Mountain Spiral Railway

Introducing Mountain Spiral Railway, the ultimate wooden train track accessory for Thomas and Brio train sets. It interfaces with all the major wood train track pieces.  The inspiration for this track was my 5-year-old son. Like many children, Thomas drew him in at a young age. As he got older, it was more about using creativity to make new track layouts.  His favorite aspect of playing with trains was trying to create long, downhill sections.  Consequently, for his birthday I decided to make him a custom track that would have a long descent built into it.

Once deciding upon a spiral, I drew the profile in AutoCAD and worked with a local custom cabinet shop to manufacture it.  They helped me select the appropriate material and then they cut the spiral profile and base pieces with a CNC router.  I chopped the columns from wood dowels and assembled it. The final product was nearly 36 inches in diameter and 17 inches tall!  It consists of two spirals, one that can be used for trains to ascend, the other allows trains to coast down.  When he opened his gift, he loved it!

One of his favorite features is listening to the trains rumble as they coast down the track.  Even battery trains are strong enough to pull a few cars to the top.  He and his friends have spent many hours of fun playing on it!

One of the most important features is how easy it is to assemble – it arrives in 3 pieces and requires no tools!  Simply set up the base pieces (they nest into each other), then drape the spiral.  Starting from the top, press the holes in the track onto the matching dowel pins in the top of each column.  That’s it!

My wife’s favorite detail is how easy it is to disassemble and store!  Simply reverse the assembly steps – the track can be removed from the base by wiggling it off each column.  The base pieces can then be separated from each other.  Once disassembled, the whole assembly compresses to 2 inches thick, allowing it to easily be stored under a couch or bed!

That was over 2 years ago and the final product exceeded my expectations, so I started marketing it on Etsy.  Sales started slowly but have been growing consistently as the word spreads. I’ve been able to employ a high-school student part-time to help with the sanding and preassembly work.  It ensures I still have time to play with my three boys!

Due to its grand size, the original Mountain Spiral Railway doesn’t lend itself to play upon train tables, rather we always play with it on the floor.  I realized that not everyone has floor space for a track this large, so I elected to create a table-top version.

The table-top version is a single spiral that ascends 15 inches to a turn-around after which trains coast back down to where they started.  It’s just as much fun as the original!  Assembly of the table-top version is nearly identical to the original, two base pieces and the spiral.  The only difference is that the track is attached to the columns with wood screws using nothing more than a screwdriver.

During our wooden train playtime, I realized that table-top layouts have always been isolated from floor layouts.  This is clearly a problem that needs a solution!  Hence, I created the Express, a ramp that connects table-top layouts to floor layouts.  This is our youngest son playing with it.

Like the Spirals, Express connects to all major wood train track pieces.  From the table top, it ascends a few inches to clear the table’s lip, then descends to the floor.  The transition radius from flat to sloped sections matches the radius found on Thomas and Brio ascending pieces. Trains pick up plenty of speed coasting down the Express, so it’s wise to put a few straight pieces at the bottom before adding twists or turns!

Express consists of six wood pieces that are assembled to each other with screws, washers, and nuts; you only need a screwdriver.  The Standard Express works with train table’s that is 14-1/2 inches high (from floor to play surface).  The Custom Expresses have been made for train tables that are 27-3/4 inches high!

Mountain Spiral Railway started off as a wild idea for a birthday present for my son and has become an amazing adventure!  We’ve received numerous positive reviews and the best part is hearing how much other children have enjoyed playing with it.  Additionally, as part of our commitment to share Mountain Spiral Railway with as many children as possible, we’ve been able to donate tracks to our local Children’s Museum and the fantastic San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park.

If you think a Mountain Spiral Railway would be a good addition to your favorite charity, please let us know!  The tracks have brought a lot of enjoyment to my boys and I look forward to sharing the tracks with your little Engineer!  Find us on Etsy, Facebook, and Pinterest!

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