Imagine building your own Christmas train for your display!

Imagine building your own Christmas train for your display!

by Mike Shimko

Nothing can beat step by step pictures and instructions. Here goes!

1 Begin with the Railroad Crossing. I searched the internet and asked some questions of people on PC, and here is what I came up with! I used some 3” PVC parts that I got from Home Depot and the light fixture is also from Home Depot. The round red light I picked up at an auto parts store, and we cut out the back of the trailer lights so the light bulb would fit in. Then went on line and got 2 signal light bulbs and the electrical board from Lightstogo.com. They made it easy since this is a 110 volt line board.
2

I used some 3” PVC parts that I got from Home Depot and the light fixture is also from Home Depot.

3 This is the finished cross board with the 2 lights attached to it they are resting in a cut out of the wood and are screwed into the wood. You are looking at the wiring and the box that has the electrical board inside; the white wires are wired together and go inside to one connection on the board. Each of the black wires has their own slots to connect to and then there is the two incoming electrical lines that also has its own connection on the board, I just used SPT1 electrical wire and a vampire plug with a six foot lead.
4 This is the completed Crossing sign except for the painting and the lettering. It is about seven feet tall and has a ½” x12 inches long bolt placed through the 2×2 so I can step on it to drive it into the ground. The box is water proof so nothing get’s into the electrical connections. And yes I know that the lights are upside down they are that way till I get some strapping wire and the paint job is completed.
5

I spent a long time going over this in my head do I want to commit myself to a project this big but once I got into it I was sooooo glad I did. I spent a lot of time deciding and talking to people who have built a train before, picking their brains for ideas and advice.

I want to take the time to Thank Walter, Bryce, Dan, Scott and anyone else that sent me an email or we talked on the phone for your help I could not have done it without ALL of you help.

Let me also say to everyone, this is not the only way to build a train, it was what was comfortable for me and I know that there are many more and different ways to doing it. It is just a way to show you how you can do it if you want to.

6

I spent many weeks looking around the internet for parts after talking to many previous train builders, and came up with 2 ways to do it, I decided to go the way of the big wheels setup to start with, first was cost and second later on I can upgrade to a more expensive motor.

These are the drive wheel caps that come off the motor and gearbox fro hot wheels, these are all new motors.

7

This is the Hot Wheels generic wire harness an AWG-14 in the end it will be modified to meet my needs.

8

Some additional parts that I plan on using for the steam tube and the front light and the smoke stack.

9

This is the Hot Wheels motor and gearbox it is the most standard of the all.

10

This time the additional train parts buy themselves.

11

As you can see there is a beginning frame, I’m doing this in wood to make the parts fit before my neighbor gets to it and makes it out of metal for me. As you can see the parts are ready to be mounted.

12 Held together buy clamps and the first motor mounted, it’s beginning to take shape!
13

Took the frame away to be able to work on the wheels and set some other parts as needed.

14 The Frame turned over to work on the lazy-susans for the wheel casters; this is what will guide my train around the track instead of a center rail.
15 The caster setup this was the toughest part so far on the train, this is where everything has to work perfectly and heights must be exact, with a little room for turning.
16

A photo of the train frame set on the test track to see if things work as they were envisioned and built.

17 Again more checking and testing to make sure all clearances are tolerable.
18 Again you see what has to be the hardest area to this point is making sure everything works as it should.
19 Just enough room for the 2 motors to be connected buy wires and still keep the train only so wide.
20

The board divider and wiring has begun! Since at the point I was at I decided to make the board taller than I might need till I found the battery that would suit my needs and fit into the space that I had for it.

