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Mark Showalter

Weber Construction Tips

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I was sent a PM asking about construction and tear down tips for a Weber tree. I'm posting my answer here in case others are interested or can add additional details or perspectives.

I was one of many who had a Weber tree in my 2010 display. I had a collapsable flag pole in my front yard that could be removed and the hole in the flag poles concrete foundation was the perfect spot to put the Weber tree. I used two sections of 1-1/4 inch black water pipe for the mast. Several of the Weber tree accessories were purchased from Darryl Brown at his Christmas Light Show web site. They included the pole pin to keep the two sections of the mast together, the hook head to hang the lights and light support cables, the guy wire arms to attached to the top of the mast and the hand winch to get all the lights and support cable to the top of the mast. You can see these on Darryl's Mega Tree accessories page: http://christmaslightshow.com/?cat=60

After securing the star, already attached to the extension cords, and guy wire arm, with guy wires attached, to the top of the tree it took a couple of people to get the heavy mast into the concrete foundation. Once there it was easy enough to make it very sturdy with the four guy wires staked into the ground.

Once the 16 support cables and 32 strings of light were attached to the hook head I used the hand wench to raise them up to the top of the tree. This was a little frustrating as the hook head or the pulley got jammed along the way several times. This year I'm putting a heavier duty pulley up top.

I used coated wire clothes line with reinforced metal loops in the ends for the 16 support cable. These were a tangles mess to deal with as they continued to want to revert back to a coiled position. Eventually these were all staked into position. I used two different types of stakes; the large plastic stakes were the first ones to come lose. I would not recommend using these. The best stakes were large metal stakes that were about the diameter of rebar. A hole had been pre-drilled in the metal stakes and that worked perfectly. This year I'm also adding turn buckles at every stake/support cable location to make sure the support cables don't sag.

Finally the easy part, with all the strings out of the way (resting on the guy wires) I walked each channel of light strings around the tree until the light ends were secured at the bottom. The lights made it around the tree about twice. I used two 100 Ct strings (33 ft long) for each of the 16 channels.

I did learn the hard way that a good wind storm will reek havoc on the unsecured light strings. A few zip ties would have helped a lot.

Tear down was easy enough until it came to taking down the mast. Tim Fisher gave me the excellent tip to get a few people manning the ends of the guy wires so the heavy mast could be safely lowered.
:D

Attached files 244031=13279-Weber construction tips.jpg

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Mark Showalter wrote:

I used coated wire clothes line with reinforced metal loops in the ends for the 16 support cable. These were a tangles mess to deal with as they continued to want to revert back to a coiled position. Eventually these were all staked into position. I used two different types of stakes; the large plastic stakes were the first ones to come lose. I would not recommend using these. The best stakes were large metal stakes that were about the diameter of rebar. A hole had been pre-drilled in the metal stakes and that worked perfectly. This year I'm also adding turn buckles at every stake/support cable location to make sure the support cables don't sag.

Why not attach your support cables to a piece of PVC made to the diameter of the base of your tree....then instead of individual stakes for each support cable, you could use large "staples" (U-shaped bent wire) to hold down the PVC...might hold better.

You could even put sand into the PVC to make it weighted...

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Mark Showalter wrote:

I was sent a PM asking about construction and tear down tips for a Weber tree. I'm posting my answer here in case others are interested or can add additional details or perspectives.

I was one of many who had a Weber tree in my 2010 display. I had a collapsable flag pole in my front yard that could be removed and the hole in the flag poles concrete foundation was the perfect spot to put the Weber tree. I used two sections of 1-1/4 inch black water pipe for the mast. Several of the Weber tree accessories were purchased from Darryl Brown at his Christmas Light Show web site. They included the pole pin to keep the two sections of the mast together, the hook head to hang the lights and light support cables, the guy wire arms to attached to the top of the mast and the hand winch to get all the lights and support cable to the top of the mast. You can see these on Darryl's Mega Tree accessories page: http://christmaslightshow.com/?cat=60

After securing the star, already attached to the extension cords, and guy wire arm, with guy wires attached, to the top of the tree it took a couple of people to get the heavy mast into the concrete foundation. Once there it was easy enough to make it very sturdy with the four guy wires staked into the ground.

