Multiple Staging Areas & access to them (perhaps via a 'sub helix')

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I haven't a clue as to what I'm seeing here..You built a helix. OK, but what is this box for ? How is this employed in staging and in relation to the helix ? Is this a cassette of some kind ? M
It really isn't a 'box', although it might appear that way due to my close up pics. "I placed a couple of pieces of plywood on my 'outdoor bench' and separated them by 7 1/4" , with two big blocks of wood on either side.

This crude 'mock-up' was to judge how much clearance I would have between my two shelves/decks that surround the room,...the staging shelf being located 8" below the main layout deck above it (actually only 7 1/4" between the two as the thickness of the upper deck is 3/4").

That metal square tube is representative of the 'bench work framing' I am making use of. Rather than traditional wood eggshell type support of the plywood roadbed (subroadbed, technical), I am going to use long horizontal pieces of that 2" square metal tubing to support my plywood shelves/decks. There will be segments of the metal tubing attached to the wood studding of the walls, and there will be some free-standing long tubes of that metal at the outer edges of the shelves.

This will greatly minimize my benchwork framing members. and will make my total thickness of the shelf/deck only a potential 2" thick. You will see this more clearly very soon when I begin to install the staging deck.
OK, I think I get it now. Because there is lumber (subroadbed ?) above staging, you're using box height to configure wiggle room for your hands/forearms to deal with trains below it. Yes ?


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OK, I think I get it now. Because there is lumber (subroadbed ?) above staging, you're using box height to configure wiggle room for your hands/forearms to deal with trains below it. Yes ?
Yes you are correct.

Sorry for late response as I did not get notification about your recent posting??


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Probably going to be putting a roof on my 'outhouse' towards the end of the week. Everyday rain storms, high heat, and other house projects interfered with more work on the helix structure recently. ( a recent posting on another forum referred to my outdoor helix structure as a 'metal outhouse'.....ha...ha)

Can't wait to start placing roadbed inside the helix, but 2 things have to happen first; 1) constant rain storms have to diminish, 2) I'd like to get another coating of waterproofing on the roadbed pieces before subjecting them to our very high humidity levels as of late.



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Another Wack at the Reverse Loop

Compare to my earlier post on Page 2 of this thread.

This shows a simple reverse section set-up that requires no electronic reversing sections. All the green is reversing section. Double gaps in both rails are at both legs of Turnout A. A DPDT switch aligns polarity of the rails depending on which way the turnout is thrown,

If the DPDT is a slide switch, an activator rod from its handle can move the points of the turnout.

In this diagram maroon - MAIN - and green - REVERSING -show the center lines of the tracks. RED and BLACK show the power busses for MAIN. Orange and BLUE show busses for REVERSING.


There is no concern about more than one train crossing the gaps, unless somebody insists on running a train thru the turnout while another train is using it in the other direction.

Simple electronics, with no dependence on circuit cards for auto-reversing.


Five balloon track plus the entire stub-end yard are on one circuit. With lots of locos "cooking" the current demand can be large. Big Booster. OR individual tracks can be equipped with OFF /ON toggles or pushbuttons so that only the track being used is alive at any time.

More than one booster can be used for the GREEN tracks, but that could be complicated.


There is no concern about more than one train crossing the gaps, unless somebody insists on running a train thru the turnout while another train is using it in the other direction.
Simple electronics, with no dependence on circuit cards for auto-reversing.

My question is what happens when one has a multi lash-up of locos (2-4 diesels for instance) crossing into a reverse loop? Isn't this a case of several of the locos on one circuit, while the others are on another??

I fully imagine a number of my 'staged trains' being headed up by multiple diesels. And even several by double-headed steam.


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I can only speak for DC, but I believe it works for DCC as well. As long as you consider the multi-unit lash up as one engine, regardless of steam or diesel, and don't trigger the reversing until all of them are across the gaps, you'll be OK. Even rear pushing units can work as long as you don't pull the trigger too soon.


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Resumed Work on Helix Housing

Finally got back to working on the helix housing,...including roof and some siding.

Other than the sheeting of the roof and the siding, most all of the helix structure is built from materials I salvaged from my local metal scrape yard,,,much of it 2x2, 2x3, and 2x4 alum extrusions utilized in the screen porch industry. Easy to cut with a chop saw or skill saw.

Then there are the upright post attached to the large alum ring that I had fabricated from flat alum bar stock. These upright post, that will support the helix roadbeds that are largely utilized in stair case handrail and balcony handrail constructions.

Hope to finish cutting the sheet metal roof today.


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Accessibility of 3-Way Turnout

In the past I have expressed concern over the eventual accessibility of the 3-way switch leading into my staging tracks.

I did a little mock up today, and now I feel much better about the situation.

I will be able to reach this from 1) the inside of the helix structure, 2) from a door I will form in the outside wall, and 3) from underneath via a removable panel I will build in the 'floor' of this helix structure.
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Looks like its coming along nicely, how much elevation change will there be?

