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Looking for opinions and input on multiple decks

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Looking for opinions and input on multiple decks
Posted by jim81147 on Monday, August 12, 2019 8:39 PM

Hello guys , I am new to this forum but not new to the hobby . I am getting ready to design a new layout and was hoping to get some input/direction on which way to go . I know that is a totally open ended question so I will offer up some specifics of what i am looking for . My newly aquired space is 14X19-6 . I have never had a layout before that had a "job" so I would like to incorporate more operations . I love doing the scenery , trestle bridges in particular, so I want to incorporate at least 2 into the new layout . The thing that I am having the most trouble with is deciding on how many levels. I like the fact that I can get twice or three times as much run space by going to a multilevel but I do keep reading these stories about helix problems  unless they have monster radius' . That kind of takes up alot of the "extra" real estate . I will say right up front that I have never built/operated a layout that had a helix so I am basing my thoughts on things I have read . Another possible issue that I see is lighting . If I understand all I know about it , for a decent look I am either going to lose valuable headroom or have to separate the decks more . Reach is another concern because of height of decks if I use multiple levels . When all is said and done , those of you who own or have operated on a multiple deck layout , did you find that the extra trackage was worth the difficulties/nuisances that a multi-deck layout presented?

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 9:55 AM

Hello Jim, welcome!

I was in the same situation as you many years ago. I have a 20'x20' room with a double door right in the middle of the wall when you walk in. I didn't want any duckunders or lift outs. So I opted to put a helix in one corner and have 2 decks. The layout is a large 2 track dogbone with 2 tracks that go around the op for continuous operation or just to see trains run. Lower level is staging tracks, stub tracks and a small peninsula for my engine terminal. I go around the room with 30" depths on both levels and the main peninsula is 66" wide with access from both sides. It's made for operations and I hold sessions with anywhere from 3-7 operators. One thing in hindsight that I would have done differently is to make the upper level 24" deep instead of 30". In addition, since staging is for storing trains, I would have increased the distance between decks from 12" to 16" or more. I don't have any bridges or grades on the railroad, just the helix to move the trains between levels. My helix was custom built and fits in an 80"x80" area. 29 3/4" inside radius / 32" outside radius. The tracks around the top are 33 3/4" and 36". Loop track around the bottom of the helix is 36" and I use this for storing one trainset.

Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you. Good luck!

Neal

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Posted by trevorsmith3489 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:13 AM

Hi Jim

I have a room slightly smaller than yours and I wanted to build my layou so that I could "watch trains" I live in the UK and with no other USA modellers living near I have to be a lone wolf modeller

I went with twin decks linked by a helix. This is my second helix build and with lessons learnt I have fewer operating problems on the helix than anywhere else on the layout.

My track plan enables me to enter the room without a duck under or lift bridge and the 6 months planning has certainly paid dividends

Pitfalls - working on your own will take a looooong time to finish. If age is not on your side, consider carefully the height of the top level and the height between levels. With a narrow gap between my decks, deteriorating eyesight and some arthritis, working at the back of the lower deck can become uncomfortable after a period of time.

My wordpress site shows my layout evolution and explains in some depth how unseen problems occur and the solutions to problems.

https://kaleyyard.wordpress.com/

Trevor

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:14 AM

On nearly every multi-deck layout I have ever seen, one deck, usually the bottom, ends up getting ignored. Then the layout becomes by default a single decker.

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I had this experience with my friend's N Scale NORFOLK SOUTHERN layout.

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I am going to stick with single levels.

.

-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 3:10 PM

The double deck layouts I have operated on that had helixes (or whatever the plural of helix is) were so sprawlingly expansive and large -- larger than the space you propose -- that the considerable real estate taken up by the helix felt inconsequential, and the layout owners didn't even attempt to scenic around them.  You just didn't notice them (although one guy did end up putting a very large farm scene on top of his helix -- no trains, all farm -- and the other guy  put his dispatcher inside the helix, perhaps as punishment).  For your size space the helix, even if it had trainset type sharp curves, would be a consequential percent of the total footprint and a decided challenge to scenic for both levels.

