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Multiple Staging Tracks (& access to them, perhaps helix)

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Multiple Staging Tracks (& access to them, perhaps helix)
Posted by railandsail on Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:56 PM

I'm designing a new double-deck layout to fit inside my 12x16 'train shed'.  It will have an 'outdoor' helix structure,... outside the main shed, but in its own enclosure.

It will have shelf's on either side, and a peninsula. For the longest time I had been planning for a 6-8 track staging area to be located approx 8" under ONE of the side shelfs,...perhaps like this

 

I decided to re-look at the possibility of utilizing the helix structure to gain access to the the staging tracks. What if I decided to try to add two loops to the bottom of my planned outdoor helix to take the trains down to the staging level?
 

 

Would it really be so difficult to access if I were to have to get inside the 'hollow helix structure', to fix a derailment of whatever?...and yes I know I will have to at times.
 

I had a 48" circular metal ring that I placed up on the top of three stacked milk cartons. Why milk cartons,...because it brought the staging track level up to just about the level I was think of, and it would allow for a stack of 3 of these plastic cartons to be utilized as slide-in-slide-out storage bins. So the staging access tracks in the helix structure would be at this level.

 

 

 

Even with this 48" circle I had PLENTY of room to get up inside the helix. Now imagine if my circle is closer to a 60" one (30R helix) I plan on. I am now convinced that I will NOT have to play limbo to get at the interior of this lower helix level.

And now I could have staging tracks on both sides of the layout  I could even have staging down the center of the peninsula. Lets see 6 tracks each on both sides, and 2-4 down the center,...wow, 14-16 tracks of staging (each with a different type train ready to run)

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:59 PM

3 Areas of Staging

I now want to make use of that 'sub-helix' to bring my trains down to the staging areas (3 areas) below (8" inches below) my main deck level. I could see the staging access track (the sub-helix track) entering the center of the back wall of the shed, and splitting off 3 ways, to the right, to the left, and down the center penisula. The tracks going to the right and left sides of the room would likely be some sort of ladder arrangment to build to 6-8 staging tracks each. 

Should they be an ordinary ladder or a modified one? Could they constructed using be Peco small radius (code 100) turnouts which I believe are #5's?

Rather than a 'simple ladder' configuration, should they best be a compound one like Armstrong and yourself have utilized??

I need to do a 'mock-up'.

Rather than the paper templates I chose to just quickly layout some actual turnouts to get a general idea of the access to staging I am considering. I chose my living room carpet to layout the turnouts as my shed has a bunch of junk in there at the moment.

 

Here the 3-way turnout is coming from the TV/stereo cabinette into the 'shed's interior' (represented by the carpet) That 3-way is located in the external helix structure, and sends the trains into the staging level in 3 directions, 1) down the center, and 2) to either side of the shed. The 6" wide laminate floor strip panel represents the thickness of the shed's back wall.

There are 2 different size Peco (Code100) turnouts represented here,..... small size (bottom row), and medium size (top row) ones.

I believe in this area the small radius Peco's are just fine??
 

The track radiuses at the entering end is a 24" radius. the exit track shown that is leading to the staging track down along the wall (edge of carpet)  is 22". The others (not shown) would likely be 24" radius.

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, March 25, 2018 4:02 PM

24" Radius Trackage, paper templates

So I decided I did not want to spend $9 each for those Fast Track curves, nor wait for their delivery,...so I made some paper templates of 24" radius trackage,

Here is how things line up utilizing the 'small radius, code100' Peco turnouts. At first I had just 5 tracks for that side

Then I got the tracks a little closer together going down that rug edge (inner wall of shed)...

 

Then I got 6 tracks for that staging area. All of the curves are a full 24" radius, EXCEPT for the inner most one at 22"  radius. Likely this one could be made 24" as well if the straight section preceding it was changed, but have one track at 22" shouldn't be a problem for short car trains and engines.

 

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, March 25, 2018 4:05 PM

Eliminate One Track

I've had this track laying out in my room for several days (fortuntely wife is overseas at the moment), and I have played with several different turnout arrangements on that inner most track. I've just about come to the conclusion I should just eliminate that track, and be happy with 5 staging tracks per each side.

Besides there is another reason to eliminate it,...more complicated to explain at the moment.

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Posted by nealknows on Sunday, March 25, 2018 8:30 PM

What kind of clearance between the centers do you have on the curves? What kind of cars will you be running? You may have clearance issues on the curves. I have staging tracks on curves like you show and I have at least 2 1/2" on centers as I run 89' auto racks and passenger cars. I tried to pack in as many tracks as possible, but I think with your clearance, less is better..

