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..it's that time of year! At least it is according to the radio station I heard playing the holiday tunes. I can hear Frosty the Snowman in October but I have to wait ALL THE WAY till Thanksgiving to hear Alice's Restaurant

Anyway, I spent my hard earned odd job money on a Lionel Polar Express set as a teenager years ago. The book was a favorite of mine as a kid and we didn't have a train to go around the family tree. So I remedied that. I got my own place now but the Polar Express is going to stay at Mom and Dads house.

What is everyone's favorite train for under the tree?? I'm considering just running my little 0-6-0 around the tree this year unless I found a good deal on a Christmas set. I feel like there are more sets to pick from than I remember as a youngster so I'm interested to hear what people run (holiday themed or not) and what they like.

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@BillYo414 posted:

..it's that time of year! At least it is according to the radio station I heard playing the holiday tunes. I can hear Frosty the Snowman in October but I have to wait ALL THE WAY till Thanksgiving to hear Alice's Restaurant

Anyway, I spent my hard earned odd job money on a Lionel Polar Express set as a teenager years ago. The book was a favorite of mine as a kid and we didn't have a train to go around the family tree. So I remedied that. I got my own place now but the Polar Express is going to stay at Mom and Dads house.

What is everyone's favorite train for under the tree?? I'm considering just running my little 0-6-0 around the tree this year unless I found a good deal on a Christmas set. I feel like there are more sets to pick from than I remember as a youngster so I'm interested to hear what people run (holiday themed or not) and what they like.

Not a bad choice on the 0-6-0t. I can see that one under the tree pulling my assorted flats with Christmas items.

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@MartyE posted:

The best trains around the tree is one with a story behind it!

At risk of going overboard: My Mom was continuing a tradition started by my Dad. Each grandson gets a train for his first Christmas. All of my nephews’ trains had long since disappeared, so I built the tree layout to make danged sure ours stayed relevant. My boys were the last two, and their trains still get out and run regularly. That is what led me to switch from HO to O.

I truly enjoy the Christmas season but it's just too early for me to get into it yet...or is it?   Typically, we do not put up the tree nor start our annual Christmas movie marathon until December begins at the earliest.   A few weeks ago while talking to my son who's away at college he mentions that this year we need to set up the tree the day after Thanksgiving and watch our first Christmas movie that evening.  This is because he has to go back to college that Sunday and won't come home until December 17th (last year, his college did the last week of instruction and finals remotely due to the pandemic).   As many of you are aware my son has ASD and the holiday 'routine' is a huge part of who he is.   Last night I actually decided which of the annual Hallmark ornaments I'm going to purchase (I'm a sucker for them) and made sure I had enough Magic Cords for the ones with motion.   I actually find myself looking forward to getting started early this year which is a complete 180 from my entire life.  I guess all of your enthusiasm is rubbing off on me. 

-Greg

@Greg Houser posted:

I truly enjoy the Christmas season but it's just too early for me to get into it yet...or is it?   Typically, we do not put up the tree nor start our annual Christmas movie marathon until December begins at the earliest.

It is most definitely too early. My tree doesn't go up until the week of Thanksgiving. I used to only put it up the day after Thanksgiving but I got roped in to driving the tractor for the shuttle at a Christmas tree farm. I don't mind it at all but it does mean I dont have as much free time for setting up the tree.

I mostly just started the topic because I'll need to be shopping around for a train here shortly if I am getting one. I'm eyeing that Winter Wonderland Express 1923150. We'll see. Part of me thinks I ought to just use the equipment I got.

A reminder from your magazine editor:

I have just completed pre-production work on our December2021 issue, and, as always, I do my best to give that issue a special holiday treatment each year. I hope you folks will enjoy this year's effort in that regard.

But the "reminder" here is that I need our readers and forum members to provide me with Christmas-related photos and layout features for next year's 2022 December issue. Please keep the magazine in mind if you are planning to create a special Christmas or winter type display this year, and be sure to take plenty of hi-resolution photos that you can submit to the magazine. If you have any special ideas, suggestions, or questions, just contact me at editor@ogaugerr.com. I would truly enjoy hearing from you.  

