How to make inclines

“Hi Al.

Just wanted to inspire others on how I made my inclines for my layout on a 6’x4’ board. Might be nothing new but here goes.

First I made a hot wire cutter out of scrap wood, nichrome wire and a 4.5 Volt rechargeable battery pack. I used this to cut the incline to the gradient I wanted.

The result of the cut inclines.

For the next step I used a woodlands scenic incline to act as the template for cutting the slots in my inclines. I use a sharp fillet knife as I’ve found it very good for cutting and shaping polystyrene. Note that wide slots only have to be cut on the inside of the radius. A simple cut is required on the outer radius

Finally I use silicone sealant to fix the incline in shape on the mdf board

I used this process to create my layout on a 6’x4’ mdf board. The layout is basically a figure of 8 with the cross over placed to the rear. The two loops run side by side at the front at a height of 2”. The inclines to the crossover have a 1” rise and a 2” drop giving a 3” clearance with a rise gradient of 1:40. This doubles the length of track on a single controller and enables me to run two locos at a safe distance between them.

My theme is steam on a 1930’s inland water way with barge dock and town. The photos show the finished base before the scenery covers it up.

Hope you like it.


Thanks to Chris – a nice ‘how to’.

Please keep them coming!

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.



24 Responses to How to make inclines

  1. Chris

    Excellent stuff, thank you! Many of us will find that useful; I’m just starting to build inclines on my layout and your guidance is a great help.



  2. its a good way to save a bit of money Chris , those inclines are a bit expensive , nice job

  3. Thanks for reminding me that light-weight material can be used for inclines. I will use this idea to build the steep hill of my in-process San Francisco Street diorama on which I will be running my nearly completed Occre Cable car kit.

  4. Hi Chris,

    Great tips, great help. I will us this info for the inclines I am getting ready to add on my railroad.
    Please send some pictures as progress continues.

    Thanks …

    Best regards,

  5. now we wanna see the ‘finished’ product

  6. Hi everyone.They sell locomotive sort of tyres or bands that help with traction.Dont have to put them on all the wheels .

  7. Great idea, Chris

  8. looks good.

  9. nice tip i was thinking of putting an incline on my layout. keep the the progress coming.

  10. Thanks Chris,

    I enjoyed your how to build inclines as it made the process seem so much easier than I’ve been use to, as I’ve been using strips of cardbord and fibre resin. But I’m definately going too try your way, so thanks.


  12. nice job

  13. Very helpful; this def going in my how to do folder


  15. Chris I like the idea and will try it

  16. Nicely done! And that’s a real beaut of a filet knife too :)

  17. Traction tyres can only be fitted on loco wheels that have the groove cut into the running surface of the wheel. If you try to put them on wheels with no groove, since the wheels taper slightly to the outside, the tyres will just work their way off and wrap themselves round the bearings or motion.
    Personally, I think you’re better off without traction tyres, as they stop the wheels they’re fitted to from picking up power from the track. If your loco won’t pull the whole train up your hill, do what the real railroads do, either:-
    use a bigger loco;
    add a helper/banker engine to shove it up the grade; OR
    split the train, leave half in a siding at the top, then go back down for the rest!
    Much more fun and completely prototypical.

  18. Woodland scenic foam inclines can often be found second hand and unused on eBay. Don’t buy their pins though, dress makers shops sell 2″ T pins which are exactly the same for half the price. PVA glue will stick the foam, never mind expensive glues and sealants. In the UK, the works sell big bottles of PVA for £3ukp.

  19. I’d like instructions for making the jig that Chris used to set the incline angle, along with more detailed info on making the hot wire cutter.
    I’m just getting ready to start my first layout and have been debating foam vs cookie cutter style.

  20. can any one help me have two different brand of loco with two different types of couplers on them can you change these to one type so I can make all my trains and rail cars fit each other

  21. I had been buying Styrofoam at the hobby shops. Very expensive. $5.00 for
    a 3′ x 1′ x 1/2 inch. Went to Home depot and bought a 4′ x 8′ x 1/2″ Foam Insulation board for $7 and change. It has reflective tape on one side & clear plastic on the other. Leave it on until you’ve finished your Cuts. They will be cleaner. Then strip off the plastic & tape. it’s very easy. Save some money.

  22. Thanks Chris
    simple effective

  23. Hello I’m making a layout at the minute I’m using wet floral blocks for the incline but I’m wondering how to pin the track down as this is to soft and keeps pulling the pins out

  24. Did Chris ever provide more detailed instructions on how he made the jig for creating his own inclines? I understand how the cutter was made (awesome idea), but how is the guide for the inclines made? Thanks, and sorry if it was posted already and I just have not seen it.

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