HO scale helix double track

Doug’s been in touch with his HO scale helix double track:


I only had a small space at side of my house when I downsized. I previously had a 6mx3m set up in one bay of a 3 bay shed.

This time I had space only for 6m x 1.2 (into .9 in middle) – I put a cover over the verandah space and stopped water from coming into the area.

It is what I would call a dog bone with 2 tracks around the outside and an industrial area at one end, town with station in middle and farm/cattle at other end. Lots of sidings etc

At the back the internal line of the 2 running around the whole set up, spurs off to the right then goes up an incline to the inside of the second level, where it again goes into 2 lines running around the perimeter, with lines off at some locations and the ability to run from front to rear, changing direction of travel.

Again the internal line has points off to another elevation where it again comes into 2 lines running right around. It gets interesting here as on each end I have helixes rising 3 loops to the top and trains can run from one end to the other up one helix, down the other and continue. I have farm type sidings at each end on the top level, as well as various sidings/spur lines etc.

Total line length is over 200m and I am able to run 6 different trains in whatever direction continually on the 3 levels.

Like all set ups, still a work in progress (mostly slowed by time off for medical stuff you get as you age).

My grandsons love it and can work it all.

Looks fantastic at night


HO scale helix double track

HO scale helix double track

HO scale helix double track

HO scale helix double track

HO scale shelf

HO model train layout

HO shelf layout

HO model railroad

HO model railroad

HO scale helix double track

“Al: Greetings from South Louisiana. I have been receiving your emails for over a year now and have learned much from all your contributors as I begin rebuilding my multiple layouts.

First a little history. I am 70 years old, recently retired and have been into model railroading all my life, the last 15 years with a club based in Jackson, LA.

Almost 3 years ago, in the Great Flood of South Louisiana we received about 33 inches of water in our house. While it did not top my layout, I lost considerable equipment stored below, much irreplaceable 1950’s American Flyer.

While rebuilding, my wife decided we needed a wooden storage shed as there was no available storage in the area. We purchased a 10X16 shed and the only mistake I made was not going up to 10X20.

As my wife was retiring shortly after, she took my prior train room as her craft room and upon emptying the shed, it would become my man cave. We poured a slab, moved the shed, fully electrified, insulated and covered the walls in 1/8 inch plywood (easier than wall board).

I then built the double track G Gauge around the ceiling including an 8 foot truss bridge over the double doors. That has been up and running for 2 weeks now. I have now completed all benchwork using wood and hardware salvaged from the flooded garden shed, saving several hundred dollars. That was finished yesterday.

Today I celebrated the initial running of the Amelia branch of the Cajun Yankee and Southern Railroad, named after my favorite granddaughter. While only a temporary loop, at least I will be able to run trains while I work on the full layout.

My plans include two mountains along the back wall with at least one tunnel and and a bridge. In addition I will have a large freight yards and an industrial yard of some sort.

As an added bonus I was able (with the wife’s blessing) the crossing signs and lights which will be erected next to the shed after I clean it up and rewire. Unfortunately no bells were included.

I will update you further as the construction progresses.

Again, thanks for all the hints and construction instructions.


g scale model train

model train crossing sign

model train man cave

g scale model train

I know I’ve said it before, but even after all these years of the blog, I still love the diversity of what lands in my inbox.

A big thanks to Gerry and to Doug for sharing his HO scale helix double track.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

21 Responses to HO scale helix double track

  1. Nice work there Doug ..looks great …Dave

  2. Sundaram says:

    Great work. The fact that your grandson can operate , shows the level of perfection you have achieved. Kudos to you.

  3. Robert Raspanti says:

    Truly Amazing. The pictures , I’m sure can not do it Justice.
    Great Job!!!

  4. Robert Brady says:

    Great job busy scene . One thing,how did those construction vehicles get in that rock quarry? That being said how do they get out? LOL.

  5. Steven Secara says:

    Doug, Great job. Have sketched something similar for my layout only doing 2 layers, city/rural on top, yard/industrial below. What is your track separation distance on the helix?

  6. So many great ideas and concepts show up in this blog! Thanks Doug and Gerry!

  7. Ian (track started, packed up snd says:

    Doug, I applaude the idea to go on levels. It is what I would do.
    Yes, I know, it is not representative of real life. But, it is representative of, let‘s say, three levels of real life, and in a model railway …well, anything goes as far as the imagination can travel.

  8. Norman Rosen says:

    Amazing and well done. Would like to see the entire track plan.

  9. Dale Popula says:

    Doug, What is /are the grades and radius of your helix’s? Do you have run-in noise?

  10. Edward T Rubinski says:

    Great job Doug. I’m in the planning stage of my new layout now. I’m going to use a helix to connect a 4 level system. 2 turns between each level. There will be 6 of us to operate this layout. It will be on one side of a 30 x 13 foot room in my basement and will consist of 58 18×72 inch removable modules. I can’t wait to start laying track. This project should start building in about 3-4 months.
    I really like what you’ve done. I can see what I’m planning more clearly.
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. More proof that when someone really wants something…
    Excellent work!

  12. Andrew Aves says:

    Wow! Doug. How to get a pint out of a half pint pot – Great layout. Andrew

  13. Jim MacLean says:

    Wow! That is really a great looking helix setup Doug & what a terrific idea for a storage shed. Jim from CB.

  14. Allan J Jelinek says:

    Very Cool

  15. Doug says:

    Track separation on Helix 2.5″ or 7 cm

  16. Doug says:

    I have done 2 lots of helix’s now and I simply use prefabricated Woodlands Scenics foam elevation/incline risers 3% max to start then keep going at minimum distance between elevations to not go over the 3%, in fact generally try to reduce slightly. I use ply wood which is 1.2 wide, cut out maximum external and then mark 2 more circles as middle of each track, then internal cut is 18cm from outside circle edge.
    I do not use underlay on these, too much drama bending etc. and get a little track noise but mostly do not hear it with engine running noises etc and being partially covered. I had to leave gaps to be able to recover mishaps etc and still give the view of going into and out of tunnels. AS mentioned, each scene is different and has different details such as the construction equipment coming off a road etc I used local shale from the ground here,for my rocks, then sprayed it with clear lacquer.

  17. Al Lyons says:

    Looks amazing. Now a question: What is your % of rise for your helix ?

    Later gator,

  18. Dr. Bob Smith says:

    Doug and Gerry, you are both survivors of not letting a quality hobby like model railroading die because of down sizing or flooding. And your work and passion really shows how much you love the hobby. Great looking exhibits you both have!

  19. Chris Grobler says:

    Great work Doug, looks stunning and i gathered quite a few tips from this post. Keep it up. Regards Chris(All the way from South Africa)

  20. George Zaky says:

    Doug & Gerry
    Great ingenuity! Doug super layout & moveable.
    Gerry you caused me great pain to hear about the AF loss, I hope you didnt toss them because they can be resurrected with modern guts. Big Al can give you my email to chat if you wish.

  21. Ips says:

    Excellent, Excellent, Excellent. Top notch.

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