You Gotta Either Be Nuts or Very Adventuresome to Try This (Choose One)

All right, you don't have to say it—I know that a roller coaster needs special wheels that kind of encircle the track so that no matter what G forces are incurred by the cars, they will not leave the track; and I know that N-scale is a hopelessly small scale in which to try to engineer the nearly microscopic wheels (I doubt if anyone will ever even try—it'd be like nanotechnology) needed to keep a tiny N-scale roller coaster on the track. I suppose a sane person would realize this and stop right there. What can I say? I didn't stop there. So the goal then became to find out how close to a decent roller coaster could be constructed if I had to rely on normal N-scale wheel flanges to keep the cars on the track. The results are intriguing and I ran into a few really interesting challenges and surprises I'd like to share with you.

By the way, if Thunder Mountain at Disneyland is both a train and a roller coaster (it's my favorite ride), then isn't it true that my roller coaster, made entirely of model train type equipment and running on model train track, is a type of train as well? If you're reading this, I managed to convince the editors with this logic.

But, Disneyland aside, I really feel that the readers of this magazine will want to hear about this whole other way of dealing with N-scale rail car modeling. I went to the Desert Rails 1998 PNR Convention (NMRA) and we visited a super cool hump yard (Burlington Northern Santa Fe Hump Yard and Engine Facility) and saw it in operation. It was great! And it was also a gravity-run train operation. Watching gravity act upon those big, heavy freight cars was unforgettable.  The other train buffs at the yard (there was a busload) seemed to feel the same way. It made me want to do a little experimenting with the gravity/rail car connection myself. And so I did.
An N-scale Roller Coaster
N-scale roller coaster--a wild ride!