Author Topic: Scale Speeds  (Read 1943 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

kelticsylk

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 781
  • Respect: 0
    • Milepost 15
Scale Speeds
« on: February 18, 2012, 03:12:30 PM »
0
I think most model railroaders probably have experience with running trains at realistic speeds. Newcomers to the hobby, however, may not have any idea what that means or even how to estimate scale speeds. I thought I'd post a video showing what trains look like traveling at known scale speeds.

I was doing some time studies on the N scale Allegheny Eastern and thought it might be useful to share what actual scale speed looks like. Since the AllEast mainline is approximately 2 miles long it was pretty straightforward. I used a stopwatch to time the transit of each train around the layout. At 60 mph it takes about 2 minutes. At 20 mph it takes 6 minutes. The train that appears in the background behind the coal train is drifting downhill at well over 80 mph.


What I really found interesting was just how slow high scale speeds can be. The passenger train shown in the video crosses the screen rather quickly (should have used a wider view) but takes quite a while to circumnavigate the layout. Running a freight at 20 mph looks like its crawling, but 20 mph is pretty quick compared to switching speeds. On the other hand, you'll see a freight drifting downhill in the background that appears to be going at what most people might think is "passenger" speed. The particular train in question completes the circuit in a 1 minute 30 seconds with an average speed of 80 mph. I say average because the train spends half that time struggling up the grade at about 20 mph. That downhill "drift" very probably is in triple digit numbers.

CBQ Fan

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2338
  • Respect: +106
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2012, 09:09:44 PM »
0
Interesting!  I would like to see more footage.
Brian

Way of the Zephyr

kelticsylk

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 781
  • Respect: 0
    • Milepost 15
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2012, 12:43:37 AM »
0
While there isn't more footage of the latest "incarnation of the Allegheny Eastern, there is some of the last "revision". Search for Allegheny Eastern on YouTube. Please note there is also an Allegheny & Eastern...Great layout, but not mine.

Frank Musick

Day One

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 178
  • Respect: +13
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2012, 01:18:30 PM »
0
Having operated on 7 or 8 different mid size to large size layouts over the years, I'd have to say that it's not just newbies that crank the throttle all the way up. Oddly enough, some of the worse offenders I've witnessed are actual engineers with real railroads. I'm not sure why that is. Someone in our group has affectionately termed the speeders as "N Trak'ers" I think, because many N Trak'ers are used to running on a large loop all alone. There's no blocks or other trains to watch for (in most cases) so the speeds come up.  I think, that many people who haven't operated at scale speeds before, just don't realize what scale speed looks like for a train and so they turn up the throttle to what they want to see.  I kind of think it's a shame to speed over a layout. Especially if it's one with finished scenery and is nicely detailed. You lose a lot of enjoyment of going over the road because you don't have time to railfan anything along the way. In addition, I think you risk over whelming the dispatcher and disrupting other jobs on the layout if you're moving to fast. I know that layout owners spend a lot of time to balance the workloads and schedule trains for an ops session, and having a train or 2 arrive or depart too early can cause problems for other trains either on the layout (a local that has to clear a main before he's done, when he should have been able to finish his work and depart) or even later in the session (your fast train arrived in a yard or staging too soon and now that track is occupied and won't allow another train in or out when it's supposed to)

One of the best solutions I've seen for helping people maintain the correct speed on a layout was also extremely easy. Every so often, when the rails where near the fascia, the layout owner put 3 dots spaced about 6-8 inches apart on the fascia. When you rolled by the dots, you simply counted to 5 (or something) if you're engine passed between 2 dots faster than you could count to 5, you were going to fast. This was easy to inform the operators about before the session started, it was easily visible along the line, and could be adjusted for any speed by simply changing the spacing of the dots. You could make this an operational high light too if you wanted. Put a slow order somewhere by spreading out the dots. Resume track speeds with another set back in the original spacing.

For my personal layout, I've been using DCC to help limit the speeds. All of my loco's are speed matched with a top speed of about 80 mph. They just won't go any faster. That doesn't stop people from going 80 thru a yard, but on my next layout, I'll be implementing the dots.

NS-CRE

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 69
  • Respect: +3
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2012, 04:27:05 PM »
0
I have also noticed that HO operators coming to an N scale layout tend to run faster until they are asked to slow down and get a feel for what everyone else is doing.  I've recently operated on an HO layout when I was asked to speed up because I was running at what I thought was an appropriate scale speed.  There is a difference in perception when you switch between scales.

Being that I model challenging mountain territory in N scale, with stiff grades, tight curves, and heavy trains with pushers, the slower the better as far as I'm concerned.  One of my regular operators recently told a visitor, who was worried about going to slow, that there's basically no "too slow" on the layout. 

