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15797RE: [Lionel_PostwarTrains] Photos and a Video

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  • Rick Duncan
    Mar 25, 2014
      Thanks for the description of the helix. Sounds like a good project for next winter and a different sort of small space layout.

      Rick D

      From: Lionel_PostwarTrains@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Lionel_PostwarTrains@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Geoff Geffken
      Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 4:17 PM
      To: Lionel_PostwarTrains@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [Lionel_PostwarTrains] Photos and a Video


      Following up on the video posting; there were a some comments from Win and others on the double helix.
      Thanks for compliments and yes, the helix has blocking.
      I used 2 separate transformers - so I can regulate the speed but once set it takes quite a while for one train to sneak up on the other.
      My theme from their from the beginning / I wanted it to be visible. This was not a coal mining operation from the 1940's but rather it was King Solomon's mine or maybe the Humphrey Bogart's Treasure of Sierra Madre.; think of Alan Quartermane's adventures or the ending of one of the Nicholas Cage National Treasure movies (those wild, out of control train rides.)


      I am curious if anyone else has had a recent problem with Yahoo. I thought the group had gone silent - no more emails were showing up.
      However, noticed in the groups tab that there was still the normal volume. Checked my emails and everything had gone into the spam folder. Pushed all messages back to the inbox. Hoping it was just me but if things go dark - check SPAM.


      For those that want the detail on what went behind building the helix read on; feel free to skip if it sounds boring.

      I built the double helix after seeing a Lionel video a number of years ago that had a 3 level double helix and wondered
      if I could do the same. However, I can't leave well enough alone and said I can top that - not really having a clue on how.

      I bought some 18 inch threaded rods, and stuck them on a sheet of plywood, and fixed cross pieces with hex nuts
      and ran the curved pieces around.
      Wow, was that wobbly, sure to wreck some nice trains.
      Back to the drawing board. Learning from my mistakes, the first thing I realized was base needed to be sturdy.
      So used 2 layers of 1 X 10 pine which was built into 34 in squares with the grain going in opposite directions on the two layes.
      The most critical part of the project is to lay the outer and inner circles in a perfect circle and to mark the points for drilling accurately.
      To do this I made a paper template (placed a ring of track and made two concentric circles.)
      I drilled holes for the rods and counter sunk a hole in the bottom so I could put hex nuts with lock washers.
      Trust me, this wasn't going anywhere now (it was getting pretty heavy too)

      Here is the bill of materials:
      900 hex bolts (give or take a few dozen)
      32 3 ft long threaded rods (I cleaned out several Home Depots before my brother-in-law told me I could have gotten them on-line)
      60 ft of oak 1/2" X 1/2 rods to act as cross pieces for the track to lay on
      112 curved pieces of O gauge track - the 31" diameter works nicely.
      8 straight pieces of O guage track to join the circles
      I went to a number of Train Shows and bought good clean 2nd hand track - when I told vendors what I was doing
      I got a very good prices - 25 to 50 cents a pieces - some were actually free!
      120 small screws to fasten the track to the cross pieces
      Band Aids (bit of a klutz and they are some wire shards from the rods and wooden splinters that seemed to bite me at times)
      2 small transformers (a 40W Kline and a 60W Lionel - downhill uses less power)
      18 gauge wire

      Surprisingly - not many:
      Ruler, pencils, level
      Electric Drill / ideal to actually have a drill press for the drilling out the cross pieces
      Saw for cutting 1 x 12 and second fine tooth one for cross pieces
      Solder gun / Solder/flux

      You should cut all the cross pieces first, 5 1/4 inches - its tedious - but think of it as an assembly line.

      After your base is set and you have 16 rods sticking up comes the fun part. Endless twirling of hex nuts.
      One nut on outer rod, one nut on inner rod - slide the cross piece down the rods - the one nut on outer rod, one nut on inner rod.
      7 more of these makes a circle. Each piece is slightly higher than the previous one - you want a gentle incline.
      Each circle rises 4 7/8. Each track piece rises 39/64 in (a template helps a whole lot - you don't want to measure.)
      6 more circles on the right side helix. Repeat on the left side helix. Thread the track - join the track pieces with the least
      amount of gap possible - not just for connectivity but to get that perfect circle.
      Test with a car that rolls very smoothly/easily - ideally it should roll from top to bottom without any additional pushes.
      Now tightening all of these hex nuts.

      Solder wires to track once per loop (or neat trick from Classic Trains - Ken Johnson - cut small tabs from tin can - solder that to wire
      - it slides into the underside grove of track - much easier)

      After joining the top and bottom with the straight track - I did find it necessary to create
      block system so the trains can't in theory catch each other - probably should have 4 but 2 works nicely.

      What cars/locomotives to use?
      I tried various locomotives but found any full size car or full size locomotive either derailed or caught on the rods.
      The best was either using Lionel motorized units, like the Lionel US Army / Navy units; KLine - mini's; or what I settled on was small Geeps (under 8 inches long) and short Hopper cars. I weathered one engine and its hoppers.

      I bought several sheets of Black 1/4 poster board and enlisted my wife in painting silver and gold veins. We pasted jewels too. And fixed them to the 3 sides of the helixes. One train has coal loads / the other has silver and gold dug from the mines. At the bottom I set up a 'mining' camp with a few miners and some Plasticville shanties that were also weathered.

      Probably took me 3 to 4 months of getting up early on Saturdays, but it was fun to do and is nice to show to visitors of our house.


      On Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:28 PM, win zip <winzipped100@...> wrote:

      Nice video Geoff....I especially liked the helix...I've never seen one in operation before (usually they are hidden in a tunnel or mountain) so it was great to see the bare bones.



      From: geoffgeffken@...
      To: Lionel_PostwarTrains@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2014 13:59:52 -0700
      Subject: [Lionel_PostwarTrains] Photos and a Video

      Several weeks ago, I posted a couple of pictures of the 736 engine that I have.
      I've now added a few more general photos of my layout and a video.

      The video was fun to create but also frustrating. The free software, was not really free,
      it had a quick trial that expired and then they wanted $79.99
      Tom Mclean also suggest Microsoft's Live Movie Maker, not quite as feature rich, but it did
      the job (thanks very much for that).
      I spend a few hours from start to finish - just to get 3 minutes of video
      Went to post and it was very much over the size limit (shame on me for not checking first).

      Looking for alternatives, I realized YouTube would be it; so if you are interested, click on the link:
      Not going to win an oscar (hopefully not a razzie) and a bit out of focus at times, but you should get the sense
      of what is happening in 15x15 plus 8x3 for the helix.


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