This is in addition to the operational issues of helixes that Jim Kelly and others have written about - the "where's my train?" syndrome if the track is hidden, or the peek-a-boo look of slots in the sides to see where the train is.

I have visited but never operated on a double deck layout that is one long continuous grade so that there is no helix.  An interesting solution which kind of dictates a great deal about the layout and even about the prototype.

And I have read about (but never visited or, obviously, operated on) those double deck layouts where there simply is no connection between levels.  Two different layouts but often "connected" in theory by junctions or interchanges which are modeled in duplicate on both levels, one version east/west, the other north/south. 

One could even have two utterly unrelated layouts, even different scales.  Somewhere I am sure it's been done and done well. 

Tony Koester theorized about using an interchangable cassette that would be shared between the two separated levels (and he conceded that an un-named staffer for MR termed it "the worst idea I have ever heard of").  

And speaking as a tall man with an increasingly bad back, the lower level of a true double deck layout might as well not be there for all that I can see it or enjoy it or truly operate on it.  I have to hand over the throttle to somebody else - perhaps a short person who feels the same way about the upper level.  

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by cv_acr on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 3:41 PM

SeeYou190

On nearly every multi-deck layout I have ever seen, one deck, usually the bottom, ends up getting ignored. Then the layout becomes by default a single decker.

I don't see how.... most DD layouts I'm familiar with will have a main line that runs across one deck, up a helix (or two or three :p ) and across the upper deck. Any train making a full trip across the layout transits both decks...

I've never run on a layout that was two completely separate layouts up and down with an incidental running connection via the helix...

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 4:22 PM

I have a partially double-decked layout in an oddly-shaped room.  The layout is meant to be operated as a point-to-point-to-point-to-point-to-point (there are five end points with staging/receiving track at each).
In the crude drawing of the layout room, below, the area in grey is doubledecked (what's shown is the lower level, while the level above it is roughly the same dimensions...perhaps slightly deeper over Port Maitland).

The peninsula between South Cayuga and the town above Elfrida is the grade on which trains get to the upper level, approximatel 45' long and at 2.8% (uncompensated for the many curves).  Almost all trains require at least two locomotives, and, as the layout is set in the late '30s, all are steam.

Here's a LINK to a layout room tour.

Most of the area in grey is "finished", so access is not too much of an issue.  However, there are some turnouts (all but one on the layout are manually operated) that are now somewhat difficult to reach, and when time allows, I plan to make those operable from the fascia.

The lower level is operated from a rolling office chair, while some operations on the upper level require use of a stepstool to reach some of the turnouts.
Operation is DC, with a walk-around throttle, and I am the sole operator.

There are 27 double-tube 4' fluorescent fixtures, plus two  8' doubles and a couple of LED 100 watt equivalents lighting the layout, but I'll be replacing some of the fluorescents over the single level area using LED flush-mount pot lights.

The upper level is operable, but needs scenery and structures - most of the latter are on hand.  The fifth staging area is on the upper level, in an adjoining room, located approximately below the caption for the Maitland River.  All other staging track is stacked in the area labelled "Staging".

The only real drawback to this layout is not having enough time to work on it.

Wayne

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 4:34 PM

cv_acr

 

 
SeeYou190

On nearly every multi-deck layout I have ever seen, one deck, usually the bottom, ends up getting ignored. Then the layout becomes by default a single decker.

 

 

I don't see how.... most DD layouts I'm familiar with will have a main line that runs across one deck, up a helix (or two or three :p ) and across the upper deck. Any train making a full trip across the layout transits both decks...

I've never run on a layout that was two completely separate layouts up and down with an incidental running connection via the helix...

 

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The thing is, as time goes by, the lower deck stops getting work done on the scenery because it is harder to reach. Then repairs stop happening on the lower deck. Then it stops getting cleaned.