There are some real speed demons in the operating circles, and I always find myself wondering why someone would try to finish running a train as quickly as possible.  Take your time, enjoy the run, and spend more time running a train and less time waiting for the next one to become available. 
Norfolk Southern CR&E Division
Charleston, Roanoke & Eastern Railway
www.kntower.com

kelticsylk

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 781
  • Respect: 0
    • Milepost 15
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 01:30:11 AM »
0
I myself was surprised by the difference in what we perceive as an "appropriate" speed and what the actual scale speed. The speed I think looks "right" for a passenger train turns out to be 80 or so m.p.h. The scale speed of 60 looks a lot slower to me, perhaps about 35-40 m.p.h. What I think is 10 miles an hour turns out to 30.

On the Allegheny Eastern I checked the track charts for the Pennsy for the area modeled and found there are only two places trains can "highball". The first is between Tyrone and Altoona where the posted limits are 70 (passenger) and 50 (freight). The second is on the downhill side of Gallitzin (west slope) with the same limits. All tracks (and trains) on the east slope are limited to about 30-35 m.p.h. These limits are posted on the "fascia" of the benchwork so operators will clearly be able to read them. When the DCC is re-installed and the walk around throttles are available the operators will be expected to obey the limits. Currently none of the DCC locomotives are being run. All the trains are DC and running off old school MRC throttle packs with pulse power.

I had requests for more footage so I created a video that includes a wide view of the Horseshoe Curve area on the layout. The first segment shows the place on the layout where the speed runs are timed. Antis is the eastern yard limit for Altoona, located on "milepost" 49. On the Allegheny Eastern mileposts are actually measurements of the distance in feet from ALTO, the western yard limit of Altoona. The mainline is approximately 66 feet long or roughly 2 scale miles. A stopwatch is used to measure the time it takes for a train to complete one circuit of the layout and return to Antis. The time is then compared to a pre-made "equivalency" chart for the estimated scale speed. The train shown passing through Antis is traveling at 20 m.p.h. The steam powered freight that streaks by on Track 3 is topping 120. Notice the speed limit signs. The upper sign is the passenger limit (60) while the lower sign is for freight (50)...


In the second segment the camera is pointed at "milepost" 21, Kittanning Point. This is the apex of Horseshoe Curve on the east slope of the Alleghenies. The view covers about 15 feet of mainline running from Millers Curve ("milepost" 15) on the east side to McCanns Curve on the west side at "milepost" 27. The view covers approximately one half mile of mainline. The first train to come into view is a freight traveling eastward (Pennspeak for eastbound) on Track 1 at 20 m.p.h. A westward freight suddenly appears on Track 3 and accelerates to "ridiculous" speed. By the time it reaches the bottom of the west slope it will be doing well over 100. Almost immediately a short passenger consist heads eastward at 60-65 m.p.h. A few moments later, a westbound Allegheny Eastern freight passes on Track 4 at 40-45 m.p.h

Except for the first freight train ALL these trains are exceeding the posted speed limit for this stretch of track. 35 is the limit for all tracks in this area, even for passenger trains.

wm3798

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 13323
  • Gender: Male
  • I like models. She likes antiques. Perfect!
  • Respect: +1549
    • Western Maryland Railway Western Lines
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 04:24:58 AM »
0
Not to dis you or anything, but in my experience, adding scenery also impacts your perception of how fast the trains are going, which might relate to the previous comment about different scales...  When you can see the surroundings, you can better gauge how rapidly the train is passing through them.  Also, view blocks like tunnels and mountains and buildings can also affect how you see speed.

The three dots on the fascia trick is a good one, and one that I can employ on my layout at the approaches to each staging yard.  For what it's worth, on the WMRY Western Lines, it takes about 23 minutes for a train to run the full circuit.  I can't remember how many scale miles it works out to, but that's a pretty reasonable pace, especially when there are several operators in the room.

Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

rickb773

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 437
  • Gender: Male
  • Rickb773
  • Respect: +263
    • Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2012, 11:49:35 AM »
0
On my previous layout (http://myrrlayout.com/R/Aspfiles/DetailPage.asp?Xfer_Code=20001280&Scale=N ), I could run a pair of ER Sharks over a 3 scale mile run at a consistent and smooth 18 scale mph (40 cars; <2% grades). The biggest annoyance was guests asking "don't they go any faster". Over time 30% of the sharks (3/10) ceased working. I don't know if that was due to speed, load, or sub-standard motors.

GaryHinshaw

  • Global Moderator
  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 5500
  • Respect: +636
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2012, 08:22:57 PM »
0
How we perceive speed (or anything for that matter) can be quite tricky, but one generalization is possible: the farther something is from you, the slower it appears to move, and vice versa.  I'm sure you've all had the experience of waiting for an approaching train to pass.  You see it way down the tracks and it seems to be taking forever, then, when it finally goes by, it seems to be hauling a$$.

