Now that the main level is complete, it was time to start thinking about expanding the railroad up, up and away!
A second helix kit had been purchased from Ashlin designs at the same time as the first; only difference is that this kit is made to go up 15 inches versus 11 inches on the first kit.
Lots of thoughts were thought about how to support this second helix, sitting, as it has to, above the existing helix/reverse loop area.
First attempt as pieces of plywood, screwed into T shapes for stability:
This path has a couple of problems, all directly related to the fact that they were screwed into the lower helix supports, which turned out to be neither plumb, nor level, in any direction. A discussion was made about the possibility of disconnecting from the lower supports and pulling them away to have them free standing, but the reverse loop was a physical limitation, so this plan was scrapped.
The new plan was to use 3' pieces of all thread rod (3/8-16) and metal strapping to provide a support structure, as such:
Close up of all-thread/strap and Helix support area. Wood blocks are used to space the Helix support parallel to the all thread:
Giant 3/8 bit used to get holes into places where standard bits fear to tread: (amazing what you can get at Lowe's)
Jig used to make get the spacing correct for the metal strapping (which featured pre-punched holes on 3/4" centers):
Now, just have to get benchwork for an approach track setup and working and then progress can continue. I'm happy with the all thread solution and it is very flexible when you realize you need to move the helix up another 1/4 inch since cars don't clear the level above them in one place you never checked...
Next Ops should be in April; hopefully the helix is moving well along by then. Also have a project going to get more signals and fast clocks onto the railroad.