21 The back end of the engine, since I probably have to gain access to the motors and gears I decided to put the area where the train engineers run the train on a piano hinge and used a hook to fasten it closed. The 2 motors are wrapped in bubble wrap to keep out anything, dust or dirt wise out of them.
22 As you can see the back end is starting to shape up, now all I have to do is find the battery, you would think in a state such as Florida where there are plenty of boats it would be easy to find a reasonably priced deep cycle battery. Well my quest continues this weekend!
23 Well Here I go again I have finally landed my battery, it is not the one I really wanted, could not find that one but just the same I found a suitable replacement for the time being. This is now going to add the weight that is needed for the drive wheels.
24 Again most of the weight is on the rear wheels and it also keeps the guide wheels inside the track.
25 This is the start of the battery cover and the front main part of the engine. In building this cover I used angel irons and 3/8 inch plywood for strength.
26 The battery cover completed, again I have also used a piano hinge to run the full length of the cover so I can access the battery for a change out or a charge at night.
27 A back side view of the battery cover compartment.
28 A front view of the battery compartment minus the lid.
29 Battery area with the lid in place.
30 I have used a 4 inch dryer vent pipe and a 3 inch PVC screw in pipe with the screw in cap for the front of the engine to make the housing for the train light, later on .I used metal strapping and some circular cut rounds to keep the shape of the piping and allow me to fasten the pipe to the box.
31 I have now added a front porch to the engine this will house some additional lights and it is the platform to which I will make the plow from.
32 Now if you look closely at the tubing you can just see some extra pieces of wood piled on the left and right of the tube this is for a finishing touch.
33 Your looking at my weekend’s work so far you can now tell when these photos were taken buys the date on the side of the photo.
34 I have added a cover with poles to the back side of the engineer’s platform, this will swing out of the way if needed all I have to do is remove 4 screws and unhinge the side hinge for access to the motors and gear boxes for any repairs are needed in the future.
35 Just another view of the engine, the top is also 3/8 inch plywood along with 1/4 inch PVC piping all of which I have just used on other projects. Trying to use these items up and get them out of the corners of the garage.
36 A closer view of the rear cab if you look closely you see a separation between the battery box and the main wall this allows access to the battery and will be tightened up later on.
37

I spent a lot of time this weekend doing the small things that are needed to make this a better looking train engine, all the details that make it look finished and will be added after the painting is completed. These are 4 ladders and 2 sets of piping that run down the length of the steam tube. I also spent a lot of time working on the wiring for the battery, lights and switches that will run the train. Next weekend is for the motors and gearboxes they have to be finished and then it is testing time to make sure it runs as I want it to, then the following week comes painting time in red, green, white, and gold.

38

This is the way I’m going to hook up the cars to each other, the only difference is that the final lock will have a closing device on it so they do not let go of each other while working.

39

The 2 images are to illustrate the closing hooks that I’m using on the cab and battery compartments to keep them secure and tight while running.

40

This is the power distribution bar it will be the central hook up area for the entire train.

41

This is the cab area which is on a hinge; this is prior to installing any wiring.

42

This is the battery compartment prior to installing any wiring.

43

The wiring of the 2 motors.

44

In this photo you see the wiring going to the cab light from the underside of the cab, notice that things are harnessed down to make sure nothing gets in the way of opening and closing.

45

The wires pass underneath the motors and through a hole in the firewall.

46

As you can see the light works, since I will have items in the cab and some decorations there is no need to completely hide the light. This is like a 3 amp fuse but it is a light all I did was use green electrical tape and tape the wires to the bulb since I’m going to paint the cab green the tape and paint will match.

47

I’m running wires to the nose of the engine for lights or a strobe light.

48

The wiring comes out here to wait for what I find in the future.

49

I’ve started pulling the wires, these are the main wires that come off the motors and will be wired directly to the battery as you can see there is going to be a SPST switch just for the motors.

50

I have added a switch board to the back firewall this is in a space between the firewall and the battery the battery rests right up against the 2 angle irons giving me plenty of room for all my wiring. The switch on the right is for the motors and the other SPST switch is for turning on the power for the power bar and all the lights.

