World Record

World Record – “Tallest Toy Train Track”.
The official record height was 21ft 2in.
 
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Click on image for a short video.

Video of the full 11 minute record run.

The record run was completed at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL on Jan 16th 2016 during the World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour show.   The record run used two Bachmann Spectrum 50-Ton Center-Cab diesel locomotives.   Almost 1,000 ft of track in the helix was split into 8 blocks using Digitrax block controls and boosters.   The locomotives were controlled using wireless controllers developed by J2C Engineering.

 
 
 

Here is a picture of the inside structure that held up the helix. The train car at the top is over 21 feet high.

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Here are some of the track rings being built. Eventually it will be one continuous track over 900 feet long and 21 feet high.

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This is the top 9 feet of the helix.  The record helix will be 21 feet tall.  Top9Feet

 

World Record Tallest Toy Train Track Attempt
Official Guinness Guidelines: The record is based on the overall height of the track, which should consist of multiple lengths of standard toy track joined together. Note that in order for any record claim to be valid, it is necessary for a train to make a continuous journey along the full length of the track.

FACTS
The record will be attempted by building a helix using the Augusta Track modular track system.

Height: 21 ft.
Width: 6 ft.
Track Length: 988 ft.
Weight: 475 lb.
Minimum Radius: 15 in. (top turnaround)
Track Grade: 4.6%
Main Radius (outer): 34.5”
Main Radius (inner): 31.5”
Total Travel Time: approximately 31 minutes

The Augusta Track system is a new way to build model train layouts. Augusta Track is stable like tracks mounted on a sheet of plywood, but it is also modular like track pieces so you can take it apart and rebuild it any time. Since all boards are built using laser cut templates, you can join any piece of track to any other piece of track. You can build anything from a 6 foot circle to layouts that are hundreds of feet long.

One of many benefits of the Augusta Track system is that each track board is stiff enough to span about 2 feet without support. This allows me to set up a train layout on uneven surfaces and it also allows me to build train layouts in a way that has never been done before. I can build 3D train layouts that are both modular and mobile. A popular layout at train shows is a helix.

While researching different ideas on how to build a helix I found the record for a train helix had recently increased from 9 feet to over 17 feet. I knew I could go even higher than 17 feet. I talked to a few people about my idea and I immediately received both encouragement and support. I have applied with Guinness to get the office rules and height requirements.

I have several reasons why I am attempting this particular record. As I had mentioned helixes have become my show specialty. Holding the world record will go a long way to promote my helixes at shows. The current record is held by a toy plastic train that just runs down the track using gravity. Setting the record with a hobby level electric train that runs both up and down will go a long way to promote the hobby. And of course it demonstrates the flexibility of the Augusta Track system. The same track boards that I use at shows will go into this helix and I can re-use the track boards from the world record helix in other layouts.

Where did idea come from to start Augusta Track?
Like a lot of guys I had been in and out of trains for over 30 years. I built a few 4×8 layouts on plywood and later built a few foam layouts that were lighter and easier to store. My kids started getting interested in trains but the 4×8 layout quickly got boring.

So we found some space in a relative’s basement. I knew that it would take years to building a layout working a few days a month so I planned on building it in pieces at home and then put them together later in the basement. Since I didn’t know the exact space that would be available in a year, I decided to build modular pieces on a 3ft grid so I could adapt to the space that would be available.

It was difficult and took a long time to hand build each piece to a standard size so I started looking for a professional modular train track system I could buy. The only solution I could find was to hire a professional custom builder to come to the house and custom build a layout which would cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. So I continued to hand build each track board and made in improvements in both the design and building process so that each tack board became easier and quicker to build.

Now I use laser cut templates to cut out each foam board and to lay track section on the foam board. I use hot knife with a sled attachment to shape each foam board. Now I have built hundreds of track boards and every one of them is compatible with each other.

Why try to set this height record?

One of many benefits of the Augusta Track system is that each track board is stiff enough to span about 2 feet without support. This allows me to set up a train layout on uneven surfaces like parking lots and grass. It also allows me to build train layouts in a way that has never been done before. I can build 3D train layouts that are both modular and mobile. A popular layout at train shows is a helix.

While researching different ideas on how to build a helix I found the record for a train helix had recently increased from 9 feet to over 17 feet. I knew I could go even higher than 17 feet. I talked to a few people about my idea and I immediately received both encouragement and support. I have applied with Guinness to get the office rules and height requirements.

I have several reasons why I am attempting this particular record. As I had mentioned helixes have become my show specialty. Holding the world record will go a long way to promote my helixes at shows. The current record is held by a toy plastic train that just runs down the track using gravity. Setting the record with a hobby level electric train that runs both up and down will go a long way to promote the hobby. And of course it demonstrates the flexibility of the Augusta Track system. The same track boards that I use at shows will go into this helix and I can re-use the track boards from the world record helix in other layouts.

