2017-18 Redford Theatre Christmas Layout

It's that time of year again.  We're gearing up to start constructing our annual Christmas display for the 2017-18 season at the Redford Theatre in Detroit, MI.

For those that don't know, I volunteer at the non-profit Redford Theatre in Detroit. The Redford is a historic 1928 neighborhood movie theater that has been under renovation and restoration by its owners, the Motor City Theatre Organ Society since they purchased it in the late 1970's. It's unique because it contains the beautiful 3/10 Barton Theatre pipe organ that was installed in it back in 1928, which is one of only two theater organs in their original locations in the City of Detroit. Organs were designed to suit the theaters they were installed in and very few are left in their original settings. They were used in the silent film era to accompany silent movies. Since 2011, I've been constructing the annual Christmas train and village display in the orchestra pit. A friend and coworker, Mark, joined me in 2013, eventually got suckered into volunteering with the MCTOS and is now the theater's operations manager. The train display has been an annual tradition that was started by a group of members back in the 1990's. Various issues prevented that group from doing their G scale display in the early 2000's, and I picked up where they left off a couple years later with my O gauge display. We started with an 8'x12' display in 2011, which grew to an 8'x20' display a year or so later.

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It's still a little early yet, but we're already planning things for this year, and looking to start construction sometime next week for a mid-November reveal (during our showing of Trains, Planes and Automobiles).

At the end of our last season, we received a pretty significant donation of various Christmas village buildings and other items from the builder of the original G scale display. I purchased many of the illuminated trees and other decorations he used the year prior. Our display has gradually turned into a big group effort. Various theater members have assisted us with packing/unpacking buildings, donating items to us, and just general moral support during the construction. A couple years ago the Detroit Historical Museum donated a pretty nice portion of a collection that was surplus to them to us for use at the theater (Mark and I are members of the DHM Glancy Trains modular train group). We have also received donations from a local hobby shop owner who is a big supporter of the theater. The layout has been featured on several news pieces on the theater, and an older layout is actually prominently located in the Google Map's interior tour of the theater.

This year we plan to possibly expand the display slightly to accommodate the added structures and accessories we obtained last year. We also obtained a Lionel LCS Wifi module to go with my Legacy base to give us more operational options. The layout is set up to be run by simply turning the power on at the lighting board in the rear of the auditorium, but we do like to operate some of our fancier locomotives on evenings we work. It's tough to run the light board and then run down to the display to power things on from the Legacy remote, so the wifi phone capability will be a nice addition (plus we like new technology )

Also, this year forum member AZGARY donated around a dozen buildings and other items for our display.  The theater is special to him because it was his neighborhood theater growing up, and he and his late wife spent a lot of time seeing shows there.  We are very thankful for his donation and I have a few ideas in mind for expanding the layout slightly to accommodate them.

Here is a video of last years layout in operation:

 

I will also add this little pitch here. If anybody has any surplus trains (locomotives or cars), accessories, Christmas village buildings or other interesting items that they might be willing to donate, I'd be more than happy to pay for shipping. Since the theater is a non-profit organization, we can also give you a receipt for tax write off purposes. We've slowly been trying to obtain trains that are specifically for use at the theater, to reduce some of the wear and tear on my personal collection.  We've been working on converting a storage space in the theater into an area to store and repair items out of the collection that is owned by the theater.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates as we move forward with this years layout.

 

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We always look forward to your efforts Jake, keep us posted. Gave away all our Xmas Village buildings some years back. Are you running more O27 size equipment rather than full scale? Let us know if you have any specific needs.

I like how you have really gotten a hold on this.

I am not sure why the Legacy remote wouldn't work from the lighting booth. It's on the same frequency band as WiFi to communicate with the base. It does make easier to have multiple remotes when you can use an iDevice.

Look at some of MartyE's posts. He uses a standalone router to connect the wifi module to create a secure network. (Like his demonstration table for the York legacy meetings).This prevents someone with the app on their device from accessing the layout control.

I am looking forward to seeing this season's rendition.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

BobbyD posted:

We always look forward to your efforts Jake, keep us posted. Gave away all our Xmas Village buildings some years back. Are you running more O27 size equipment rather than full scale? Let us know if you have any specific needs.

Thanks!  Yes, on typical evenings we run O-27 stuff.  On the evenings we're present to operate trains we sometimes like to run our nicer scale models, but we never leave those unattended.  

We received a Williams SD45 last year from a local hobby shop owner, which is one of the best running engines we've had on the display.  It would be nice to have another similar locomotive (Williams diesel) so they can be rotated in and out of service to avoid too much wear and tear.  The locomotives we received from the Detroit Historical Society a couple years ago are great, but they're all MPC era and have AC pullmor style motors which don't really fit our operating conditions unless they can be supervised.