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Eventually a way is found to stop operating with the lower deck, then only the upper deck is really the layout.

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You can see this happening on Scale Rails Of Southwest Florida's club layout now.

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-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 5:56 PM

SeeYou190
The thing is, as time goes by, the lower deck stops getting work done on the scenery because it is harder to reach. Then repairs stop happening on the lower deck. Then it stops getting cleaned.

I've visited, operated on, and designed dozens and dozens of multi-deck layouts in various states of completion. I have never seen this. Ever. It’s certainly not typical.

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Posted by jim81147 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:27 PM

Interesting comments guys , thank you . A few things I did not even think of . I will be the only operator on this layout , like some have already mentioned . I had thought of doing one continuous grade along the outside walls , but I dont think that this option would give me enough separation and I also cant visulize what it would look like . If it were to run "through the mountains" I would think that most of the lower deck would then be just that , mountains . I dont see that being an effective way to use this space . Maybe a conversation with cuyama is in order ?? When it comes to design , my imagination is very limited .I appreciate all the comments and welcome any others , it gives me more to think about.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:46 PM

I built a double deck layout, and was not happy before it was even done.

I did not use a helix, trains progressed up and back down thru a series of hidden track behind the visable scenes, with some part of all the grades being visable in places.

My original thoughts relied a lot on the idea of sitting in an office chair to view/operate the lower levels, but I never was comfortable with how the scenery started to play out on the lower levels.

I had a fairly large space, 24 x 40, and I considered several plans using a helix as well. 

Ultimately I stopped work on the layout and began a re-design, which is now the basis for a new layout in a new home - with only one scenic level.

I think part of my problem was that being a more "old school" modeler from years back, I have never gotten use to the idea of shallow "shelf" scenery concept.

My new layout will have deep scenes most everywhere, with bench work 3'-4' deep, even though most all trackage will be in the front 24"-30". 

Sheldon

    

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Posted by jim81147 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:33 PM

That is another good point Sheldon . I had not considered the look of the much narrower layout space . I know a few tricks to make a scene look like it has more depth , but not that many . As I said in the original post , I do like the scenery aspect of the hobby alot and that look will make a difference.

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Posted by oldline1 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 12:46 AM

I built one 2 deck layout with a helix in a 9x17 room once. Contrary to many people saying you get twice the layout I have to disagree. There's a lot of running but unfortunately much of it is hidden inside the helix climbing the required grade from the lower to upper levels. I had so many folks operating and not liking the fact their train was gone from sight a long time. That extra layout is used up by the helix.

Construction can be difficult sometimes working under the upper deck. The helix itself can be a challange too. There are many ways to build one and even kits to make it easier now.

One other issue is the lighting of the lower level can also test your budget and patience. I found building scenery, laying track and other things on the lower deck could be frustrating and I hit my head many times during all that. Operation wasn't a real problem. Another thing that you need to be cautious of is soldering and slinging plaster and paint on the upper deck can mess up things on the bottom if you had already started or finished it.

Sometimes setting the height of both decks can be an issue. If you have too much space between decks the lower might be pretty low to the floor or the upper a bit high for many visitors or operators.

I'm not against multiple level layouts but after building and dealing with that one for about 12 years I was happy to go back to a single deck layout. 

Just my 2¢ since you asked.

oldline1

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 3:22 AM

My current layout is a double deck with scenery that is 70% completed..

 

I would say that the big issue for me is that the construction is very complicated and takes way longer than building two single deck layouts.

 

Lighting both decks can easily be solved with LEDs or CPFLS.

 

Your room is awfully small for a nolix if you want a reasonable grade.

 

In general, your space is just large enough for a double deck but in my opinion is right at the limit in terms of aisle width and scene sizes along the walls.

 

Helixes will eat up a 6 ft square in HO. There ways to mitigate the impact but is a big issue.

 

Bottom line: I would not build a double deck unless you are into OPS and want a long mainline run.  I am happy with mine, but I am an operator.

