Atlas Model Railroad Co. - Helix Construction
Atlas Model Railroad Co.
Save Password

Forgot Password?
  Atlas Model Home   Forums   Events Calendar   Rules   FAQ  
Active Topics | Members | Online Users | Forum Archive | Basic Forum (Mac / Netscape Users) | Search | Statistics
[ Active Members: 0 | Anonymous Members: 0 | Guests: 99 ]  [ Total: 99 ]  [ Newest Member: RaymondLok ]
 All Forums
 Atlas Model Railroad Forums
 HO Scale Model Railroad Forum
 Helix Construction
 Forum Locked |   Topic Locked |   Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic: Sad news Topic Next Topic: Im scared...  

Dick Miller

Posted - 2004 November 05 :  8:15:22 PM  Show Profile
Does anybody have any idea where I can get plans or instructions on how to build a helix?

Country: USA | Posts: 27


Posted - 2004 November 05 :  8:39:42 PM  Show Profile
Originally posted by Dick Miller

You might be interested in this if you're time is more valuable than a few hundred dollars:

Country: USA | Posts: 678 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 05 :  10:48:04 PM  Show Profile
Model Railroad Planning 1998. Jim Hediger offers a "primer" on helix design and construction. You could get a back issue at swap meets, or order direct from Kalmbach Publishing.

It is the best article I have seen on helix construction.

Tom Austin
Centralia IL

Country: USA | Posts: 2046 Go to Top of Page

Bob Elliott

Posted - 2004 November 05 :  10:50:13 PM  Show Profile
December 2004 Railroad Model Craftsman. there's an article about making an octagonal helix that uses way less plywood, or should I say wastes way less.

Bob Elliott

Country: | Posts: 1857 Go to Top of Page

Dick Miller

Posted - 2004 November 06 :  09:41:08 AM  Show Profile
Thanks guys, I'll check these things out. Dick

Country: USA | Posts: 27 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 06 :  11:44:00 AM  Show Profile  Visit MLW's Homepage
Woooooa This is getting me dizzy

Joking aside, I got a question for you. What's the minimum radius allowed on an helix?

I dunno if this will work: Helix Calculator

Country: China | Posts: 2631 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 06 :  12:26:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit CIOR's Homepage
On my layout I went with a min. radius of 38". I would be leary going with less, if you run long trains.
My helix is double track and a complete 38" all around. I could get a full turn (cutting in quarters) out of a sheet of 4x8x3/4 ply.

The construction was easy, and yes this was my first helix ever. I made a base out of 2x2's and 1x4's around the outside. Then I cut a bunch of 1x4's down to 4" high, used them as spacers. I started flat on the frame and worked 1/4" at a time upward, til I got back ontop of the first turn, which equalled 4" total. I laid the track as I went, which in fact was a pain, but it would have been worse if I had waited and done it once the helix was finished.
Eventually I will have the outside of the helix wrapped in hardboard to make it look better, might even put plexi windows in there so you can see the train at different points.

The C&O of Indiana
The Central Indiana & Ohio Railroad

Country: USA | Posts: 1465 Go to Top of Page

Nigel .

Posted - 2004 November 06 :  11:18:58 PM  Show Profile
Another method that works well consists of:
* top and bottom plates 75" diameter, with 31" diameter hole in the middle (laminated " masonite, plywood or mdf works well)
* 40 threaded rods (-20 work well)
* plumber's metal strapping (" wide, with " hole spaced 1" apart)
* large box of nuts to fit the threaded rods
* 33" and 35" radius Bachmann E-Z track
* bottle of super glue (CA)

Layout two circles on the top and bottom plates, 32" and 37" radius.
Mark the circle every 18 (20 evenly spaced marks).
Drill " holes one all 40 marks.
Put a nut on one end of each rods, add a small drop of super glue to lock the nut in place.
Thread all of the rods thru the bottom plate, run another nut the length of the rods to secure each to the bottom plate, add drop of CA.
Cut the strapping into sections approximately six inches long, with six good holes in each section. Flatten as required.
Run another set of nuts down each rod, then the strapping each piece going between a rod on the 32" radius circle, and a rod on the 37" radius circle, then two nuts (one on each side of each strapping), then strapping, then two nuts, etc...Adjust height of strapping to suit grade, support with nut underneath, jam with nut above. Add CA after test running.
The E-Z track can be adhesively attached to the strapping after everything is debugged, and the sections glued with CA or solvent. Glue or tape foam weather striping under the E-Z track after insulation if noise reduction desired.
Many like more noise from the helix, just to know that the train is still running okay.

N&W 1950 to 1955

Country: USA | Posts: 112 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 07 :  08:49:48 AM  Show Profile
38-inches is a pretty generous radius for Helixes. Typically they have been successfully designed and operated at radius's ranging from 24 to 32 inches or a bit higher. If I were running lots of 89' cars, I'd probably shoot for 30-inches minimum.

As John Armstrong pointed out, helixes are great space wasters... sometimes they are necessary, but the eat relativly large amounts of real estate, especially for something that is usually hidded for all intense purposes. This is why you want to build them with the smallest radius you can afford to allow and still have smooth reliable operation.

I can understand with long cars, the cloths line effect could be a worry, but with certain precautions, like allowing some sort of protection for derailed cars, sufficient radius, ability to monitor trains as they progress, and good train handling techniques - it should work out well.

Rio Grande - The Action Road
Atlas forum member since 1994

Country: USA | Posts: 5508 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 07 :  11:04:06 AM  Show Profile

To go along with Rio Grande, I have two helixes that are both 24" radius, and are ovals. The long cars operate with no problems whatsoever in them, and I was able to fit them into two 6' x 6' window area spaces that are perfect for them. The oval design includes a 36" straight section in between the curves.

A 38" radius helix...Wow!! That would be huge!!

Tom Austin
Centralia IL

Country: USA | Posts: 2046 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 07 :  12:22:45 PM  Show Profile
I agree that a helix takes up a huge amount of room, 30inch diameter equates to over five feet square floor space being gobbled up!
I am mentally toying with the idea of running an uphill track around the walls of the layout room, but behind the backscene - a spiral round the layout, if you see what I mean. This track could emerge through the backscene now and again, and become part of the layout temporarily, then dive back and continue on it's spiral. Does this make sense? Has anyone tried it before?
The backscene could be easily removable for maintenance etc.


Oh for the days when coal was king and steam ruled.
For pics etc -

Country: USA | Posts: 1996 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 07 :  3:19:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit CIOR's Homepage
Here it is, the 38"radius helix.
Monster? Yes, but the reliable operation of 30+ car trains makes it worth it.

The C&O of Indiana
The Central Indiana & Ohio Railroad

Edited by - CIOR on 2004 November 07 3:20:06 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 1465 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2004 November 07 :  4:35:54 PM  Show Profile
That helix is beautiful. I wasn't trying to slight your design at all...I do think that you could have been successful with a much smaller radius, but that's just an opinion.

At any rate, very nicely done.

Tom Austin
Centralia IL

Country: USA | Posts: 2046 Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic: Sad news Topic Next Topic: Im scared...  
 Forum Locked |   Topic Locked |   Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Atlas Model Railroad Co. © 1709-2011 Atlas Models Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 2.56 seconds. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000