Max grade for USA Trains and Aristocraft locomotives

Discussion in 'G Scale and Larger' started by roushraven, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. roushraven

    roushraven TrainBoard Member


    I'm just about to begin ground breaking for my garden rail road. Due to the terrain of my landscape I'm faced with some grade challenges. I think I have a good schematic that will permit me to run my track with up to a 5% grade in some places without needing to move a lot of earth. I obviously don't want to overload my locomotives and while I have been told that many of these can pull 200 cars, I'm sure that's not true for pulling them up a steep grade. So what's the max grade you would recommend considering the following applications:

    All USA Trains locomotives

    - Big Boy pulling 30 PFE's and center cupola caboose
    - F3 ABBA pulling 10 Streamliners
    - F3 ABA pulling 10 Streamliners
    - 3 SD-70's (2 lashed up front and one trailing) pulling 15 modern tankers and 15 4 bay hoppers.

    Aristocraft locomotives and USA Trains rolling stock

    - 4 Dash-9's (3 lashed up front and one trailing) pulling 25 double stacked intermodals.
    - 4 Dash-9's (3 lashed up front and one trailing) pulling 30 box cars and reefers (40', 50', and 60' models)
    - 2 Dash-9's and 2 GP-40's (all lashed together) pulling 15 modern tankers and 15 4 bay hoppers.

    Thanks in Advance,

  2. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

    All USA Trains locomotives

    - Big Boy pulling 30 PFE's and center cupola caboose
    - F3 ABBA pulling 10 Streamliners
    - F3 ABA pulling 10 Streamliners
    - 3 SD-70's (2 lashed up front and one trailing) pulling 15 modern tankers and 15 4 bay hoppers.

    A) - Big Boy pulling 30 PFE's and center cupola caboose > I see no problem with this, the big boy is a strong puller, better make sure you include plans for 20ft diameter curves for this one however.

    B) - F3 ABBA pulling 10 Streamliners > You are good to go with this one also

    C) - F3 ABA pulling 10 Streamliners > I wouldn't try this one on a 5% grade, those aluminum streamliners are heavy, this I would not go more than 2%.

    D) - 3 SD-70's (2 lashed up front and one trailing) pulling 15 modern tankers and 15 4 bay hoppers. > You have more than plenty of power on this one, you could get away with only 2, the USA Trains has powerful more effecient motors in the SD-70MAC locos. However the problem will be with the 55ft centerflow hopper cars which sit too low and easily get snaged on anything. I know I run inside with slight bumps in the basement floor and I still had problems with those hoppers hanging up. You need a smoth long transition if you wanna use these on grades.

    So you wanna pull grades with these big monster USA locomotives on a grade in multi lash up operations, you better save your money for one big transformer. I highly recommend a Bridgewerks transformer with 10 gauge wiring and hillmans track connectors.
  3. roushraven

    roushraven TrainBoard Member

    Thanks. I'll have to re-think my F3 ABA and possibly switch to an F3 ABBA configuration. As for power, I got the BW-4000 from Charles Ro before I realised I could go with battery powered operations. Power supply is the least of my worries at this point though; I just want to make sure these little guys are up to the task.

    Any idea about the Aristocraft DASH-9's?

  4. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

    I run a F3 ABBA unit myself, trust me it's the way to go and less stressful on the locos. You can go battery power, but with all of these power hungary USA Trains you have on the list you will be charging them almost more than you will run them. USA Trains locos uses alot of amps with the exception of the more effecient SD-70MAC.

    Although I can't help you on info for Aristo, you have to undestand the USA Trains locos use traction tires which help them climb and keep traction, but you may find those Aristo locos slipping in a pull on those grades since they rely soly on weight to give them traction, but you plan on using 4 of them so you may be ok.

