Brian’s been back in touch with a cautionary tale on track curve radius:
“This saga started nearly ten years ago when I retired and decided, with the financial manager’s consent, to build a new ‘engine’ shed in the garden to house an N gauge railway,
which you will have seen in previous videos, and shown again a few days ago on Al’s daily ‘blog’.
It was all planned back then on paper incorporating mostly Peco set-track curves giving the maximum curve radii in the available width of the layout – Peco curves No.1 ST12
and No.2 ST15.
As the layout was planned on three separate levels, I did use some flexible track to make the curves on the lower level to reduce joints (and possible long term
Now despite what everyone says about layouts never being finished, within 18 months Grandpa’s Wonderful Railway (GWR) was complete with scenery and running smoothly to the Grandchildren’s delight and that’s been the case for several years since.
However, things started to go awry back in 2021. That year, Kato released their Hitachi Class 800 five-car model in N gauge, in both UK operator liveries, GWR (Great Western Railway – Intercity Express Train) and LNER (London North Eastern Railway – Azuma).
The Class 800 (Electric/Diesel) trains came into service in the UK in 2017 for GWR and 2019 for LNER. I had to have one on Grandpa’s Wonderful Railway!!!!!
Mine arrived, and as expected with Kato (you may remember my Kato Orient Express post/video on Al’s blog) the engineering and detail were exquisite. Out of its presentation case, and on one of the bottom level tracks, it looked great.
On the parallel track in the other direction was a Virgin HST (Class 43). They both disappeared into the tunnel but didn’t come out! Investigating, the two trains had made contact on the curves at one end of the circuit and derailed.
I had reduced the radius on one of tracks in order to form a reasonable size inspection ‘hole’ in the baseboard for me (or one of the Grandchildren) to clean the track from underneath.
I hadn’t had problems before on these curves with other trains, so it was obviously down to the Class 800 longer units. The only solution was to run each train on that level separately, one in the station and the other operating – not a major problem.
When Al put up one of my previous posts recently, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a video of my Class 800 running and give a cautionary word on ensuring curve radii are maintained on parallel tracks.
So, in an effort to identify exactly what I’d done and give accurate information, I went out to the layout this morning to do that.
Unfortunately, in eradicating spiders’ webs from the offending corner the hand held vacuum cleaner nozzle clipped the track and dislodged the flexible track joints which formed the curve! The track separated, sprung out of the sleepers and is now ruined!!
On a readily accessible part of the layout, a repair would be reasonably straightforward, but the damage is to the lower level circuit, and very difficult to work on. I’ll now have to think of a way of repairing the damage without removing the baseboard, track and scenery above it.
Morals of the story –
1. Make sure that you maintain recommended spacing between parallel curves for various trains. Ideally, try and include the maximum radius possible.
2. Make sure that you have access to any hidden track for clearing derailments and cleaning track.
I hope you enjoy the Kato Class 800 video I’ve included.
Best to all.
Brian, Wokingham, UK”
A big thanks to Brian for sharing his track curve radius advice – parallel curves feature quite often on the blog, clearly the are particularly troublesome.
Please do leave a comment below if you have any advice to share.
That’s all for today folks.
Please do keep ’em coming – it’s still looking like I might be putting my feet up in a day or so.
And if today is the day you get going on your layout, just like Brian, the Beginner’s Guide is here.