A Compact N-Gauge Model Railroad Using Helical Storage

At the moment, this exists as a series of drawings on paper, so this will be a verbose "patent-style" description.

The design is a multi-level dogbone layout, flanked with helical double-track towers on either side which are integrated into the layout route. This permits the middle to support a bench or "desktop" scene in the vertical middle of the entire assembly, multiple flat single or double track "storage racks" connecting from helix to helix from floor level to the top of the entire layout. At the top, it may be desirable to include a multi-track storage yard without adornment. The scene in the middle has the possibility of being multi-level as well, with as many layers as the builder desires in the primary scene. The lower storage compartment should be protected with polycarbonate sheet to prevent accidental contact with locomotives and rolling stock, as well as to maintain a visual sight line with moving trains (consists).

Primary problems to be solved by the implementer are:

  • Power control and routing
  • "Parking" on the flat surfaces.
  • Most of the trackage in the layout design will be installed in the helix, which at a 2% grade, will require a solid mechanical stop to support the train in the helix.
  • Motive power requirements to lift trains through the layout and helixes. This translates directly into more locomotives, higher loads, and high quality locomotives that use both trucks for collecting DC power and delivering torque.

Advantages of this design are that the helixes can be interfaced on the front side or the back side, and the grade differential per level permits interstitial scenes such as a hump yard. One would need to frame or box the area below the upper scene, but this space can be used for mounting lighting to the scene below.

The helixes can be configured in a 1:1 fashion, or crossover at the bottom. They can be built as a left-hand helix and a right-hand helix, or both sides constructed of the same alignment helix. It may be desirable to avoid same-level rail crossings for unattended operation, or operation without intervention.

Minimum radius should be approximately 15", with the twin tracks centered at 1.5" apart. This permits the helix to occupy a space of approximately 36" x 36". It may be desirable to extend the helixes by using a 6" straight section of track or replacing that straight section with a turnout (switch) or using curved turnouts. Since there are two tracks, the inner helix would likely be uninterrupted and provide a path from the bottom to the top for a "long route" unless a block system or interlocking are provided for and a crossing installed in the outer helix track.

As an ordinary bench may be 36" deep, it would be desirable to make the entire structure as wide as possible, say ten or twelve feet, because three feet per side will be used by the helix for a total of six feet of non-layout space. This limits the center scene to four or six feet, which may be sufficient or excessively limiting to some modelers. 

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This page contains a single entry by Kris Kirby published on November 12, 2016 4:34 PM.

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