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

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 11:37 PM

Doughless
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.

I've designed dozens of layouts with helixes -- most of which have been built. They are usually against a wall, often in a corner, and access from below through the center for at least a portion of the helix is typical. 

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, April 05, 2018 11:15 PM

Continous Staging Tracks rather than just Dead Ends

previously by Brian
By varying the short straight track sections prior to those multiple curves we can get greater spacing between their centerlines, and greater spacing down the 'fairway' (the straight track sections down the (each) side of the shed....)

My original idea was to have those 2 staging areas on either side of the room, consisting of 5 tracks each, simply extend to the end of the room and dead end there. Staged trains would be backed into each of those 10 tracks (5 tracks x 2 sides), ready to pull out forward and enter the staging access helix to go to the main layout deck. That dead end of those tracks would be at the end of the shed opposite the helix end of the shed,...that is the door end of the shed.

The gentleman who is welding up my brackets ask me, "why not make another removable bridge across the door entrance to join those two sides of the dead ended staging tracks, then the trains could pull forward continuously thru the staging tracks?"

That's not a half bad idea. If I provided such a removable bridge between the dead ends of those 5 tracks down each side, it could offer the alternative to utilize the staging in such a fashion if so chosen in the future. I think I will provide that option.

Drawing to come.

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 7:07 AM

As I said, drawing to come. Here is my current sketch.

 

Lets start with getting to the staging area(s). There is a track right next to the wall on the left hand side of the shed at the rear corner that enters the OUTSIDE curve of the track helix. It begins its descent inside the shed just after it crosses over that last major bracket supporting the main level deck. By the time it reaches the 9 o’clock position on the helix it is at a -1.5”. It subsequently drops 1” for each quarter turn around the helix, ending up at -7.5” at the 3 o'clock position, and subsequently -8” at the 3-way turnout at the entrance to the 3 area staging. That is a little less than a 2% grade (1.8% I believe).

Now it can branch out into 3 directions, ...5 tracks on either side, and an undetermined number down under the straight peninsula. At the head of each side track(s) there are 4 Peco medium radius turnouts that feed 5 tracks that ALL make the same 24” inch radius turn into the straight sections of the staging.


 

 

Those 10 straight sections (5 each side) of staging make turns at their 'tails', and can either dead end at the bracket that is located to either side of the big door, OR there will be a lift-out bridge provide that could connect the 5 tracks continuously. The radius’s on those staging track tails are progressively built in 24”, 26.5”, 29”, 31.5”, and 34” so as to maintain a 2,5” centerline between themselves. Other than in the 4 corners of the layout, the shelf depth required for these generously spaced staging tracks is only 14” from the wall.

 

The staging level deck will be constructed of the same 3/4” plywood I purchased for the main level deck, and will be supported every 24” by a combination of metal brackets fashioned from the same 2” square, and 1.5” angle iron I am planing on using for the main deck above it. That is probably 'overkill', and the staging areas may just utilize the angle iron material.

 

 

Not yet shown in this dwg is a central spine support down the peninsula built of the 2” square tubing to be very minimalistic yet strong.

The helix itself will be 'housed' in a trapezoidal shaped box formed on four sides using some 1.5” square alum sections I salvaged from some screened in porch/pool structure here in Florida. They will intersect with some 64” steel circles I am having bent up from 1.5” angle iron. Those two steel circles (one top, one bottom) will be joined by 12 vertical post made up from 1” square alum sections I salvaged elsewhere. It should be strong, and rigid.

 

 

Alum siding will be attached to the outer perimeters of the framing and the top cover. There will be some sort of trap door in the bottom to keep pest out.

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, April 29, 2018 12:46 PM

3 Zones of Staging

 

I haven't revisited this subject thread in quite awhile,...because I have been working on the plans, and the helix modification, and start of the helix construction.

