It may be several more months before you’re “supposed” to set up your Christmas train display, but now is actually a great time to start thinking about it. Let’s face it, December is crazy enough already and you miss your trains! So why not eliminate one potential headache and start prepping those trains now. Here are a few tips to help you make 2012 your best Christmas display ever! (And play with your trains sooner.)
Spring Summer Cleaning
Trains require regular cleaning. More than anything, clean wheels and track can make a big difference in how well your trains run. Often cleaning isn’t factored into the schedule when you’re trying to set up an entire display before Christmas company arrives, or when you’re packing up at the end of the season.
Take a few minutes to unpack and inspect your tracks and trains. Give them a quick cleaning and a little run-time now and you’ll be up and running that much faster four or five months from now. A little lubrication may also be necessary, but especially if your trains spend a long time in storage, avoid over-lubricating parts. For a how-to on servicing your locomotives, you can check out this video: Lubrication and Maintenance
Last Year’s Problems
Do you remember all those things that went wrong last year that you swore you were going to get to after Christmas? I didn’t think so! Often all it takes is unpacking the box to jog your memory about the burned out light bulb in the street lamps, the reindeer with the broken leg, or that sticky coupler on the gondola. Take care of these little (or big) problems now and you won’t have to relive the memories on Christmas Eve.
This Year’s Additions
Adding something to the train display each year is a great tradition. It might be a new car or accessory or it might be something handmade and personal. If it’s the former, then you want to check out this year’s Christmas Catalog. If it’s the latter, it’s time to get going! The charm of Christmas displays is often the way they aren’t perfect scale replicas, but homemade and personal family memories in model form. Think about the people and places that are most meaningful to you and how you can make them a part of your display.
FasTrack is Floor-Friendly
Trains don’t typically run well on the floor. Between carpet fibers, dust bunnies and real pets, the floor presents quite the obstacle course for your model trains. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to get your trains up out of harms way. These easiest way to gain just a little elevation and provide a very secure fastener for your tracks is to use our FasTrack system. The plastic base looks good and keeps your trains off the worst that the floor has to offer.
For those who prefer the classic look of our O Gauge and O-27 track for a Christmas layout, consider making the base for your ’round the tree railroad on sections of 1/2″ plywood. Not only will this allow you to elevated and secure the track above carpeting, you’ll have a solid and level base for buildings and other accessories. Make these sections easy to join and take apart and you can have your layout set up in minutes!
Let It Snow!
Just the thought of snow probably sounds pretty good to many of us right now! No Christmas display would be complete without some white fluffy piles. There are a number of ways you can re-create winter. For temporary layouts, something easy to clean like cotton balls or styrofoam sheets might be your best bet. If you can anchor your snow or are at least willing to vacuum it, there are lots of commercial products available. Baking powder also works very well and is quite affordable. (Don’t use baking soda, it’s too caustic. And don’t use flour unless you really want a Christmas mouse!) You can see this method in more detail on our modeling pages.
It’s All About the Kids
Christmas is a time for kids and kids at heart – make your trains part of that experience. Is your display kid-friendly? Are the trains at their height? Can they work the controls? Are there fun accessories they can use? Of course you’ll probably find that in the process of making the railroad more fun for the kids, it’s a lot more fun for you too!
Your off-season activities can be kid-involved too. Let them learn the importance of taking care of the trains and maybe they’ll carry that experience over to other aspects of their lives now and down the road. (I’m not saying they’ll keep their rooms clean, but maybe they’ll understand why it’s important to check the oil in their car when they’re older.) And let them be a part of making something new for the display each year too. Not only will your display grow, so will your stock of treasured heirlooms.
When you’ve finished playing, err testing, your trains, pay attention to how they are packed. Try to use original packaging whenever possible. This packaging is designed to protect your trains.
If you can’t reuse the original boxes, then carefully wrap your trains in tissue or bubble wrap and store them in a sturdy container. The same applies to all your hand-made buildings, accessories, etc.
Pack your trains and accessories carefully to prevent damage. Try not to put your most fragile items at the bottom! Store in a cool, dry place for best longevity.
Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing those trains again in just a few more months!