Posted by: Roger | March 23, 2014

Shakespeare asked, “To Be, or Not To Be?”

Today, I came close to asking, “Where’s the gasoline can?”

Cause I thought if I got any dumber, it wasn’t going “to be.”

I was happily soldering away on wire feeders, listening to my favorite tunes, and NOT having the slightest idea of where I was going or what I was supposed to be doing. When I got done and realized I was not only on the wrong track, I didn’t have a clue where the tracks were, I was ready to go get the gas can. I wisely texted my friend Paul that I was about to quit, and he set me straight. Thank you, Paul. Instead of a pile of charred timbers and tin siding, I have this.

After my hissy-fit where I was ready to get my gas can and burn the whole thing down, I got the helix wired.

After my hissy-fit where I was ready to get my gas can and burn the whole thing down, I got the helix wired. 

I know it’s hard to tell what I did, but the black wires at extreme left are heading for a BD4,  and the red wires inside the helix are headed somewhere to be determined later. At the top of the helix, I glued down more cork to finish the climb to what will be the Schilling siding. At the bottom of the helix, I started playing with turnouts to see if I could get enough staging tracks in a short space to provide for an adequate representation of Auburn, Washington, and points in between.

The next step will be to add a “roof” to this helix where the Frenchtown paper mill will sit. I bought the plywood today for that, but since my two brain cells collide only occasionally, it will take a while to get it there. I really want to add a short stretch of track for the Milwaukee road, so I need to spend some time figuring out how to do that.

A long time ago, I decided to use Atlas code 55 track exclusively because it looked GREAT, but there have been times that I have wondered about that decision. It’s not that the track hasn’t been available since U. S. Grant was chatting with R. E. Lee at Appomattox, it’s that the geometry is such that it requires a LOT of real estate to get anywhere.  I just don’t have that much real estate in 160th scale.

So, I’ll fake it, but if I had gone with code 80 I probably could have done a yard throat in half the space. But then, I have not yet met an N scale track system that didn’t piss me off. None of them are ideal. You just have to decide what will piss you off the least.

Prior to this expenditure of labor, I added the beginnings of the “computer cockpit.”

The basic framing for the computer cockpit is in place. At least temporarily while I figure out how to finish it.

The basic framing for the computer cockpit is in place. At least temporarily while I figure out how to finish it.

I may be slow, but I’m slow. I just hope I can get it finished before St. Peter is looking for me. I sure don’t want to miss that bus.




    I am beginner in building layouts for trains in ho scale and I am starting to design a new layout and I intend to put a screw in the layout but I do not understand how to calculate the helix and I’m not finding the calculations to design it. Where can I find the breakdown of calculation to calculate the diameter of the heights between the turns, especially the height between ramp turns, ie the propeller pitch so that the train runs not hitting the base of the ramp up. I know I know the thickness of the board, the thickness ca cork, rail height, the height of the train, wagon or higher object to be transported over a height of security and this is the helical pitch. but I’m not able to find exactly a help to teach me to determine exactly the height between the coils in order to calculate the propeller properly.

    During my research I found a real car design for cars with double helix. ie the increase was made clockwise and lowering the counterclockwise I found different and interesting but this changes all the time cálcculos in particular because it would have a propeller within the other or they can be made with different diameters.

    I plan to use tilting 1.5% to facilitate the rise of the locomotive.

    • I really can’t say there is a calculation for determining the height between the levels. It is more of a choice that you have to start with that is coupled with the amount of space you can devote to the helix. In N scale, I wouldn’t recommend going less that 2 5/8 inches. That is really tight if you have to fix problems. Having a 1.5 percent grade would be wonderful, but I don’t have the space that it would require.
      Here’s how I approached my first helix. I knew that I had 18 inches between decks. Given wall space and openings, I could not be greater than 44 inches for the track centerline diameter. Adding 2 more inches from the centerline on each side came up to my maximum width for everything to the 48 inches available. I did not know what the grade would be when I started.
      What is the grade? First, we need the circumference of the circle along the centerline. The formula for that is 2 * PI * radius, or 2 * 3.14159 * 22. That equals 138.23 inches. And from that we can determine the grade (or percent) by dividing the rise (3 inches) by the run (138.23 inches) and multiplying by 100 to get a grade of 2.17 percent. I could live with that on my N scale railroad.
      For HO, I think you will need at least 4 inches separation, if not 4 1/2 for getting your hands in to fix derailments.
      I’ll look at it from a different HO perspective given what our initial known variables are: 1.5 percent grade and 4 inch separation (includes one layer of 1/2 inch plywood).
      4 divided by (1.5 divided by 100) = 266.67 inch circumference. What is the diameter? Divide the circumference by PI to get 84.88 inches. That’s slightly more than 7 feet from track centerline to centerline. Add more inches to include the width of the plywood outside the centerlines.
      What about 4 1/2 inch separation?
      4.5 / .015 = 300 inches. 300 inches divided by PI = 95.49 inches or about 8 feet.
      I hope that in all the above you can find some ways to calculate what you need. Knowing the grade (or percent) is only one of the necessary numbers to arrive at an answer.

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