Train in a Christmas Tree




Introduction: Train in a Christmas Tree

I took The Hornby OO scale Santa's Express Christmas Train Set which is meant to go around the bottom a Christmas tree and built a platform for it to go around the middle of the tree above the reach of toddlers.

The platform for the track is made from two semi-circular pieces of 12mm plywood with a split collar made from waste lumber in my garrage to secure it to the tree and supports are made from 8mm steel tube and 5mm steel rod.

This is my first instructable. It is intended as a source of inspiration for a similar project. I will not write too much in it but the attached drawings should let you know everything you need to know.

Step 1: Modify the Track

This train set is meant to go around the bottom of the tree on an oval track but this project requires a circular track. This means that the power connector to the controller needs to be moved from a section of straight track onto a section of curved track.

  1. Remove the plastic bits from around the connector.
  2. Carefully break the spot welds to the track with a pliers
  3. Remove two sleepers from the middle of one of the curved sections of track with a junior hack saw and pliers.
  4. Persuade the connector to fit
  5. Solder it to the curved track
  6. Replace the plastic bits

Step 2: Fabricate the Wooden Components

As per the drawings attached. Make the wooden components as well as you can with the tools you have available. I used a band saw for the track platform but a steady hand and a jig say would do the same job. Some parts would benefit from 3d printing (unfortunately the one I have access to is broken). When I redesign this I will have an improved split collar that will fit every tree I designed the one here to fit the tree I bought this year.

Step 3: Steel Supports

In order to get supports that come out from the centre of the tree to the platform that were not going to be too bulky and which would be strong enough I used 8mm steel tube with 1.3mm wall thickness and a 5mm steel rod. Basically the rod sat inside the tube and gave me some adjustment to level the platform. I used this because it is what I could find in a B&Q on a Sunday before Christmas. I have included a design for a clamp for the tube section with the intention that one would cut a slot in the end of the tube such that it will clamp onto the 5mm rod. From the photos you will see that I never fabricated this bit as I ran out of time and it transpired that a small amount of insulation tape did the same job and it lasted for the 12 days of Christmas and beyond.

Step 4: Paint, Assemble and Enjoy

In the one I built I used three supports from the centre of the tree instead of four and there was a huge amount of deflection in the track (10-20mm). I prefer to see it as adding character rather than a flaw. The design I have supplied should reduce this.

I secured the track to the platform with thumb tacks though the holes provided with the Hornby track.

For Mk2 I intend to create a tapered helical track going up the tree following into a cylindrical helix going down the tree. Unfortunately this may require me to use a fake tree.

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    3 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Would you make for me and I will buy it from you. I work in a home for kids who have special needs and during the Christmas season from Thanksgiving to New Year's we work on a train set that I bring in and it only goes around the bottom.,, this would be a great idea to have a little home for the kids all the kids are old enough to know what's going on and this is a great idea other familiar with working with Lionel trains right now


    1 year ago

    Very nice and inspiring work! May I suggest that you cross-list or hashtag this to Doctor Who Xmas Tree? The idea of a train in a tree had gotten visibility because of Matt Smith's Christmas special. I have been searching everywhere for an example and really only found yours by accident!


    2 years ago

    This is perfect if you have pets or small kids! What a cool idea!