The sixth year of our front porch, motion detector controlled, G scale Santa Train has seen some further upgrades. The cardboard boxes originally decorated in 2007 and used as the Christmas present tunnel had disintegrated so my research uncovered Gator Board. It is available in black so I bought a 4×8 sheet to make the new Christmas presents:

Below – The scrap strips on the bottom allow air to circulate under the boxes so that they don't sit in water. They were sprayed with automotive clear to help protect against deterioration.

Below – Grandma had a helper when it came time to wrap. The foil provides additional weather protection.

Below – The three boxes on the bottom are the new Gator Board ones, they all have removeable lids to provide access. The box on top with the controls is still the original cardboard box. Since it sits off the porch floor, it has lasted longer.


Above – November 11, 2012 – A warm day so the installation was made. Note the motion detector at the top of the left post.

 Above – The center car not only carries presents (which are actual ones when the grandchildren are expected), but this year was enhanced with a track cleaning mechanism underneath. Build story coming.

Above – Ed the friendly polar bear is back.

Above and below – A better view of the tunnel.

Above – Electricals – The LGB isolated curved track used to park the train in the tunnel was replaced with simple isolated track connectors on the straight track. It is more flexible concerning location and works better. All of the rest of the track connectors were replaced with brass set screw connectors for ease of assembly and better mechanical and electrical connection.

See it in action – video HERE.

2013 Plan – When a neighbor brought his son and grandson over to watch the train this year, he asked me how long it took to set it up. My reply was, "It takes longer every year". The old guy leg and back strain caused by doing the wiring behind the layout next to the wall is no longer a possibility. Next year, I plan to build the entire layout on a single Gator Board in the garage. I can do all the wiring and details at table top level then bring the complete structure out intact and drop it in place. The biggest challenge will be storage during the rest of the year. Suggestions?

January 5, 2013 – Since the above was written, reality set in and I suggested to myself that it is time to retire the front porch Santa Train. It has been fun…….

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