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IMG_0913I have an S curve going over a loop of track on my layout. Currently, the curve is supported using the fastrack trestle set. It is not very reliable and some spots in the curve flex when a train rolls over. I’m looking to replace it with the Woodland scenics incline set but I’m not sure which version I need, or if I need the extra risers.

any insight would be greatly appreciated!


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The Woodland Scenics sets are an excellent replacement for the trestles; the material is easy to cut and can flex to accommodate almost any curve.

To determine which set you need we need to calculate the grade of the incline, which is expressed as a percentage. Add up the length of the track on the inline, then divide by the change in track height, then multiply by 100. Most O gauge trestle sets create around a 4-5% grade, so Woodland Scenics' 4% inline set will likely be the best match.


Wow!!  Many ramifications to your question.

The easiest:  You determine Woodland Scenics'  available inline packages by the percentage grade you are looking for.  2%, 3%, or 4%.  You include the curved run up to a flat section, then the declines.  Example- a 2% incline would raise the track 4 inches over a 16 FOOT run. But then another 16 foot decline. That would give  4" clearance below the track- the NMRA recommends 4.5" clearance for O scale.  You can compromise that by using lower locomotives  (I have to cut off the Trainphone antennas from my PRR engines.).  You can also help if you run a gradual grade- maybe 50% at 2% followed by 50% at 3% (leaves a portion of the train climbing a smaller grade -but makes the run even longer.  

BUT more serious considerations are:

Most people put in a rise in order to get more trackage in a given space. But every degree rise affects one or more of a combination of:

1.  number of cars our engine can pull

2.  weight of those cars- no diecast cars!!

3.   the quality and cost of engines- you will kill a base LionChief engine's small DC motor pulling many more than 5-6 cars, and over ANY grade.  So you have to buy more powerful and dual motor - and more expensive locomotives.  (And these are generally longer, heavier (for more traction), and require more generous radius turns, all affecting the practical grade.)

4.  Adding a curve to the rise and the sharper the turns add further drag on the train.

ALL model railroading is a mix of compromises.

Overall recommendation:  find a professionally-designed track plan you like, (there are hundreds if not thousands) FOR the space you have, allowing for clearance around the table(s) in the room for maintenance and to reach derailments, and with no grades. My layout is entirely flat, and when I added scenery the viewer does not notice the absence.

These are the reasons for the popularity of the smaller scales- the real limiter that decides track plan, curves, grades and everything else IS the available space.

Last edited by Mike Wyatt

I use them and like them.  I think they might be too narrow for track with roadbed attached, so you may need to double them up (side-by-side), and then maybe cut/thin them out with a wire foam cutter.  I needed to really glue them down, and found that lots of thick (#6?) track screws were needed to get a good enough "bite" in the foam to keep track from shifting on curves.  It's hard to conceal the shape...I just cut paper grass mats, and glued that to the top and sides.  Finally, you may need a bridge of some sort for where the upper track actually crosses over the lower one...that could throw off the gradual rise, if too long.  Anyway, the instructions on the box will take care of you, good luck!

As another option, I've read about people "stacking" the Woodland Scenics products on top of each other for different climbs.  For example, stack each 2% grade piece on top of a 3% grade piece to get a 5% grade.  Requires some careful planning and assembly, but can be done.  Just watch your transitions from flat to grade (they MUST be gradual) and remember that the higher the grade percentage the harder your engines must work to climb and pull.  Curve resistance (drag) on a grade also affects climbing ability.


If staying with these trestle supports or even the MTH stone supports made for Fastrack be sure that the support is directly under the joints of each piece of track. In your photo I see that some joints are unsupported. If you need to have your over/under on a curve the bridge might not work unless you cut it down the center and widen it. Another option which I read in the Fastrack book is to glue another piece of the fastrack UNDER the main piece (036 upside down under 036) this provides extra support. BTW I found the "stone" risers to be much sturdier than the trestle, just be sure to get the ones meant for Fastrack.

One more thing in answer to a curve on a rise causing trouble. Against all odds, I HAVE done it for our town's Holiday Train Show. MTH stone risers right into an 036 curve, almost horseshoe curve at that and onto a bridge. My not to scale MTH Railking engine pulled 22 tank and reefers! After a month of running on weekends it did indeed die on me and my local train shop was able to repair it. We lovingly called it "the little train that could".


I’ve used the woodland scenic incline products and they worked well.

From the picture it looks like there is a large amount of footage to support. GRJ’s idea might be simpler. I’ve done this with plywood jigsaw cut to shape and supported by 1x4s. With this approach the width of the track doesn’t matter.  It can be darn sturdy and custom fit for your area and needs. Making that cut is also pretty neat.

jm2c Steven

Last edited by train steve

For an earlier HO layout, I draped plaster cloth over the foam, then wet it.  The cloth can be used in one layer, then a second layer- each time getting stronger as well as raising the top level higher for clearance.  After it cured, was painted, and then covered w/ sifted dirt, it was very strong and looked good, too.

Then Woodland Scenics' Track Bed sub roadbed (foam rubber) under the track.  On the O gauge layout  I put foam sub roadbed under all of the Fastrack for sound deadening reasons.

Last edited by Mike Wyatt

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