Just a thought from looking at your pics.

Neal

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, March 25, 2018 8:41 PM

Neal,

I do have some pretty close track spacing where those tracks exit the turnouts, and in the 24" curves back to the straight track portions, as well. In order to avoid any side swiping I propose to NOT have any of the staged trains occupy any portion of those curves. All trains will be staged on the straight track portions.

And only one train at a time will be moving into or out of staging. (besides that's all the helix access track can handle,...one train)

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, March 26, 2018 7:37 AM

Peco Small Radius Turnouts

A question has arisen about my use of Peco SMALL radius turnouts in this staging access?. I had posted previously,...

There are 2 different size Peco (Code100) turnouts represented here,..... small size (bottom row), and medium size (top row) ones.

I believe in this area the small radius Peco's are just fine??

 

I sited two post from this forum to help justify my use of the 'code100, small radius' turnouts in this area,...

As noted, HO PECO Code 75 and Code 100 products are not exactly equivalent to #4, #5, etc. All have a #4.5 frog, the difference is in the curving diverging leg:
Small: 24" radius
Medium: 36" radius
Large: 60" radius
Curved: 60"/30" radius 

They tend to be a bit more compact than the equivalent "straight" turnouts, so I've used them often in designs where space is constrained.

Byron

 

In analysing track plans are Peco HO Streamline Small Radius Turnouts  a rough equivalent to a No:4; Medium Radius to a No:5: Large Radius to a No: 6 ? I don't know, I measured them once but don't remember.  I do remember that the frog number does not determine everything about the performance of turnout.   Our club did fairly extensive tests before we started using them.   I find the smalls perform better than the Atlas #4 (which is really a #4.5).   We have used them in many places on the layout and I cannot think of an instance in about 10 years of use where there has been an issue.  I believe we even have one on one of the passnger sidings in a town.   This is surprising as we have had problems with a 30" radius curve with some of the longer passenger equipment.   I'm guessing that perhaps is because the distance of the curve is so short that is is not a "ruling" curvature.

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, March 26, 2018 1:53 PM

Peco Medium Radius Turnouts

I just did a quick little redo with MEDIUM radius Peco turnouts. Looks pretty smooth,...

 

 

I think I like it even better with these larger radius turnouts. There is now about 2+3/8 inch centers between those curves, ....and a larger clearance down the side (wall) that will be nice for the new steel angle brackets I have in mind for supporting the upper deck just overhead.

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, March 26, 2018 3:24 PM

Construct the Staging Track level first, or the Main Deck level?

Chicken & Egg Problem (the old,... which came first question)

So now I have a dilemma that probably a lot of folks have experienced,...build the staging tracks first then the deck above them, ...or vice versa??

Naturally you have to believe that building the staging tracks first is the most logical way to proceed, as they might be near impossible to build after a close fitting cover is added over them. But then how do you access the bottom of the main deck to do wiring, and whole host of things to the unfinished (and likely incompletely planned) main deck layout only 8 inches or so over the staging tracks?

And I am particularly concerned about this matter as I am contemplating 3 good size staging areas, and I have yet to decide on a final track plan for the layout.

 

These are a few of my thoughts at the moment. Both my staging level roadbed and my main deck roadbed will basically consist of shelfs of plywood cantilevered off the wall studding by metal brackets,...perhaps much like those angle-iron brackets suggested by TrainzLuvr

TrainzLuvr

Let me show you what I mean...the black bracket below (top left) was the original design I started with which I actually saw here on MRH, from Bill Brillinger

This second one I mocked up to be individual bracket for each deck:

 

 

This type of mounting will allow for the most unobstructed access to the staging tracks, and the underside of the main deck. But it will still be near impossible to build the staging tracks and do the other future work to the underside of the main deck with only 8-9 inches of space between these 'shelfs' of plywood, particularly if the shelfs have depth.
 

I intend to build my staging level roadbed first, but in such a manner that it can be detached from its metal wall brackets to gain access to the underside of the main deck. This staging level 'deck' will need to be 'self-contained' in a matter of speaking, so it can be withdraw from its resting place in large sections, and without a lot of 'connections' (electrical or mechanical) to be fastened and unfastened in the process. In other word the staging level track board(s) need to be detachable from their metal support brackets and moved aside while work is done on the underside of the main train deck above.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, March 26, 2018 5:12 PM

railandsail
Even with this 48" circle I had PLENTY of room to get up inside the helix.

I think I speak for everyone when I say we want pictures of you climbing into your "helix."