 

51 The battery in place the power strip bar and the switches all have plenty of room.
52 Now you can see the spacing that has made it perfect for all the parts to work together.
53 Now you are starting to see all the different wires coming from different parts of the engine and soon the rest of the train. The power bar has enough connections to be able to give each additional car its own spacing on the power bar.
54 These are the parts for the 2 front ladders for the engine.
55 This is the completed ladder, one of two needed for the front.
56 I have built 2 ladders one for each side of the train cab.  They will not be placed where the drawing is until the final painting is done.
57 This is one of two ladders for the cab.
58

This is the start of the process for the steam lines for the side of the tank on the engine. Some wire I had around the house and just wood blocks cut to size and super glued.

59 There will be 5 blocks on each pipe for each side of the tank.
60 The blocks in place ready to be glued to the tank.
61 This is the starting of the front point of the snow  plow for the engine all of this work is slow going but necessary to make it look as close to the original photo as possible. The painting will be done on these items separate from the main body of the engine.
62 Even down to the 2 main ladders have taken some time now the next item to figure out is how I’m going to make the ladders stay put and stand up when I have to open the battery compartment each evening to recharge the battery?
63 I have added two new windows to the cab for the engineers to see what is up ahead.
64 An inside the cab view of the new windows, I know that this seems small but I have decided to make my train as realistic as possible to the original photo!
65

I have now added the beginnings of the snow plow to the front of the engine.

66 This is another view of the plow looking down at it.
67 The start of adding the rails to the snow plow all together I added a total of seven of these rails to the front, I found this wood at Wal-Mart in the craft section precut and to a length I could work with and with the help of many tubes of super glue it solves a lot of problems throughout the project.
68

As you can see the completed plow now due to the fact of creating a hook at the end of each of the rails to hold the in place I needed to cover that area with something to make it look finished.

69 If you look closely at the top of the rails you will see that I added some of the same wood that I made the rails with to cover the hooks.
70 Here to I added another piece of wood rounding the corners to give it that finished look.
71 I had been looking a long time for a light for my train and having no luck, and then the UPS truck came with my answer to my light problem. I want to thank Walter Monkhouse for this wonderful strobe light. I could not believe how perfect it fit in the spot where I wanted the light to be.
72 I just sanded down the nub end of the screw in plate.
73 I had already run wires to the spot so I just had to connect them to the strobe.
74 My “Naked Little Train” was starting to come together! Thanks Chuck!But not for long was it going to stay “Naked.”
75 My train has decided to take on some color!
76 And some more color!
77 And more color! This is the closest to the real color that I can produce you will see shades that vary but with florescent lights you always get a shift in photographs.
78 With the new front strobe light in place.
79 And adding an additional color to the mix.
80 The back end with its bright red color.
81 A front view of the two colors.
82 Looks like the red will get another coat.
83 CANDY CANE MAKING 101I want to change gears for a moment and show you something else I have built for this year. This was not my idea but I made some major changes to an idea that I got from a web site
84 Here is a list of the items I used for these candy canes:3 inch PVC piping about 40 inches long.A toilet flange to receive the 3 inch pipe.A single light bulb fixture with wiring.A 3 inch to 4 inch step up coupling.14/2 lamp wire in 100 foot roll with a male vampire plug LPT2And a clear plastic lamp housing.

