Model Railroad Helix Track Layout

Create your own model railroad tracks

A vertical helix shaped track for model trains made from Styrofoam with hot wire cutting tools.

Joe Montilla

I am working on a patent for my modular track system.  For now I create layouts at train shows.  I try and create a different layout at every show to demonstrate the versatility of my system.  I demonstrate different aspects like large curves so I can run longer trains than many train clubs can do.  I created an adjustable tripod so I can create a train layout on any surface including grass.  I added multiple levels to the tripods so I can build helices.

model railroad tracks


I used a Hot Knife and a Sled Guide with a contoured flat wire.

I had 3 main challenges:

1) Keeping the cutting wire perpendicular to the foam surface.  I intentionally cut in at a slight inward angle so the bottom is smaller than the top because a narrower piece leaves a gap, which is ok, while a wider piece would not fit and would not be acceptable.

2) I use a laser cut plywood wood template to cut the outline of the foam block.  I have to use multiple clamps to make sure the template does not move.

3) The cutting tool needs to move at a constant speed.  If I slow down more foam is melted/burned and it makes for an uneven cut. You can see waves as a I slow down and speed up.

Create your own model railroad


Necessity!  I wanted to build a train layout with my kids but I don’t have a basement.  I started building parts at home that I could take to my mother’s house and set up in her basement.  It was a lot of work building modular parts that I could easily transport and still be able to build a stable layout, so I looked for a modular system I could buy.  I could not find anything so I built more and more pieces for myself.  Since no one else builds anything like this I am trying to start a company and do it my self.  So far no sales, but the train shows like the fact that I can build a nice layout that visitors like and I can build it in any space small or large.  Most other mobile layouts need a specific rectangular size space.  I can build any shape or size.


model railroad assembly

Model railroad helix track

Thanks, Joe.

Other items recommended for this project:

All Purpose Foam Coat with BounceOriginal Scroll Table