building a helix

frank martin Dec 22, 2000

  1. frank martin

    frank martin E-Mail Bounces

    anyone build a helix? Is it worth all the trouble involved? How big did you make the radius? are you able to run long trains without the cars derailing.Did you soder the track joints togeather.

    [ March 28, 2006, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: watash ]
  2. StickyMonk

    StickyMonk Staff Member

    <font color="336633">A friend of mine built one in N scale but it was 2 tight and steep he could only get 1 loco and 2 cars up it...

    if you was to build one in HO i wouldnt recoment anything less than 30 inches radius, unless you are thinking of building it in a room where the climate stays about the same i wouldnt solder the rail joiners as it could try to expand and buckle the track, and in the middle of a helix it wouldnt be easy to fix, just make sure they are fastened securly down near the joins.

    i have not seen a HO scale helix in real life so im not really sure, but i will be thinking of building one when i get a new house, perfect thing for double deck layouts and if big enough can also be a staging yard.

    wheres all the C636's????
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  3. 2slim

    2slim TrainBoard Member

    My advice would be to gather all the printed matter you can find on helixes, and read, read, read. You can search the model train magazine database on Model Railroaders webpage. A 30" radius minimum is good for single track, if double track, minimum inside radius should be 32". And I would use 3" track centers for large equipment swing. I wouldn't advise using a helix as a staging track because of the grade, it will give you nothing but headaches.

  4. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

    Helixes are being used more and more, but they still have controversy. You really need to know what you are doing and the issues surrounding them.

    1) Where too put them (in the middle of a mainline is worst).

    2) How long is your train going to be in it (this is a really big issue the smaller your layout).

    3) How much of the helix can you "open up" and scenic? (the more the better)

    4) Start the elevation as far away as possible so less of a helix is needed.

    5) Grade is the critical factor, remember the turning circle magnifies the grade, so a 2% grade might act like a 2.5% grade.

    Time in the helix is more important than you think, the longer the time inside the more likely you will have 1) run away trains...easy to go refill your to your buddies and forget it is inside (been there done that) 2) trains that come out at warp speed because it is taking to long and you feel maybe you haven't given it enough power, so you juice it up 3) crawling under to get at the track as you wonder, are those wheels just spinning or is the train making headway. One solution is to buy one of those tv monitoring cameras and set that are used for houses front door. Put the camera inside with a light on so you can monitor your train (more important than you think). Also make the inside radius wide so that when you have a derail, you don't hear some crunching sickening noise of fallen brass. Also remember to plan for a person to stand inside. Also plan to make this massive heap of hydrocal look good - mountain is the usual solution.
  5. atsfman

    atsfman TrainBoard Member

    I have used a helix since 1989. Some of you know my layout is a three deck one. I use a helix to bring the mainline down from the top deck to the middle deck. The helix has 38" and 36" radius curves and is a single track. Since it was installed I have had maybe three derailments on it. It has been extremely dependable. The helix is "hidden" under a major yard but accessible from underneath. I used MicroEngineering flex track on homobed, as is the rest of the railroad, nothing special. The only weird thing to using a helix is the time when the train goes under the highway bridge at Guthrie OK and goes out of sight, reappearing at Crescent OK. You feel like you have lost your train at first. The roadbed is very quiet and with an operating session going on around you, there is no sound. My crews have learned to walk around by Crescent, plug their throttles in and wait.

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