February 2018
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Archive for the ‘Benchwork’ Category

Helix Pogress

I have been working on my helix a little any night I have a minute or two. The plywood sub-road bed is all done and I am about 3/4 done laying in the track. Putting the track down after the helix was built was a little interesting and I know I should have laid the track as I was placing the plywood. This is my first helix and I wasn’t sure how many tiers I was going to end up with so I just went ahead and did it the hard way 🙂

I did decide to make the helix a double track and have discovered this dang thing eats up Micro Engineering flex track like Cookie Monster going through a case of Oreos!!!!!! 😀

Again, because this is only temporary I tackled it a little different so I can easily disassemble it later on with little damage to the track and plywood sub-road bed in order for it to be easily reused. Normally I solder feeder wires to the bottom of my track rails (not the side) but in this case I am soldering to the bottom of the rail joiners then soldering the joints. This way when I lift the track back up to expand the layout I will not lose any of its flexibility from of a small piece of solder being left behind and I will only loose an inch or two off of each piece of flex track. No big deal. Because there is only just over 2 inches of room between levels (I went with a 2% grade), there isn’t much room to swing a hammer to put in nails. What I am doing is using adhesive caulk every six inches or so to keep the flex in place, and clamping it until it sets. Even once dry I will still be able to lift the track fairly easily and remove any leftover caulk then reuse the track and plywood later when I expand. Looking back at what I have done so far I just hope this works as I am now a little worried that as the rail expands and contracts it might buckle a bit and free itself of the caulk. Time will tell!!!!


It is slow but I only spend an hour or so in any evening I have free time to work on the layout  and this gives me about enough time to get two to four lengths of flex down and let the caulk setup until the next evening I have time to “play” with it.

Soon I’ll be able to run a train in a rather large loop and work on the track in the yard and existing towns.

See Ya



I have been working as I have time and energy on my Helix. The other night I finally got it to a point I can start to “grade” it properly. I have it figured at about a 2% grade so not too shabby huh? I have yet to tie the top end of the helix to the Main, just West of the yard but hopefully that will be complete within the next week or two.

I built it with a 20″ radius by cutting 3/4″ birch plywood into 1/4 circles. I then dado the ends to accept a piece of thin plywood and bolted them to form a tight bond. These plywood pieces extend out the sides about an inch or so in order to drill hole to accept threaded rod. I used threaded rod in order to give me more fine tuning to the angle of the rise in the helix. So far it looks like it is going to work out OK. Whew!!!







Now come the next part, I need to tie in the top of the Helix to the Mainline but before I start laying track I need to decide whether or not to double the track through the Helix. I had only planed on running a single track up through it but now I’m thinking of doubling it. My issue is whether or not I have enough room to do this as I only cut the sub road bed 3″ wide. I can make it fit but there is only about 1/4″ or so clearance at the edges. Any thoughts would be appreciated!!!

These next two shots are roughly what it will look like either way.








See Ya


Progress is Being Made

Even with the birth of my grandson, progress has continued……….slowly but continuing. Almost all the plywood is fastened down for the first three communities for the railroad.

The question of  turnouts and how am I planning to control them has been asked so I will address that here. One big word here Micro Engineering code 55. I have been building my turnouts using a jig I purchased from Fast Tracks and even though they are coming along I ran into a problem with them that I didn’t notice until I was getting ready to use them. I thought I was being very careful but the wheels are getting pinched in the Wing Rails. Not sure what I was doing wrong but I will definitely be watching much closer next time I build one. In order to get a couple trains moving a little quicker I have purchased a number of Micro Engineering turnouts. These are spring loaded so they can easily be switched with a pick or finger but I will likely eventually have a unit installed underneath to keep fingers off of the layout  as I am also thinking of installing operating switch stands. The turnout control will very likely be either the Fast Tracks Bullfrog or a home made style or a combination of each. One problem I am coming up with is finding a small piano wire for these small turnouts. I have asked at hardware stores and they look at me as if I’m nuts and tell me they have no idea what I’m talking about. If anyone knows where I can find piano wire please let me know.

Going to try and get the rest of the plywood levelled and cork down this week.