Category Archives: Test track design

Design of test track

Most of the testing to quantify various impacts of performance and repair require a test track setup to be constructed. The initial thought has the configuration focused on a level straight surface for the basic testing. A portion of this surface should be adjustable to allow the definition of the performance on a grade where appropriate.

For the current test objectives, the givens and druthers for this test layout are as follows:

1. The primary focus will be on HO model locos, but the space needs to be able to accept track of other scales if required.

2. The test track needs to be conveniently located near my workshop. The main motivation for building it is to have a place to quantify my tune up impact of the various HO locos that I work on.

3. It needs to be in a spot that will be undisturbed for long periods of time. The data from these tests easily can be compromised by the variations that will occur from occasional
bumps, as well as rebuilds.

4. It needs to be built to a significant attention to detail. The grade needs to be zero in the level portion. Certainly within a tenth of a percent of grade. The tangential plane needs to be held to the same tolerance.

5. The movable portion will require the same concern for the plane slopes. When the slope is set at three percent, the whole movable part needs to be at that slope.

6. There will be a transition section to the layout. This section will smoothly change the grade where required. It needs to be flat when required and smoothly concave when
required. The will likely require at least two transition modules.

7. The length of the active test sections needs to be long enough to ensure that the acceleration of the test unit has stabilized to zero.

8. The track sections shall be wired using DCC best practices. The initial tests will all be DC, later testing will also include DCC testing.

9. The track shall be fixed but removable. No ballast or hard adhesive bonding.

In the previously reported testing, the authors focused on defining the maximum grade, (approaching 30 percent) that the loco could climb by itself. From a practical point of view, those levels tend to be extreme and add little to the understanding of how the loco will perform for the modeler.

Instead, I will be measuring the loco scale velocity at the predetermined grade with a resistance provided from zero to 100 NMRA weighted cars. How I get the equivalent of 100 cars in a reasonable space is the subject of a subsequent Blog Topic.
The issue of space is actually the dominate consideration for this test track layout.