For the moment I'll just post this drawing of the 3 zones of staging. There will be 5 tracks to either side of the room/shed. These will be mounted on a 12"-14" board of 3/4 plywood cantilevered off of a very substantial metal framework attached to the 2x4 studs of the shed.

Then there will be 5-6 tracks down the center under the peninsula.  These will be off to one side of, and cantilevered to 'metal frame spine' that will support both the peninsula main deck and this staging deck.

...more to come

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, May 02, 2018 8:54 AM

Lower Segments of Helix Structure

The track going down its portion of the helix structure to staging will start its downward path slightly before it exits the left hand rear of the shed, then proceed to utilize the outer loop of trackage to eventually dive under the level balloon loop occupying the inner trackage.

 

 

The simple level 'balloon loop' just above that helix segment going down to staging. It occupies the inner trackage of the double track helix structure.....

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, May 03, 2018 10:10 AM
Helix Spiral

For those having a little problem visualizing my multideck spiral within the helix structure, here is another view....
(that B is for 'balloon loop')
helix spiral.jpg
 
The top & bottom 'balloon loops' are single track ones, The helix down to staging tracks is also single track.

The helix between the top and bottom deck is double tracked
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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, May 06, 2018 6:58 PM

Make sure you test once you have the track laid or temporarily lay the track without roadbed with  just rail joiners (which is what I did) so you can test before you permanently lay it down.    I have a double track helix, 22 inch outside, 18 inch inside.   I am going to put a X crossover at the bottom and top so the passenger trains can always use the 22 inch track.     I will second the comment on checking clearances on cars you own.    Was surprised to find the Walthers Hiawatha Cars cannot make a 22 inch radius turn without some modification (remove some diaphrams), other manufacturers, OK.    Also found on at least one Walthers car but not another, trucks needed spacer washers as top of the trucks were binding with underframe on sharp curves.    Seems like Walthers has quality issues with uniformity or else I have a bad car.

Also, with your Helix diagram above, beware that at times you might be inadvertently reversing rail polarity depending on what your feeding into it above.  Not a road block issue as you can install reversing units or electrical switches to flip or cross a polarity conflict with two loops and two helixes you might have that issue times four.

I did not do my own helix, had someone else do it for me to ensure the clearances top to bottom with roadbed and side to side with curvature were all OK.    I was told it can handle double stacks with roadbed but I need to test that still.    I have a hole in the middle of my helix but since I can access it on three sides and have long arms ...........probably will not use the hole.

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, May 06, 2018 10:38 PM

I did quiet a bit of experimenting with clearances required for long locos and freight cars, passenger cars, and double stacks. You might have a look thru some of these results and photos;
http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/267707.aspx

In general I found you don't want to go with less than 24" if you are running those long cars, and steam locos

I'm not using any roadbed (cork, etc) under my track in the helix,...don't find it neccessary. I am shooting for 4" height clearance, even though 3.5" will work in most instances.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, May 07, 2018 11:26 AM

railandsail
In general I found you don't want to go with less than 24" if you are running those long cars, and steam locos

Not a steam fan so no steam locos for me.    Already tested on the 22 inch all work OK on it but can use flex track to increase to 22.5 or 23 inch radius.    18 inch I need to test and I am worried about it.    I might just break down and use flex track for the inner loop as I think 18 inch is ridicullously tight and allows way too much clearence.    So it might end up as 19-20 inch.

I outsourced my benchwork so I had some say but also had to be realistic to what would fit in my small bedroom, if they went beyond 22 inch radius in the Helix I would not be able to loop in 22 inch on the other end opposing the helix and still leave enough aisleway clearance.    So compromises were made.

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Posted by carl425 on Monday, May 07, 2018 3:29 PM

Next to the double slip, the 3-way switch is the most high maintenance available.  How do you intend to provide access to the 3-way that leads to staging?

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 railandsail on Monday, May 07, 2018 9:54 PM

@Carl,
I am paying particular attention to that access problem. I want to be able to get at any derailments that might occur there, and I want to be able to replace that turnout if that becomes necessary.

