Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our Custom Hogwarts Express, Complete With Flying Dementor!

John and I wanted a Hogwarts Express for our Potter tree, but WOW are the official trains expensive. Plus, once I found this $30 train set that snaps INTO your tree, I knew we'd find a way to make a passable Hogwarts Express out of it.

Here's what we started with:

Good thing it's cheap, because wow does it look it.

 And here's our finished product:


This mod is pretty tedious, since you pretty much have to disassemble the entire train, paint the individual pieces, and then remember how to put it all together again.

In addition to painting, we removed a lot of extraneous pieces like the front smoke stack, bell, and the extra railings and ladders on the coal car. I also cut out the speaker, since the sound effects were terrible - and loud.

We completely re-built the front end of the engine, which looked like this after we cut off the big lantern, gold trim, and cowpoke (oops) cowcatcher.


That center screw is just decorative, so I covered the front hatch with epoxy putty, which allowed us to drill a new hole down low for the headlight:


(Sorry the headlight's not on here; it only lights while the train is running.)

Obviously it's not perfect, but I think we got the general idea across!


(Just realized the side railing isn't gold on the Express. OOPS. Looks like I have some touch-up painting to do!)

We found and printed some of the world's tiniest decals, which I applied with even tinier spots of clear glue.

The red spray paint we used was a little richer and had a slight texture to it, which makes the train look more like metal:

And again, this is what we started with:

Now the other two cars:

Before:
 


After:



Before:


After:


And yes, that IS a tiny dementor on the back:


This was entirely John's idea, but I think it's hilarious.


Plus the way he positioned the wire makes the dementor really seem like it's flying as the train rounds the tree:

ACTION SEQUENCE... GO!



Hee!

I like to think the dementor is something a Slytherin would stick on the train as a joke, so it still fits with my "tree that Hogwarts' kids made" theme.

Hope you guys aren't getting TOO Pottered out this month, since I still have a few more goodies to share. Stay tuned for winged keys, potion bottles, and parchment scrolls with levitating quill pens!

And if you're just catching up, here's what I've shared from the tree so far:

- DIY Golden Snitches
- Floating Candles
- Cauldron Base
- Mini Quidditch Brooms

42 comments:

  1. This is so freakin awesome! Love the Dementor on the back. Your tree pretty much trumps anyone's tree ever! :)x

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  2. Although I was the target demographic when the books were released, I never read any of them until I was in college (and then it was only because it was required for a class). After feeling like I was losing some geek-cred for not having read them, I finally read all 7 in about 3 months earlier this year. I love the series now and am trying to add HP things to my sci-fi and fantasy collection, so these posts have been great!

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  3. SQUEE.
    TASTIC.

    Luvluvluvluvluv. And don't change the gold, it looks like the Express just got a bit of a makeover for Christmas! Amazing how authentic you made it look and how, um, non-authentic it looked when you started. (Oh, and I think the thingie you took off the front of the train is called a "cowcatcher", not a "cowpoke", who is the guy who pokes the cows. Not like that. You know what I mean. :)

    Kimstu

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  4. I LOVE this. I don't usually go in for theme trees (my theme is explosion of color and everything anyone in my family has ever liked enough to get an ornament of) but this tree is changing my mind.

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  5. Aaah, this is the best tree ever! Definitely not getting tired of seeing each new awesome step :D I'm pretty sure the tiny dementor on the end made my day. It's hard to believe the start and finish trains are the same train! You guys definitely saves the poor thing from a sad life of plastic coal carrying drudgery :)

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  6. Bonus - every time the Dementor comes into sight, you have to eat chocolate. Professor Lupin says so.

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  7. Definitely not too Pottered out! Love all these tutorials. I've never planned a themed tree--I don't do much holiday decorating, and we live on far too tight a budget to change our tree up every year--but I am now plotting a Smaug tree (maybe for next year or the year after--I have young kids, and I'm not sure when I can trust my boy with ornaments in reach!) after your comment in your tree festival post. I keep eyeing the ornament-less tree in our living room and approximating how big a dragon I'll need to make, and I keep thinking of new ornaments and embellishments to make...my husband is getting worried! ;-) Though most of these tutorials won't exactly translate to a Smaug tree, the excitement of putting together a all-out themed tree does, and I've really enjoyed reading all of these! Keep 'em coming! :-)

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    1. Put the Christmas tree in a play yard -- especially if you can find one second-hand.... We put ours on a little sturdy table inside a square play yard to keep the branches out of the reach of little hands. It may not have the esthetics of solely using a fancy tree skirt, etc., but it works...!