I forgot to answer Bill's original question!  Ever since the new LC+ Polar Express was released with snow on the roofs of the cars it's been this train under the tree with characters attached as in the movie.   The impetus for the change from a tinplate set was my son suggesting it to me.  He's not into trains at all but ironically the Polar Express is his favorite movie as he identifies with Hero Boy's character becoming self-aware of how he is different from others around him.   It's the last movie we watch every year in our Christmas movie marathon and no matter how late it is on Christmas Eve (or Christmas morning) we always watch it before going to bed.   He's since told me when he's on his own he's going to run one every year under the tree.  He doesn't know it yet, but when that time comes he will be getting mine - he'll appreciate the reasons for doing so.

-Greg

Lot of Polar Express guys out there, good deal. I do like the new locomotives having LC+2.0 because that means I can run and stop them from somewhere nearby instead of being stuck down at the controller. I can appreciate being able to sit on the couch with the locomotives off and then being able to run them as I please.

Does anybody use the Christmas scented smoke? It's just the dog and me and he doesn't seem to care (I haven't personally asked him).

@Jim Brenner I'm glad somebody got it!! I wasn't sure if they would. That song very much reminds me of Christmas as a kid when more of the family was around and the holidays were like a fun chaos.

As to the Polar Express.  Two or three years ago, I purchased the LionChief Polar Express with the snow on the roof and sold my conventional Polar Express.  It was a hit.  In fact my wife forgot about the Hallmark Santa Toymaker set she wanted a number of years back (that I paid too much for).  I don't know that I will be setting up my 4x7 Christmas layout board this year.  I couldn't find a place to store it, so left it leaning against the wall in our younger grown daughter's old room.  My wife made that into a sewing room and she has the makings of a quilt pinned up on the back of the layout board.  Perfect size for that. 

I'm working on what it will look like right now. I used FastTrack last year on both layouts. I took down the one in the train room and used my collection of SuperSnap. I didn't really do anything about the loops in the living room and ended up not running it much. Even on a blanket on the carpet it just sucked.

So this year I decided to try an old school O27 layout. I have a fair amount of curves and straights and switches. I then found some Marx O34 (2 full loops) and a loop of NOS low profile O42. I have them on the train table right now. I'm trying to see just what I can do with it. Though loop in loop looks to be it. I have a Lionel Stop Station I would finally like to use. And block, dwarf, and semaphores signals and a 2 track signal bridge. I'm hoping to get most of them on for the red/green lights. I also have a Lionel Christmas belt loader and oodles of passenger platforms, but most aren't lighted so I will be adding lights to them as I have time. I've picked 2 inch foam for the base. The tree will either sit on it (the stand fits comfortably inside an oval of O27) or as my wife suggested be coming up through a proper sized hole cut in the foam with the board up far enough to clear the legs. Not sure exactly yet. The tree has individual branches so we can give the trains plenty of clearance. This tree is "my" tree for all my Christmas ornaments - a 2 sets of Lionel balls, Hallmark Lionel ornaments, my C7 old school lights. My wife found a caboose at a craft show that appears to be part of one of the cheapie China train set that runs on batteries and was all tarted up for Christmas. It's glued to a piece of the straight track and we used as a tree topper last year. I'm going to see about adding light(s) to it. Plus when ever we go on a vacation or a road trip or to a train museum  where there is a Christmas store we get all the train stuff we can find.

I only have one oldie, a 685 Hudson I pull my PRR Madisons with, a Happy Holidays RS3 (that runs on O27 curves), a PE set, a NPC 4-4-2 with the passenger cars, and a LC Silver Bell Express. And a NPC 0-6-0 that I have to replace a board in after an unfortunate accident last year. If you're gonna use a ZW-275 get circuit breakers! I found 5 of the Lionel 91? and they work. Took some adjustment but they will trip on a derail and save your electronics, your wire and other things. It's Ok, we're getting new carpet anyway - live and learn. That and the TVS on every post to common. 

So, yeah it's to early to put up but planning is something else.

