The Flat Earth Society


The riser construction on this grade intensive commercial project was fairly involved.  Was the play value worth it?


If you look at my layout designs, you’ll notice that the vast majority of them have totally flat, grade free, track profiles.  I’ll insert vertical scenery elements above and below track level but the right of way is flat.  There is a reason for this.   With any design feature, there should be a relationship between the benefit the feature provides and the work involved in building it.  In most cases that doesn’t exist with grades.   Things that crop up are:

  • For reasons of mechanical reliability vertical transitions into and out of grades must be smooth.  This is just something else that needs to be dealt with.  For beginner modelers especially they already have enough on their plate.
  • What goes up must come down so you need to ‘close the loop’ vertically.
  • You can’t have spurs and yards on grades.
  • Although not super complex, the sub-roadbed riser construction is more involved.

All and all grades tend to be inefficient and disruptive because they squeeze out room that could be otherwise used for operational features such as industries and yards.  Unless you need the grade for operational reasons, such as pushers or matching a key feature on a prototype, I suggest skipping them.  They don’t pay the freight