Once the 16 support cables and 32 strings of light were attached to the hook head I used the hand wench to raise them up to the top of the tree. This was a little frustrating as the hook head or the pulley got jammed along the way several times. This year I'm putting a heavier duty pulley up top.

I used coated wire clothes line with reinforced metal loops in the ends for the 16 support cable. These were a tangles mess to deal with as they continued to want to revert back to a coiled position. Eventually these were all staked into position. I used two different types of stakes; the large plastic stakes were the first ones to come lose. I would not recommend using these. The best stakes were large metal stakes that were about the diameter of rebar. A hole had been pre-drilled in the metal stakes and that worked perfectly. This year I'm also adding turn buckles at every stake/support cable location to make sure the support cables don't sag.

Finally the easy part, with all the strings out of the way (resting on the guy wires) I walked each channel of light strings around the tree until the light ends were secured at the bottom. The lights made it around the tree about twice. I used two 100 Ct strings (33 ft long) for each of the 16 channels.

I did learn the hard way that a good wind storm will reek havoc on the unsecured light strings. A few zip ties would have helped a lot.

Tear down was easy enough until it came to taking down the mast. Tim Fisher gave me the excellent tip to get a few people manning the ends of the guy wires so the heavy mast could be safely lowered.
:D
I guess when putting up one of these it is a one shot deal as in you don't want to constantly take up and down as you adjust nor can you build it ahead of time and just move it (mini trees).

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Thanks for starting this Mark, when I have more time to concentrate I'll be back to read it. I need to start planning mine!

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caniac wrote:

I guess when putting up one of these it is a one shot deal as in you don't want to constantly take up and down as you adjust nor can you build it ahead of time and just move it (mini trees).

I made mine so it is portable and can be put up and down:

watch it here:

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jimswinder wrote:

caniac wrote:
I guess when putting up one of these it is a one shot deal as in you don't want to constantly take up and down as you adjust nor can you build it ahead of time and just move it (mini trees).

I made mine so it is portable and can be put up and down:

watch it here:

http://vimeo.com/15934905
how many can's of "Red Bull" were consumed in making that video?

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That tree looks AwEsOmE. I really, really want one!

I *LOVE* how the spiral megatrees look and would love to do one. But I'm still a newb and just can't bear to uses 16 channels on a single element. I guess I need more channels before the !/$ ratio makes it worth it to me.

I need more channels for
* arches
* split up my bushes
* finishing outlining my roof line
* putting multiple colors on existing elements
* All this ...and... RGB


I mean I could easily burn through several hundred channels and still not be able to say the show is done.

I had two controllers for 2010 and bought 4 more for 2011. My wife said, "Don't you think you should increase the show slowly?"

She didn't understand when I told her this was increasing the show slowly.

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jstorms wrote:

That tree looks AwEsOmE. I really, really want one!

I *LOVE* how the spiral megatrees look and would love to do one. But I'm still a newb and just can't bear to uses 16 channels on a single element. I guess I need more channels before the !/$ ratio makes it worth it to me.

I need more channels for
* arches
* split up my bushes
* finishing outlining my roof line
* putting multiple colors on existing elements
* All this ...and... RGB


I mean I could easily burn through several hundred channels and still not be able to say the show is done.

I had two controllers for 2010 and bought 4 more for 2011. My wife said, "Don't you think you should increase the show slowly?"

She didn't understand when I told her this was increasing the show slowly.
The Mega Tree is what got me interested in LOR and gonna try and blow folks away with a Weber (spiral) this year. Started with 32 channels and purchased one more controller last month, will purchase one more next month. Then I will need to make a big decision as to whether to stay at 64 or jump to 80 (most of my sequences are configured up to 64, will have to purchase the 128 version or rewrite).

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currently I use a Sunsetter Telescoping flag pole for my mega tree, is there a benefit to storing it for the winter and using a pvc base/pulley system?

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jimswinder wrote:

You could even put sand into the PVC to make it weighted...

I used 4 sandbags placed around the bottom of my small (10-foot) mega tree. The advantage is great wind resistance, because the tree just flexes a little and the sandbags lift a little off the ground, but they come right back down.

The disadvantages are that the sandbags are bulky and tend to get wet.

This year I'm going to rebuild it using EMT. I haven't decided how tall,but I'm thinking of adding a few feet.

