Train Around the Christmas Tree 2011

1-OverviewLike many Large Scale train modelers, I like to put up a loop or two of track around the old Christmas Tree every Holiday Season.

In this picture you see my 2011 layout consisting of two separate loops (so I can run two trains) overlapped so I have two suicide, or what I like to call Addams Family crossings. Just to keep things interesting.

The only problem I have is that most of my track is installed in my outdoor Garden Railroad layout, so to come up with enough track each year for a seasonal indoor layout is tricky. I’ve solved this problem by using a combination of LGB, AristoCraft, and the cheap Bachmann silver track that comes in their starter sets (and cannot be used outdoors).


Connecting LGB to LGB is very straightforward. I have a hard cement surface in my living room around the tree which makes putting down track simple.




3-LGBconnectorsI do heartily recommend that you use the plastic connectors that LGB provides to tie together the LGB to LGB track pieces. It will save you lots of headaches as your track will not suddenly separate on you while working on the track or when running trains. Bachmann’s silver track has a version of this same type of plastic connector (but they are not interchangeable).



Connecting LGB to AristoCraft track is a bit more involved. The AristoCraft connectors are drilled and fitted so that one piece of Aristo track can be connected to another piece of Aristo track with small screws. These connection fittings are a bit tight for the LGB track and in any case the LGB track is not drilled so the screws won’t work.


5-AristoConnectorandClampI suggest loosening the screw in the Aristo female track connector, then connecting the track by sliding it together (as you do with LGB to LGB), then re-tightening the screw. If the connection is just not right, remove the screw and the female connector (shown above the screw in this picture). Then use a clamp (a Split Jaw clamp is shown here) to connect the two track pieces.

4b-StringTieInsulatorsIf the connection between the LGB and Aristo tracks are loose and you do not want to resort to clamps, I’ve found string works very well to hold things together.

Here I’ve used string where the tracks are connected using insulators (to create a dead spur). If you don’t  like the look of string you can use rubber bands or paint the string black or use use black twist ties.


Connecting Bachmann to either LGB or AristoCraft presents the biggest challenge. As you can see, the Bachmann silver track (not their new brass product) will not connect properly because there is a black metal tab that protrudes from the non-female connector side. This won’t connect with LGB or Aristo female connectors.


7-BachmannRemoveTabYou have to remove the metal tab on the end you want to connect to the other brand of track. Use a small screwdriver blade to remove the first tie where it grips the silver rail on the tab side. Be careful as the plastic may break (which is not the end of the world but should be avoided if you can).


8-BachmannTrackTabsOnce the tie is released from the rail you can slide out the tab. Here you can see two of the metal  tabs that I removed from two pieces of the Bachmann silver track. I suggest you make only as many inter-brand connecting pieces as you need and label them so you can use them again next year and not have to remove more of the tabs.



Once you have removed the tab you can carefully connect the Bachmann silver track to AristoCraft or LGB (as shown here) track.

Here I’ve used rubber bands to keep the connection from separating.



In my 2011 holiday layout (shown here) the bulk of the track is LGB sectional pieces with a few AristoCraft pieces and some Bachmann track as well.





Since I have two loops with two power controllers, I have an insulated spur off each loop to provide a storage place. Here I can swap different engines and cars in and out on the two loops of tracks.



Let me know about what you run around your Christmas Tree. -TJ

(Originally posted 1/1/2012)

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