Christmas Tree Train Project

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Christmas Tree Train Project

Postby JerrySF » Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:24 pm


I'm looking for some advice on my elevated train project.

I haven't had a train since I was a kid (and that was awhile ago) so I know nothing about building layouts.

I recently purchased the Lionel Polar Express Remote Train Set - O-Gauge, and an additional Lionel - FasTrack - Straight Track - 4 Pack so this gives me eight curved 0-36 FasTrack sections, seven 10" straight FasTrack sections, one 10" FasTrack wall-pack terminal section in total.

I want to set this up in my living room with the train going around my Christmas tree this year. The tree will be in front of my large picture window, the bottom of which is only 11.5 inches from the floor. This window allows my entire lit-up tree to be seen from the outside.

So my project idea is to elevate the entire train 11.5 inches off the floor so its visible as well from the outside when it's going around the tree. I'm looking for suggestions on the easiest and simplest way to do this. Of course, I also want it to look nice and professional, keeping in mind it's a Polar Express/Christmas theme. Obviously it needs to be sturdy and solid so everything stays in place when the train is running around the tree.

The window sill is more than wide enough for the FasTrack sections to sit on, so I thought I could simply use the sill to support the FasTrack sections on that side of the tree. Does that sound reasonable?

If so, what's the best way to elevate the rest of the track? I've looked at the Lionel 6-12038 FasTrack Elevated Trestle Set (wood look) and the 40-1134 - 8-piece Elevated Trestle Set (concrete brick look) but either would have to be on top of something else (blocks of wood?) to make them the correct height.

I've also thought about getting a piece of plywood and cutting it to the shape of the layout so there are no corners and the tree can still go in the hollow middle, but then again I would still need to elevate that cut-out plywood to the bottom of the window sill.

Also keep in mind I have a carpeted floor so I don't want anything permanently attached to the floor. After the holidays, I want to be able to dis-assemble everything for storage.

Any of your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Happy Holidays!
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Re: Christmas Tree Train Project

Postby CNJ999 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:06 pm

Hi Jerry,

Your post omits some necessary details regarding just how much effort you want to put into the project, what actual track dimensions you are planning on and how handy you are with tools.

First of all, avoid raising the track in your room on separate individual supports. Sooner or later one will fall over and the entire thing come down like a row of domino's!You will be much happier and safer putting together a solid but light weight platform of some description to carry ALL the tracks.

I had a situation quite similar to yours when my kids were growing up. Our tree and layout were located immediately in front of our very large picture window. However, my window sill was only about 8" above the floor-level making things a bit easier. For several years I, too, wanted the tree and trains to be visible from the street, so the following was my approach. I attached 2x4's around the edge of a single 4x8 piece of 3/8" plywood, plus added a 2x4 cross-brace in the middle. I attached six stubby 2x4 legs about a foot long to to raise the whole platform above the level of the window sill. I surrounded this base with a strip of cloth for appearance so that the wooden sides and leg weren't seen from in the room. Both the track and the tree were on the platform.

Now depending on the size of the Christmas layout you want to make there are any number of ways to modify my approach. Obviously, the platform need not be as large as the one I built. The platform could also easily be made in two 4x4 or 3x3 pieces of plywood that fit together. The tree could sit on the platform, or a hole can be cut in the middle and the tree's based dropped down into it, etc. Overall, this can be a quick, easy relatively inexpensive solution to your situation. It need not be as complex as the layout I created either.

Incidentally, in later years we replaced our big window with one that set too high above the floor to use the old train platform, so I took the short legs off and just set the platform on the livingroom floor. Below is an image of my Christmas layout after the new window was in place.


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