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Last Saturday (Dec 6, 2014) it was a rainy/nasty day here in Maryland so I took my daughter up to the Greenberg Train Show in Timonium Maryland and we stumbled upon something quite special (I think), a vintage double helix O gauge layout for sale.


The vendor mentioned it was built "for a department store", unknown year but the thing looked to be at least 50 years old.


I planned on going back the next day with a better camera, a notepad, and a tape measure (and a fellow forum member) but wasn't able to go, so the only pictures I got were from my aging iPhone camera. 


Below are the pictures, it would be neat to see what you guys know about layouts like these.  Other things I can think of include:

  • The layout was less than 3 feet tall, closer to 2 feet if I remember correctly (I could measure the elf in the second picture if you all want)
  • The track was made with what appears to be sheet metal - home made track, so cool
  • The vendor wanted $1,500 OBO for the item so it was out of my league
  • I couldn't help but think it should have been in a museum somewhere

All the best to everyone this Christmas/Holiday Season...Rich Murnane


Vintage Double Helix pic 1


Vintage double helix picture 2



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Originally Posted by AMCDave:

It's cool....It looks more like 1940's - 50's to me.......The rails look like strap iron or maybe folded sheet metal....could you tell???

@AMCDave - I bet it was folded sheet metal, it looked like the sheet metal used for AC/Heat venting but was thicker, almost like the size of the metal used in automotive bodywork (or even thicker?).

Originally Posted by Susan Deats:

Rich, this helix "how-to" may help you build your own if you decide to tackle the project.





The Helix has always  fascinated me. A lot of the inspiration for our current 8 x 5 double spiral Christmas display comes from continually returning to Susan's web page and examining the "Compact Double Helix" her layout and instructive articles. Thank you Susan







Images (3)
  • 2014FrontView
  • fullroom
  • OthersideOfTracks2

The old Helix originally pictured was made using sewer snake steel. I have studied a few of these. There does not seem to be much information regarding who originally made them. There are a few of them around including the "figure 8 double helix" all with the same steel bar track construction. I tried to buy this one at the Spring York 2014 show , he was pretty set on $2800 then.

I am going to build a similar one out of current track. The Corkscrew inner outer return Helix are fun with some early tin running around them.

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