The train sets today have EZ Track (HO & N scale sets) or FasTrack (O scale sets) so you can put the track directly on the floor or on fabric and not have to worry too much about this problem. Although learning to maintain your locomotive is a good idea. Cleaning the wheels and gears weekly if you run it frequently, just to have that uninterrupted level of fun!
|N & HO EZ-Track, O Lionel FasTrack|
So let's get to why you are here: Setting up a Simple track and train around your Christmas Tree!
Things You'll Need:
- Electric Train Set, with track and power pack (choose a scale suited for the area you have- the most popular are HO (1:87 scale), O (1:48 scale), and G (1:22.5 - 1:25)
- piece of plywood (optional)
- Christmas Tree with a stand
- Your Train - After a year in storage, your trains may need a little cleaning. In addition to brushing off the dust, the track and wheels need to be thoroughly cleaned. Older, steel track is prone to rusting if stored in humid locations. If your track shows signs of rust, save your time and just replace it. Clean wheels with paper towels and cleaning fluids.After extended periods in storage, it may be necessary to disassemble, clean and re-oil locomotive gearboxes. Do not over-lubricate. (If you bring in your Train, we can teach you how to do this. There is no cost unless replacement parts are needed) Check power supplies and wires for any signs of wear or distress. Replace if needed. There are many different sets with Steam and Diesel Locomotives, in different scales to choose from should you need to purchase one.
- Track - See how much track you have (most sets for HO come with a minimum of a 36" circle or 36"x 48" oval- which is usually enough for a simple 'around the tree' layout). Most O scale sets come with a 40"x 60" oval- but check the box first!) When adding more track into your oval or circle, you MUST add two. Meaning, if you add a rerailer track that's 9" to one side, you must add an equal size to the opposite side so the layout doesn't bend and break. This is the same for curves. If your track does not have roadbed built into it, place down a piece of plywood first.
- Measure the area from the base of the tree out to make sure you have enough track for around the base of the tree. Keep in mind where the presents will go. We usually have a space to either side of the track (on the outside) so we can run the train while opening gifts.
- Keep It Simple - If you are only running the train for the Christmas Season, keep your track plan simple (to an oval or circle). If you want it a little more than just the traditional track plan, try these:
HO Oval with incline
HO or O plan
Twice Around The Tree plan
Twice Around The Tree Finished in O scale
For small tree - HO scale plan. For a larger tree- O or G scale plan
- Assembling the Track and Testing the Train - Assemble the track, Make sure your electrical connector track is in an accessible position with the wire hookups facing the outer rim of the track circle.
Connect the power pack to the track as directed by the instructions and test the flow of current using the model engine. Make sure it can circle the track at half speed without hitting a bump or falling off.
- Cleaning - If your trains are running beneath a Christmas tree, you'll probably find yourself pulling needles off the tracks by the end of the season. There is no great secret to keeping needles off the tracks (even an artificial tree will probably lose a few.)Make sure you can reach all the way around the tree to clean. Make sure vacuming needles won't result in losing other scenic material or details.One additional concern for under-tree-trains is the power supply. Make sure your electrical circuit can handle the needs of both the trains and the tree lights. And make sure the cords for both don't interfere with the tracks.
Packing and StoringNext year's display begins when you put this year's away.
- Before you pack, take the time to clean track and wheels again.
- Pack trains, tracks, power supplies and all accessories carefully. Use original boxes if possible.
- Store your trains in a dry place. Store fragile items where they will be safe.
- If possible, give your locomotive a brief break-in run periodically throughout the year.
Some Final Tips to keep in mind:
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Want to learn more:
First Model Railroad
Maintaining Your Locomotive
Replacing Model Train Wheels
Small Layout Holiday Ideas
Twice Around The Tree- Full Article