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The quasi-annual Christmas/winter layout thread
#1
So, it’s early September and hot as a blast furnace in my part of the US. It’s also near the peak of hurricane season and I’m close enough to the Gulf coast for that to matter.

Naturally, my thoughts turn to the annual Christmas winter village train layout. This has become something of a family tradition that, if we manage to survive 2020, will be entering its fourth year. Previous years were uh... kinda underwhelming but maybe this year will be different!

First, a brief sample of our 2019 layout.

[Image: 4502-C311-91-A7-4-C6-B-AFA6-27-C145783-E23.jpg]
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#2
The 2018 layout went through some significant changes while we experimented with a less wintry appearance without much success. You may notice one constant that has proven to be vexing.

[Image: D9-DE203-A-64-D5-4460-ABA6-9-AF4439808-C0.jpg]
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#3
[Image: rolling.gif]

Naturally...doesn't everyones thoughts turn to Xmas in the middle of a heat wave in hurricane season. LOL
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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#4
Oh yeah! I look forward to cooler weather and the outside possibility of a drop or two of snow. In reality, winter weather here is usually more like this....

[Image: 5-C032-D70-EA5-D-4463-8-A75-A69-F23377766.jpg]

Seriously, that was December 16, 2019!

I know this isn’t entirely reality but it would be great if December was more like this....

[Image: 8-CDE408-E-C4-A9-4-D59-9805-E837-F1798-DCB.jpg]

So, I can at least build a tiny piece of that sort of idyllic fantasy.

Or maybe it’ll be another year of a toy train running around a landscape of pillow stuffing with our cat Thunderhead snoozing in the middle of it all! Big Grin
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#5
I like your cat!  Heart
My YouTube Channel: Mister No
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#6
I love that Steam train but not the snow Dodgy
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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#7
@ Mr No: She’s quite a sweet cat and very patient with my kids. She was rounded up in a feral cat catch, spay and release operation conducted by the local shelter several years ago. We started taking care of her when my kids rescued her after she was released back in to the neighborhood. It quickly became obvious that she wasn’t feral but a lost or abandoned pet. She’s amazingly well socialized considering she was a stray my kids found!

@ Super: I imagine seeing “beautiful” snow scenes conjure up thoughts of constantly shoveling snow, miserable cold, months without sunlight and heating bills to those of you “up north”. Around here, you can’t get much below 20°F without it fouling things up in a major way!

By the way, the locomotive in that photo is Wilmington and Western 98 an Alco 4-4-0 built in 1909 for the Mississippi Central, based in Hattiesburg, MS.
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#8
So, where do I start? Obviously, I need a layout that is fairly robust, thanks to kids and “Catzilla” pictured above! As much as possible, I like to us materials that are inexpensive, reusable and don’t create a lot of mess. Since I’m using Plarail and Trackmaster trains and accessories, other structures and scenery elements should tie in and not look overly realistic. I want to maintain a toy-like, fantasy appearance to the over all scene (while keeping the cost down as much as possible). Toward that end, I’ve become a fan of the small scale Christmas village structures that are available at a number of chain retailers here in the US. Probably the best known line is Cobblestone Corner, sold by the Dollar Tree chain which cost... $1 USD! These were formerly made of some kind of porcelain/ceramic but are now plastic, which I actually prefer. Last year, I did find a number of porcelain structures at Walmart for ~$2 that are very similar to older Dollar Tree buildings. I’ve collected my buildings over the course of the last two years and have a nice little village for less than the price of one larger scale Lemax or similar building. I would put these in my “What Works” category.

Images stolen from the Dollar Tree website:

[Image: 64402-B4-F-6-A73-447-B-A01-D-1-F391-BB8-C145.jpg]

[Image: B0-F1-D3-F7-F4-D6-436-D-902-E-B77-BA5703-C3-D.jpg]
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#9
As a start I would say use a couple folding tables, they are pretty robust and can be easily taken down and put back up. If that doesn't suit your tastes then I would say build yourself a lightweight 4x8 table. Those little buildings are fantastic, I have close to 40 of them! Now this is not a winter example but this is a set that took 5 minutes to put up, all I used was A big green blanket, a shoebox, books, and a couple other blankets to build up terrain. Very simple very easy, and you might notice that the trees I used are from the same brand as those little winter village houses!
[Image: tomy-test-set-1.png]
If it ain't motorized I don't want it!       Cool Big Grin
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#10
@ gordonfan01: I like that layout in your photo! It’s a great example of finding the right materials for the job and having it turn out looking nice.

As part of my “diary” in this thread, I’m planning to address the table I use and the terrain. Briefly though, it’s a wooden library table that’s about 32x60 inches. The base of the layout in the first photo is a 1 inch thick piece of pink styrofoam insulation, cut to the same dimensions. Land forms are made from scrap packing styrofoam, left over insulation foam and even scrap cardboard. I’ll get in to that a bit more later.

Folding tables or a custom 4x8 foot layout table would be a great alternative but we don’t have the space for them right now.
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#11
Understandable when it comes to limited space, for a while I was using a 2x4 table and its challenging to try and fit so much into a small space. 32x60 is a nice size though! If only there was a Plarail Polar Express!
If it ain't motorized I don't want it!       Cool Big Grin
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#12
Although I find it hard to think of Xmas and winter just yet I do look forward to 'The Diary' episodes. Smile
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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#13
@ gordonfan01: Super created a Polar Express several years ago from a Trackmaster 1 Hiro and some blue Plarail SuHa coaches. I had planned a similar version kitbashed from a Plarail Hiro and a current D51-200 but the lack of Round Tuits have delayed the project! My current plan is to use a C62 to pull the Christmas Train with a D51-200 hauling freight.

@ Super: Yeah, it’s really too early to think about Christmas but my kids and I had found most of the Christmas layout stuff recently and that coincided with my wife and I discussing holiday plans. Normally, I’m not that enthused or proactive when comes to Christmas! Confused
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#14
For absolute realism, nothing can top the Christmas layout from 2017! Big Grin


[Image: 0-E2-D1108-B602-465-D-8-A05-0-AB473-F10-D49.jpg]
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#15
[Image: 8-E1-DBCB0-E099-4584-AEFD-24-C43-E019-BC4.jpg]

I was really happy with this consist from the 2019 layout, so it will likely be back this year. It’s the lighted version of C62-2 with SuHa coaches I bought from Super. I will definitely add this to my “What Works” category.
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