 

Check the link below my signature to see how I approached my layout design.

 

Your mileage may vary,

 

Guy

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 7:40 AM

 I don;t have much of a choice, to get the railroad I want in the space I have, there needs to be two decks. I have some plans for the helix - it will be at the end of a penninsula, where you really don;t want to see both sides at the same time. There will also be a track running around the base of the lower level outside of the helix, which will go on to a branch line.  Not sure about the top yet, but I do not think I will be putting a second branch over top the lower one, having 2 groups running trains in the area will defeat the purpose of making you feel somewhat alone out on a low traffic branch.

 Some things to keep trains from being totally hidden in a helix that you cna do are to extend alternate laps into ovals incteadof circles and make part of if visible - at least if you are modeling a mountainous area where track clinging to the side of the mountain is plausible - or a big trestle. I think it was Lou Sassi had that on his old layout, just one loop extended outside the radius of his helix and went across a tall trestle that was somewhat the signature scene of the layout.

 There's definitely a height compromise, instead of one deck at your ideal level, there will be two one slightly lower and one slightly higher. However - consider that if you are going to have multiple operators, unless everyone is your close, the "ideal height" is only YOUR ideal height and not everyone else's, so the compromise of one deck higher and one deck lower may not be as huge a deal. There's also the idea of making the lower deck operable while seated in rolling chairs, although with limited space this may not be possible, since you need more aisle space.

                          --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 11:02 AM

Railroad of LION is on three decks. All are used. Trains starts out from 242nd Street transverses the upper layer to helix down to the middle layer via the west blob, from there it transverses the middle level around to the east blob where it helix down to the lower level and transverses the lower level to the loop at South Ferry, and then it runs back up again on the uptown track. Total Run with stops is 20 minutes.

Trains depart 242nd Street every three minutes.

The "Back 40" (20 feet on the east wall and 20 feet on the south wall) holds the three levels.

You may click on my website below to see how I attached the back 40 shelves to the wall. Actually the weight is all on the floor, with only a few screws holding the thing to the wall so that it does not tip over.

 

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Sunday, August 25, 2019 6:04 PM

 

To be clear I hate multi deck layouts and the often necessary helix.

When you go in the layout room, the design is not eyes catching with the multiple level.

Why, I feel they are unprototypical, one level is high and the low level is often to low.

Most of the magnificient layout are build around 3.5feet height to have the scenery nearly in the eyes; a goal extremly difficult or out of consideration to make  with multi level layout.

Yes they allow to put more train in a same surface and may be add interest for train operations.

Helix are not my cup of tea for sure, since they eat a lot of space, are quiet difficult to  build and difficult to hide in the layout room.

Some people use it to gain elevation but feel it's not necessary.

But I admit some of these layout are magnificient in any case.

To gain elevation, I have made a design which avoid helix, doulble loop.

I symply divide my main in two parts, starting at a same point, one half part of the main go up with agentle maximum 2% grade and the second half go down with agentle 2% grade, meaning at the end the two parts are separated by a nearly dubble height.

This design is on the way to be used on my extending plan of my N scale Maclau river.

Just my opinion

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Posted by MrMoto on Sunday, August 25, 2019 6:29 PM

I'm currently building a double deck layout and am just finishing the benchwork phase.  I can say, from belonging to a double decked club layout, that helixes work just fine when planned and built carefully but there will always be issues.  The first, of course, is space.  You need a good deal of space to keep the grade down.  Our club layout has two helixes at 60+ inches each.  While most trains run fine through the helixes I will occasionally find an engine that needs a helper to get a train up.

My new layout does not use a helix.  I'm essentially building two seperate layouts.  The top deck is HO and operations based.  The bottom deck will be On30.  When I moved I had to give up my On30 modules but did not want to give up the scale.  

