Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Helix Progresses, and Fast Tracks delivers!

I spent the better part of my free time (in between a trip to the Asian Food Supermarket to pick up stuff for the Chinese New Years dinner and watching the Giants beat the 49ers :) this past weekend working on finishing up the helix construction.  I went back and redid all the elevations starting over from the bottom, and worked carefully up till I reached the top level.  I now feel I have the grade that I wanted, and everything worked out exactly to where I originally calculated. 

Once I was satisfied that I finally had the grade and separations fixed, I worked on making the top outer loop wider to accommodate a passing siding.  When I originally did the track plan, I didn't have any passing sidings.  This wasn't so much an over sight as it was because I was following the actual Ma & Pa track diagrams for the section of the railroad I was modeling, and I didn't see any.  But after talking with some friends and really thinking about it for a while I decided I needed at least one, but where do I put it? 

This is where having a backbone helix with two outer loops exposed came in handy.  I'm putting the passing siding on the top loop, and it begins right where the top loop connects to the top deck and ends where the top loops starts to duck over the lower inside loop.  This gives me a siding that I can approximately fit a 15 car train with motive power and caboose, which is more than long enough for the trains I'm running.

Here is the helix and you can see where I widened the top loop to hold the passing siding.

I also started working on the lower, exposed outer loop.  This is where the station at Yoe PA will be located.  Yoe had a small wood framed station, that was located on a slight curve, and had what looked to be a team track also.  I think this scene will fit nice in that spot, and between it and the passing siding add more operation to the layout in a spot (the helix) that's usually wasted and hidden.  Hopefully now you understand why I went through all the trouble to build this kind of helix.

Yoe PA. Station photo (Courtesy of The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation and Historical Society)

Yesterday I got one of my belated Christmas presents: Fast Tracks Twist Ties.  I had gotten some money for Christmas (ALWAYS the best present IMHO ;) and just before New Years, Fast Tracks was having a sale, 20% off Twist Ties and Quick Sticks if you ordered before Dec. 31st.  So on New Years Eve I placed my order and received enough Twist Ties to finish off every turnout I have.  I originally was just going to lay down individual ties and mount the turnout skeletons on them to save money but this was such a good deal, and they are so much more convenient to use, that I ordered the Twist Ties.  I saved about $50 and it will take a fraction of the time to finish off my turnouts.

Here are the Twist Ties from Fast Tracks.  I ordered number 5 and 6 Twist Ties and now enough for each turnout I have on hand now.

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