Phase 2: Adding an 180 degree loop and a long grade back to ground level; completing the outer loop and phase 2 After a couple of years of not feeling comfortable with the helix idea, in about 15 minutes, my friend R.J.came up with this solution to get the main line back down to the ground. It will take a hairpin loop, and then there will be a nice long distance to get back to the ground. Gentle enough to run trains back up, and almost 10 foot diameter on the curve, so long trains can run. No grade on the curve. Here's the very west end, the loop is just mocked up. See the Wide Radius switch that will continue straight to the wall? I will eventually bore a hole for the track to head out to the front yard, which you can see in the distance. It will be used for a helper cutoff for now. It looked doable, so I finished the passing siding and measured to finalize the location of the switches. The picture below shows the very East end (nearest the front yard). The passing siding connects back to the main. The Wide Radius switch in the distance has a short spur which will be used for a helper cutoff. Eventually the track will go through the wall to the front yard, and connect to the end of the switchyard. Here you see the temporary supports for the track and loop. The West end of the outer loop has a 180 degree curve and will require not only a bridge, but one with a lift out section. Here's the initial mockup of the track: It might work! Check with a nice long car, over hang, and also clearance on the inside of the curve. The track now ducks behind a tool shed and head back to the back yard, and down: Checking clearance as a long car is going behind the shed, traveling East along the house: So far it is working: The picture below is looking East, as in the previous shot. The track is behind the shed, just "after" the loop from the pictures above.Notice the brass doorknob of the "man door" from the garage, where another lift out bridge will go. The picture below is a long shot of the same thing, but from further West. You can see the shed in the distance, and the curved rim of the fountain: This of course will cause an appearance problem, as the picture below shows. I will have the span broken up into swing up "trusses" with a support in the center, so they will swing up and out of the way. The picture below looks at this same spot, but Eastward to the back yard. You can make out the 270 degree curve that wraps around to follow the back side of the house: The picture below is the same shot from the back yard looking back West, standing at the 270 degree curve to get the track "around" the corner of the house: And finally, the picture below shows the track curving back and following the back of the house to join back up with the rest of the layout. (I blurred out the messy part, but that is the barbecue counter. This completed the outer loop for the first time, and makes a nice long mainline.