And a 2×4 feet piece of hardboard

85  I fit the hardboard with the lamp fixture and super glued it to the hardboard.I drilled a few holes for moisture to run through.The plastic globe is placed on top with a red light bulb inside and 3 screws are placed to hold the globe in place.
86 This is what the lamp housing looks like just before being placed into the 3 inch to 4 inch coupling.
87  I used 2 sizes of red tape a 2 inch red plastic and red electrical both found at Home Depot.I also used about a 4 foot lead for the electrical line.My plans are now to make between 20 – 30 of these Candy Cane Lights around property.
88 I spent most of these past 2 weeks making some refinements in the train, after getting some valuable information from others who have gone down this path before. It was suggested that I move my power switches to the outside where I can reach the easier and not have to fight the train as it moves. This involved also moving my power distribution bar; these are things that you find out as you go along.
89 I had to make 2 moves with this one; I had to move the light farther away from the back wall and brought up the wires for the motors and the lighting for the toggle switches.
90 Before I had only 4 wires into this area now they seem to have grown too many more that that.
91 The area where the battery will have some additional space due to less wires.
92 This is the area where the lights and motor switches will be; the area will be protected from the elements later on
93 Here is the setup taking place I have added the first toggle for the lighting system.
94 There is plenty of room for the wiring and the switch the first of two to go in.
95 I have added the second toggle switch and completed the wiring process so that both work. I found out later on that the toggles were momentary switches so when you let go everything stops. Now time to find a real toggle that switches on and stays on!
96 I decided to start adding some of the finer refinements as I go along, this are kind of an incentive for me to make like the train is coming along faster.
97 I had a problem early on and I came up with a pretty neat idea to solve it, I wanted to be able to lift my lid on the engine so I could access the battery each evening to charge it, and yet keep the ladders where they were so all I did with the ladders is to add a metal rod and keep the ladders about ½ inch away from the lid. I painted the rods black but now I think I’m going to paint them green to blend in better with the background.
98 see above
99 A view we have not seen before, this is the side where the hinges are. I also goofed on the painting the bottom of the box is supposed to be green not red!
100 We are now looking at the back side of the engine this is where I will get into detail of how I made the wheels match the motors and line up with the gearboxes.

 

