And so it begins...

Last night we took the first steps towards having a functional train and village display for our holiday shows through December and beyond at the historic Redford Theatre in Detroit. For those that don't know, the Redford Theatre is a 1928 neighborhood movie theater that has been just about fully restored by the all volunteer staff of the Motor City Theatre Organ Society who's owned it since the mid 1970's. They purchased the building to preserve its original Barton theater pipe organ in its original home, which is a very rare thing in the theater organ world. A Christmas train display has been a tradition that goes back to the late 1980's. I've been doing it for nearly 10 years now with O gauge trains, although the previous display was G gauge.

Here's our display in its setting in the theater from two years ago

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Last night we put down our masonite panels over top of the 4x8 foot stage platforms we have ganged together to build on. Although we took steps last year to ensure a nice smooth surface across all of the platforms, there are a couple of bows that cause issues with track laying, so the masonite helps smooth that out a bit. We also are able to paint the masonite white to give a better backing for the snow material we lay down versus the black tops of the stage platforms.

It's not much, but it's a start. The next step will be figuring out the track plan and deciding if anything will change from last year in that area.

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Thanks guys, it's a fun project to work on each year and gives me a layout to run trains on when I feel like it.

Here's the video I put together showing the layout pictured above.  We've shrunk the footprint back down a bit, but we still have an 8'x20' area to work with along with a couple of upper level platforms now.

Sorry Gary, I just saw your messages now.  I'm up in the air on using other scales this year.  I had an On30 (HO track) loop a couple years ago, but the equipment didn't hold up very well to the amount of running it was put through.  A couple years ago I also had a Kato N gauge set that I had doctored up to represent a ride on park train in O scale.  I couldn't fit it last year, but I may be able to squeak it in this year.  Surprisingly I had no issues with that set when it ran other than dirty wheels/track.

We finally made enough progress on the layout that I felt it was worth an update to this thread.

Last night (along with a couple others) we worked on getting the track plan roughed out and then installed the many LED light strings on the tabletops that illuminate the snow material from underneath. These lights really help make the details of the village and trains show up in the dim lighting of the theater auditorium. I may have gone a bit overboard with the lights this year by adding a couple more strings adding up to 270 more bulbs... but I think it'll look really good once the snow material is in place. That's our next step, and then final track wiring and installation after that.

 

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Last night the tracks and upper platforms were removed from the main platform and the snow material placed down over the light strings.  The tracks were reinstalled and feeder wires run to the terminal blocks beneath the table.  My Lionel TMCC 2-6-0 did the honors as the test locomotive and ran perfectly around all three main level tracks.  Later this week we'll fasten the track down and install the last few pieces of the Christmas light strings where needed around the table edges.  The upper level tracks and lights are left in place from year to year, so those just need to be hooked back up and will be ready to go.

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Last night we did most of the work on outfitting our new control/power cabinet. I bought an unfinished kitchen cabinet from Lowes, a couple of stick on LED under cabinet lights and went from there. When it's finished there will be the two CW-80's and the ZW-C will have four 180 watt bricks connected to it.  The track is also secured to the main platform.  We're hoping to get some test runs in on Sunday before we start unpacking the village items.

 

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Moonman posted:

Coming along nicely, Jake! I always enjoy your post abut this each year. 

Do you still give the theatrical folks in the control area the ability turn the layout on and off?

Thanks!  And yes the layout power is run through the lighting control board a the rear of the auditorium.  Although we have a Legacy base installed, we only use it when we're there wanting to run some of our nicer trains on the layout.  Otherwise it's all relatively low cost/donated conventional equipment running when we're not there to supervise.  The whole thing is actually programmed into the pre-programmed lighting cues for our normal shows so it comes on automatically when they cycle through the lighting changes.  The trains and village have their own circuits so they can be controlled separately.  That way we can leave the village lights on but not have the noise of the trains when the MC is talking on stage as one example.

SantaFe158 posted:
Moonman posted:

Coming along nicely, Jake! I always enjoy your post abut this each year. 

Do you still give the theatrical folks in the control area the ability turn the layout on and off?

Thanks!  And yes the layout power is run through the lighting control board a the rear of the auditorium.  Although we have a Legacy base installed, we only use it when we're there wanting to run some of our nicer trains on the layout.  Otherwise it's all relatively low cost/donated conventional equipment running when we're not there to supervise.  The whole thing is actually programmed into the pre-programmed lighting cues for our normal shows so it comes on automatically when they cycle through the lighting changes.  The trains and village have their own circuits so they can be controlled separately.  That way we can leave the village lights on but not have the noise of the trains when the MC is talking on stage as one example.