The reason for this is that we have only two "observables" for gauging speed: apparent position (for motion perpendicular to your line of sight) and apparent size (for motion along the line of sight).  The further an object is from you, the less either observable changes with time for a fixed actual speed.  So a distant object will appear to be moving more slowly since its observables are changing more slowly.

Of course, if you have something to calibrate distance traveled, like dots on a fascia or mileposts along the track, you can overcome perception with actual measurements.  But it's still true that the apparent position and size change more slowly the further something is from you (for fixed actual speed).

Ok, sorry for the geeky kinematics.  Back to trains.  :)

-gfh

P.S. Frank, I'd like to see the track plan for your pike.  It looks quite interesting.

Zox

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1120
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +2
    • Lord Zox's Home Page
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2012, 08:47:42 PM »
0
I would note that when my camera car is running, it looks like it's going much faster in the "engineer's-eye view" that the camera provides, than it does when you're looking at the train from your personal 1:1 perspective.

As Gary points out, it's a matter of distance and perception. The camera is much closer to the scenery than your eyeball, so the viewing angles change more rapidly as things pass by. Also, your mind tries to interpret a miniature scene as full-size objects at a great distance, which means that those rapidly-changing angles look like you're going 160 MPH, not the measly 1 MPH that your N-scale train is actually traveling.
Rob M., a.k.a. Zox
z o x @ v e r i z o n . n e t
http://lordzox.com/
It is said a Shaolin chef can wok through walls...

kelticsylk

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 781
  • Respect: 0
    • Milepost 15
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2012, 11:06:30 AM »
0
On my previous layout (http://myrrlayout.com/R/Aspfiles/DetailPage.asp?Xfer_Code=20001280&Scale=N ), I could run a pair of ER Sharks over a 3 scale mile run at a consistent and smooth 18 scale mph (40 cars; <2% grades). The biggest annoyance was guests asking "don't they go any faster". Over time 30% of the sharks (3/10) ceased working. I don't know if that was due to speed, load, or sub-standard motors.

Rick,
Thanks for the heads up. I was able to get my sharks to circumnavigate the layout at about 6 mph yesterday, but had to add a third unit and to stay at the throttle to keep them from stalling. Took about twenty minutes for the trip!

I consistently run my sharks as slow as I can using pulsed DC. If I remember correctly this does put some stress on the motors. Since the sharks are my best running locomotives and behave exactly like you describe I'll heed your warning.

I'm thinking that DCC will take some of the stress of the locomotives. If I could find any I would install the drop-in board they used to make. I'll probably end up cobbling decoders in the hard way.

Frank Musick

kelticsylk

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 781
  • Respect: 0
    • Milepost 15
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2012, 11:21:50 AM »
0

-gfh

P.S. Frank, I'd like to see the track plan for your pike.  It looks quite interesting.

Here is the last rev of the track plan. It takes up most of our 2 car garage. The actual layout has changed a bit since Feb 12th but the mainline is basically the same. Millers is now a more pronounced right hand curve and that side of Horseshoe Curve sits further left  The Blair Furnace area (above Antis) has been reworked since the plan was drawn. The MP notations are the actual feet from ALTO (MP0). The bold numbers are elevations.

Hoping it's okay to post the plan in this thread...

« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 11:46:54 AM by kelticsylk »

rickb773

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 437
  • Gender: Male
  • Rickb773
  • Respect: +263
    • Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2012, 07:40:49 PM »
0

I'm thinking that DCC will take some of the stress of the locomotives. If I could find any I would install the drop-in board they used to make. I'll probably end up cobbling decoders in the hard way.

Frank Musick
See Lee Weldon's (wm3798) page: http://www.wmrywesternlines.net/loc_akdiesels.php

Hiroe

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 433
  • Respect: +11
    • Urbex and Model photography
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2012, 06:28:58 PM »
0
Here's a set of my MP54's in O for conveniently comparative reference. These are actually running at their top speed, and don't look too bad to my eye. Although calculating it out at 2 seconds for each car to pass, they're only running at 21 mph.

« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 06:35:03 PM by Hiroe »
To "call a spade a spade" is to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or embarrassing nature. The Oxford English Dictionary records a more forceful variant, "to call a spade a bloody shovel", attested since 1919.

kelticsylk

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 781
  • Respect: 0
    • Milepost 15
Re: Scale Speeds
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2012, 06:37:03 PM »
0
Here's a set of my MP54's in O for conveniently comparative reference. These are actually running at their top speed, and don't look too bad to my eye.


Makes me want to switch scales :)  I vaguely remember seeing MP54's but they would have had to been in Suburban Station. Can't say for sure. I like the overhead wire. Always thought that was a cool thing about traction modeling. I seen it done in N scale, but I'm not sure I would try it.

Questions

Are the units equipped with sound or does O scale just sound realistic?

Is this your home layout or a club? Looks huge!

Frank