    DragonFyreGT and Keith use Aristo locomotives and they could probably give you a better idea of thier performance.
  5. krs

    krs TrainBoard Member

    RR -

    Do you have any of ths equipment already?
    If so, I would actually try it out on a test bed first.
    I try to limit my grades to 3% or less, run all LGB locos which all have traction tires but when I'm starting on a grade with 12 long RhB passenger cars with lights, the wheels of the engine tend to spin.
    I only use one engine per train since that is prototypical, but pick-ups for lights on every car add to the drag and if you have any curves in the grade, that makes things worse as well - depends how tight they are.
    With heavy cars you also need to worry about the downgrade - too steep and the heavy cars pushing downhill can lift the lighter cars right off the track.
  6. roushraven

    roushraven TrainBoard Member


    Yes, I have all of the locomotives and rolling stock but do not have all the track yet because I am still refining the layout. Due to the number of 10' radius curves especially, I decided it would be smarter if I plan and measure the layout "twice" and buy track "once". Looks like I will need to revise my layout even more so that I can get the max grades to 3% and that will be a real challenge - but I love challenges.


  7. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Run a couple of Aristo GP40's. Line out back has 8 foot Diameter curves.
    Have a grade, but don't know what % it is!
    Can run single, or both GP40's with 10-12 cars with no problems.
    Have 2 Aristo GP40's, 1 USAT SD70MAC, USAT ALCo PA-1, Bachmann K-27,
    LGB #50 NG switcher and now, a BLW Goose.
  8. krs

    krs TrainBoard Member

    I think a 3% maximum grade is good to aim for if you can manage that.

    The drawbar pull force of Large Scale engines is all over the map. A German dealer measured and published that for many engines, mostly LGB, and there was really no correlation between the pull force an engine was capable of and anything else.
    An LGB 2045 with just two driven axles turned out to have the best pull force not because it was the heaviest and it certainly didn't have the most drive axles - the weight distribution was just pretty much optimum, at least that was the conclusion.

    It would be nice if manufacturers specified drawbar pull force; I'm adding that information to the Large Scale database whenever I can get it, either with my own measurement or one that is provided to me.
    The USA Trains Big Boy for instance has it listed:
    Union Pacific Dampflok (Steam locomotive) Big Boy 4000 - GartenBahn DatenBank

    But now you still need to translate that into number of cars and grades and track friction coefficient etc somehow - a lot better and more accurate to just try it out before you commit yourself to a grade maximum.
  9. roushraven

    roushraven TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the link. I think I'm going to use the tried and true scientific method called "WAG" to figure this all out. I even called both companies direct and couldn't get anything more definitive than what is being reported.

    I appreciate all the help.

  10. paintjockey

    paintjockey TrainBoard Member

    Battery power is an option for you if you want it. With the battery technology out there today, namely LiIOn batteries, you can get substantial run times even in the power hungry USA locos. The drawback is in the cost to convert all of your locos to battery R/C. One way would be to make the batteries removable and shareable between locos, but then you are limited to what you can run at one time. There are options out there though.
  11. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member

    i would not go beyond 3%. too much stress on the gearboxes. especially for the usa trains locos. the huge aristo engines have a much better drive train.

    also consider having unexpected uncoupling. do you really want to see you streamliners race downhill before they derail ?
  12. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

    Keith, how is the Bachman K-27 working out for you, I see both positive and negative reviews on this one
  13. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The K does great! Very smooth and quiet, before sound added!
    Now, I have QSI sound and Airwire R/C.
    Runs just as good! Pulls like a mule too!!
    Handles an 8 car mixed train out back with minor problems.
    Coupler slop with Big Hauler boxcars. Come undone when attempting to go uphill.
    No problems with loose counterweights either, as first run had.
    Overall, I'm quite happy with my locomotive.
  14. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

    Thats good to hear that Bachmann worked out the bugs, I like the K-27, but could never afford a Accucraft version and Bachmann puts it in most peoples budgets. So it may not be made of all brass and stainless like Accucraft, but that doesn't matter to me. I'm amazed to see how Bachmann is going after Accucrafts Fn3 scale narrow gauge for competition, they are releasing new Fn3 freight cars constantly also cheapper than Accucrafts AMS dividion which offers cheaper plastic freight cars.

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