101 I must express my thanks to my next door neighbor Gene for coming up with the ideas and machining the parts that made this all work perfectly.
102 On the left photo is the wheel disk that will be attached to the inside of the lawnmower wheel, three holes to be attached to the mower wheel and the 4 remaining holes will be attached to the coupler that attaches to the gearbox. The right photo is a device Gene came up with to make the mower wheel and the disk and the coupler all align up for the axel to pass through without any problems.
103 The screw holes were made with threads so I could thread in the screws so they would not back out while tightening.
104 You’re looking at the setting up of the wheel to check on the position of the holes in the disk to make sure that they come out in a flat area of the mower wheel for the lock washer and nut.
105 I have now placed the alignment tool in the center of the disk it has lined up with the center of the disk and the hole in the mower wheel.
106 You are now looking at the wheel, disk, alignment tool and the coupling all set to mark and drill the holes to put this device together.
107 You are now looking at two views of the completed rear drive wheels that attach to the two motors and gearboxes. This will do all the driving for the train. I have not yet tried to run the train since I do not have all the wiring in place I will wait to see what happens at a later time.Now it is time for me to switch gears and do another car for the train, my next car is going to be the coal car.
108 Well this past two weeks have been ones of slow progress. I ordered an additional 8 casters from Harbor Freight for the final two cars to the train. On the engine I used 8 casters since the engine was so big and heavy, but on the two additional cars one being the coal car and the second being the caboose I made the cars smaller and lighter in size. Therefore I decided to use only 4 casters for each of the last two cars I also decided to use Safety Gate Hooks & eyes so that the train cars stay coupled together while going around the track. I will also get into the making of my track I have asked a few others how they have made theirs and am doing some research on my own for the type I plan on using. I made a 8 foot section some time ago to allow myself the ability to use it to make the decisions that needed to be made for the engine, and the other cars, and now I have seen some changes that need to be made to make this track work out even better. My biggest problem here in Central Florida is the weather and wood, they don’t mix to well. With rain a lot of the time wood does not stay strait for long even with weather proofing, later!
109 This photo shows the axel for the rear of the train engine the black unit is the gearbox from the motors of the Power Wheels. I took the wheel off to do some final painting and the final setting so when the newly made axels arrive they will just slip in and fit to all dimensions.
110 Well there it is the coal car!Well in a few pieces that is!
111 This is the start of building the coal car; I precut all the parts and had them ready to assemble since I am now trying to save a little weight I have decided to make the other cars in the train somewhat smaller in their length.
112 I am using the vice to hold the parts as I screw and glue all the items together.
113 The outside of the coal car is complete but there is much more to do on this car.
114 I am using the vice to hold the parts as I screw and glue all the items together.
115 The outside of the coal car is complete but there is much more to do on this car.
116
117
118 This base is added to the original base of the car so I can add the lawnmower wheels to the coal car; on the left side of the car is two pieces of wood they are to be used for the six inch lazy Susan and the casters to be added at a later time.
119 This is the first wheel set in place I used a 3 ¾ inches bolt along with a spacer of PVC and some oversize washers to make them fit the track.
120 Well there is the completed coal car, completed for now I have much more things I want to do on this car but that is for a later time. Anyone have an idea for filling the coal car with fake coal? I thought I might put in some broken Styrofoam and cover with aluminum foil and spray paint it all black inside the outside of the cat will follow the red and green theme colors. Any other ideas
121 I just added the second ladder to this engine side.I had a 3 day weekend so I spent some time looking for my toggle switches and found some at the auto store thank goodness I was wondering if I would ever find what I wanted.
122 This is the bottom of the coal car I will go step by step to show you how I made my swivel caster plates for keeping the train on the track. I start with the bottom of the car it has a 2×12 fastened to the bottom of the coal car.