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, March 26, 2018 5:24 PM

railandsail
But then how do you access the bottom of the main deck to do wiring, and whole host of things to the unfinished (and likely incompletely planned) main deck layout only 8 inches or so over the staging tracks?

The way I am handing it is to run the bus on the outside of the benchwork. All the feeder wires will come through the benchwork and wired on the side of the layout. It will be both easy to solder and easy to troubleshoot. Once it is satisfactorily functional, I will cover the wiring with a removeable facia. 

Chip

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, March 26, 2018 6:57 PM

SpaceMouse

I think I speak for everyone when I say we want pictures of you climbing into your "helix."

Pics, No problem, but 'into it' doesn't mean from the top. I'll enter from the bottom.

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, March 26, 2018 7:08 PM

SpaceMouse

The way I am handing it is to run the bus on the outside of the benchwork. All the feeder wires will come through the benchwork and wired on the side of the layout. It will be both easy to solder and easy to troubleshoot. Once it is satisfactorily functional, I will cover the wiring with a removeable facia. 

 

 
But DCC wiring is not the only function you might need to do from the underside. What about installing a Tortoise switch machine for a new turnout, or accomodating a modification to the trackplan above, or access to the bottom of a turntable, or wiring problems for structures, or a number of other such situations?
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Posted by railandsail on Monday, March 26, 2018 9:03 PM

Centerline Spacing on those Curves

By varying the short straight track sections prior to those multple curves we can get greater spacing between their centerlines, and greater spacing down the 'fairway' (the straight track sections....ha..ha)

 

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 6:32 PM

S curve in Staging Access Tracks

I've had one party speak to the fact that I have one particular S-curve in my staging tracks. I chose to lay a couple of examples along side the Mediium size Peco turnouts I have definitely decided to use.

On one side is a long crossover by Shinnohari.  On the other side is two Peco examples,...the longer Medium radius turnouts, and then at the outer side the Small radius pair.

 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 9:12 AM

'Removable' Staging Level Track 'boards'

I intend to build my staging level roadbed first, but in such a manner that it can be detached from its metal wall brackets to gain access to the underside of the main deck. This staging level 'deck' will need to be 'self-contained' in a matter of speaking, so it can be withdraw from its resting place in large sections, and without a lot of 'connections' (electrical or mechanical) to be fastened and unfastened in the process. In other word the staging level track board(s) need to be detachable from their metal support brackets and moved aside while work is done on the underside of the main train deck above.

 

So lets start by just considering one side of the staging. We build that one entire side, consisting of those curve tracks coming from the 3-way feeding turnout, and the 5 straight tracks down along the side, onto a very long flat piece of plywood roadbed. The track, its wiring, the turnout control machinery are all attached to the TOP side of this 'staging level board'. Nothing is attached to the bottom side of this board, as that might interfere with the plastic storage bins that can be stacked up below the staging level roadbed.

(see photos below)
 

This staging level board is supported by shelf type 90 degree metal brackets attached to the 2x4 studded wall of the shed,...very much like the upper decks will be mounted.

The only electrical connections that need to be made with this staging level are the buss wires for the DCC power, and the possible power for the turnouts. A 2-pin connector is all that's required for the DCC buss wires. An 8-pin connector is all that's required for the 4 turnout controls (2 wires per each turnout). This is what I was referring to as a staging level deck that is 'self contained',...just the track board with 2 simple sets of unplug-able electrical connectors to the main layout.

This very long staging level board might well be cut into 2 pieces,....the curved head portion, and the long straight track portion. That would make it easier to withdraw these 'staging boards' during major construction on the main deck shelf,...just unscrew them from their bracket wall support brackets and place them outdoors.
(the straight section staging board might not even need DCC buss wires as it will just be RR car storage,..no locos?)

 

 

......forget the diagonal type support brackets shown in these photos....
......plastic storage bins slide in under staging level roadbed....

The side that contains the actual 8 tracks of staging is already well below the lower deck/shelf of the layout, ...so it could still have the type of support that I originally had in mind.
Long plywood sub-shelf slit to fit the metal brackets attached to the wall studs,...like this..


 

And placed at such a height to just barely clear those plastic stowage containers stacked 3 high....

 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 9:49 AM

Longer Staging Trackage

 

I'd probably use a compound ladder, to get longer sidings, as well as curved and maybe a 3 way switch, if they meant I could store much longer trains.

With regards to longer tracks in staging, I would note that disregarding the 'curved trackage' at the beginning of staging, the straight tracks are about 12 feet down along the wall,....that is 15 feet (inside dimension of shed length) minus 3 feet (curved track portion), ...about 12 foot long.

