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Train Set To Run Around Ceiling

Alan would like help from readers with planning his O scale layout:

“I am about to build a model railroad helix in o-scale. I have found a woodworking house to cut the segments employing something called a c in C machine. I am opting to use a full sheet of plywood and since I need 10 segments to raise the train four feet, between the purchase of the plywood and the cutting, it is quite costly, so before proceeding I thought I would ask for your insight. Additionally, I request you provide me with an opinion on what O-scale track to use? I intend to run this along my ceiling and need approximately 200 linear feet plus the curved track for the helix. Lastly what radius of curved track would you use? Any assistance/insight you provide will be most appreciated!”

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6 Responses to Train Set To Run Around Ceiling

  • Graeme Wilsonsays:

    If you have not got the HELIX program that is below, I would do so, it will give you everything you want to know.
    O Gauge is Bigger than HO and I have had a look at making a Helix to suit HO of 1.2mtr Diameter

  • David Bradsays:

    That is one monster helix. Make sure the segments can twist as the inside uphill corner as to be raised up to keep the track bed level measured crossways, The inside down hill corner has to be held down.
    The Radius depends on which locomotives you use, Typical small UK long wheelbase steam locos need large radius, US B B GP and the like diesels get away with much less, SDs and most US steam somewhere between, so we need to know what you intend to run. Bigger is always better for appearance. Ceiling layouts are fun, but how do you get to see the trains?
    I had one at 6o” from the floor which worked well but still had to stand on a box to work on it and banged my head on the ceiling a few times, but it had loads of storage under it which was the plan

  • nelson t stahlsays:

    I would get some track first and try your grade. Nothing could be worse than building it only to find out your locos won’t pull it. O42 would be a start but it would still be a steep grade. Check out YouTube there are lots of ideas and alternatives to helixs

  • Dan SPARKSsays:

    I recommend this site to calculate your helix http://www.modelbuildings.org/free-helix-design-calculator.html

  • Ian McIntoshsays:

    “c in C” is CNC, Computer Numerical Control. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numerical_control.

  • Frank Bsays:

    You have a stack of good answers here already ! The slope of your helix will depend on the traction of your locomotive, and the weight of the train it has to pull.

    Weigh your loco and rolling stock. Measure the useful loco traction by the force needed to just slide it along a level track with the power off, then calculate the total train weight it can pull up a certain slope using the basic physics of the inclined plane. (But the track curvature will make it a bit less.)

    To rise 4 feet at a 5% gradient (very steep for a railroad), you would need about 80 feet of curved track for the helix. (This may be cheaper to buy as flexible track than fixed curve sections.) Obviously, each circuit of the helix must raise the track enough to clear the train beneath it, so know the size of your rolling stock loading gauge.

    As for what track to use, tell us what country you are in ? (Local brands will usually be cheaper.)

    Also read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(slope)#Railways

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