You guys were right, and now i need to plan. :)

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by fuzzyloggin, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    yeah i think u guys are right i better be careful moving forward too fast when im not 100% sure of what im going to be doing yet.

    i put the last lock on the door in the garage tonight and now all i have to do is move a fridge and a little 2 foot fishtank i use to breed my african cichlids and then ill have an absolutely dedicated train area :)
    ive come a long way in the last few weeks from going to hang a layout from my roof and up and down everytime i wanted to use it with winches to now having approximately 16ft x 9 ft permanent bench layout, im very happy with myself and my wife for making the compromise :)
    now i really need to nut out a plan for this area, i just wish i knew how to go about it better, ill see what i can do to start but gee its frustrating when you want to do something you have never done before and your not sure. :(
  2. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Yup. Just take your time and enjoy the process (says the impatient perfectionist). How much experience do you have? I'm coming closer to a plan/arrangement I'm comfortable perhaps I'll get a sketch in for you as well. Any particular prototype you're interested in, or just a general scenario following your druthers?

  3. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    i gotta go to work but ill write something up tonight to let you know whats in my head. :)
  4. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    hey guys,
    i got some pics of these guys in switzerland and i just thought id show them to get some thoughts, basically just to show the elevation thy have on their layout using helixes and stuff and wondering whether you guys think i could achieve this sort of elevation in 16ft x 9 ft?

    Attached Files:

  5. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    i would love to plan up something like this but rather than the european look id go for an american or canadian sort of scenery. in it i would love to have some sort of coal/mining operation and or logging. i want the coal/mining/freight mainline stuff so i can run diesels and then abit of logging so as some steamers would not look out of place.
    anyways just let me know about your thoughts on elevation please, bed time for this sydney boy :)
    talk soon.
    also wondering about double flywheel style motors in ho locos,
    currently ive been buying proto 2000 stuff because i love their high torque double flywheel setup as opposed to the old style motor setup but im wondering what other brand/series locos run as well at low speeds and as quite? any thoughts appreciated
    talk soon guys.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Interesting pictures...! You can probably do this type of thing, if you set aside about a 4x4 square in one corner for the helix.

    As for the double-flywheel motors, you can always re-motor a poor performer that you like otherwise. Northwest Shortline (NWSL) is a well known supplier of motors, gears, and other drivetrain parts.

  7. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Did you take the pics, or are they somewhere else on the web? I'd love to see more.

    Also, your minimum radius and maximum grade will be determining factors for just how much elevation you'll be able to acheive on the layout itself. As for helixes...well, you must decide if one will do the job (point to point with one end on each level for multi-level) or if two will be needed, and recognize that trains will be hidden for a while, out of sight. Your trackwork must be absolutely bulletproof.

  8. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    yeah it wont be easy and it will take awhile to work out but this is definately the sort of thing i want to do,the pictures are taken from some guys in switzerland not me, i just found the website whilst looking up one of those bridges shown in the picture from the walthers catalogue, ive been looking for a layout like this for awhile for inspiration.
    ill post the link after work also look here

    Attached Files:

  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A 4 x 4 in the corner won't be nearly enough room for a helix. That would give yo a maximum radius of 23 inches, and even with the thinest of subroadbed, you would have an excessive grade to try to get up the necessary 3-31/2 inches per revolution around the helix. I'm not that good with the math, but I think you would need a minimum of 6 x 6 to get a helix in. That would make 25% of your space dedicated to helix. In 16 feet by 9 feet, I think your best bet is to design the railroad as a big around the walls helix. I'm not good with drawing or graphics, but I'll try to draw a word picture for you. Suppose you imagine 2 "folded dog bone" layouts stacked one above the other in a "U" shape so you can walk into the middle of the layout. Both ends of the layout would be big enough to allow return loops, so you would have 2 return loops one above the other at one end of the layout. The front track on each dogbone would run through a valley with mountains in the background, and you could have various industries worked off the front track of both levels. When you get to the other end of the layout on the bottom, the track would turn back to go along the back wall of the layout, but instead of returning to the point of origen, it would start to climb to the second level. If your space has 2 9 foot walls and 2 16 foot walls, you could make the entry off of 1 of the 9 foot sides, which would give you a 9 foot wall and 2 16 foot walls to use for the climb. You might even suspend a single turn helix like the Tehachapi Loop halfway between the 2 levels and double the space available for the climb. Put passing sidings on the climb to allow for meets if running more than one train.
  10. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    hi guys,
    the link for those pictures you were looking at above is

    they are swiss guys writing in german but you can translate using google language tools on the right of the search bar.

