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Helix and power


Peter Osborne

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Peter Osborne

Hi All

im looking at getting a couple of helix one each end to take the trains to the lower level for storage, there are a few available in kit form here in the UK and vary in price , there’s a nice light weight one from the USA but with tax etc would be expensive, I’ve also seen some very reasonably priced ones at hobby search even specifically for the TOMIX track I’m going to use and also a good price too 

 

https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/m/10196711

 

but only single track i did want double but at this price I can adjust ,,,

My main question is about power, I’ve seen some YouTube videos by Steve Aoshima and some units with 8+ and one power car have some difficulty on climbing has anyone got experience of using a helix with Japanese N? My longest train is my 683 Snow Rabbit with 9 cars and one power unit then I’ve several 8 car units, all with one power car 

Thanks 

 

 

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Peter,

 

it depends on grade of your helix. Folks get longer trains to do like 2% grades pretty well with single power car, but there is the issue with a helix that it’s a very long grade actually and always in a curve which tends to slow things some. Martijn had a big helix he has built and probably can give you specifics on the range of trains he has and his grade.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Peter Osborne
28 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

Peter,

 

it depends on grade of your helix. Folks get longer trains to do like 2% grades pretty well with single power car, but there is the issue with a helix that it’s a very long grade actually and always in a curve which tends to slow things some. Martijn had a big helix he has built and probably can give you specifics on the range of trains he has and his grade.

 

cheers

 

jeff

Thanks Jeff, I see the one from hobbysearch is 5% that’s pretty steep for any model and with the curve as well, might get a bespoke one made with 2% this seems to be the normal grade or at a push 3%

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roadstar_na6

Also keep in mind the one you linked from HS is for C177 curves, they are tight.

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Peter Osborne
Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, roadstar_na6 said:

Also keep in mind the one you linked from HS is for C177 curves, they are tight.

This is a UK sourced one for KATO track no doubt the TOMIX is the same radius, the hobby search although relatively cheap isn’t that good with a 5% grade and the tight curves 

https://modelrailwaysolutions.co.uk/shop/helix-kits/n-gauge-helix-kit/kato-n-gauge-unitrack-helix-kits

 

 

Edited by Peter Osborne
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They are not that hard to make yourself. All you need is some thin plywood, threaded stock, bolts and a jig saw and drill. If you know anyone with a wood shop you could crank a nice one out in a couple of hours. Most of the time would be in tracing out your your quarter arcs and rough cutting them, but then in an bandsaw you could the fine cut with like 4 arcs at once. You can either use threaded stock and bolts for your uprights or just take some square stock and cut slots every 2” or so and just stagger the bottom heights and all the arcs will all pop in. Then whack off at top. This way you can use the uprights’ slots to join the quarter arcs together.

 

jeff

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There are a few on ebay, the three that caught my eye were :

 

ebay.co.uk/itm/2-5-Level-30cm-Double-Track-Helix-for-Hornby-Peco-R3-R4-Free-Delivery-in-EU/303720472260

 

ebay.co.uk/itm/Gleiswendel-4-Windungen-fur-Spur-N-Spur-Z-CNC-gefertigt/271848559161

 

And this one for its simplicaty and price

 

ebay.co.uk/itm/Model-Railway-Helix-Kit-N-scale/282382271128?hash=item41bf4b8298:g:ZbYAAOSwKWBbjuC3

 

Genarally speaking, the bigger the diamiter, the lesser the grade.

 

5% with 177 radius is asking for trouble and will limit your opparations in my oppinion.

 

Good luck. Keep us posted.

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gavino200
19 hours ago, Peter Osborne said:

 might get a bespoke one made with 2% this seems to be the normal grade or at a push 3%

 

I'll add my voice to the advice given already about keeping the grade as low as possible. Any extra expense and effort will be worth it. 

Edited by gavino200
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Peter Osborne
37 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

I'll add my voice to the advice given already about keeping the grade as low as possible. Any extra expense and effort will be worth it. 

 Thanks all I think I will keep it at 2% and get a bespoke one made I don’t have any facilities at home, I do have a good friend who would make me one and also model railway minded as well so might see what he can come up with he has a full carpentry business 

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Peter, cool, he’s the guy! Really not very hard to do. Just a little experimenting on some of the details as you wnat to make sure before cutting out a lot of pieces! Cutting out the pieces in a shop with a bandsaw and table saw would be pretty fast as both the risers and base arcs could be cut in mass chunks pretty easily and quickly.

 

your friend’s a woodworker, he will like the creative challenge of something like this I bet!

 

Jeff

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chadbag

Do these things typically have guardrails so that a derailment doesn’t cause your train to tumble a good distance off and down onto the floor? 
 

i am thinking about making a large diameter oval based one (train oval — not geometric oval) with the straight bits to make things easier for longer trains or trains with long cars.  Still just in my head as the layout for which it would be made is not yet in existence.  

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I’ve not seen folks do guardrails on custom ones, just usually an inch or two extra deck on either side. Again @Martijn Meerts can fill us in on his experiences with his.

 

wouldn’t be super hard to fashion something that you could mass produce and make so it’s removable to get at things easily if needed.

 

ive seen oval helixes, I remember seeing one with an over 100 car coal train on it.

 

jeff

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Peter Osborne
Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, cteno4 said:

I’ve not seen folks do guardrails on custom ones, just usually an inch or two extra deck on either side. Again @Martijn Meerts can fill us in on his experiences with his.