My hope with the two different scales/layouts is that I won't disregard one for the other based on it's height.  I will operate the lower deck from desk chairs, because yes, bending down gets real old real fast.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, August 25, 2019 10:32 PM

SeeYou190
On nearly every multi-deck layout I have ever seen, one deck, usually the bottom, ends up getting ignored. Then the layout becomes by default a single decker.....

I haven't visited all that many double-deck layouts, Kevin, but I haven't seen the situation you describe.

On my own partially-double-decked layout, each level plays a part in operations, so leaving one level out of operations pretty-well makes the rest of it pointless.

I did have the portion under the partial upper level pretty well done, though, before even starting construction of the upper part. 
The upper level wasn't at all difficult to build.  I cut the parts for the framing and the plywood for the upper deck outside, assembled them in the layout room and, because they were in manageable sections, put them into place without assistance.
The lower level lighting was then added and the upper fascia installed.  I haven't painted the fascia because I'll be removing it to add remote control for some of the turnouts on the lower level.

jim81147
My newly aquired space is 14X19-6.



If you allocate one corner of the room for a helix, say about 6'x6', you should be able to fit-in a narrow shelf around it (on the room-side) to allow around-the-room running on both levels, with most of the rest of the layout between 2' and 3' deep around the remainder of the room.  The upper level should be at least as deep as the lower one, and in some cases, it would be advantageous to make it deeper.

I'd suggest lift-outs at the entrance to the room if you go with a double deck, as they take-up minimal space when not in place, and easier than lift-ups or drop-downs when there are two levels.  Swing gates could be another option, but for any of these, the door to the room should open out, rather than into the room.

I doubt that you could, instead of a helix, use a penisula as the connection between the two levels - mine uses about 45' of track, at 2.8%, to get a separation of 20" to 22" between the two levels.  Much of the single-level portion of my layout is at various elevations to permit that - not noticeable on the layout drawing, but more apparent in the Layout Room Tour in the link.  That was, by the way, the only place on the layout that needed to be planned very carefully.  The rest involved simply building what would fit into the available space.  Almost all of the track and structures on the main level are, out of necessity, on risers.

Wayne

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Posted by jim81147 on Monday, August 26, 2019 9:04 AM

I know that helix's take up alot of room . I have also read that , if to tight of a radius , trains will pull off the track if they are to long . What are the other difficulties I might come across with a helix? Also what about a helix is difficult to build? Is it the transition from flat to grade?

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, August 26, 2019 11:03 AM

I'm not a fan of helices due to the fact that trains are too long out-of-sight or at least not in areas that are sceniced and provide an interesting setting for the train.
However, in some cases, they may be the best solution for gaining altitude. 

The 6'x 6' space I mentioned for a helix will allow a 34" radius, or you could make it slightly larger and get a 36" radius - both considered fairly generous on most layouts, whether in a helix or as a curve in the track.

Unless you're planning on running especially long trains, there's little chance of stringlining.  It does help to have your rolling stock weighted more-or-less to NMRA recommended standards, although some cars leave little room for additional weight.  For those (usually empty open hoppers) I place them at the back end of such a train.
I'd guess that most stringlining events are tied to equipment problems:  out-of-gauge and/or poor-rolling wheelsets, low couplers, with trip pins catching on ties, and trucks fastened too tightly or too loosely can all contribute to derailments and stringlining. 

Poor locomotive performance, such as erratic operation or too high locomotive speeds can also be a factor.

The only two incidents of stringlining I've experienced were this one, where a low coupler caught on the guardrails on the high bridge...

The cars were easily repaired and returned to service.

The other one was worse, and occurred at an open house for a nearby club's layout.  I had recently re-worked three Athearn U-boats with two can motors each and had also ballasted them to over 2 lbs. each.  I asked if they would run them on a long train, as they had a lot more track than was on my layout.
They responded with enthusiasm, and assembled a rather long train - don't recall the car count, but it was considerable.  The train was moving along nicely when it rounded a curve and went into a long straightaway (open benchwork with no guards, and supposedly destined to eventually be within a tunnel -guards added, of course).  Unfortunately, something quite a ways back in the train apparently had a low coupler which caught, perhaps on a turnout.