On another note, being an electrical contractor, I have concerns about the clearance in front of your electric meter.


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I know what you are saying about the meter clearance, but I could not find away to get more clearance. The main shed itself is as far forward as I could place it, and I needed a minimum 30 inch helix dia. once the corner of the helix structure is finished off a person will be able to read the meter,....but nowadays I believe they are all read by some sort of feedback loop in the electrical system.

I believe it would have been VERY expensive to get the power company to relocate that meter.


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On another note, being an electrical contractor, I have concerns about the clearance in front of your electric meter.
I had that concern when I first saw the pictures yesterday, but I assumed that Brian had already checked with the power company. He's been pretty thorough with this project. On the other hand, it might take years before anyone notices since they don't physically come and read meters anymore.
Each meter sends out a wi-fi signal to a nearby collection/repeater station on a pole, which in turn sends it to the next repeater station and so on back to the power company. The man from the local power company who explained it to me said that each one has a range of about three miles, at least out here in very rural territory. Look for something like this on a nearby power pole


Section Hand
Just a note on the steel construction....nice job, but will humidity and temperature swings be a concern with the steel enclosure and any wood usd for the helix?



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Thanks Willie for that explaination of how the signal readings work. Someone had mentioned satellites, but I didn't think so,...too expensive.

Greg, its all aluminum, not steel


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Insulating the Helix

Last couple of days I've been playing with insulation ideas for my helix structure. Things have gone good.
I had been toying with several ideas for insulating the alum/steel roof sheets.

My contractor friend was saying he had some bubble-wrap type insulation that often gets utilized in metal buildings. I wasn't that enthused with the idea, even though it sounded easy to install.

I had scrounged some partial sheets of 2" thick foil-faced foam from a construction job here in St Augustine. At first I thought about how to adhere that foam to the steel roof panels that I am sure can get quite hot in this FL sun. Wait a minute, how about sitting it on the top of my upper circular ring/frame that is surrounded by a 2" thick box extrusions? Dimensions would work out really good,...all 2" thick stuff ! AND i would not have to 'glue' it to the underside of the roof panels,...and I would have an 'air gap' between that sheet metal roof and the foil face of the insulation.

Proceeded to lay the 3 partial sheets of foam out in my carport, tape andglue their edges together to get one 'single big piece' of foam insulation that i could subsequently cut to exact size to fit my helix structure.. Went ahead and put a coat of white paint on the underside that will be the ceiling in the helix.

I really fit this big piece of foam down into postion just right. Next I will be screwing down the sheet roof panels. BTW there are two of these panels, each about 3,5 ' wide and 7' long. I must have lifted and placed these 2 panels off and on again about 6 times as I played with the design and fit. Lucky I am tall, and in good shape to do this myself.

The top is so strong now that I have no problem climbing on it with my 205 lbs.

Tomorrow I will be tackling some of the insulation ideas for the sides. I now feel my helix structure will be well insulated. And I have the roof extended out over the edge of 'box' such that it provides an 'awning' over the side entrance. This awning will provide rain coverage for the side opening 'door' I intend to provide for servicing and problems with the 3-way turnout that feeds the staging tracks,


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Don't know that it will help with humidity, but it certainly makes a difference with temperature. It was still a lot cooler underneath than sitting on top of the steel roof yesterday adding a few items. Even the underside of those metal roof panels was HOT. having that air space between the roof panels and the foam insulation was a good idea. For the moment I have decided NOT to seal up the corrugated ends of those roof panels, but rather let the air circulate between the panels and the roof skins,...sort of akin to a ventilated attic in a house.

I now feel more comfortable about letting some of my main shed AC into that helix area on occassion.


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Got to work on the helix early this morning in an effort to beat the direct sun on the roof. Sure took a longer time than I anticipated to put all those screws in the roof panels ,...building this 'little hanging helix' took a LOT longer than I ever anticipated,,,,ha...ha)

Here are a couple of photos that show how nice that big 2" thick piece of foam fit over the upper rim ring of the helix. I'm am really pleased with that.

So then I began to wrap the 'helix wheel' with another material I had acquired quite awhile back. Its half inch foam material utilized in office partitions. Its a nice density that I could wrap around the upright rods, and screw it onto those rods with a minimum of screws. And lucky me the panels were just the correct height for the helix wheel.

These panels are attached to the outside edge of those upright rods , and will act as a barrier to the trains falling off the outside of the helix. I have only wrapped about half of the helix wheel with these insulating panels as I will be putting an inspection door and viewing window in a portion of the 'entrance side'.

And of course i don't need any insulating materials on the face of the side matting with the shed as it already has its own insulated wall.

Another nice plus is I have the roof panels cut extra long to provide an 'awning' over that 'entrance side' That will mean much less effort to 'waterproof' the inspection door., & rain coverage for the operator who might have to enter during a rainly day (hope not).

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