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what is the ruling grade on your layout ? seems like I'm faced with  a 3.3 % unless i change layout height.
Jim, my grades are 2.8 and 3.0 %. Higher than the prototype prefers but you have to make sacrifices with models.  I have more than one locomotive in most of my consists but I like to have a helper tie in now and again.  1 N&W Y6b easily pulls 39 cars up the grade from a standing start at the bottom. (Precision craft)
I've figured that the grade on my new layout is about 2% which is about half the grade of it's predecessor. I probably won't have more than 4-5 cars in a train on it as it leads to my stamp mill and logging camp and I'll be pushing the cars up the grade.
4% which is 1% less than the steepest grade on the prototype.
About 2%, most grades I try to keep at about 1-1 1/2%.
The two major grades on my layout are at about 2.8%, one just over 16' in length, the other, with multiple curves, including two horseshoe-type curves, 45' long.
There's one steeper grade, but it's used only when a visitor (or my grandkids), want to see continuous running.  It's roughly 7' long, at 4.8%.  Otherwise, the layout is operated as point-to-point, with five staging yard destinations/points of origin.

Mine is 2% using WS risers. I wouldn't have that, but I made a nice bit for the previous layout and didn't want to scrap it.
i failed to mention in original post that the grade is 20 ft. long ,
Hi Jim---the Stoney Creek Hill has a 3% grade

[Image: 50800260953_4a64c7476d_k.jpg]P1420534 (2) by Ed Creechan, on Flickr
nice looking pair of mikes  cn
My 4% grade is about 12 feet long and is N scale so that is probably close to 20 foot in HO.
2% is pretty average, but nowhere near accurate for prototype railroads, particularly in the Rockies.

Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad, narrow gauge from Florence to the gold field at Cripple Creek and Victor up the Phantom Canyon, was a 4% rullig grade and a 6% climb over the rim of the canyon!

I have found that most locos we modelers use can easily handle steeper grades. And I found a way to "cheat" if necessary. ;-/