Helixes and staging yard

DeaconKC Oct 2, 2022

  1. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    Okay, just had a rather masochistic idea. I am getting ready to start the benchwork on my N scale layout, it will be roughly the size of an HCD layout. Am I really letting myself in for grief, as a new [returning] builder, by considering using a helix to build a staging area under the main layout? And how much clearance do I need for such a staging area?
     
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  2. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Barstow Rick has a beef about wider curves. I have a beef about 'clearances'. "The more the better!" Depends on how many tracks are going to be in that hidden staging area. The more trains you have to reach over to get to a derailed car the more clearance you will need...JMO :whistle:
    .
     
  3. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well, gee whiz, don't I get to play?

    I have both Helixi's and a Run Through, Hidden Staging Yard. It took me almost a year to come up with a design I liked. Then Kato came along with some #6 Switches. My immediate problems solved.

    I have plenty of clearance in my hidden staging yard. Six to seven inches depending on which end of the HS yard you happen to be. I've had little to no problems with derailments inside the HS=Hidden Staging Yard. In case you missed it.

    Would I do it again? That's not a question. Yes, I would. In a heart beat. I really like what a run through HS can do for you and your operations. Nothing but fun.

    The trick will be in having access. As in scenic pull outs. I don't expect that to be a big problem on mine. It isn't the first layout I've built such.

    My advice. Take your time, study it and after you have a trash can full of ideas which failed... to impress you. You will be ready to build it.

    The issue thing or things are personal. More about the individual building his or her layout then anyone else.

    Once you've decided what is right for you, what you want! Then go for it.

    Remember, you aren't building the layout to please all of us out here. You are building it to please yourself.

    Got groceries to get out of the car. Chores, chores and more chores.
     
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  4. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I suppose clearance is partially a matter of how you want to use your staging area.

    Would you want to assemble trains, one at a time, on the main level, and then run them down below to staging for later retrieval?

    Or would you want to assemble each train in the staging area?

    I suppose you could adopt a hybrid approach, and always dis/assemble trains on the front (or most accessible) staging track, then move them to another staging track so you can dis/assemble another. The to-be-staged dis/assembly track would need to be kept clear when not dis/assembling a train.

    Do you want to use your staging yard like a big classification yard, and build (or tear down) trains using locomotive switching moves? Depending on your druthers, this could be irritating, entertaining and/or therapeutic.

    These issues may have implications about how much clearance, access and visibility your staging area needs. More is always better, but some usage models need more/less clearance than others.
     
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  5. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you! This made me look at using the staging area for not just storing trains [mostly passenger trains were planned to wait there], but making it a much more important part of the layout. I would like some operating potential as well. Thanks for making me consider this!
     
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  6. drgwspup

    drgwspup TrainBoard Member

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    I agree with everything stated so far. I am stuck on the HCD footprint. As the owner of a HCD, the sheer space for a helix seems like it will leave very little space for staging. Might I suggest you take a look at the N scale project layout that was done in the last couple of years by Model Railroader magazine called Canadian Canyons. They incorporate a helix and accessible staging in a relatively small footprint. Good luck!!
     
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  7. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    You may not need a helix to have some staging below the layout. I once had a layout consisting of a pair of 4ft Ntrak modules with a special section on each end. To get down to the staging tracks, there were ramps that went down to an 8ft long staging section that was set below and in front of the Ntrak modules. The grade was steep, but because it was on straight it worked fine with the size of trains I ran on this layout. Granted, this is a little bigger than a door.


    [​IMG]
     
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  8. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    Quite honestly, pointing out operating ability and simplicity, it may well wind up with a simple ramp down the rear of the layout to a two track "parking lot" for the passenger trains under the main board with a smaller switchable yard on the main level. That is the great part about getting you guys' input while the layout is in the paper stages.
     
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  9. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Are you set on using a HCD?

    Personally I feel that a simple framework would allow this to be much more flexible in design. Cutting through the door for the ramps would be problematic unless it is an extension off the back. Also agree that a helix would take up way too much space unless it was an add-on off the end of the door.

    I like what Brad did. Would leave you lots of options for the future.

    Sumner
     
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  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    That's a very interesting layout!