123 To be able to work without problems I decided to remove the wheels.
124 At the same time as putting on the casters on I have decided to paint the outside of the car to save a few steps in this process. Besides it takes more than 1 coat of paint for this train.
125 This is the other side getting the first coat of green paint.
126 The two colors of paint the same as the engine!
127 I have replaced the wheels and added the 2 “L” brace for the 6 inch lazy Susan. This is made from 2 pieces of 1×2 glues and screwed together. The reason for putting back the wheels is because I need to check the measurements of the car to make sure when the casters are added that they sit low enough to keep the car in the track area. If it is to low then the rails will have to be cut back some to make sure there is no rubbing of the casters with the cross ties of the track.
128 I looked at the rails this way but decided that it was easier to attach the rails with the large flat area down so I could screw them into the 2×12 easier and it was also easier to take wood off from the other side easier if I need to shorten the distance when all is finished.
129 The 6 inch lazy Susan being set into place while adjusting it to move smoothly and it does not bind at any time or to any screw that is put in later with the wood plate to come.
130 It was now time to place the final wood plate for the casters for this car. As I turned over the car I realized that the plate was to low even before I placed the casters on the wood plate, time to remove the lazy Susan and cut down the rails. I took off close to 5/8 of an inch from the rails. Now I will have to try the casters and see what happens! There is no plans to work from everything is trial and error!
131 You are now looking down the throat of the lazy Susan after taking off 5/8ths wood from each side and replacing the caster plate.
132 After replacing the plate and oiling the ball bearings the bottom wood plate kept hitting one of the screw heads that was fastened to the rails, again it is time to remove everything and make sure that the flat head screws are seated low enough to clear the screws from the top plate.
133 Here is the safety gate hooks once over the screw eye they are locked on!
134 As you can see a nice combination easy to put on and easy to take off, they also come in longer sizes I’m experimenting with this size which is 2-1/2 inches long they come longer but I will run the train first and check them out. So far I have only found them at Wal-Mart, nothing at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Ace hardware in my area.
135 It is really beginning to look like a train in these next photos!
136 LIKE IT?
137 Your looking at the inside of the coal car I have painted it black someone gave me the idea to use the expandable foam in the can, I thought that was a great idea and as long as it can be painted it might just work for what I need it for besides I can cut it up to look just like coal!
138 This is the inside of the Coal Car before I sprayed the expandable foam into it your going to be surprised at what happens to a little bit of foam.
139 This was Dap’s version of expandable foam I let it set overnight and it appeared stiff and cured buy what the can stated and it did not go as planned. So to the next foam the usual slightly yellow foam!
140 This is another shot of the white foam and how far it rose! Not very far.
141 Well after adding one smaller can of the yellow foam it started to rise and this was after one hour!
142 This was after 3 hours! Wait!
143 It just kept going and going!
144 I came out to this in the morning and it was still curing you could hear it cracking still!
145 Look at what else happened overnight it oozed out of any crack that was open, just what it is designed to do but this was the Dap filler, and it came out all day till it finally cured.
146 These are the casters that I’m using they are from Harbor freight online and they are 15/8 x 7/8 inches big. And I added a screw, washer, lock washer and nut to the angle iron this way I can secure them to the wooden plate under each car that is attached to the lazy Susan.
147 I wanted to show you something I found interesting, after a few days of curing the foam sealant does some shrinking and was I ever glad! It is now cured and ready to be painted.
148 You are looking at the completed bottom of the coal car with the casters in place and everything runs smoothly and no binding anywhere.
149 This is for my last and final car I think this year this is the cut pieces for the caboose! I always cut all my material and get it fit tested to make sure it is going to work the way I had planed.
150 I have used 4 clamps after centering the caboose bottom to the 2x12x16 and used some glue and 5 screws to hold things together.