However, with a combined tractive effort of 25oz., the diesels kept pulling....about two dozen cars right off the track and onto the floor.

I have run trains in excess of 70 cars on my own layout, and because of its up-and-down profile and numerous curves, that train at almost any time in its operation would have been on multiple curves of varying degrees and directions and, at the same time, on multiple grades, both up and down. 
In consideration of that, train speed was kept fairly low and there were no incidents of any kind.

As long as your helix has a decent radius and your operating practices are reasonable, I doubt that you'll have any issues involving stringlining. 
It's also important to gear your equipment and operations to what's reasonable for the layout that you construct.  If you need to use a lot of tight curves, you may wish to avoid longer cars or steam locomotives with a long driver wheelbase.

Wayne

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Monday, August 26, 2019 11:35 AM

On nearly every multi-deck layout I have ever seen, one deck, usually the bottom, ends up getting ignored. Then the layout becomes by default a single decker.

Kevin, Never seen this and I have operated on and visited lots of double deck layouts. Certainly not true of my double deck layout.

jim81147

I know that helix's take up alot of room . I have also read that , if to tight of a radius , trains will pull off the track if they are to long . What are the other difficulties I might come across with a helix? Also what about a helix is difficult to build? Is it the transition from flat to grade?

 

Basically you're fine with a radius of 30" or larger as long as you aren't running very long equipment. My helix radii are 30" and 32.5" and I have run 30 car trains up the helix no problem. Also 80 foot passenger cars aren't an issue.

As for building the helix: there are some methods out there that are fairly easy to construct using blocks and outside framing. Construction can be time consuming and you do want to get things as perfect as you can so there are no derailments.

There is lots of info on how to build a reliable helix and there seems to be consensus about what works. Most of the issues you may have heard about come from people not wanting to allocate the necessary space and making the radius too tight.

My helix has been in operation for ten years with no problems. I know of other helixes in my area with similar reliability records.

Guy

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Posted by hornblower on Monday, August 26, 2019 12:31 PM

My current 10' by 19' layout is double decked with a helix at each end (one of my prototype railroads acquired another shortline railroad and connecting the two lines created a prototype loop of track).  My decks are 18" apart.  The lower deck is at 34" above the floor with the upper deck at 52".  This means I can sit (usually in a rolling secretary's chair) while working on the lower deck while the upper deck is just below my standing armpit height meaning I can reach to the backdrop without disturbing the scenery.  I kept the aisles wide so that taller operators can easily see the lower deck by simply stepping back.  The upper deck height is a bit too high for most kids to see.  I originally lit the train room using 4' fluorescent shop lights.  I recently replaced all of these with LED tube lights (much brighter and significantly less power used).  The lower deck is lit using LED puck lights I picked up on clearance from Home Depot several years ago.  I spaced the LED pucks about 18" apart and mounted them right behind the fascia on bases angled back toward the base of the backdrop.  They do a surprisingly good job of lighting the lower deck.  

Since my layout models mostly the shortline portion of the two railroads, curves are tight and sidings short (ten car trains max). Because of this, I was able to build 22" radius single track helices. My short trains handle them easily but the real secret is a CONSTANT grade and a CONSTANT radius throughout each helix. Any unintentional change in the helix grade or radius will make it more difficult for your trains to climb your helix.  Build your helix carefully while constantly repeating your grade and radius measurements throughout the process.  Twice the mainline distance without creating a spaghetti bowl is the reward!

Hornblower

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Posted by Jwmutter on Monday, August 26, 2019 7:26 PM

You have enough room — just — to have a center peninsula running down the 19’6” length.  Depending on what your prototype or preferred operating scheme is, you could run a grade (maybe requiring helpers) around the center peninsula in a “nolix” configuration to gain the elevation difference between the upper and lower levels.  You’d then build a typical double-deck layout around the walls.

