove them to make the caboose perform essentially the same as a freight car)

    5 freight cars with coach (proof that 5 freight cars and a caboose without wipers would work)

    3 coaches

    For the record, these tests were conducted first with a start at level track gradually transitioning to 4%, then a start on the full grade at low speed. These were comfortable limits, adding cars began to show hints that the drivers were slipping (or adhesion was questionable).

    Also, the freight cars were empty (no loads in open cars), the coaches have no pickup wipers (which cause a bit of drag on the wheels), and the caboose has pickup wipers. I may swap out the caboose trucks with a set without the wipers installed, since I have no plans currently to add the optional decoders for illumination.

    A few design considerations from these tests:

    You can get away with 4% assuming you don't mind the short trains

    To allow the longest train at the above limits, a tail track must accommodate a train 39" long (K-27, 5 freight cars and coach)

    Although my current tail track is only 13", I could easily add a 24" swing-down extension that would go into the hallway a bit...should not be a I could use existing benchwork if necessary to avoid the cost of a whole new layout construction project, just an option

    The HOn3 looks tiny on my layout next to my On30 trains, even the little ones...this will provide a lot more space for fun

  • #2 Kato's Unitrack...

    This was testing using only straight track right? My C-19 has slipped trying to shove 3 freight cars and a caboose backwards around the curved portion of a level loop of Blackstone track. That caboose has a heck of a drag on it!


    • #3
      There is obviously a lot of difference between Blackstone models and brass.

      My brass C-17, C-19 and K-27's are all pretty decent pullers.

      Sure, I have weighted them to the max....

      My test with my Sunset models K-27 is that they can pull my five plastic 3000 series boxcars with Kadee trucks plus my brass Caboose up a 22" curved 3% incline.

      That was without any hesitation at all.

      I guess I will have to try it on steeper grades as well.
      Michael Graff

      "Deo Adjuvante Labor Proficit"

      Swedish custom model builder.


      • #4
        Straight track only, just a fan...curves will introduce a little extra drag, but my curves on the gradient are around 22", so it shouldn't be bad.

        Graffen, you probably get a little extra weight in those brass beauties...but the Blackstone K-27 is no slouch. If I remove the pickup wipers causing drag on the caboose, that buys an extra freight car.