12 foot long trains is not all that bad. And if I sought to run even longer trains, perhaps I could have some extra freight cars sitting on staging tracks under the center peninsula that could be added to the end of a train as it pulled out of its staging from the side wall tracks.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 12:19 PM

 If you are going to have a staging deck 8" below the main level, you won;t be putting Tortoises under the main level, unless you cna locate them where none fo them are near any of the staging tracks - youw ill have less than minimum HO clearance with the bulk of a Tortoise. You will need to use an alternative that is smaller.

 Other than that - the answer is easier than you think - build the main level first THEN add the staging level below it, once all the wiring under the main deck is done. With a second deck above the main with a larger clearance, thanks to the helix, of say 18" or so, it's not such a big deal to work under it (plus it's higher up, less bending to begin with), unless the lower deck is really wide and the one on top of it is narrow and you can't reach back that far. So don't do that. 

                                   --Randy


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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 2:50 PM

rrinker

 If you are going to have a staging deck 8" below the main level, you won;t be putting Tortoises under the main level, unless you cna locate them where none fo them are near any of the staging tracks - youw ill have less than minimum HO clearance with the bulk of a Tortoise. You will need to use an alternative that is smaller.

What are the dimensions of the Tortoise machines below a plywood main deck? I took a quick look and could not determine it.

I am not particularly enamored with the Tortoise machines even though I seem to have somehow collected up a great many of them. On much of the main deck I hope to just use ground throws of some sort, particulaly as I have those sprung Pecos.

And to tell the truth I still rather like the old capacitive discharge units that I was able to thrown a gang (4 to 5) Atlas twin coil machines with at one time. I also have a number of twin coil machines that were sold by Peco at one time.

 

Other than that - the answer is easier than you think - build the main level first THEN add the staging level below it, once all the wiring under the main deck is done.

In a matter of speaking I will be doing just that. But I wanted to layout that whole staging level before I built the main level over it,...to get the 'comman-to-both-levels wall brackets' correct, and a few other matters. One of the reasons I presented it in this manner is it might be impossible to place all the staging level trackage, turnouts, switch machines onto a  permanently affixed staging board AFTER a permanent main deck had been installed.

With a second deck above the main with a larger clearance, thanks to the helix, of say 18" or so, it's not such a big deal to work under it (plus it's higher up, less bending to begin with), unless the lower deck is really wide and the one on top of it is narrow and you can't reach back that far. So don't do that. 

                                   --Randy

I am considering some areas where the upper most deck will be wider than some conventional thoughts,...perhaps near as wide as the lower main deck. I've seen it done by doctorwayne on this forum.

 

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 4:01 PM

railandsail
Why milk cartons,...because it brought the staging track level up to just about the level I was think of, and it would allow for a stack of 3 of these plastic cartons to be utilized as slide-in-slide-out storage bins. So the staging access tracks in the helix structure would be at this level.

 

Not really.  You are forgetting that there needs to be a support structure under that ring.  So you will either need to raise things up to allow the three-high stack of milk crates to slip under, or eliminate the third crate to allow the track level to remain as you show it.

railandsail
I am now convinced that I will NOT have to play limbo to get at the interior of this lower helix level.

I'm not convinced.  You haven't said how high off the floor the top of the ring will be.  Once you add the support structure, that distance will be less.  I'm assuming that there will be legs to hold the helix up which you will have to crawl around.

If you crawl under on your hands/knees, you will have to scrunch yourself into a small ball to stand up in the middle of the opening.  And if you slide in on your bottom, you will have to turn yourself into the ball position unless you can stand vertically from your backside.  I don't know anyone who can do that.

 

And we are not getting any younger.

 

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Posted by BATMAN on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 4:15 PM

I may have missed something but why not build the helix much like a spiral staircase with the support in the middle. You could have removable panels on the exterior (think the cover on a furnace) if you need to access it, lift a panel off and work standing up. No limbo required.

Brent

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 4:39 PM

railandsail
What about installing a Tortoise switch machine for a new turnout, or accomodating a modification to the trackplan above, or access to the bottom of a turntable, or wiring problems for structures, or a number of other such situations?

Well, I am using ground throws, but I do have a turntable and am lighting most of my structures. On all of those, I am using long enough leads to reach the edge of the layout. All the resistors will be on the outside edge of the benchwork. And my turntable will be a good 24 inches from the edge of the layout. And I should mention I have about 12 inches of clearance.   

