Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!


What is a Helix Segment Length?

helix calculatorScott asks readers:

“On a helix calculator – what is meant by a segment length?  Is it measured from what point to what point?

There is a free helix calculator tool at here.

3 Responses to What is a Helix Segment Length?

  • David Stokessays:

    How many pieces of roadbed do you want per one circumference of your helix?. Three segment helixes can be the most economical to cut from an 8′ x 4′ sheet, but you can have as many segments you want. One segment means cutting a circle the size of you helix – and that means you might only get 2 levels from a sheet, where as three segment can, when set out properly can give you at least three levels. I saw an article on this in 2015. With one segment you only have one join to make, with three you have 4. These are best made using a biscuit or tongue and groove join so that the join is no thicker than the rest of the helix. This means you can rely on 3.5″ between levels for most HO layouts. .

  • Frank Bsays:

    The most economical way to cut sections from a wood sheet is to cut them parallel.

    Make a compass from a thin strip of wood, hole through one end for your pencil, two
    sharpened round nails the other end for the compass point (inner and outer radius of
    the section). (Retract nails as required.)

    Minimum width of your sheet must be the outer length of one quarter (or third or eighth)
    of the circle diameter. Draw a line down the centre for pivot points and mark them out.
    As the centre point goes off the end, cut a section out and use it as a template.

    The principle is shown in the attached diagram.

    Dear Mr Moderator,
    Please could we submit diagrams in GIF format ?
    Saving them as JPG makes diagrams blurred (and files become larger !).

  • Richard Amossays:

    I too made my helix using quarter segments as per diagram but used 2 layers of 4mm plywood bonded together with staggered joins to make a continuous coil that can then be pulled upwards to fix in place as seen in the photos of my layout which is coming along nicely. Richard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a photo or image related to your comment (JPEG only)

Download Your Free Catalog

N Scale Track Plans

Watch Video


Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

Submit your model train questions here.

Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.

Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

Scenery Techniques Explained

Everything DCC



Model Train Help Ebook

Bringing Your Railroad To Life!

Scenery & Layout Ideas

Share With Friends


Submit Your Article

Would you like to write an article and have it published?

Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

Submit Your Article Here

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.

Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

Model Railroading Blog Archive

Reader Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.