As a kid in Chicago in the 1960's, one of my favorite memories at Christmastime was going to get our Christmas tree at one of the many tree lots that popped up seemingly overnight in early December on empty lots, street corners or unused spaces between buildings. These were all small, compact affairs run by a couple of guys, with trees crammed in tight and a few strings of lights hung to give the place some holiday ambiance. The tree lot scene from the movie "A Christmas Story" is a perfect example of what I recall them looking like way back then. So several weeks ago I decided to make a portable Christmas tree lot diorama for my layout based on my memories of these places that can be put on the layout in December then removed later on.
With no "kit" existing for this idea, I searched for what I could use to create this lot. While looking for some kind of small shanty or shed, I found these Lionel barrel shed models. The shed portion is the perfect size for what I wanted and discarded the base and platform parts.
To make it portable I used a 6"x12" sheet of 3-ply, 1/32" thick birch plywood from Midwest Products. This would make the lot size 24 feet x 48 feet, perfect for an inner-city size space. For poles to hold the string of lights around the lot, I used 1/8" dowel rod. And for the tree racks, picked up some 1/8" square bass wood strips.
The lots always had old barrels or 55 gallon drums burning the tree scraps and trimmings. I found these drums by Tichy Train Group that were perfect for what I was looking for.
For the Christmas trees, I hunted around for a while to find a good amount of bulk trees that were the right height and look / shape. I found an online site that sells 50 pieces of 5cm pine trees that would be a tree just under 8 feet tall. These trees are easily shaped and flexible, which I could bind up with basic thin string to make the stored version.
The base being thin 1/32" plywood, I didn't want it to warp of flex with changing humidity, so I applied several coats of polyurethane sealer on both sides. After that dried, I painted it with several coats of flat white paint to give it a base coat of "snow".
The barrel shed does not come with interior lighting, which I planned to do using an Evan Designs mega chip led. To prevent the glowing building effect, I sprayed the interior walls with several coats of a tan colored spray paint I already had. For the roof, I sprayed that with Rustoleum's textured paint, which gives a great tarred roof appearance.
Started to make the tree racks using the 1/8" square basswood strips. Didn't have a template or guide, so I just winged it where the horizontal support beam is about 4 scale feet off the ground, and the length is about 16 scale feet long. For the light poles, I cut the 1/8" dowel rod into 13 scale foot lengths, or 3.25" long pieces.
More to come.