    also i layed down some cardboard at work today to simulate some possible bench shapes, i guess it was the only way i know to see it to scale,its not a bad piece of software actually, its callled 1:1cad4d :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :D

    anyways ill show what i had,im pretty certain i want to do this u shaped folded dog bone thingy! :) it seems like a good use of my area and a good way of getting out of the normal loop island which i was never keen on.

    in the second picture you can see a bulge on the left bench are halfway along where i placed a box , this is to represent a possible spot where i was thinking i could possibly fit the Tehachapi Loop you were talking about to try and get some quick elevation.
    also was thinking that the bottom left as you look at the pictures would maybe be where a yard/town/station sort of area might be and that the layout would ,ove down the run climbing into mountains and finding a mining/coal operation somewhere on the right side of layout, and i dont know what could realistically fit into this layoutas im a newb but id also love a little steam run logging branchline/operation around somewhere, and a river cutting through mountains or perhaps running alongside what would be the front track as you look at the photo .
    anyway off for some missus time now and sorry if my ideas suck im just trying to get creative and brainstorm and stuff,

    also thanks to russ for you comments and everyone else youconfirmed my want of the u shape design with your words of wisdom.

    also tho i have not totally given up the use of a smll helix yet but im sure you guys will show me why this would be a bad idea in time .. (im ust curious about minimum radius's on helixes and maximum grades acheivable ..
    il shut up now catch ya later :)

    Attached Files:

  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I like your 3d model of the benchwork - great idea! ;) Russ is right - I just threw out a number, but obviously the bigger the radius, the easier your trains can negotiate the helix grade. His "around the walls helix" has also been described as a "nolix" - and there is quite a bit of info on this concept at

    As for the math for the helix - if the minimum clearance needed is 3.5", and your maximum recommended grade is 2%, you will need about a 28" radius (or 56" diameter) to stay within these parameters.

    I am pretty sure it goes like this (please correct my math if I am wrong)

    (rise/run)*100= grade%


    Run is equal to the circumference in this case.


    So you are looking at a minimum of about 5 feet square. To make the grade less, you need a bigger circle, and rapidly approach Russ' suggestion of 6x6 in order to be able to run long trains.

  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Thanks Andrew, I didn't know the math to get an exact dimension for a helix that would work. It looks like a workable helix could be done in 5 feet, but trying to tighten it more would bring on problems. Also, it is best to lay track directly on your subroadbed in a helix, unless you are modeling a prototype visible helix like Tehachapi. If you need a 3.5 inch rise for each turn of the helix to clear your rolling stock, every extra 1/4 inch added between the bottom of the subroadbed and the track adds a like amount to the amount of rise needed per revolution. If you need a 3.5 inch rise, and your subroadbed is 3/8 inch thick, you will need a total of a 3 7/8 inch rise, add cork roadbed and you now need 4 1/4 inch rise. Pretty soon, you either have impossible grades or you need more radius=more realestate for the helix.
  13. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    ok again you guys are right , i dont want to be giving up that much space on my layout i guess, ,still the problem remains that i think without a helix i could only rise a maximum of approx 25 inches,i need to think about a way to switch it back on itself a few more times and hide more rurn arounds in mountain tunnels at the ends so i can hae more metres of track to climb wih .. hmm , im off to work to think about it. cyas later.
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    How high do you want to climb? And what's planned for the top deck?

    Note that 25 inches of rise at 2.5% will require over 83 feet of track - that's more than a scale mile! Within the helix (calculated above) you will need 7 1/4 turns or over 100 feet of track.

  15. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    A step look at this philosophically. I like what the operations-oriented guys have to say, that a train which makes many stops to do work will seem to travel further (because it spends more time doing so, plus slowing and starting, etc.).

    But for us guys who like to watch a long train snake through beautiful scenery (in HO...I know I know I can hear the N-gaugers crying out now for converts with their seductive promise of more scenery in less space...) and do so at more than a crawl, we need a better solution. Unless you've got a big basement or spare room to snake a long mainline around on multiple levels, the options can seem pretty limited.