As to smoke - I use Megasteam. I love Christmas Pine, Bayberry and another that escapes my mind right now. But the pine is my favorite.

Frank

I watch The Santa Clause cuz at 62 that's what I want to grow up to be.

At my house for Xmas the tree literally goes on the layout in the living room, in the bay window. I've post this before and a few things have changed on the layout since 2020. In both of these photos The Polar Express and the Southern Pacific Daylight are running.

People stop by and watch the trains run from outside through the bay window. It gets pretty crowded early in the evening.

Scott

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I generally rotate through most of my collection through the holidays since I don't have the space for a permanent layout.  The Christmas season is the main time that I have to run it all.  The family trains always spend a good amount of time under the tree however as shown in the photo, prioritized over all the others.  My first set from the mid-1990s along with my grandfathers childhood trains from the mid 1950s (later passed down to my dad).  I do tend to gravitate towards Pre and Postwar stuff under the tree the majority of the time as it just seems to fit the season the best.  The rest of my collection sees plenty of operating time elsewhere at the various holiday displays the club layout gets set up for and also on my own annual public display at the Redford Theatre in Detroit.

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The season truly is upon us; many stores are starting to stock Christmas items and I am already getting excited for Holiday Train Displays

This is just your friendly reminder: if you think your holiday (or any) trains might need repairs or if you haven't checked them in a while...

Get your trains to your dealers for repair now before the holiday rush

Remember, everyone (hobbiest and "regular folk") will be digging trains out around Thanksgiving and taking them to the dealers to fix whatever problems they find. Better to beat the rush and get them back before Thanksgiving.

About 7-8 years ago, I took my 2004 Polar Express out the weekend before Thanksgiving and it needed internal work, took it to my dealer the same day, still didn't get it back until the week before Christmas because they had so many repairs.

Enjoy some shots of my Pre-Christmas display last year

Great topic for everybody. Our first "floor layout" under the Christmas tree was in 1972 when our 2 boys were 3.5 and 2. It was a simple affair- cheap rolling stock and engine- but it was great fun for all of us!  We ended up with 6 kids- 3 boys and 3 girls. That oldest son just turned 51. It's OK for girls to like trains..."boys toys are more fun than girls toys" as the  grandaughters remind us...

It has evolved over the years into a more elaborate setting.  My favorite currently is Harry Potter set with additional cars and detailing- the sounds, the chuff, the smoke, the movie clips (with British accents) are magic.. The layout is 72" radius, the remote is easy for the grandchildren and guests to use- everybody gets a chance to run something. On occasion, the Santa Fe 2343 F-3 ABA "growler" comes out with Williams Crown Edition red stripe plated passenger cars ( the best ever made IMO), or the 736 Berkshire with scale tender and air whistle and the smell of ozone...ah the memories. Still magic !

Here is a few pics to enjoy.

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The pictures in this thread are absolute gems. It's a bit off topic but there was a Dairy Queen here in North Lima, OH when I was a kid. It was easily 15 minutes from my grandparents house AND there were better ice cream options near their house.

But they took me there because the owner of that DQ was a model railroader and be had a case of Lionel trains as well as trains running around the ceiling.

I got my first NYC freight set for Christmas the same year they started taking me to that DQ and watching me go crazy over the trains haha

I enjoy 3 and 2 rail scale modelling with exact rivet counts but trains at Christmas just make me all sorts of nostalgic. I think tin plate locomotives really fit under the tree. They're beautiful on their own but the soft lighting combined with their decoration just works so well for me. I wouldn't mind picking one up if the price was right.

I do need to pick a track to use. Real estate is limited. Im leaning toward FasTrack here because of the base.

Also, the photos in this thread are absolute gems!!!

Our first "floor layout" under the Christmas tree was in 1972 when our 2 boys were 3.5 and 2. It was a simple affair- cheap rolling stock and engine- but it was great fun for all of us!  We ended up with 6 kids- 3 boys and 3 girls. That oldest son just turned 51. It's OK for girls to like trains..."boys toys are more fun than girls toys" as the  grandaughters remind us...

Here is a few pics to enjoy.

Thanks for the pics! They truly reflect the Christmas season spirit to me!