What are the initial planning stages to get this started?

The first steps were to find information on the current and past records and find out what I needed to do to break the record. This was fairly easy to do and Guinness has a standard process.

The next step was to find where and when. I am working with Train Show Inc and will probably be attempting the record at one of their shows. Train Show Inc has given me a lot of ideas on how to prepare and setup the helix at a show.

Then the real work started. I created several spreadsheets to optimize the design. The plan is to use as little track as possible to make it easier to build and transport but it also has to meet track specification so a train can run the whole length. A large part of planning went into reducing the weight and cost of the structure to hold up the track. Many other requirements had to be taken into account like the size of rental trucks to transport the parts to and from the show. Or lift equipment to add track to the helix 10 and 20 feet above the ground.

Research of the current record.
The current record is 17.32 feet was constructed with Chuggington StackTrack. The record was broke on May 11, 2013 in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. For the current record they ran a plastic toy train with no power from the top of the helix to the floor using gravity. It took less than a minute for their train to complete the trip. They had several issues with trains stopping or jumping the track before completed the record. My plan is to build a helix 21 feet tall. I will run a DCC controlled HO train from the floor to the top and back down again. The total trip for my record will take over 30 minutes. I have applied with Guinness to verify the current record and to get the requirements for setting the new record.

A few other records I am looking at is the longest toy train track at 5,608.44 m (18,400 ft 4 in) and longest toy train The longest model train measured 282.11 m (925 ft 6 in) and was made up of 31 locomotives and 1,563 carriages. It was constructed by the Wilmington Railroad Museum Model Railroad Committee (USA) and was presented and measured in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA, on 23 April 2011 The scale of the train was 1:87.1 (H0). The scale length of the train is 24.571 km (15.27 miles).

Physics and mechanics of building a structure this tall.

Trains and train track are designed to run a flat surface. Most helixes are used to move trains from one level of a layout to another. An average helix will have a grade between 2% and 4%. On a helix the higher the grade the faster the train will rise on each circle. A higher grade also means you need less length of track to get to the required height. But if you have too much grade the locomotive will not be able to pull the train. The maximum grade where a locomotive can still move is about 10%. This helix will have a grade of about 4.6%. This helix is being designed and built to break the world record and to put on a good show. The length of trains will be limited by the higher 4.6% grade.

The physical structure of the helix will be broken down into two parts. The inner structure or frame of the helix will be built using 1-1/2” PVC pipe. The frame is designed to hold up the weight of the helix. The outer ring of the helix is being built using 1/2”, 3/4” and 1” PVC. The outer ring has the adjustable supports that will hold up the track boards. This design is similar to a framed building where the heavier frame is used to hold up the structure and the lighter walls provide the utility of the building. The entire helix will weigh about 500 lbs. The train boards will weigh just over 100 lbs. The frame and ring will weigh a little under 200 lbs. each.

The helix will be pre-built in seven 3 ft high sections that will transported to the show and assembled on site. For each section the inner 4ft diameter frame is placed first and then the outer 6ft diameter ring is placed over and around the frame. Once built the helix will be about 21 feet high and 6 feet wide.

Deciding to use DCC blocks with JMRI control.
The plan is to use DCC (Digital Command Control) to run multiple trains up and down the helix. Since the total track length of the helix will be almost 1,000 feet, there will be multiple trains running up and down the helix at any time. Adding control blocks helps in the running, monitoring and troubleshooting of running multiple trains. Since the helix will be built in 3 foot tall sections, each 3ft section will have 2 blocks; one for up and one for down. All of these trains and blocks will be monitored using free JMRI train control software. In addition to JMRI, the helix, staging area and additional layout will be monitored using custom built software developed by Jim Pechous for the Valley Model Railroad club.

Reaching out to GMTS.
Planning is important with an event of this size. Not only do you want maximum exposure, but there is a lot of planning on how get to all the parts and equipment to the site and assembled in a reasonable amount of time. Augusta Track has been running layouts at Train Show Inc events for about two years now.  Randy Bachmann from Train Show Inc has been invaluable in planning this even. Randy suggested the location and date for the world record attempt. It was Randy’s idea to pre-build the helix in sections and assemble them on-site. He has also helped plan the logistics of how to transport and assemble the helix on-site. I will also be working with Randy to coordinate sponsorship and events with vendors and manufactures that attend the train shows.

fyi – this is the first of 3 records I will be attempting. I plan on attempting the other 2 in 2017.

A new twist on modular train tracks!