A Railroad with Relevance

South Helix – Part V

Written By: Alan - Apr• 29•21

By golly, I’ve got myself a helix!

Track wiring is done, uprights are cut to installed length, and the construction mess cleaned up. As you can see I added intermediate uprights between the supporting uprights. The more I looked at the 17″ spans of what is essentially 3/8″ plywood the less I liked it. It was too easy to imagine in a year or two the plywood sagging. So, I added inner and outer uprights made from the screen mould user for the spacers. Once again, trusty wood glue was called upon to get the job done. Round and round I went again, first on the inside and then the outside. Cut, glue, clamp, wait 24 hours, glue fillets, wait 24 hours, repeat. Boy oh boy, is the helix rigid now.

The track power wiring follows the same method used on the layout – 12AWG solid bus with 24AWG stranded feeders soldered in place. The helix bus connects to the layout bus at abutment #6. From there it splits into two, each going halfway around the helix in opposite direction with a branch up each odd numbered upright.

The wire branches on the uprights are secured with nylon clamps sitting on 3/8″ spacers. That gave me enough room to wrap the feeder wire around the bus wire and then solder without scorching the wood.

Using every other upright gave me a feeder spacing of 34″, slightly less than the 39″ length of each piece of flextrack. Roughly the same feeder spacing used on the rest of the layout.

The last little detail was a support under the bottom exit point to set the vertical transition to the layout.

At this point a sane man would call the project finished. I’ve never claimed to be sane. I want a “Where’s My Train?” detection system. The entire helix will be hidden and there is a long run of track to cover so I am thinking it may be both boring and anxious waiting for your train to pop out. Why is it taking so long? Has the train stalled? Am I going too fast or too slow? Do hummingbirds hum because they can’t remember any of the words? Who knows what questions a hidden train may conjure up. I have a fix for that! Prototype is on the bench and working. Now, let’s see if I can scale it up to helix size.


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  1. anthony says:

    wow, now that’s a lot of work

  2. anthony says:

    wow, now that’s a lot of work, nice

  3. Martin says:

    Hello Alan

    wow that looks really professional
    find that a good solution how to make the helix

  4. Jason Miller says:

    Glad your mind is used for good & not evil. πŸ˜›

    Looking forward to seeing how the detection section works, and what it looks like…

    Perfect execution of the helix structure & wiring Alan.


  5. alan says:

    Thanks guys.

  6. Billy Baldwin says:

    Hey man what’s going on just wanted to let you know this looks incredible and I wish I had a Helix on my layout but I don’t have the room. sorry I have not been commenting on a lot of your post lately I have been very very busy at work I would love to see a video of all the progress that you have done bring it all together and keep up this incredible work you are doing on this layout

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