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Building a Working Incline on the Brown and Stickwell Quarry Layout

Martin Lovell

MARTIN LOVELL explains how he added this interesting feature to his Narrow Gauge layout.

On my new quarry layout, I decided that a working incline system would be an interesting part of the system. However, building a 45 to 60 degree operating incline did seem a somewhat daunting task.

I experimented with various options, using asynchronous motors, threaded drives and so on, and then realised that the DCC Concepts Powerbase system may well solve the problem. Powerbase comprises of metal sheets which are laid under the track. By attaching super-strength magnets to the underside of your locos it can increase conductivity and traction on inclines, stopping the wheels from slipping and increasing the amount of stock which can be coupled on.

I did a few tests with the basic OO/HO kit, and found that this system did what it said on the tin! Namely, to attach a motorised chassis to the track on a severe gradient.

The incline in place

Having carried out a few tests, I then proceeded with the construction. Using a Hornby Eurostar motor bogie which was kicking around in my "that may come in handy sometime" box, I fitted a magnet to the bogie, and experimented with the angle that this would travel up and down under control. I found on the layout plan that an optimum slope of about 60 degrees suited my purpose, and construction commenced.

Testing the incline

The incline with the Powerbase sheets under the track, with the test bogie.

A piece of OO track was used, (actually one of the bits of track that James May constructed the Bideford/Torrington run from) with the Powerbase strips run underneath, powered by a Gaugemaster GMC-UF Panel-Mounted Feedback Controller.

The compleated lift

After a few trial runs, the superstructure of the Table was constructed, using bits of plasticard and bits out of the scrap box, and then the upper and lower feed tracks were aligned.

Uncoupling unit

The uncoupling magnet next to the track.

This all seemed to work ok, so the next problem was how to get wagons onto the table for transportation.

Various methods were tried, raising a piece of plastic strip etc, until I came across a phenomenon using one of the magnets in the Powerbase packs. If placed in the correct position, the magnet will raise a BEMO type coupling loop (as used on a lot of 009 stock) enabling the remote uncoupling of wagons from locomotive, therefore, the loco can now pull the wagons towards the Table, uncouple, and then, using a passing loop, run round and push the wagons onto the table (having removed the front loco coupling), thereby allowing the table to take the wagons up or down as required.

Lift in operation

In operation.

I did also find by experimentation, that it does matter which way round the loco has to be. When travelling in one direction, i.e. front first, the loco leaps on to the magnet. Backwards there is no problem and it just goes past. It's all due to the magnetic field of the motor, and caused me a panic attack a couple of days before the layouts first outing I can assure you!

Magnet error Working properly

The top picture shows the mishap with the uncoupling magnet!

The Layouts have already been on view at both the Amberley railway gala weekend, and the Chichester Model Engineers Gala weekend, so some of you may have seen the system in operation. The rest of you, see the video below.

Happy modelling.


Martin often replicates this incline on a Friday night after a few real ales...

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