Author Topic: ramp vs Helix debate  (Read 1081 times)

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Flagler

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ramp vs Helix debate
« on: October 05, 2014, 05:29:15 PM »
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I would like to have a staging yard with reverse loop below the layout. Should I build a ramp  or helix.
I want to run my large steam engines.The staging yard needs to be 12" wide.I have always used Girders with joists for the frame work,This might be called L Girder .In order to drop 6" I would need 24ft of ramp with a 2% grade.

glakedylan

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2014, 05:42:00 PM »
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need more information
what space do you have?
how, where will the two levels meet/be joined?
what kind of locomotives and lengths of trains will you be running?
what scale are you working in (I am guessing N since your post is in the n/z scales part of the site)?
that is just for starters.

thanks
respectfully
Gary
"...that each may live for all,
and all may care for each..."

mmagliaro

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2014, 09:11:57 PM »
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I assume that if you do it as a ramp, you would have to pick a spot a good distance away from this staging yard to start your descent from the main layout, duck down below, and just keep dropping on a long ramp down to the lower level where this yard and reverse loop is.

If you have the room for 24' of ramp, I would vote for this option over a helix.  Either way, you have to go through 24' of track to bring the train up, but I think a ramp will have less potential for trouble than a helix. 

I am glad you are planning for 6" of drop.  You'll appreciate thatn when you have to get your hand
in there to correct a derailment or to nudge a troublesome engine.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2014, 10:57:55 AM »
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There are lots of ways to do this, and there's no one answer that fits all circumstances and preferences.
I had a double track hidden helix on my layout, and absolutely hated it. Not because it was unreliable, but because it took forever to get through it and it just killed the pleasure and ambiance of running a train. Boooooring....

In your case, if you're running large steam (like me) a ramp maybe a bit less troublesome then a helix, but as long as it's all hidden trackage, you will still have the boredom factor to contend with. Perhaps with a ramp there is a creative way to minimize the hidden trackage by exposing a portion of it?
Regards, Otto K.

randgust

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2014, 02:32:45 PM »
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I'm running a ramp, and it's worked quite well.   The downside is that to accomplish it, I had to have a duckunder-style layout so that the ramp could 'wrap' around the layout one entire circuit to get the vertical elevation between the staging yard and the visible layout and keep the grades to 2% maximum.    But for operations it's been fine.   

I've seen some nice helixes, but to me they sort of look like the 800-pound gorilla in the room.   "Oh, a Helix!", and it tends to be the largest, most-obvious feature.  If you could hide it in a closet, under the stairs, etc. I think it would be a lot better, but you still have to deal with access for maintenance as the first priority.

One memorable one I saw was taking the storage yard down to about 6" off of the floor.   Which is great until you have to try to figure a way to maintain it from the inside, so all the outside was open instead, and it was inacessible from the inside.   Rather distracting to see the trains going round-and-round, sort of visually dominated the normal layout.

Even with a ramp, when visitors see the long trains dissapear, there's so much curiosity about 'how do you DO THAT??' that I often end up dropping the fascia panels on the side so people can see what's going on and end the incessant questions.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 02:45:40 PM by randgust »

djconway

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2014, 09:29:13 AM »
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24' of straight ramp is way more space than I have available.  My basement is 22.5' wide 38' long, I have been alotted 10' of of the 38' and the full 22.5' up aginst one wall.
A 24" radius helix (4' diameter + road bed) has 150" of track per loop at 2" per loop thats 450" of track to drop your 6" or a grade of 1.3%.  A little steep by modern main line standards today but well within acceptable model RR ranges.
A 24" radius allows room for a 6'3" 275Lb person (me) to stand up in the middle.
Its not realy a ramp vs helix question - its what do you have room for?

TiVoPrince

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2014, 08:03:13 PM »
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Recalling
your previous layout with long tangent runs. Have you considered placing the 'ramp' outside the layout along the fascia to maximize visible running. Maybe a little dab painted scenery blended to the actual layout keeping the trains 'on stage' but apart from the rest of the scenery. Since this would leave your staging yard well below the normal level having a couple of cheap security cameras watching the action below ground might help keep things in order without having to contort yourself during an operating session.

Placing a nice plexiglass cover over the ramp let's you observe trains in and out of staging. The only issue might be DCC panel placement but this could be the breakover to go full duplex and have fascia panels only for the occasional Luddites like me...
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Flagler

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2014, 05:57:59 PM »
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The new layout will be in a 19ft x 21 ft room.I did not have to plan as much in my old basement.I could just build extra tables and go were I wanted to.My main issuie is steam and hidden staging

Flagler

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2014, 01:42:55 PM »
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One Idea for operation is to use below deck staging for only my Modern fleet. No steam below.I can lash up 4-6 engines on a 2% grade Helix.

TiVoPrince

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Re: ramp vs Helix debate
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2014, 11:06:37 AM »
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Imagining
an E shaped layout in a 19*21 space as a starting point. Without a basis of plan we have to start somewhere.

In this scenario the centre leg of the E seems a natural point to conceal a helix. Leaving a continuous run on layout arc of track around the cylinder of the helix allows it to be hidden but accessable. Allowing the helix to drop away behind a forest or an industry leaves a plausible disguise to maintain the illusion. Once on the lower level a loop around the perimeter would yield an abundance of off stage level storage space. Alternatively a ramp along the inner 'legs' of the E could result in a drop sufficient to add staging if bench work with minimal depth is carefully built above. L girder is probably not going to work here. A plywood topped box grid might work but this might exceed my engineering and construction skills.

Both scenarios yield results. How you choose to make the elevation leap is a matter of personal preference and operational goals. For me personally the long hidden helix run would be a frustrating way to elevate a train from staging. Not to say that it is wrong, its just not right for me if I could use a ramp alternative...
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