George

10 years ago, when my grandson was just 2, we put the G scale General style w/passenger cars under the tree and it was a hit. It took another 2 seasons to run that poor engine right into the ground, but it was fun. The following year, I bought another Bachman G Scale General, this one being black, and all freight, but it never saw time around the tree. Instead, I dragged out a collection of PW Lionel O gauge that had accumulated over the years and ran all of them for several Christmases. And for the last 2 years it has been the Polar Express front and center. Now it's finally time for the big black General to take his turn around the Christmas circuit. Best get him out and dust things off in case something decided to fail while sitting in a box all those years! Looking forward to it!!!

George

The Polar Express (my set), Gingerbread Junction (my wife’s set), and a Lionel Girls Train (my daughters set) are required on our Christmas display. The other two trains are at my discretion.
This year I am moving my daughters set to the floor level due to her hostile takeover of it. See photo below  😂

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-Ryan

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Thank you @BillYo414, @Mark Boyce, @tumbleweed56 for the compliments. Space was the reason for building this display. We used to use the nook in the back of our living room for the Christmas layout. Then our daughter arrived in 2018 and I lost my overflow space for the furniture.

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I saw the @Bill Henning Trains IN the Tree layout and thought something like that would be perfect for the corner. But I wanted a separate train for each level.

Each level is its own table with a frame. The legs are 1’ tall and are positioned such that the weight is carried through the middle to the floor. The frames and legs get more substantial the closer you get to the floor. Then I covered each level with felt to hide the inner workings. There is O54 on the floor, then O48, O45, O42, and O36.
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Power was a concern given that there are over 40 Dept 56 buildings on there and 5 trains. All the lighting is LED and is fed from a 12VDC 100watt Melcher brick. There are terminal blocks on each level to plug into the 12VDC bus.

The ZW powers the conventional tracks but I have them tied to a small RF remote that my daughter can use to switch on/off her train. Although she learned the Cab 1L very quickly. A Lionel 180watt brick powers the command tracks.
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Too early for Holiday season for me, but it is definitely train season.  I haven't thought about trains much or visited the forum since spring - been busy cycling instead.  But now that the weather is changing a switch goes off in my brain and I'm ready for trains again.  Soon enough I'll have to start planning this year's village.  I like to run pre-war or post-war passenger trains and freight trains with modern era Christmas rolling stock.

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@Ryan Mc posted:

Thank you @BillYo414, @Mark Boyce, @tumbleweed56 for the compliments. Space was the reason for building this display. We used to use the nook in the back of our living room for the Christmas layout. Then our daughter arrived in 2018 and I lost my overflow space for the furniture.



I saw the @Bill Henning Trains IN the Tree layout and thought something like that would be perfect for the corner. But I wanted a separate train for each level.

Each level is its own table with a frame. The legs are 1’ tall and are positioned such that the weight is carried through the middle to the floor. The frames and legs get more substantial the closer you get to the floor. Then I covered each level with felt to hide the inner workings. There is O54 on the floor, then O48, O45, O42, and O36.

Power was a concern given that there are over 40 Dept 56 buildings on there and 5 trains. All the lighting is LED and is fed from a 12VDC 100watt Melcher brick. There are terminal blocks on each level to plug into the 12VDC bus.

The ZW powers the conventional tracks but I have them tied to a small RF remote that my daughter can use to switch on/off her train. Although she learned the Cab 1L very quickly. A Lionel 180watt brick powers the command tracks.
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Ryan, that is a classy display, what a great idea and super well executed! Your very adorable daughter has the right idea though in your previous post, pushing her own wooden train around the track is much better than just watching them go around!!! Thanks for the very enjoyable posts!

Scott

Ryan, the basic structure is very simple, but effective.  I too was impressed with Bill Henning's Christmas Tree display a few years ago, but that is way more effort than what I would do.  Yours is more doable in my opinion.  Did you build it so each layer can be easily taken off for storage?  I would have to consider off season storage since we are just about packed out in this little house even though our daughters are grown and married.  I don't know how we fit them and all there stuff here come to think of it. 

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