The Helix


The Helix project was begun in early March, 2013 and was the most complex project we undertook since construction of the layout began. We removed the last ten feet of our layout and replaced it with new construction extending out twenty feet. The new area contains our Helix which connects our layout's lower and upper levels. Although we have always had a connection between the two levels it was mostly on hidden track work and our members rarely used it, mainly because they lost sight of their train for the several minutes it took to traverse between levels. The new Helix is exposed and significantly shorter, and therefore will be operationally more "user-friendly."

Enjoy the photos below and follow the work as it was being done.


Here a photo of  members Robby Kransteuber (left) and Jack Shelly discussing plans for the Helix. The area outlined with the masking tape on the floor will be the location of the new Helix.
This is a mockup of the construction technique used on the Helix. Since the lower level consists of two separate main lines the Helix was designed for two track side-by-side mainlines, one to carry trains from lower to upper level, and the other from upper to the lower level. 
This was the first day of our project. We were in the middle of removing this entire corner of our layout. A lot of work went into building this area, and although we salvaged what we could for re-use, it was still quite sad to tear it down and throw it into the trash. But, that's progress! 
One of the bridges from this section being removed. We had three bridges in this area and we saved them all for re-use elsewhere.
A heap of trash from what used to be a beautiful section of our layout.  There's was no turning back at this point! ONWARD!
Demolition is just about complete. The 110 volt wiring had to be removed in addition to some of the layout wiring. Next we did a little sweeping, some clean up, and then we started laying out the new construction.
Here's a photo of some of our crew hard at work. I believe someone needs to have a talk with the foreman in charge.
After the old bench work was cut away we cut an access hole which leads to the basement. This ended up being in the middle of our Helix and allowed us to access any problems that might occur during the travel of trains on the Helix.
Prep work is finished and member Robby Kransteuber is starting the supports for the risers. Obviously some of the other members of the club believe he requires some supervision.
April 03, 2013  -  The risers being installed. Thank goodness we had enough supervisors for this project.
April 8, 2013  -  This is an example of the construction method we used for the sub roadbed. It took a lot of planning but construction moved along quickly and yielded a strong base for our track work. And, there was minimal waste of materials with this construction method.
A test fit using a plastic spline to see how the roadbed was going to form the curve. With this method of construction a smooth curve is automatically formed. 
May 5, 2013  -  The first of the track being laid by member Tony Matukonis. If you look closely you can see the tie-in of the lower track to the existing layout. The track work Tony is installing will be a simple loop track for our lower level. The Helix roadbed has not yet been installed. We used code 100 flex for the hidden track and blackened code 83 for the upper level. Also, we installed an electrical feeder for each three foot track section to ensure reliable electrical continuity.
July 03, 2013 - We've installed electrical outlets around the entire Helix. This makes it a lot easier to use our power tools, solder guns, etc.
July 10,2013 - John Wiegand wrapping it up for the night. At this point we had about half the Helix completed with two more layer to go. A lot of the top portion of the framework will be removed after we determine the final height.
August 15, 2013 - At this point the Helix is just about completed but we still had the run around track to install. Electrical track feeders are installed for the most part.
Sept 05, 2013 - Just about all the main track work had been installed. The Helix is complete along with the main line run around track. We still needed to install the track at the top of the Helix to serve the industries and the necessary scenery and structures to go with it. This last area had not yet been decided upon as we had not yet come up with an agreed-upon landscape for this section.
July, 2014 - Yard track work is nearing completion. Scenery, buildings and other items are not yet decided upon and will be installed as we acquire them.
August, 2014 - A small bridge over a creek being checked for fit and will be permanently installed as soon as the "river" is poured.
Sep, 2014 - Other bridges were placed and awaited the completion of the yet-to-be-poured "river."

Updated September 19, 2019