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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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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., 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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Rather then trying to notch that upright, you could probably just take the whole thing out. I think you're right that you only need about half the uprights you are using. Still, better to be over built then under, right?

Or - Move it to the outside of the ring rather than the inside. Keeps the upright and give you more room.


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Taking it totally out is an option, but I sort of like the challenge of notching it. Moving it to the outside of the ring is not an option as further up the height of the helix (actually only about 12inches) there a double track main line entering the helix thru those same 2 uprights.

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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

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'.


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Turned the helix wheel on its edge today to drill all the (MULTIPLE) holes in the upright post that will mount the brackets that will support the spiral, circular roadbed.
(Got a few funny comments from the neighbors wondering what I am building)



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a Tom Sawyer couple of days

A couple of days ago I dragged out the metal sheets I had purchased about a year ago to enclose my external helix. Its alum sheeting that matches the sheeting on my primary shed, except it was a silver color rather than white like my shed.

SURPRISE, it had a number of spots of corrosion/discoloration due to being stored right next to one another and subject to rain.

I was surprised to learn this was a common problem for metal sheeting materials stored in this manner.

So off to the store to buy some primer to cover up this corrosion/discoloration (both sides of 4 sheets). First wash it all down with a big brush, and simple green, dry it out in between our rain storms, and get at least one good coat of white paint on the outside of each of the four sheets. Today I finished up the painting job by getting a good coat of light gray paint on the 'inside surface' of those panels.

While painting these panels that were leaning against a fence in my backyard, I began to get visions of Tom Sawyer whitewashing his fence. My thoughts turned to what neighbors I might recruit to help with the painting job. I even got out some special French lemonade as a recruit prize for any helpers.

The only volunteer I got was my 88 year old neighbor Robert . But he never got around to doing any painting. I think he just wanted the free lemonade....ha...ha

For those younger folks who might not know who Tom Sawyer was,....


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Got my helix structure all screwed together and moved it outback this morning. Elevated it into position via some saw horses and worked on leveling and connections to the rear of the train shed. It only took two of use to lift it and carry it out back,...thanks to almost all alum structure

Went out to the hardware store to get some special bolts for supports,....

Then the torrential thunder and hour long storms came, and everything came to a halt. Have to get some pics tomorrow. Its going to look good.


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Hanging on its Own...finally

Okay its bolted to the rear of the shed on one end, and standing on two poles on the other. Looks gooood, and its rigid.

I'm very pleased with the access gap height which is larger than I first surmised. I had not included the difference between the height off the floor of the main shed as compared to the extra 6 inches I got by the new height off the ground on which the shed sits. Pretty easy to get into, especially when I lay a piece of foam pad on that concrete pad.

One of the photos shows a chair and a step ladder inside the loop as I was bolting things up. With the roof on it will be tall enough for me to stand in (I'm 6'4")

I think my access to that 3-way turnout that will distribute trains to the staging tracks is also going to be of little concern.



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Someone asked, whats next?

All of those vertical alum post are already drilled to accept the angle brackets that will support the roadbed. The brackets are all purchased, the roadbed is already all cut and painted and waiting installation. I may be applying another sealing coat of paint to them once our extremely high/early humidity drops down a little bit so things can dry more quickly. Likely I will be installing the roadbed in its quarter-circle pieces from the bottom up, along with the tracks for those sections.

And I need to put a roof on the helix before I begin roadbed installation. I hope to do most of the roadbed and track installation prior to putting on all the skins on the structure. And I have some plastic rain gutter material that will likely be mounted into place for the transition tracks from the helix into the main room.

I may delay things a bit until our DAILY bout of heavy thunderstorms in afternoons/evenings subsides. I just finished redoing my blue sky painting in the main shed, and likely will start putting up the supports for the staging tracks, and their plywood roadbed, and installing some of that staging tracks. The rain won't hurt those,...and it won't bother the all alum helix structure either.

Oh yea, I also painted that concrete slab under the helix with some special lt-grey paint I purchased a few weeks ago to originally seal the roadbed materials. It was ALL WRONG for that job with its sand paper finish, but it worked out OK for refinishing my concrete. I even sampled some of it on some other walkways I have, and know I am in the mode to pressure wash those this weekend and paint them with this paint (side-tracked from RR project)


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That's a great tool with probably more uses on the layout other than the helix. Goes to show you someone is always thinking. Thanks for sharing this.


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Unpowered (rather mechanical) Peco Turnout Control

I am getting close to installing the shelfing for my staging tracks,....3 separate areas. In general these staging shelves will be made from ¾ plywood, cantilevered out from the walls, and approx 14 inches in width. They will be located 8” under the main deck level above them (that's 8” top of deck to top of deck).

So I will have a considerable number of turnouts and tracks covered over by the solid sheets of 3/4” plywood that will be the main deck subroadbed. This thought of a big sheet of plywood covering the staging tracks and turnouts began to concern me. What if I should experience problems with any of those turnouts??

My thoughts turned to powering those turnouts. Sure they are remote in a sense, but do I really want an electrical gadget controlling them,...that can go bad? I'd better look thoroughly at good old mechanical devices like simply push-pull rods-in-a-tube.

Or at the very least have that mechanical connection to the turnout itself, and then its actuator (perhaps electrical) be located at the outer edge of the staging shelf for easy access.

My turnouts will be all Pecos which are very reliable in a mechanical sense.

Now I am looking for a mechanical linkage that is very simply and reliable,...rod in a tube. ??


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Here is the overall plan, and as you can see the staging branches out to three areas, with a goodly number of turnouts all located under a big shelf of main deck above it,...only 8 inches above it ! (actually there is only 7 1/4" between the two as the decks themselves are 3/4" thick)

I know there are a significant number of rod-in-tube configurations. I found this just a few minutes ago...

Does anyone had more specific experiences with a specific one, and particularly with one for use with Pecos?

BTW I was hoping to keep all controls and wiring for the staging tracks, up on the top of the plywood deck of the staging tracks.


Well-Known Member
Staging Track Mock-Up

Nervous over clearance
Mon, 2018-06-18 09:31 — railandsail
I woke up this morning having had nightmares over access to my staging area(s) 'buried' under those large plywood decks just overhead. I'm going to do a mock-up today to investigate my concerns.​

I am far LESS nervous this evening. I did a mock-up this afternoon (very crude), and I am real happy with the way it turned out. I placed a couple of pieces of plywood on my 'outdoor bench' and separated them by 7 1/4". Then placed some random pieces of track and a loco and a tender I had handy. Plenty of space..

I then added in a piece of square steel stock that will be utilized in a 'horizontal manner' to support my plywood decks. In this photo example the steel support frame was placed right at the front of the staging access. In reality the staging tracks are recessed back from this sort of steel framing.

Then I added 5 tracks as I have planned on my staging...

Looks like I could get away with only 12-13 inches of staging depth from the side walls of the shed.


I haven't a clue as to what I'm seeing here..You built a helix. OK, but what is this box for ? How is this employed in staging and in relation to the helix ? Is this a cassette of some kind ? M

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
I haven't a clue as to what I'm seeing here..You built a helix. OK, but what is this box for ? How is this employed in staging and in relation to the helix ? Is this a cassette of some kind ? M
The box is just a tool. It isn't for anything other than a "ruler" to measure what clearance there is going to be when the helix is complete.

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