I'll be installing it with these thoughts in mind. I plan on having an external (to the helix structure) access door that will allow more direct access. It will also not have any trackage over the top of itself. And it will also be on the very bottom level of the helix structure.

I've almost firmly decided to utilize a really nice Peco 3-way that I feel most comfortable with.

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 11:03 PM

Pouring Concrete Pad for Helix Tomorrow

 

As I have mentioned before I am placing my helix structure external to the rear of my train shed...

Its a big circle having grown to 32.5" & 29.5" radius tracks, making the overall outside dia 69.5". That's coming real close to the power meter pole, particularly as it was leaning forward.

I decided I needed a concrete pad on the ground under the helix, for those times I will have to climb up inside. That's been a lot of fun prepping (just kidding, lots of playing in the dirt and mud of late with our rainy weather). This was just the beginning...

 

Then came the roots,...unbelievable number of roots just under the surface. This photo only represents about a third of them in a 5.5 x 7 foot dig.

 

 

Then I was trying to prop up and straighten out the leaning power pole, and ended up breaking that water pipe that supplies city water to my house,..ouch !!
Why would they put the water source and the electric source so close together??
 

 

 

Will get a final photo of pour site tomorrow morning before concrete partner arrives (leasing mixer, and pouring ourselves).

Guess I better keep that construction hat of mine out a while longer. Is this anyway to build a model railroad????

 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 10:45 PM

Pour Site ready

 

This was my final pour site ready this morning.

 

 

My friend and I ended up mixing and pouring 26 bags (60 lbs each) today. I'm worn out and likely sore tomorrow.

I was even having second thoughts this morning about this effort to put a pad under the helix structure, but then I remembered that another reason for doing so was to have a good tie-down structure for that hanging helix in our sometimes stormy location (2 close hurricanes in this last 2 years).

 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 11:08 PM

Helix Rings,....steel or alum

They will intersect with some 68” steel circles I am having bent up from 1.5” angle iron. Those two steel circles (one top, one bottom) will be joined by 12 vertical post made up from 1” square alum sections I salvaged elsewhere. It should be strong, and rigid.

Regretably I was not able to find a fabricator to make these steel rings of angle iron and/or at a reasonable price. So I had to settle to some rings bent of 2"x1/4" thick aluminum beam. They arrived a couple of days ago, and I'll start some drilling work on them tomorrow.

 

Sure look bigger in real life, particularly when standing on edge

 

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, May 24, 2018 9:45 AM

So here are the two alum rigs set up on my castered work table getting inspected for roundness, and marked up for drilling holes for the upright pieces that will connect the two.

The subcontractor shop did a great job in giving me my exact requested dimension of 69.5" inside dia, but the alum material without the extra flange has to be coaxed into absolute roundness by itself. But other additions will take care of this.
 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, May 27, 2018 10:53 AM

Helix Roadbed

Several weeks ago we began to cut out the roadbed I will be using for my helix. We set up a production site on my castered work table to make use of a router to cut the arcs of the roadbed. The roadbeds are mostly 6" wide to accommodate the double radius tracks. There are some single track roadbed pieces that are 3" wide.

The outer radius of the roadbed is 34" so it turned out quite good that I could just barely get a full quarter-circle piece of roadbed out of the 4 foot width of masonite hardboard. that allowed me to get a surprising 11 pieces of 6" wide, quarter-circles cut out of a 4' x 8' sheet of masonite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very little waste out of the 4' x 8' sheet,...

 

Since I am using a double layer of the 1/4 masonite, we cut most of these quarter circles out of the 4' x 8' sheets doubled up. Sure was a dusty mess!

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, May 27, 2018 10:59 AM

Glued & Sealed

During this past week we had rain almost everyday. I was really concerned with my roadbed getting wet prior to my glueing and sealing of them.