Chip

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, March 29, 2018 3:51 PM

maxman

Not really.  You are forgetting that there needs to be a support structure under that ring.  So you will either need to raise things up to allow the three-high stack of milk crates to slip under, or eliminate the third crate to allow the track level to remain as you show it

3 Plastic Milk Type Cartons
Here I must correct myself, I have found a difference in the height of a number of these type cartons. for instance ...

 

and it turns out the 3 'milk cartons' are just a little too high. I am sure there are some that would work, but I'd rather be sure and utilize those 3 'file storage containers' pictured in the middel of that photo.

Even better would be the use of those red coke-cola type containers which I already have a lot of my RR stuff stored in.  I can fit a 7 high stack of those under the staging deck with room to spare. They also fit between the wall studding of 24 inches much better.

Here is a mock up of a staging board over those stroage bins,.. (and that board is just resting on the top of the file storage bins at probably 1/2 inch lower than I propose for the staging level board.

 

In reference to your concern about the brackets that would hold up the staging track boards interfering with storage bins, I offer 2 solutions;
a) Both of these plastic bins I have chosen fit 'between' the stud/bracket spacing,
b) The style bracket needed for this staging track deck is a simple 90 degree bracket with extremely low 'projection' down under the deck's bottom surface,...ie...

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, March 29, 2018 4:11 PM

Accessing the Helix

 

I'm not convinced.  You haven't said how high off the floor the top of the ring will be.  Once you add the support structure, that distance will be less.  I'm assuming that there will be legs to hold the helix up which you will have to crawl around.

If you crawl under on your hands/knees, you will have to scrunch yourself into a small ball to stand up in the middle of the opening.  And if you slide in on your bottom, you will have to turn yourself into the ball position unless you can stand vertically from your backside.  I don't know anyone who can do that.

 

And we are not getting any younger.

Maxman

 

 What if I decided to try to add two loops to the bottom of my planned outdoor helix to take the trains down to the staging level?
 

Would it really be so difficult to access if I were to have to get inside the 'hollow helix structure', to fix a derailment of whatever?...and yes I know I will have to at times.
 

I had a 48" circular metal ring that I placed up on the top of three stacked milk cartons. Why milk cartons,...because it brought the staging track level up to approx the level I was thinking of, So the staging access tracks in the helix structure would be at this level.

Even with this 48" circle I had PLENTY of room to get up inside the helix. Now imagine if my circle is closer to a 60" one (30R helix) I plan on. I am now convinced that I will NOT have to play limbo to get at the interior of this lower helix level.

 

Hello from the helix  Pirate

 

 

 

 

I actually need to remember to built the helix enclosure tall enough so I can stand fully upright inside.

 

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Posted by Colorado Ray on Friday, March 30, 2018 12:13 AM

I think if you added a few handholds to the inside helix framing it would make it even easier to pull yourself upright once you've crawled into the center.

Ray

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, March 30, 2018 9:01 AM

Perhaps I just need a half-creeper, or a pneumatic roller seat ?

Handrails and creeper or rolling seat...

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, March 30, 2018 1:42 PM

 Your knees are way better than mine if you can do that. 

                          --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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Posted by railandsail on Friday, March 30, 2018 2:59 PM

I've had one hip replaced due to lost of blood supply to the femur head, and they did not do that correctly the first time,..it came loose. Second time, revision surgery, found an Italian doctor in America, with a big hammer, who place the correct fixture in there. No problems since. I keep my kness exercised, so not many problems there. 75 years young.

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 8:51 PM

Angle Iron Brackets & used Bed Frame

TrainzLuvr

Let me show you what I mean...the black bracket below (top left) was the original design I started with which I actually saw here on MRH, from Bill Brillinger

 

 

I have now changed my plans, and intend to use some brackets somewhat like you illustrated that were fabricated from angle-iron. I had some 1.5" flange angle iron I salvaged from a metal storage shelf. but I only had just so much of that material, and not enough to make all the brackets I will need.

An Idea popped into my head. Why not just use some angle-iron that can be salvaged off of bed frame mattress supports. Those bed frames are made from some very strong metal that is just the size we need to make brackets,...and they are available real cheap at thrift shops or metal scrap yards.

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 10:57 PM

Well I've learned something ( I think). 

Since the bottom level of any multi deck layout is usually no lower than 3 ft off the ground, and helix's have to be broad enough to prevent stringlining, I thought everybody accessed the track from standing inside the helix.

What's the normal way?  Build a center support then provide access around the outside of whole thing?  Accessing 2 feet around a 4 foot helix would require 8 feet of space.  That's a big footprint of floor space.

- Douglas

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