    It also occurs to me that a double-track helix, with crossovers, or mergers to single track at top and bottom, can store a train or two as well (in serial fashion).

    However, assembling trains by the 5-finger method in a curved yard is a pain. Trains to be manually assembled should be on straight track. There is some straight track space at either end of the curved yard. I would probably start the ladders on the grades, to maximize level storage track space. On the other hand, on a layout that size, how long of a train are you going to run (other that to see how many cars your loco(s) can pull up the helix grade!)

    But it looks like there are provisions to duck-under into the middle of the lower level.
     
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  11. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    I am not planning on using a HCD for the layout. It would be a wooden frame with extruded foam as the base, so cutting through would/will not be a problem. And I am considering using a regular staging yard now, with a hidden pair of tracks behind the layout for storage of the passenger trains. It would certainly be simpler!
     
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  12. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'm going to be Mr. Unpopular here for a moment or two with what could be lasting effects. Won't be the first time.

    Straight up advice for the rookies.

    I've watched here on TB and elsewhere where the newbies in the hobby expound on how to do things. Basically teaching others to make the same mistakes. They have.. Oh yes, you can make a mistake. You'll know it when you do it. When you see it. Darn, that isn't what I wanted. Happens to all of us.

    The most experienced hobbyist will usually share an idea and let it drop where it lands. Knowing most guys and gals will eventually tire of their beginners layout and try to build one without the glitches. Those things they didn't like.

    I've watched guys and gals start out with those tight radius curves and create some interesting layouts. No doubt. That is until their taste for full length passenger cars and six axle or larger diseasels (sp intended) comes in to play. Those DD40X's, and they yearn to go home with you. Never mind those long steam engines 2-6-6-2's. Realizing something doesn't look right.

    If the beginner is of the Toy Train Influence, it won't matter. You can build some great Toy Train Layouts with tight radius curves. I've built these kinds of layouts for friends and a boss of mine. Had loads of fun. Just not what I would want, if yoy get my drift.

    For sure Hidden Staging Yards, a Helix, and Wide Radius Curves aren't the most popular concept out there. On the flipside, I do know what all of them can bring to your layout. Downside, it is complicated to design. A choice thing. I like it.

    Just hit me. I happen to use my Helix in the Coal District as a Hidden Staging Yard. I get two for the price of one. My helix gets me to an elevation where I have the clearances I need for my Hidden Staging Yard. The bonus is I get a considerable length of mainline for operations. A win, win for me

    Basically, It's all about knowing your limitations.

    I've seen some fine layouts with tight radius curves in rooms that are basically 10'X10:. You won't find full length passenger cars or six axle diesels. In any scale. Instead there are 0-4-0 stoves, 4 axle diesels, 40 ft box cars and shorter tank cars. You can have as much fun with those as you can with anything else in the hobby. Did I say that?

    Deacon C., you will take the best advice, as you see it and build your layout. As it should be. Just be-careful, is all I'm advising.

    Go build that layout the way you want it. As for now, take it from the voice of experience. You'll change it. Ask me how I know.

    Disclosure: Why would I need a disclosure? Because some people wear there feelings on their cuff. SO!! This is not a put down toward anyone participating here. Just a simple word of advice.

    Have fun!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2022
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  13. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

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    Rick, I do appreciate the the length of your post and the though you put into it. I am old enough that I know that there are lots of folks out there with more experience, and I would rather redraw something on paper several times. I decided early on that I will stick with 11" radius curves for my minimums and keep to shorter cars and locomotives. I do want a turntable and the good old Atlas one will be on this layout. That also gave me a maximum engine length. SO my steam engines will be 2-8-2s for my largest power. Using the "shorty" passenger Bachmann length cars will also help to keep it from looking absolutely ridiculous. Biggest diesels will be a set of Alco Pa/PB1s for a Santa Fe passenger train, this is the main train that will need to be staged out of sight at times.
     
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  14. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Now I know I like you. Santa Fe All The Way. :cool:

    Good choices and that will get you headed in the right direction. (y)

    Make it yours!
     
  15. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Not being a fan of hidden staging and helixes, I am going to stay out of this one.
     
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