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    2. Ah, memories! Our kids' playpen long outlived it's original purpose. Every Christmas for several years we put our tree inside it, to keep it away from our destructo-kitties. Eventually they got too mature (old, fat, lazy) to care about the giant glittery cat playground we kept offering them.

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  8. squeeeeeeeeeee! especially for the tiny dementor!
    as always, wildly impressed with you and john. great job!

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  9. You mean cowcatcher. A cowpoke is a cowboy. That thing on the front of a train is a cowcatcher.

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  10. This reminds me of the model trains I grew up watching my dad work on. I'd play under a model layout that spanned almost an entire basement full of tiny wonderful details, from scenery to buildings and of course the trains. He and his friends often customized the locomotives and cars to suit their interests in a particular railway or location. Have you ever visited a local hobby shop well-supplied for model railroading? It's a wonderland of racks of decals and bags of bushy grass material. Perhaps ironically we never had a train around the Christmas tree except for one short-lived set with garish colors and loud noises. Thanks for sharing such an interesting project!

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    Replies
    1. When I saw her say tedious I though "Gee, she needs to watch a real model train ... um ... enthusiast (geek, nut, zealot etc) make a typical model train set look more realistic."
      I've seen one where he even puts graffiti tags on his cars so it look really realistic.

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    2. That's railfans for you :)

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  11. I. Want. This.

    No. I need this. The whole thing... you can just ship it to my house. I would honestly leave this up all year long. Who doesn't want a Hogwarts Express around their tree with a Dementor chasing behind?!?!

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  12. Jen and John,
    Your creativity and craftsman talents NEVER cease to amaze. That is SERIOUSLY impressive stuff!

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  13. There's no such thing as too much Potter. LOVE it and can't wait for winged keysl

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  14. OMG. The tiny dementor.

    That may be my favorite thing about the entire tree.. and that's saying something.

    I. love. him. What a great touch!

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  15. How fun!!!! Thanks for posting while cruising, so the rest of us don't go into Epbot withdrawl.
    Maureen S

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  16. Ahhhh! Stop making amazing things that I must also now try!

    Just kidding. Keep on keepin' on.

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  17. That's so awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  18. This is amazing!! Especially given what you started with. That dementor is just perfect.

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  19. If a dementor could ever be cute.. that one is.. and you did an amazing job with the train. I was wondering how you got it to fit in the tree but then a train designed to snap into a tree would do the trick eh? :) I love all the potter crafts it really makes me feel super christmasy i know that seems odd huh lol HAPPY Christmas!!

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  20. Augh, this is SO COOL! There is never too much Potter, bring it on!

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  21. That's so funny! Love it!

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  22. I'm obsessed with this train!!! Your patience and skill astound me every time. :-D

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  23. Awesomeness! Your details astound. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  24. I am with Anonymous SQUEETASTIC. I love this tree and all the Harry Potter memories is stirs. It was a fantastic series of books for me. But it was, first, a series of books. Your train can look anything like the Hogwarts Express looks in your mind. There isn't a standard based on what the movie said it has to look like. Keep the gold and thank you again for all the inspiration.

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  25. I love the tree! We are thinking of doing a harry potter themed nursery for our little one arriving in June. I was toying with the idea of doing a winged key mobile but was having trouble figuring out how to do the wings. I was going to use my cricut to cut out fairy wings, but yours seems way easier. Where did you get the template for the printout wings?

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    1. Ooh, I'd love to see it when you're done! John found a dragonfly wing outline online, and then just pasted a bunch of them on a page for me to print out. I'd have included his file, but the little stinker deleted it when we were done! Sorry 'bout that, but try a google search; you should be able to find the same or similar.

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  26. There is never too much Potter! Seriously how can you even say that.

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  27. I WILL NEVER EVER BE POTTERED OUT!!!!! KEEP 'EM COMING!!!

    no but seriously. :"D

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  28. Do you remember where you found the decals? I'd love to try to make a similar train for our library Christmas tree.

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    1. We just googled images of the train & clipped out the graphics to print. However, I've since seen a DIY somewhere online for a large scale cardboard Hogwarts Express (big enough for kids to sit in) that includes all the train graphcs - except now I can't find it! Arg. Sorry. Maybe you'll have better luck?

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  29. do you remember what color th paint was. I am in th middle of taking my train apart!!

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