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  Time is sneaking up on me and it's time to start thinking about down sizing .   I have had a few great years of enjoyment from this double helix display and the many  "WOW's,"  from visitors. 

Do you think there's any chance of finding a home for this display or should take it apart and sell it piece by piece ?

It's about 15ft. wide 5ft. deep,  41 inches from table to top of back bridge.  The right side

is O-60 Fastrack and the left side is O-54 Lionel tube track. 

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back bridge supports are solid 2"x6" custom cut. 

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There is an oval ( dog bone)  on table tops not connected to helix track. 

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Each table is in 4 modules  and the centers have hinged drop down trap doors to give

access to the inside of the helix.  The center is not a table, only plywood supported by the tables. 

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Thanks for any suggestions,  I'll be glad to answer any curiosity questions. 



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Original Post

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@dkdkrd posted:

Why not donate the layout to a children's hospital.  Perhaps an active club has one in their area and would take responsibility for maintaining the equipment.

Be sure to take lots of pictures/videos to preserve the memory...and play on your 60" LCD man-cave screen during the holidays.

FWIW, always...


That is a great suggestion!  The kids would love it.

Certainly an impressive piece of work. I would think selling depends on how easily transported the pieces would be and where you live.  If you are within range of a city with suburbs your chances are better than if you are in a rural area, obviously. And if each module could fit in an SUV or station wagon, that's easier than if someone needs to rent an 18 foot truck.   

No reason you cannot figure out what it would take to move it and put that information and your photos on the well known internet auction site with a reasonable price and see if there's any interest.  Will cost you nothing except your time to do that. No insertion charge any longer, just if your item sells.   Can do the listing using "buy it now" and specify that offers are accepted. You can also specify the minimum offer you want to entertain.  Then, if it doesn't sell,  you can slowly lower the price over months if you like, without relisting.  Pretty effortless compared with trying to sell it elsewhere, in my view.

Could also list here on the BUY/SELL section and specify the general geographic area, as it's unlikely anyone is going to drive 1000 miles to pick it up. But you never know.

Doug, It is a very impressive piece of work.  My wife would love it if she could figure out where to put it!  I think it's value is as one piece.  While the value of the components adds up, the real value is in the time and ingenuity in designing and building it.

I see where you say each table is in 4 modules.  Does that mean each helix is a separate table?  Does each helix easily come apart or can be removed from the tables?  I think as Landsteiner said, portability and ease of putting it back together again will play a huge part in how easily it is sold.

Thanks for the suggestions;  Donating it to a children's hospital or something like that,   I don't think would work out too well.  It's broken into two electrical blocks therefore needing a dual transformer and depending on the engine need a watchful eye all the time.  

Dave,  I made the bridge myself,  I also made a second one painted it blue with yellow cables for American Flyer S gauge.

Mark,  Both helix come off the tables with a few small screws,  I welded large fender washers to square nuts making a T nut,  drilled holes through the washers for screws to fasten to the tables.

It is not a "cake walk"  putting it back together,  I would consider traveling 500 miles max with it and help assemble it  for gas, food & lodging,  just no lumpy couches of sleeping on the floor.   lol

It's located in Culpeper Va,


You might try selling it to a small business such as a car dealership.  They usually have space in the lobby, it gives them a fun Christmas display, something to entertain kids as parents are buying a car, and might even be a draw for some people to visit the dealership.  They likely aren't going to pay what the whole thing is worth, but you never know.

What are the technical specs?  i.e., the total height gain, the clearance between successive turns, percent grade, etc.  I know  you said 5 ft tall, but is that the correct delta from where you enter the helix to where you exit at the top?

What kind of limitations have you encountered regarding what you're able to run?  Do locos without rubber tires struggle?  Do locos without cruise speed out of control on the way down?  Train length, etc.?  I might be in the market for a helix or two.  But these are the types of things I would need to know.  Thanks!

Ted,  you have some very good questions and I'll try to answer them. 

The height gain is aprox. 26 inches  from starting into the helix and leaving it.  The clearance between the track levels is 6 inches from top  of rail to bottom of the level above it.  Limitations:   The diesels work better on it than do the steam engines,  but that may be due to uneven track,  smaller steam engines work better than larger engines ie.  4-6-4.  I haven't paid any attention to traction tires vs non traction tires. 

Seeing how the helix is divided into two electrical blocks using a dual transformer, more voltage going up and less coming down I haven't had any problems with runaway trains. 

You ask about how long or how many cars will work on the helix. Please watch this video to get your answer. You'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the page for the video.    The video was taken in a warehouse  in Green Cove Springs Fl.  where I built the helix.                                                                            

If you would like to see pictures of it during construction click here;

If I can answer any more questions,  please ask.


I understand it takes constant attention to operate.....with conventional engines. An MTH PS2/PS3 engine with speed control or a Lionel engine with Odyssey could safely operate through the whole display without attention. This because such engines automatically (electronically) regulate their speed according to throttle setting rather than track grade or drawbar load. It would be literally set-it and forget-it. I think such motive power opens up more possibilities regarding who might use this layout.

Just my two cents worth 

My experience with public model train displays is that there is an initial curiosity but the repetitive nature of it's running soon looses it's retaining attention and it then becomes easily ignored.  

There have been several merchants and hospitals in the area  with trains over the years but they failed to have a lasting presence.

The only way model trains seem to have staying power in a retail environment from my experience is when they are big G gauge, ceiling hung and not diminishing retail floor space  or a limited time holiday activity.   To a business, floor space really needs to yield income.  Generally speaking hospitals are a big business.

We have an interest in layouts because there are so many facets of personal expression in which we find satisfaction.  To me if someone is not personally involved in the development of a layout there can be a "so what" response.

MTH really raised the bar when they promoted electronic interaction, but that star is fading away.

When I look at the state of model railroading business I ask myself "Where were all the bidders standing in line to buy the business' of Jerry Williams,  K-line, Joe Hayter, Mike Wolf, etc, etc,"   The  only way one can make a million bucks with trains today is to start with two million bucks.

As far as selling the double helix, consider approaching a 3 rail train store which may have available space, maybe a store window.  The transaction IMO needs to either encourage sales or offset the planned expenditure of money.  You are looking for jumping into the path of a cash flow.

I have sold several demo layout displays over the years and I wound up selling them to folks who lingered at train shows.  They wanted to get into trains and my display got them started instantly.  I simply was in the path of an impending cash flow.  IME

Last edited by Tom Tee

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