    But here are a couple suggestions based on experience that will add miles to your layout without the extra space needed.

    One idea: Run multiple trains across one stretch of main line. For example, a staging yard/wye/loop arrangement. Bring one train out of staging and run it out onto the layout and stop it on a passing siding. Then bring another out to pass the first train. Then start up the first train and run it back to staging. This keeps one train in view longer, and two trains on the layout at once with just one operator.

    Another idea: Create divided scenes. For example, a 4x8 layout with each side a scene. Railfan one side from the time the train enters the scene till the time it disappears. As it comes back around again, head over to the other side and wait for it there until it passes again. You've just 'chased' the train from two vantage points. Now it's had to make three laps at least to accomplish this. This principle can be applied to any loop setting where the train is going to return to the scene repeatedly, vs. progressing through a series of scenes from point A to point B which is over once and done with.

    Create one 'cover-shot' scene...the most beautiful scene ever, or most interesting (hey...a grungy back alley can be a beautiful thing to an urban railroader...) that you'd be happy sitting at all day and just watching the trains roll through. Why do we watch the same train vids over and over? To enjoy the same great shots that thrill us again and again. Create this at least once on your model railroad for long-lasting happiness. No operations necessary to enjoy this sort of railfan model railroading.

    I had created a few scenes like this on a previous layout that even though they weren't finished yet...never got beyond the plaster stages of scenery...I just loved watching. Time after time again it was exciting to watch the loco come charging out of the tunnel portal and under the high bridge above. Just really cool. Sure, there were other fun operations-type activities to do on the layout and I enjoyed them just fine. But sometimes I really just wanted to watch 'em roll.

  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Building on what Galen said, Don Janes had a nice New England layout in MR a while back (might have been either GMR or MRP too) that was a 3x around. He varied the levels slightly, and also selectively blocked the view with landforms, tunnels, buildings, or trees. Very effective...

  17. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Yes! - I must look up that issue when I get home tonight. That layout did very well what I'm describing about setting the stage and isolating scenes. I've always tended toward the ideal of scene-cerity...hence some of the mushroom-esque plans I've been contemplating. True multi-deck layouts have never really appealed to me because of the strict vertical and visual limitations placed on each deck. I've only operated on one (Grafton & Greenbrier in Gallipolis, OH) and did notice the effect that's described by others where you tend to focus only on the train you're operating and mentally lose sight of the other deck. However, I don't think that's enough to overcome the visual distraction for me. Someone posted a link to Lance Mindheim's site recently and I must say that the simplicity and 'clean lines' (the latest HGTV/DIY trendy word) is attractive as he presents his Miami industrial district switching layout. ( in particular). Check out his design tips page as well.

  18. fuzzyloggin

    fuzzyloggin Member

    hi guys,
    ive gone quiet because i had to do some work in the front yard over the weekend so i had no time for the railroad :(
    I plan on finishing painting the retainer wall out the front this saturday and am aiming to start abit of benchwork on sunday :)

    im still up in the air about the plan but i know that no matter what i want a solid bench rectangle going the entire length of the garage wall so im going to go ahead and start building that part (from water heater to garage door). there will be storage underneath so maybe ill govern the wdth of the bench by the width of the ply sheets i have for the storage shelves which is about 33 inches, then i think from there i will widen the bench where the turnaround is.

    anyways ive got a couple of days to think about it.
    talk soon
  19. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I guess that's why I've read the axiom of 4 inches rise per lap.
  20. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Grade, is a function of rise, and run. the longer the run, for the given rise, the lower the grade. In a helix, run is controlled by the radius of the curve. Rise is controlled by the minimum overhead clearance, and is affected by the height of subroadbed, and roadbed. You need a minimum distance between the top of the rail, and the bottom of the next levels subroadbed. So, for a given grade, say 3%, the thicker the subbed/roadbed, the larger the radius to maintain the grade. If the radius is restricted, the grade will have to be increased (greater rise for the same run).
    The Uintah had a 66 degree curve, at 6.5% grade. In HO, that's approximately a 5-3/4" rise with a 15" radius curve ! Yeah, climbing a corkscrew !

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