More Helix Testing

I did some more helix trsting today with a “heavy” freight of 25 cars plus a caboose. The 3 units on the head end pulled the train ok, however the locomotives were much happier with a 2 unit set of helpers cut in 16 cars from the head end! Everything went smooth, and nothing ended up on the floor, which is good.

Photo shows the freight near the current “end of track” with the helper set visable in the distance

HELIX Test Heavy freight

And the head end with the tail end almost directly below the power. I ran the freight backwards down the helix several times, thinking that if everything could be pushed down the hill without ending up on the floor then going up hill should be easy!

Helix test 2


Test Train

Work is progressing on the helix. I got impatient, went to the hobby shop and cleaned them out of Peco Code 83 flextrack, which only amounted to 19 3 foot long pieces. In the past I had used Atlas Code 83, however Atlas has some serious problems with their Chinese factories and has been unable to provide the hooby market with enough track. I didn’t think much of the whole situation until I needed track. The unavailability of Code 83 track husrts many hobbyists. I had planned on using 100% Rapido Bendy track for the layout, but I didn’t want to sit around waiting for track. Mike at Rapido assures me the track will hit Canadian soil this week, so I should see some track in a couple weeks.

I think I’ll start ordering a case of track a month until I’m finished with track work, just to make sure I have enough!

Now, onto the test train. Pictured here is a 6 car Pinesul Local. This local will run out of Chetwuynd on the lower level, up the helix to Pinesul, the site of a sulphur loadout. The local will swap empties for loads, then return to Chetwynd. The local may also make a run farther :South”  to Tacheeda to lift any bad order/off spot/ MOW cars as needed. Since I had the cars on my work bench, I decided to test them up the 2 loops of the helix that I’ve built so far.


Test was successful, and the 2 RS-18’s ran well together considering the 615 is an Atlas model with a Tsunami decoder and the 611 is an Overland import with no decoder in it (yest). As you can see I’ve got some weathering to do on the 615 and the sulphur cars…….

Upper Deck Started

I framed up and installed a couple sections of the upper deck today. The sections are a foot deep and roughly 7 1/2 feet and 5 feet respectively. I ran out of shelf brackets so that’s all I got done for today.


I also did some planning for the siding that will go on the upper deck at the location of the photo, as well as some planning around the Pinseul area.


Helix Work

I spent a good portion of the day cutting out the 36″ curves for the helix. Here they are sitting roughly in place:


And in the background, the lighting for the upper deck is in service!

I did have the first construction/planning snag, that being the upper level exit from the helix. I have to fit a reverse curve into the upper deck, which means increasing the height of the upper deck at the helix exit to avoid a duck under. Its hard to explain, but when I get the bench work built it should be easier to understand.

And since I’m starting to work on the helix, I need to send a message to someone:

Hey Shron! Where’s my bendy track????

More Lighting Work

Today I installed the light switches and boxes for the layout lighting, as well as a couple of outlet boxes.

Light switches installed

Switches 1 and 2 are for the upper deck lighting, 3 and 4 for the lower. The layout power will have it’s own switch.

And I cleaned up the power supply wires running to and from the boxes

Light switches installed overview

The breakers for the lighting and power should be installed tomorrow, I managed to draw a bunch of curves on a sheet of 1/2″ plywood, and will start to cut them out sometime tomorrow.

Now, I really hope that Bendy Track shipment has made it to Canada!


Benchwork Begins (Finally!)

Today I decided to build “The Monster” which is the frame for my helix. Because I wanted to prevent the helix from falling over or collapsing, I decided to overbuild it with 2X4’s. The rest of the benchwork will be 1X4’s so I’m not going totally nuts with the construction. So here’s what the frame for a helix with a 36″ radius looks like, all 7 feet by 7 feet of it:

helix frame built

The small section in the corner of the room is the start of the lower level benchwork. I wanted to frame it up so I can figure out exactly where to build the helix.

Next step is to do a little more framing for those wires you see hanging from the ceiling. I need to install a light switch box and wire up the lighting and layout power runs.

Lighting Valence Construction

Next step in the build is to cut and hang some 1/8″ hardboard on the brackets I had made to act as a lighting block for the upper deck. Kreg makes some great tools, one of their best inventions is the Rip Cut, which attaches to a skil saw and allows you to do this to a 4X8″ sheet of hardboard:

Valence cut

A little hard to see, but I’ve cut the sheet into 10″ wide strips in about 5 minutes using the Rip Cut.

Now painted and ready for install:

Valance painted

And a shot of most of the valance installed on the layout. I ran out of hardboard but will finish down the road…

valance installed

Roof Work

It’s been far too long since my last post, ironically I’ve been busy working on the layout room and have had little time for a blog post!

So the drop ceiling is in place above Chetwynd Yard, and I have added extra room lighting as well as the lighting for the top deck:

In the imag below you can see the lighting for the top deck, as well as the 1X2 support for the masonite valance, which I will add later.  IMG_0014

The image below shows the next section of ceiling that I am working on. I need to install a light and a heat vent before adding the rest of the tiles and the lighting for the top deck. Top deck lighting is a mix of 8 and 4 foot fluorescent lights with T8 bulbs