Glue
My builder friend highly suggested that i utilize a wood glue called Titebond II to glue the double thickness of masonite roadbed together. He has a long history of using this product in home counter projects etc. At first I thought the product might be a little to 'liquidy'. I was wrong. it turned out to be just the correct consistency. We had a small plastic roller that was idea for applying the glue. I applied the glue to the rough side of the masonite, then placed the smooth side of the adjoining piece to it. We also staggered the joints by 3" to provide for the future joining of the curves to one another to form the complete circles. The 3' was deemed adequate as each of the joints is located at the metal braces that will support the roadbed from underneath. 

Its surprising how stiff this double layer of masonite hardboard is. It may be possible that i will not have to provide the 16 metal supports I have available around that full 5 foot circle. Perhaps I might only have to use half of them, 8?? We will see as initially I plan on installing only 8 supports,...BUT all of the support locations will be pre-drilled to easily install the other supports if deemed necessary.

 

Seal Masonite
My next concern was sealing that masonite from moisture absorption. I had purchased some HD sealer that was designed for massonary/brick/concrete from a fellow on craigslist. i started out painting two quarter circle pieces, but became alarmed at how 'gritty' this paint was. It was almost like it had sand in it, or some kind of non-skid !! The seller had never mentioned this. I stopped to let it dry until the next day. UNACCEPTABLE.

I needed to get all these quarter circles sealed up as quickly as possible as we had big rain storms coming this weekend, and humidity levels were rising quickly. Since I was concerned with color, I shopped a few local big box stores for the mi-mached paint. Found a couple of gals, mixed them together and painted all thepieces yesterday before the rains.

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, May 27, 2018 5:21 PM

Frame Mock-Up

Between the rain storms to day I decided to do a little mock up of the framing I want to use to enclose the helix loop. Of course things are just laid out down on my new concrete pad. The helix structure will be about 33 inches higher than this 'ground view'.

The frames are 2" square alum tubes utilized in a lot of porch screening down here in FL. They will surround the helix ring, and lend support for the metal wall sheets enclosing the helix.

i wanted to see how it looked in general, and how close it all came to that power pole.

 

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, May 27, 2018 5:32 PM

Now I just have to get all those track penetrations thru the back wall of the shed correctly located.

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 5:09 PM

Began Helix Assembly

Started drilling those alum rings for the upright post, and putting a few of those post in place. There will be a total of 16 'post', but perhaps they will not all be required,...maybe only half of them? But I figured I'd better provide them all now, just in case.

The four post shown will be attached with double bolts/nuts at both the top ring and bottom ring. This was done to perhaps prevent any leaning out of column of the helix structure. As it turns out it appears very stiff, and may not have needed this double bolting at both ends. All the other post are single bolted at top and bottom.

 

 

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:29 AM

 Double nuts, or, once you have everything in position, using Locktite, wouldn't be a bad idea, to keep things from working loose over time as the temperature changes. Once the whole assembly is boxed in, you may be able to reach the tracks if needed, but will you be able to access the nuts and bolts holding the frame together?

                                     --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 Thursday, May 31, 2018 10:34 PM

Nylock nuts are being used.

Got all the other vertical post in today, but no time for a photo as I was subsequently working on mocking up the frame to house this helix.

With all the verticals in its a nice stiff structure.

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Posted by railandsail on Saturday, June 02, 2018 9:59 PM

More Helix Assembly

Got all the upright post bolted on, and then playing with square tub framing that will support the outer metal skins. Doing this down at flat ground level on the carport.,...in between our numerous thunderstorm this spring.

I have hopes that only every other upright will be needed to support the roadbed of the helix, but I am going ahead and installing all 16 of them just in case.

Two of the upright post slightly interfere with the tracks entering and leaving the helix circle. One situation is mocked up here with the lowest track that utilizes the 3-way turnout to feed the staging areas. That particular upright post will be repositioned just slightly and have a carved out notch to provide side clearance for the passing trains. (notch and reposition not shown yet)

 

 

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, June 04, 2018 6:02 AM

I'm not sure I see any space being allowed for insulation and what about temperature control in the helix area?