 

 

151 I have just placed the rails and the lazy Susan on the 2x12x16 so I can find the center point of all items and then fasten them in place.
152 I have fastened the bottom of the caboose to the 2x12x16 base board and also fastened the 2 rails for the lazy Susan to rest on. The 2x12x16 is needed for some weight and to bolt the 4 main wheels to it.
153 Now with the base completed I added the back side of the caboose with 2 angle irons.
154 If you look closely at the 2 photos you will see a slight angle to the front and the same will be done for the back. If you have ever seen a real caboose they have a slight pitch down to their roofs for the rain to run off, and I have done the same for my train.
155 Now the front and back are in place with angle irons to hold everything in place. You also see a 2 inch space on the bottom on the front and back, this is left so I can place windows and items that are on a real caboose and some stairs and railings.
156 I placed the 2 other sides in place and screwed all together; I am now getting ready to install the 4 main wheels to the 2x12x16.
157 The first 2 wheels are set in place and the 4 casters are waiting to be attached.
158 Two different looks at the caboose before the roof is installed.
159 I used a piece of hardboard and routed out a point down the center ½ the thickness of the hardboard and then bent the hardboard to form to the angle of the front and back of the caboose.
160 I used some small ½ inch screws to hold down the roof. I also ran a bead of superglue down the middle of the bend to make sure there is no water leakage before I paint the caboose.
161 I added two wooden square dowels to the back side of the caboose there will be other things added later on!
162 The caboose sits with the caster plate in place just ready for me to add the casters.
163 I placed two wooden dowels on the back of the caboose these are glued with super glue.
164 Next came the cross tie again super glued. The 2 upright dowels are placed with a ½ in #6 screws to hold them in place and I used wood glue to give them added strength.
165 Because I am adding a second story to the caboose I decided to paint the roof first.
166 I had to pitch the bottom of the second floor to match the cabooses roof.
167 I added the roof to the top part of the caboose; some small windows will be added later on.
168 A closer look at the second story of the caboose.
169 A look at the backend of the train.
170 I made a change in the 2 ladders on the front of the engine, instead of black I changed the color of them to gold for them to stand out during the night when the lights are on.
171 I have spent the past month looking for heavy duty toggle switches these are 35 amp switches, one for the motors, one for the regular lights and I left a spot for a third switch incase I add rope light to the train.
172 This is the inside of the coal car painted about 2/3 of the way with black exterior house paint. After the train is completed and painting is finished the complete train will get two coats of clear finish sealer to make it weather proof from the rain.
173 You are looking at all the extra add-ons that take a lot of time and quite a few coats of gold paint. I have never used so much super glue!
174 This is the second story of the caboose painted in green and gold, all that is left is to place the windows around the structure and then fasten it in place on the roof of the main part of the caboose.
175 In this next series of four photos you will see the progress of the caboose and its paint job. All the paint is exterior latex and will be clear coated later.
176 More of the finer details that have to be finished before the train are completed.
177 The smoke stack is finally added!
178 Now it is time to add the switches for the motors and lights
179 This will be fastened to the cab of the engine to hold the toggle switches for the lights, motors.
180 As you can see the toggle switches are in place, all the wiring will be completed later on when I finish all the other wiring throughout the train.
181 This is the caboose’s smoke stack to be attached when all the painting is completed on it.
182 Additional window and door frames all in for a paint job.
183 As you can see buy these 2 photos we are getting close to being completed with my train. The only thing left is the small details, wiring, and the final clear coat of paint, and building the curved portion of the track. The strait portions of track are the easy part; the curves are going to be the tuff part.My train will be named the “Candy Cane Express“ which will be painted on the side of the engine soon, The train measures a total of 7 feet long x 23 inches high x 16 inches wide.
184 I have now completed the caboose’s smoke stack; I drilled a hole just big enough to let it slip in. Then set it with super glue overnight and then caulked it with clear caulk it looks white in the photo but will dry clear.
185 The windows are nearing completion these are just for the caboose. I used some square wood dowels which I got from Wal-Mart. The cross members are thick wooden paint stirs from Home Depot cut down on my band saw and painted gold. The white string will be dipped into the gold paint to represent chain for the railing at the end of the caboose.
186 I have decided to take a break this week from the train and do some catching up on other items that I plan to add to my display this year. I making a few more candy cane lights for a total of about 25, look just 23 more to go!
187 I finally took the time to remove the items for the railroad crossing to put a few coats of white exterior latex paint and again it will be coated with a clear coat to fight the elements here in Florida.
188 Here are the parts for the railroad crossing just waiting to be placed back on the sign.
189 This is what my garage looks like now that I have 3 projects going at the same time. And I have 1 other project waiting for some time to do it; they are some PVC Christmas presents that I killed a 20 foot mega tree to make this year.
190 This is the start of putting all the final touches on each car window frames, the ladder and the rail holder so someone does not fall off the caboose. I’m looking for a conductor in a real size to the car foe the back end.
191 Some details for the caboose. The wood products for the window frames are lightweight wood from Wall-mart’s craft section and the cross members are wood paint stirs cut down and painted.
192 The look a like chain is just light weight rope and will be painted the same gold as the other parts. Also there is some spackling work to fill in some gaps where needed.
193 I set a pencil line after figuring out where I wanted the letters to be in the middle of the board then taped the letters down and spray painted them on.
194 Here is the sign before the finished painting and after all I have left to do id put a clear coat on the sign and add the lights. Then project #1 will be completed!
195 The next round on the train is the wiring of little lights on all the cars just for a little more detail. One is being added to the smoke stack. I solder a little 3 inch bulb to wires and then wrap the ends in electrical tape to keep the rain away.
196 What you are seeing here is the process I go through to solder the wires to the bulb. First I tape the bulb to a non burnable surface with electrical tape put some flux on the two ends and drop some solder on the ends when cool I reheat the solder and add the wires to each side then cover with electrical tape.
197 I brought out a line to add a bulb to the back of the caboose so when I get a conductor I might be able to light his lamp up but first a bulb to light the back porch.
198 Here is the soldered bulb ready to have some electrical tape added.
199 As you can barely see there is a bulb to give me some light to throw the switches with, it is also wrapped with red electrical tape to keep the rain off.
200 All the wires for the caboose come to here and will travel the length of the train where they will be mated with the power strips and toggle switches. These wires will run underneath the car out of the way of wheels and the caster and all moving parts.