It has come a long way since you have been involved - a worthy endeavor! Congrats! I was thinking of when you started on this and had to split your time to about three or of four efforts. 

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Moonman posted:
SantaFe158 posted:
Moonman posted:

Coming along nicely, Jake! I always enjoy your post abut this each year. 

Do you still give the theatrical folks in the control area the ability turn the layout on and off?

Thanks!  And yes the layout power is run through the lighting control board a the rear of the auditorium.  Although we have a Legacy base installed, we only use it when we're there wanting to run some of our nicer trains on the layout.  Otherwise it's all relatively low cost/donated conventional equipment running when we're not there to supervise.  The whole thing is actually programmed into the pre-programmed lighting cues for our normal shows so it comes on automatically when they cycle through the lighting changes.  The trains and village have their own circuits so they can be controlled separately.  That way we can leave the village lights on but not have the noise of the trains when the MC is talking on stage as one example.

It has come a long way since you have been involved - a worthy endeavor! Congrats! I was thinking of when you started on this and had to split your time to about three or of four efforts. 

Thank you!  It's always fun to look back on pictures of the first few layouts and see how it's evolved.  Looking back now, the first couple were extremely plain, however they got just as many views as the current one will.  It's definitely been a bit more enjoyable to work on this year.  Although I've still got a full time work schedule to deal with, I finished my bachelors degree last year.  It's been nice not pushing through a full time work and full time school schedule all while trying to finish the layout on time.

We finally buckled down and got the village installed and the lamp posts/lighted billboards wired in over the past couple days and nights.  Overall I'm very happy with how the layout is turning out so far.  I think it'll end up blowing last year's layout out of the water in some respects.  I still have to go back today and try to get all the figures, lighted trees and unlighted trees installed before wrapping up some final wire management tasks and finish details.  For once it should be pretty much finished by the first movie on Friday.  I do have another 8 lamp posts on order to add at a later time when they arrive, but the majority of the layout will be finished.

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SantaFe158 posted:
Moonman posted:
SantaFe158 posted:
Moonman posted:

Coming along nicely, Jake! I always enjoy your post abut this each year. 

Do you still give the theatrical folks in the control area the ability turn the layout on and off?

Thanks!  And yes the layout power is run through the lighting control board a the rear of the auditorium.  Although we have a Legacy base installed, we only use it when we're there wanting to run some of our nicer trains on the layout.  Otherwise it's all relatively low cost/donated conventional equipment running when we're not there to supervise.  The whole thing is actually programmed into the pre-programmed lighting cues for our normal shows so it comes on automatically when they cycle through the lighting changes.  The trains and village have their own circuits so they can be controlled separately.  That way we can leave the village lights on but not have the noise of the trains when the MC is talking on stage as one example.

It has come a long way since you have been involved - a worthy endeavor! Congrats! I was thinking of when you started on this and had to split your time to about three or of four efforts. 

Thank you!  It's always fun to look back on pictures of the first few layouts and see how it's evolved.  Looking back now, the first couple were extremely plain, however they got just as many views as the current one will.  It's definitely been a bit more enjoyable to work on this year.  Although I've still got a full time work schedule to deal with, I finished my bachelors degree last year.  It's been nice not pushing through a full time work and full time school schedule all while trying to finish the layout on time.

I think you left out volunteering for the railroad - Good to hear you are accomplishing some goals 

Carl

Arctic Railroad

SantaFe158 posted:

We finally buckled down and got the village installed and the lamp posts/lighted billboards wired in over the past couple days and nights.  Overall I'm very happy with how the layout is turning out so far.  I think it'll end up blowing last year's layout out of the water in some respects.  I still have to go back today and try to get all the figures, lighted trees and unlighted trees installed before wrapping up some final wire management tasks and finish details.  For once it should be pretty much finished by the first movie on Friday.  I do have another 8 lamp posts on order to add at a later time when they arrive, but the majority of the layout will be finished.

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I think we need to come up with the chaser light effect for what looks like the line with lights under the rails - project for next year

Carl

Arctic Railroad

This afternoon we added in the huge collection of figurines, trees and other details to the layout. I always forget what a huge task that alone is, but we did it. The layout is just about ready for tomorrow evening's unveiling. We still have a big mess to clean up in the background and I have a few loose ends to tie up on the layout, but it's pretty much there as it sits.

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Congratulations, guys, on an even better Redford holiday layout than last year's and a great write up of your efforts in the current issue of Classic Toy Trains! Very much looking forward to seeing what Jake, Mark, and their team have built for the pleasure of their visitors!

Bob

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