I can tell you from personal experience that temp and humidity extremes will play havoc with the track, and with limited access, it all could be a recipe for trouble.  Something to think about now rather than later when the track gets all kinked up in a hard to reach confined space.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, June 04, 2018 7:43 AM

Interesting thoughts. At first I figured there would be no need for 'climate control' in that helix since I did not plan on spending a lot of time in there, particularly during the hot part of the day.

But from the effectiveness of the insulation in my main shed I have begun to give it higher consideration. I have two ideas at the moment, and perhaps will employ both of them.

1) I have some 3/8" sound insulation foam panels that was originally utilized for the cores of office space dividers.

2) I have some 1/4" Greenguard siding insulation that I acquired at out local flea market.

Both of these products could be used to insulate my helix area, both by wrapping them around the outside of those upright post, and by adhering them to the inside surface of my metal siding I will providing the exterior surface of my structure.

Its been suggested I might even employ a small fan to move some cooler air from my main shed into the helix 'blob'.

BTW, thanks for your input

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, June 04, 2018 8:34 AM

Masonite as roadbed in a non climate, non-humidity controlled environment?

Doesn't sound like the best plan.  And "sealing" it with paint doesn't hermetically seal it.  All it does is slow down how fast it absorbs moisture.  Especially once you start drilling holes in it for screws, wires, etc.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by cuyama on Monday, June 04, 2018 9:38 AM

Placing any turnout in an inaccessible location is a bad idea. 3-way turnouts can be extra finicky, so where you have it placed is likely more problematic -- unless there is an access method that is not obvious.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, June 04, 2018 11:27 AM

railandsail
Interesting thoughts. At first I figured there would be no need for 'climate control' in that helix since I did not plan on spending a lot of time in there, particularly during the hot part of the day.

It wasn't you I was thinking about but the track.  I found out about the vagaries of temp and humidity extremes with my Bloomington Indiana garage layout.  In summer the rail kinked pretty badly and in winter the solder joints pulled apart.  It could get pretty hot and humid in the summer there and bitter cold and dry in the winter.

 

Its been suggested I might even employ a small fan to move some cooler air from my main shed into the helix 'blob'. BTW, thanks for your input

I would insulate the helix compartment very well and yes, provide venting to allow you to circulate air into and back out the other side, assuming you are climate controling the layout shed.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, June 04, 2018 3:50 PM

dehusman

Masonite as roadbed in a non climate, non-humidity controlled environment?

Doesn't sound like the best plan.  And "sealing" it with paint doesn't hermetically seal it.  All it does is slow down how fast it absorbs moisture.  Especially once you start drilling holes in it for screws, wires, etc.

 

Believe me I am concerned about it in the humidity, but I had purchased it and already starting cutting it. I used a double layer 1/8" masonite, and bound that together with Titebond II glue. Seems quite strong and rigid. Then I got a real good coat of paint onto both sides, edges, and ends. I will also have quite a good number of support brackets as well. Got my fingers crossed that I do NOT have to repeat the roadbed cutting process with replacement plywood in the future. We will see.

Don't plan on drilling it for screws, nor wiring.

Hot melt glue will likely attach it to its brackets.

Wiring will just run primarily up thru the helix post structure, and other small bit of horizontal wiring will just be pasted to the top of the roadbed along side the tracks.

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, June 04, 2018 4:00 PM

cuyama

Placing any turnout in an inaccessible location is a bad idea. 3-way turnouts can be extra finicky, so where you have it placed is likely more problematic -- unless there is an access method that is not obvious.

 

I was (am) concerned about this also, so I will seek to make that Peco turnout as fool proof as can be.

In addition I will be able to reach it from 3 directions;

a) from inside the helix in between the upright post (the most difficult access),
b) from a door I will place on the ourter skin to reach into,
c) from a access panel in the plywood base that will cover the bottom of the helix (not shown yet).

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