 

wouldn’t be super hard to fashion something that you could mass produce and make so it’s removable to get at things easily if needed.

 

ive seen oval helixes, I remember seeing one with an over 100 car coal train on it.

 

jeff

I’ve seen most people use the foam sleeves that slip on water pipes inside the house along the edges more of a soft barrier than guard rail there is also a foam edging available on

amazon here in UK

 

2D214765-320C-4666-8DCF-DF1A03B0AAB8.jpeg

Edited by Peter Osborne
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Martijn Meerts

I made my helix oval as well, part to get extra length, and part because I actually have some turnouts going on in the helix.

 

The tightest radius I have on mine is similar to Tomix 317mm radius, and the slope is somewhere around 2.3% on that radius. While it's not a Japanese train, Kato's GS4 can pull the entire 18-car Morning Daylight up the helix without issues. I've also had the Kato E5 and E6 combined (minus the motor car in the E6) go up without issues.

 

I don't have any guard rails just yet, but it could be made with lots of stuff. Even just some cardboard strips stapled to the side. The one problem with guard rails is that they do make it difficult to reach into the helix in case something derails, so something that's relatively easy to remove and put back again is probably useful.

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chadbag

Maybe an inch high thing with clips that slide on to the board or something...    I am just paranoid on having something derail and fall off.  

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gavino200
1 hour ago, chadbag said:

Maybe an inch high thing with clips that slide on to the board or something...    I am just paranoid on having something derail and fall off.  

 

Just spit-balling, you could cut inch wide strips of thermoplastic material and form them to the outside radius of the helix. You could then fix dowels to them so you can easily lift them out when you need access. I love using dowels for this kind of thing. They're sturdy, and easy to use, and if you put them on the inside you won't see them. 

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Could even be as simple as cut Velcro loop strip the thickness of your platform material and glue to the edge. Then the 3/4” or 1” hook piece could be attached to make a guardrail. The hook side is usually pretty stiff and should be plenty of stopping for a simple derailment. Flexible magnet strip could also do the same.

 

could be uber fancy and just thermoform curved panels of clear acrylic the height of the whole helix that fit between the risers to Velcro or magnet in place. Whole helix under glass! 
 

since the room in the center is really not an issue can just make it fat like 3” shoulder on the inside and not worry about a wall there.

 

jeff

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chadbag

I am thinking of a double track helix with a small safety wall inside and out (removable of course).  We'll see.  Thanks for the ideas.

 

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Peter Osborne
2 hours ago, chadbag said:

I am thinking of a double track helix with a small safety wall inside and out (removable of course).  We'll see.  Thanks for the ideas.

 

The gator board one by trackside scenery looks good in USA but stupidly high shipping to the uk makes it too expensive also think only single track 

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roadstar_na6
4 hours ago, chadbag said:

a small safety wall inside

We have that at the club layout and it's a nightmare if you're sitting inside the helix trying to get something out or re-rail it and constantly being hindered by the inner wall that never ever did anything because all trains are pushed to the outside. I'd say keep the inside open just for the sake of accessibility.

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chadbag
4 hours ago, roadstar_na6 said:

We have that at the club layout and it's a nightmare if you're sitting inside the helix trying to get something out or re-rail it and constantly being hindered by the inner wall that never ever did anything because all trains are pushed to the outside. I'd say keep the inside open just for the sake of accessibility.

 

The way mine is planned in my head, i am not sure anyone is going to be on the inside...  The wall would only be like 1-2cm anyway.  Just enough to impede falling off the edge.  We'll see.  For now this is just an intellectual exercise for me until we get closer to being able to do something about it.

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Gatorboard or ultraboard would be worth it here as they really don’t warp and are very light and stiff. With the styrene face of ultraboard you can even screw into it. Downside of ultraboard is cutting it with power saws really requires food dust handling as the little bits of sawdust are quite sharp and itchy when they get on your skin and also a bit statically charged, making it harder to remove easily. But it’s the ultimate material for something like this hard, stiff and totally non warping with moisture. You could also easily make a little template to drill holes in the edges of the joints to glue in some little bits of dowel to make nice solid joints that could pull apart when needed. Could just make it all modular with track glued/screwed down and pop it all together.

 

you do get trains going to the inside if you race them thru the helix and sharper gradients. One of members did wild layout with wild grades and a couple of 2 loop helixes out of double viaduct Unitrak. I built him some upright wood columns with notches in them to space the viaduct properly. He liked to run his trains fast and had to even more with the steep grades. This would really get things dirtier faster as I think it was both spewing grease as well as more micro-arcing with wheel sets flying so fast and moving around more. Of course a helix like that is very tough to clean w.o disassembling it so it would get a bit rough running and shutter some and the slinky effect would happen followed by the clothesline where all the couplings are yanked toward the center of the curve and plop the whole train on its side on the inside. Was fun trying to uncouple some of the hard Shinkansen couplers inside the helix.

 

jeff

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Martijn Meerts

You definitely want to build a helix so it's fairly easy accessible from all sides. Nothing quite as annoying as trying to remove a derailed train from a helix where you hardly have any space to get your hand in. You normally also want to minimise the grade of a helix, so the space between loops is kept to a minimum. I have just enough spacing in my helix to get in there with a track cleaner, but that's about it.

 

What I've also done, is powered every single piece of track in the helix. In my case that was doable since I'm using flex track, and since my helix also has blocks in it, I had to run wires anyway. They're definitely worth spending the extra time to get them right.

 

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