Puppeteer Seeks Advice for Z-Axis Track Possibilities

zach Jan 5, 2019

  1. zach

    zach New Member

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    Greetings TrainBoard,

    I am seeking advice regarding unconventional and non-realistic railroad layouts.

    I am Los Angeles based theater maker and puppeteer who often incorporates miniature cities and tiny models into my work. Cameras are manipulated inside of these handbuilt landscapes, projecting the interiors to the audience.

    This year I am creating a new performance that takes place entirely on a miniature O-gauge train layout, with a live-projecting camera inside one of the train cars. I need this train to travel as much surface space as possible in a 10 x 10 space. I am curious if I can accomplish this by having tracks that move on the z-axis, either climbing upwards or move downwards inside of the platform.

    Is anyone familiar with displays that plays with this type of unusual setup?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on space utilization and the possibilities of moving train engines upwards and downwards within the z-axis.

    -zach
     
  2. ViperBugloss

    ViperBugloss TrainBoard Supporter

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    I find it difficult to understanding your requirements without further explanation. What are the units for the 10 x 10 space? Inches are not realistic for an O-gauge layout so I am assuming feet. Also, what is the third dimension?

    Is the entire track to move up and down, while the train runs in the horizontal direction?

    Robert Pearce (aka Viper Bugloss)
     
  3. zach

    zach New Member

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    Robert,

    Thanks for the reply. It's 10 feet x 10 feet, and I was wondering if the train could run in a circle or navigated through space while the track moves upwards - sot of like a spiral.

    What do you think?

    zach
     
  4. Taymar

    Taymar TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting! When you say move in the Z axis, do you mean a static circle of track that is then raised/lowered on a platform, or would the train be climbing a physical spiral of track? (some modelers use a 'helix' of track; a spiral that's hidden behind the scenes to get a train from one level to another since they typically can't climb very steep hills).

    The type of locomotive and the length/weight of the train would be pretty important factors if you need it to climb hills - if you already have a type of train in mind that'll probably dictate what you can and can't do with the track.
     
    zach likes this.
  5. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, yes, spirals exist. Cog railroads exist. Trains have been known to ride on moving trainboards, provided the motion of the table is smooth enough.

    I think we're all intrigued but suffering a lack of the vision thing. You know there are laws of physics. You know trains aren't helicopters. How do you want the trains to move up and down?
     
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  6. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Zach -

    Perhaps we are making this more complicated than necessary. Model trains can easily climb inclines to reach a higher elevation then descend down to a lower elevation. In model railroad parlance, such inclines and declines are known as "grades." There can be numerous grades on the same model railroad.

    Below are some videos of model trains climbing grades. Grades are usually not very steep, so a train may travel a considerable distance to climb just a few inches in elevation.

    I apologize if I've misunderstood your intent, Zach.

    - Jeff



     
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  7. zach

    zach New Member

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    Jeff,

    Yes! This is exactly what I am talking about. Right now I am using the Lionel Southern Pacific Rising Sun. These videos are great, but also make it pretty clear that I would need a lot of space in order to accomplish this helix. Thank you for sharing.

    Can you expand on the type of train and track I would need to accomplish this?

    -zach
     
  8. zach

    zach New Member

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    Taymar,

    Thanks for the reply. I also sent a reply to Jeff below. I think you both have the right idea - which is the helix track. I am using the Lionel Southern Pacific Rising Sun. Do you think it's possible to do a helix with a diameter of like 4'? Or would I need a bunch of space?
     
  9. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    The type of track you need is curved.

    The type of train you need is not too long and not too heavy. You can run a train of some length and weight, but the longer and heavier it is, the larger the diameter of your spiral must be. A powerful locomotive pulling a heavy train through a sharp curve tends to pull its cars off the track.

    You can use O32 track for a diameter of just under three feet. But less diameter means less circumference, and since each time the train travels the circumference it must climb enough to go over its own head, that results in a steeper grade. So you're down to a four car train, more or less.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  10. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Zach -

    If you want to use a helix, this online helix calculator may be helpful:

    http://www.modelbuildings.org/free-helix-design-calculator.html

    A helix is not the only way to gain elevation. Here is a model railroad that gains elevation in a more "natural" way, by looping around several times but always in plain site. This is sometimes called a "nolix." This is in contrast to a helix, which is usually hidden.

    [​IMG]


    Here is another, more unusual method, a switchback!

    [​IMG]

    - Jeff
     
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  11. zach

    zach New Member

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    Jeff,

    Holy cow! The helix design calculator was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for your help and advice. I will have to let you know how the project turns out.
     
  12. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    If you post updates occasionally in this thread, we can all see how your project turns out.

    - Jeff
     

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