Yesterday I finally completed the last of the Signal Bridges for the layout. It has been a major effort to get them all completed and there are ten (10) of them across the layout.
They are mostly searchlights, but I have one with G Type heads on them. They are all (apart from the G Type) heads using the RRCirKits - Tri Coloured LED's in them.
I have learn't a lot making these from the first bridge that had Tomar masts that were adapted and scratch built to fit. The process is now quite easy, and I can produce them quite quickly too. The final stage in the signal installation is to make a few more dwarf signals and get them onto the layout and I'm finished. Jas...
This is more testing of the helix yesterday. This train will be the average length of my consists that will operate on the layout. This is being pulled by two Atlas Silver Series RDG - MP15DC's both are fitted with LokSound - Select Direct Decoders.
First run of a train on the helix. The rolling stock is some of the longest & widest that will traverse it. Train ran perfectly without issue through the entire helix and into Shippensburg Classification Yard...
So at the end of last week I have the helix installed with track but not wired into DCC as yet. I still have to glue the blocks in between the loops in place. The staging deck will be constructed once I finish the signal install.
The sub road base plywood has been reinstalled above the helix, including new timber for the fascia to be re-installed. The track work that forms Carlisle Junction that was removed is also getting done again too.
The last two photos show the limited amount of room between the last helix loop and existing bench work & sub road base plywood, which is just enough to clear a hi-cube boxcar.
Once the track work is re-installed I'll wire up the helix and conduct a test using a four & six axle locomotives and several variants of rolling stock to test out the performance of the helix. Jas...
So today was spent working on the two transitions from the future staging level and the finished layout level where the helix exits onto the return blob. I also cut & set in place the blocks for ruling grade on the first loop.
The last section of the last loop transitions from a 28"R to a 24"R to allow for the layout track work to connect. I have tested this section of track with both 40', 50', & 60' rolling stock and all run smoothly through this section...
With the helix to layout transition I decided to run Code 100 all the way up to the Code 83 #7 curved turnout where the helix connects with the layout track work. Because the helix & staging area will eventually have its own NCE booster, PSX-1 Circuit Breaker and Detection this join needed to be double insulated.
I managed to get the alignment between Code 100 & 83 really well aligned. This was achieved using track pins & shims, the insulated rail joiners are Code 100 and allowed the Code 83 to be manipulated to align with the top of the Code 100 rail.
The transition from the helix to the staging level needed some adjustment to the layout framework and tweaking of the curve leaving the helix. I had to add a short section of straight track to get the alignment to work, but the added benefit will be that it allows for a re-railer to be installed before entry into the helix.
Next step is to secure the blocks between loops with white glue and finish off the track work from the helix into the staging area. Jas...
So today was spent getting the initial grade set on the first turn of the helix and installing the blocks to set the ruling grade on the other loops.
It actually took a little time to get it consistent across the entire helix but I’m happy with it now. At this stage unless I can think of an easy way to install the all-thread rods I’ll be sticking with the timber blocks.
I made myself up a grade level by using a short spirit level with a piece of styrene rod which is 4mm (5/32") set at 200mm (7 7/8") along the level. So when the level showed “level” (the Bubble in between the lines) this meant the grade was set at 2%.
Next stage is to work on the transition from the finished layout level into the helix. The radius from the curved turnout is set at 24”R and then transitions into a 30”R section and then into the 28”R helix.
I have to also make a small notch out of the rear of the layout deck near the backdrop to given another 10mm (25/64") clearance for my high cube boxcars. They fit now but to be safe I will be giving them a little more wiggle room. Jas...
Today was another day of cutting out helix sections and laying track. The process is going fairly well, the time consuming part is laying the track and aligning it with the gauge to match the radius.
The RibbonRail radius gauge makes it easy to maintain the correct 28" radius, I'm also using it as a spacer for the stitching screws. The addition of each helix sections goes quickly, and using the stitching plates to secure the sections is an easy method to secure them. At the end of today I have managed to get two full loops completed.
I also collected today the materials for the helix supports. The method I'm using is 3/8" All-thread placed through each deck and secured with washers & nuts. This method allows the grade to be set by adjusting the location of the washer & nut along the all-thread.
Hopefully tomorrow I will have the remaining sections of the helix with track work completed and ready for the grade to be set. Jas...
Today I finished installing the framework for the helix base. Fairly simple construction that can be removed easily, the helix base is supported in several locations.
I have decided to use Peco Code 100 - Flextrack for the entire helix & staging area. It will save on cost compared to Code 83 and the higher rail allows for the flex track to be screw downed with stitching screws in the helix.
The stitching screws wok extremely well as they act like a flat head screw with a washer, but are all in one.
I have installed on section of flextrack today and secured in place with the stitching screws, I have also checked the radius with a Ribbon Rail 28" alignment gauge.
I'm hoping to have the remaining loops cut out tomorrow, and then beginning installing them and the flextrack as I progress. I will also be purchasing the all-thread, nuts & washes for the supports too. Jas...
Today was more framing work to accommodate the new helix. After some great advice from my good friend and fellow layout builder - Alan (LK&O Railroad), I added a timber lintel to allow clear access under the helix. This will allow access to both sides of the return blob framework and to fix up any issues if they arise within the helix. You can actually stand up completely in the rear section of the helix.
The wiring for the LocoNet, LocoNet power & Internet was also re-located and secured to ensure that it was clear of both the helix and access underneath.
I also divided the helix into 1/8’s for the positioning of the all-thread risers. The timber base frame will support the all-thread risers, I'm still yet to decide how I will configure the base support that will have the all-thread attached.
Next stage will be to complete the helix base frame work, then completing the remaining rings of the helix and install the track. Jas...