Early November update…

So I FINALLY got the base for the helix in place ( more on the helix later… ) and I thought that after all this time it would be kind of an epic moment. Actually it was more anticlimactic. It wasn’t all that hard, once I had the time and materials it went rather quickly and dropped into place.

Once in place, I laid out the outline for the helix itself. With that established, I laid out the return loop because I needed to get that in place and running before I could build up from there. As I had mentioned before the entrance track swings off the main and cuts through the backdrop, it then swings around and comes back across the bridge that is part of the berm scene  ( more on that in a minute also ).

In order to get from the main to the helix base required a piece of plywood subroadbed, so first I made a cardboard template.

Helix base in place, outline of helix drawn in although hard to see in this picture.
Helix base in place, outline of helix drawn in although hard to see in this picture.
Making a template for the return loop leg.
Making a template for the return loop leg.

As you will notice I also had to cut a piece of the upright support in order to get the track through the backdrop. With the template in hand I went out to the garage to cut the piece out of plywood. Took no time at all and the piece dropped right into place.

Cut the subroadbed using the cardboard template, cork roadbed in place.
Cut the subroadbed using the cardboard template, cork roadbed in place.

As you can see, everything was moving along so well that I had the cork roadbed in place before I realized that I had not taken a picture of just the plywood piece in place. You can see towards the top of the picture that the cork roadbed is laid all the way around and comes up just short of the bridge.

It’s at this point that I realized that I was moving way to fast. First of all, if I had not stopped and laid the cork up to the bridge, I then would have started to lay the track and if I had done that I would have then had to tear some of it up. See the picture below and I will explain.

Alternate view of the helix base with return loop.
Alternate view of the helix base with return loop.

As you can see in the picture above, the street is not finished or mounted to the plywood base. In order to do that I have to pull out the bridge abutments ( which also needs to be mounted ). So I stopped and I will have to get the street painted and permanently mount both the abutments and street.

More importantly I realized that even if I get the return loop in and running, building the helix is kind of stupid.

I think I have been fixated on the helix because I have never built one.  I have built layouts before, built benchwork, laid track and wired it. I have built scenery and backdrops, but I have never built a helix and it is one of the untried challenges that I have been looking forward too. If I started it now, it be a helix to no where. If you can’t run a train to the helix, then what use is the helix.

I mentioned early on that my plan was to work linearly and building the helix now would be jumping ahead. Besides, if I don’t get the rest of the subroadbed in place then the starting height of the helix is just a guess.

So the plan now is to get the rest of the subroadbed in place on the lower level. I started with the next town in line between Jackson and the helix. This will be the town of Brandon, a smaller agricultural based town. I installed the base for this town and was able to figure out where the tracks will enter the helix, although the exact height has yet to be established.

Planning the town of Brandon on the approach to the helix.
Planning the town of Brandon on the approach to the helix.

With the starting point for the helix established I worked around the outline of the helix and marked where all the support risers will go. It probably isn’t all that important, but it gave me an idea if there will be any conflicts with anything else that would make installation a problem.

Figured out where the actual helix would start.
Figured out where the actual helix would start.
Marked all the riser locations for the helix, I wanted to make sure there would be no interference with anything else.
Marked all the riser locations for the helix, I wanted to make sure there would be no interference with anything else.

The only other base plywood to install is for New Brighton, I have it cut and just have to install it. After it is in I will begin laying out the mainline and then the sidings. Then the track, wiring etc… Get the mainline running to the helix and then the helix.

Till later… Happy Railroading

 

 

 

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