Aside from that, illuminated accessories, freight cars, etc. are always nice to use and add a lot of action for people to see.  People always love finding little details as well, so any fun figures, cars, or other such items are always nice to hide around the layout for visitors to look for.

Moonman posted:

I like how you have really gotten a hold on this.

I am not sure why the Legacy remote wouldn't work from the lighting booth. It's on the same frequency band as WiFi to communicate with the base. It does make easier to have multiple remotes when you can use an iDevice.

Look at some of MartyE's posts. He uses a standalone router to connect the wifi module to create a secure network. (Like his demonstration table for the York legacy meetings).This prevents someone with the app on their device from accessing the layout control.

I am looking forward to seeing this season's rendition.

Thanks!

The Legacy remote has a lot going against it in the theater.  The booth is all the way in the back of the auditorium (Over 40 feet away), while the command base is located under the layout in the orchestra pit.  I think the seats block a good deal of the signal, which is further impacted when we have an auditorium full of people between the booth and the layout.  I've had a problem getting a signal from the opposite end of the layout from where the controls are (20 ft away) before.

The other aspect is that the trains are designed to turn on and run by turning on the main power switch at the lighting booth.  The village is on its own circuit while the trains are on another.  We almost have to set up a time delay circuit to the transformers so the command base turns on first, otherwise the trains would just take off.  Although as I'm typing this, I just had the thought that I can put the command base power source on the village circuit and just turn that one on first... 

I believe what you described is pretty much what Mark wants to do as far as a router is concerned.  Obviously someone would really have to want to run the trains if they'd be willing to pay for the fairly expensive app just to do so, but I'm sure someone out there has access to it.  I'll have to look at Marty's posts though as perhaps there are some things we could use from them.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Hi Jake: Cool Christmas Layout

When I was a kid and in High School. The Redford was a big time hang out.  There used to be a candy shop next door and also on Grand River.  Before we had cars, we used to take the Schoolcraft Bus to Grand River and ask for a transfer.  At the transfer point. There was a train shop called. "The Train Clinic".  The building is still there, it is now the fellowship hall for a church.  

If you ever have old copies of Model Railroader, you can see advertisements for "The Train Clinic" Detroit.

Gary: Model Train Trivia from Detroit

clem k posted:

Gary I remember that train shop, first train only store I went to. Dad had to take my train there for repair. I don't know what was wrong because he fixed most everything.

Hi Clem: Yes, a Train Shop.  When I was a kid, myself and my two brothers shared American Flyer Trains and they went to the Train Clinic for repairs.  It is my understanding there is a hobby shop in Troy, Michigan that has family ties to the Train Clinic.

Below are some Google Map photos.

Train Clinic Google MapRedford Google Map

Gary

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Thanks guys, I have heard about the candy store next to the theater many times, though it was before my time.  It's interesting hearing about some of the history of the area.

You mentioned a train shop that's now in Troy, which I assume is Empire Trains and Hobby.  They used to be Merri-Seven trains located at Merriman and 7 mile in Livonia until several years ago.  

A nice start to the season... we are one of the runners up for the MTH Blue Comet award as shown in the 2018 V1 catalog. I applied for this several months ago, and was pleasantly surprised to have gotten recognition in the catalog (I knew about it about a month ago). Though we didn't win, we got a nice writeup on the first page of the catalog which is awesome for our display and the theater.  

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That being said, I'm getting ready to head over to the theater to start some of the construction for this year's layout. And so it begins....

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Jake:

 I was born in Redford a lonnnng time ago and am into trains once again. I got my first Lionel train while living in Redford for Christmas in 1941 and it still runs well.  I lived there from 1936 until 1943. Where is the Redford Theatre located? I would like to drive in and see your display. I have a lot of pre-war Lionel and a ton of pre-war Marx and would like to donate some if I knew what your needs might be. You can email me at gm.gilligan@comcast.net. I'm in Ann Arbor. 

George

Thanks guys, we were excited to get the news 

George, the Redford Theatre is located near the corner of Lahser and Grand River in Northwest Detroit (considered the "Old Redford" neighborhood, was once Redford but was annexed into Detroit).  I will definitely shoot you an email.  We enjoy having a variety of stuff to run.

We decided to spend most of today reworking our rooftop Christmas lights while the weather is still nice.  Here are a few photos I took while working up there.  If you look carefully in the first photo behind the taller brick portion of the wall behind the Marquee, you can see an L-shaped beam that passes through the roof.  That was a portion of the support for the vertical sign which went with the original marquee.  Unfortunately it fell victim to the scrap drives of World War Two, and this marquee was installed a few years later.  The torch marks from where other components were cut off of the beam are very visible up close.

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