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I'm working my new layout and it's going to require a pretty steep grade (4%) up and then back down in order to get over the doorway and not be in the way. Also (and maybe this is a bad habit I'll have to change) I run actual loads, not the plastic lids you can put on hoppers, but charcoal and cement filled, so my trains will have a lot of weight to them.

So my question is this: Do prototype railroads run distributed power in high grade areas or is there some other reason? I've never seen distributed power on any of the coal drags in my area, although it's along the river and almost no grade whatsoever. And if so, would the same concept apply to modeling? Is distributed power the way to tackle a grade? Is a helper locomotive pushing it up the grade a viable option? I tested a load of about 6 full hoppers and 2 of my locomotives were easily able to drag or push them, but my older one had trouble, spun a lot, though eventually was able to push them up. Just wondering how you all handle steeper grades.


Diesel Detail Freak
1. I'd suggest lightening the load by using foam under it.

2. Yes, DP & helpers are used in heavy grade areas mostly, sometimes outside of the grades (coal trains).


Coal Shoveler
It's usually over a grade somewhere, or a profile that puts a strain on the train. Having a 'pusher' on the end helps out.

DP will stay on for the entire time that power set is on the train, until it gets to a power change location. Or, at the first crew change where they designate where the power comes off. But, either way, it doesn't come off when the grade issue ends.


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