That’s what I have done, albeit in a somewhat larger space, but the helper grade is on the peninsula.  The lower level varies from 42” to 48” (the majority is at 48”), and the upper level varies from 66” to 63”(the majority is at 63”).  I have used a thin deck construction technique and have kept most of the upper deck at about 2.5”  deck thickness, resulting in a deck separation of around 16-20” railhead-to-railhead.  

Neither the lower deck at 42-48” nor the upper deck at 63-66” are hard to access, although I do have fold-down steps for the one switching area where the railhead height is about 66”.  The deck depths are typically 28-24”.

So, don’t rule out double-deck layouts.  You don’t necessarily need a helix (I don’t have one) to gain the extra running distance.

Jeff Mutter

Erie Lackawanna’s Scranton Division, 1975

http://elscrantondivision.railfan.net

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Posted by jim81147 on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 10:27 PM

What is a "nolix" ? probably a dumb question but I dont know what that is .

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 11:46 PM

jim81147

What is a "nolix" ? probably a dumb question but I dont know what that is .

 

 
If you don't know, then it's certainly not a dumb question.
 
Usually, a nolix is a long and often winding track that gains altitude, until it reaches a point high enough above a layout to enable creation of an upper level of the layout.
Mine starts around here, where the locos are at the left of the photo...
 
 
...and then climbs...
 
 
...and climbs...
 
...and more...
 
 
...and nears the end of the hill...
 
....where it becomes part of the upper level...
 
 
In essence, performing the same task as a helix, but not a helix...a nolix.
 
Wayne
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 6:55 AM

hornblower
the real secret is a CONSTANT grade and a CONSTANT radius throughout each helix. Any unintentional change in the helix grade or radius will make it more difficult for your trains to climb your helix.

I would think any properly built helix would be as you describe, constant grade and radius.  That's standard AFAIK.

 

I've debated the multideck approach.  OTOH, many eschew multideck due to the complexity and time required to build, sometimes making it not practical to get a layout to a fairly complete stage to use it.  Of course the advantage of multideck is you can get a great deal more layout into a given space.

My approach is somewhat of a compromise.  I have the space to do mulitdeck, but want to keep the layout design hopefully do-able to build and get operational in a year or two's time.

My compromise is to have about 2/3rds of the layout with two levels, but the bottom level will be the 2/3rds to allow a generous staging yard and a branchline for operational interest.  The main-line will be the main level and will lose grade over the course of the run, some 90+ feet.  There is a helix designed to being trains back up to the mainlevel for continuous run ability.  To the layout, in essense is a no-lix with a helix.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by markie97 on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 7:14 AM

I wanted to add a penninsula to my around the room layout and based on a challenge from a friend looked into adding a level. Went to the trackplan data base for ideas and saw the Creamery Junction layout and went with a modified version of that. Have mixed feelings about how it will work out. If I were to do it again from the start I would use the lower level for staging and may move staging there at some point in the future but I decided I want to try and finish what I have started.

As to lighting I used the LED sticky strip lighting from Ebay and that worked out pretty well. Make sure you get the high intensity stuff. Bought strip lighting from one of the big box stores and it was expensive and did not throw off enough light.

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Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 1:49 PM

markie97
Went to the trackplan data base for ideas and saw the Creamery Junction layout

Thanks for pointing to that plan.  It is a perfect example of the case I often try to make that a helix is not a "space waster".  As this plan illustrates, the helix only costs space on the lower level.  This plan also shows that the helix creates no special scenery challenge.

I'm about to build my 4th helix.  I can tell you from experience that if you can build cookie-cutter style roadbed, you can build a helix.  If you've only ever built on a table-top, you may face a slight learning curve.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 4:28 PM

 The way I am planning my layout, even the lower level space won't be totally wasted by the helix - I will have a branch line leaving the town just before the lower level helix entrance, which will snake around the outside of the helix.

                                   --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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