More train pictures! Steps 201- through the very last!

201   As you can see all wires lead here and are being color coded for easy troubleshooting in case there is a problem. Also all connections of wires are being soldered so there are no break points along the way.
202   Now which group to use? The left is a small 7 grounding bar, the right is some other power strips also on the right top is a set of power strips with their fuses right there in line. I’ve decided to use the 8 position bottom right photo for the local car lights and use the 6 position in line fuse strips for the rope lighting I will add later on.
203   The top photo is the positive and negative for all of the lighting throughout the train. The bottom photo is showing the 4 screws that will be used to mount the backer board to the wood and also showing the other electrical connector plate. This has a spot for the negative and positive connections but also has the space for fuses to allow me to add the rope lighting now or at a later time not sure what I’m going to do this year?
204  

Since I have a toggle switch for the motors direct and one for the little lights I also made a spot for the third toggle switch just incase I decide to add some rope lights, or something else I want later on.

205   As you can see I have started to wire the board for making all the connection together, all the blue coated will be the positive side. And all the white coated will be the negative side. All the wires will be taped blue and white no matter what the coating on the wires is. For the main lines into the toggle switches they will follow the black and red taping no matter what they are coated with
206  

I’ve gotten the wires ready to connect to the board as said before white and blue. Since I am having the main line come from the switches into this board at the first screw will be the main power line and then on top of that will be the setup of the blue and white wires since they are looped together this will give me spaces for 8 hook ups to power what I need and still have some room left over for further additions as needed.

207  

As you can see here I have wired the white and blue lines. They are ready to be mounted to the inside if the engine and the 2 brown wires to the left are for the incoming power from the battery. The black board on the right is another setup for lights for the future but instead of just a power bar this board has the ability for fuses so there is no problem of an overload.

208  

And now back to the train!

I have figured out to date I have spent just a under $250.00 so far on all of my projects, some items have been given to me and some made for me, but the bulk of the items has been items I have had around the house and have decided to use up and make work for these projects.

The coal car is just about complete I may add a light to the inside of the coal to illuminate it as it goes around but that is to come all painting is done except for the final clear coat to keep a semi gloss finish and protect the coal paint.

209  

I painted the complete inside of the engine battery compartment to make it look nicer and to see if there is a leak from the battery if there is ever one. Also have to acquire a battery hold down and fit it to the space allotted.

210  

This is the electrical nerve center. Everything comes in here and goes out from here.

211   

The 2 bars on the left are for all small lighting throughout the train, they are color coded for me and to keep the positive and negative strait throughout the train. The loops in the middle area are just wires looped together to make all the power run down the line and all I have to do is add an incoming wire at each screw. The brown wire is for the main lines coming off the battery they are also color coded. The bank on the right is for items needing a fuse; this will be used for the main line coming from the battery as well as the motors and for next year for rope lighting.

212   And this is the motor compartment I have 2 hot wheels motors wired together to give me all the traction I need to pull this big load
213   There are 3 lights to the caboose I’m going to thread them from the side of the car to a spot in between the casters platform and the rails this way they are away from getting caught in anything moving or twisting. Since I only need one main power line running the length of the train I will be soldering these 3 wires together and adding a 2 wire waterproof connector at the junction of each car in the train.
214  

I have decided to add a light to the smoke stack also using a turn signal/ warning lamp flasher on the line to give added dimension to the train.

215  

And everything comes back to this area the main circuit area, when done it is going to be a tight fit for everything but just keeping it color coded is my hardest project.

216  

Being not all wires came in the colors I wanted makes it more difficult so that is where color rolls of electrical tape are coming in handy for me.

217  

I also needed and used 10 Amp fuses for the lights and 15 Amp fuses for the motors.

218  

I wanted to bring all the wires to one central location under the train and since it is already completed I had to bring them down into the bottom and run 1 central wire down the belly of the train and connect all the lights on one line.

219  

Under the coal car is the wiring that travels the down the belly to all cars but I have also placed 2 extra wires for the future lights in case I decide to add some lighting in the future in the car.

220  

At each car is this waterproof connector for the wiring with rain and no snow we have to be prepared!

221  

This situation could have turned out to be a bad mess. I had done my own diagram and sent it to the neighbor to be checked out; boy was I ever glad I had Gene check my wiring diagram. He came back to let me know that I had the negative line messed up and in the wrong spot. Glad he checked my work!

222  

And finally the custom made axle. Thanks Gene you are one great neighbor to have around. Now it’s time to put the train back together and test it out!

223  

Ooooops! Is this any way to run a railroad?

 

No since I had the motors off and have to do some fine tuning to the axel and give it the clearance it need to run smoothly along with some final painting I found it better to turn the engine on it’s top and get everything done and completed at one time.

224  

Here is what it looks like before the caps and wheels go on with the new axel.

225  

The final inspection for the wheels now in to the testing of the wiring and see if it all works together!

226   ALL DONE!
ALL TESTED! AND IT RUNS RIGHT!

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