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Steven wrote:

jimswinder wrote:
You could even put sand into the PVC to make it weighted...

I used 4 sandbags placed around the bottom of my small (10-foot) mega tree. The advantage is great wind resistance, because the tree just flexes a little and the sandbags lift a little off the ground, but they come right back down.

The disadvantages are that the sandbags are bulky and tend to get wet.

This year I'm going to rebuild it using EMT. I haven't decided how tall,but I'm thinking of adding a few feet.
what is EMT?

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Electrical Matalic Tubing...Use it in commercial INDOOR installs..This stuff rusts real fast outside!!!! Cost way more but Aluminum conduit at $2.00 a foot won't rust!! PVC is the cheapest alternative.

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Why not attach your support cables to a piece of PVC made to the diameter of the base of your tree....then instead of individual stakes for each support cable, you could use large "staples" (U-shaped bent wire) to hold down the PVC...might hold better.


Jim, I like that idea and will add it this year. Because we are so windy in our area I may add a few stakes for good measure. :D

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Thanks for posting this Mark. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me with this project. This was smart to post it here instead of a PM. I hope to get the materials soon to start figuring out exactly where I am going to put it.

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I'd like some advice before I buy something that won't be useful.

This year I'm going to upgrade my mega tree. I am planning to make it a spiral (Weber?) RGB tree, using 8 of these 12v LED RGB strips.

I'm also planning to keep the 7-channel multi-color horizontal channels that I have used in the past, but upgrade them to LED strings this year. I'm also going to keep the 20 4-color ornaments that spin around the base.

Previously, the trunk of the tree was a 10-foot PVC pipe, but that is not stable and won't support the additional weight. Also, I'm thinking that my suburban lot would look good with a 12' tree. So I'm planning on using metal conduit and steel cables, instead of PVC and nylon twine. I'm going to anchor it down with metal stakes into the lawn, instead of sandbags.

Does this sound like a good idea? I'm still not 100% sure.

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Steven wrote:

I'd like some advice before I buy something that won't be useful.

This year I'm going to upgrade my mega tree. I am planning to make it a spiral (Weber?) RGB tree, using 8 of these 12v LED RGB strips.

I'm also planning to keep the 7-channel multi-color horizontal channels that I have used in the past, but upgrade them to LED strings this year. I'm also going to keep the 20 4-color ornaments that spin around the base.

Previously, the trunk of the tree was a 10-foot PVC pipe, but that is not stable and won't support the additional weight. Also, I'm thinking that my suburban lot would look good with a 12' tree. So I'm planning on using metal conduit and steel cables, instead of PVC and nylon twine. I'm going to anchor it down with metal stakes into the lawn, instead of sandbags.

Does this sound like a good idea? I'm still not 100% sure.
I saw something on PlanetChristmas that was a good replacement for that and 20ft tall.

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Steven wrote:

Also, I'm thinking that my suburban lot would look good with a 12' tree. So I'm planning on using metal conduit and steel cables, instead of PVC and nylon twine. I'm going to anchor it down with metal stakes into the lawn, instead of sandbags.

Does this sound like a good idea? I'm still not 100% sure.

I would cement a sleeve (about 18" - 24" in length) in the ground that the mast can slide in to

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I did what Jim wrote, just didnt cement it in.. it's a 2 1/2" pvc section, abt 24" long, with a cap at the bottom.. sunk into the ground. Dug a pit, sleeve in the middle, filled in the pit, sleeve top flush with the ground. Has a small plug that goes into the top, to keep it clean and low/tight enough that a mower wont disturb it. The mast is 16' (12' & 6' pieces), 2 1/4" pvc with a 12', 2" fence pipe for strength (wont bow) inside. I have a cap on the top of the mast with 16 screws in it to loop the lights over it. The 16' mast slips into the embedded sleeve, then guyed with the lights themselves..

To do a webber, I'll have to run steel wire down from the screws to the stakes. We dont get reeeeeally strong winds here in AZ like Santa Ana's in So. Cal... we've seen up to abt 40mph+ but thats abt it..

I'm going to go with at least 4 spiral dog-tether stakes, maybe 8 to hold the pvc hoop for the base.

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I have a similar set up with the 2.5 pvc pipe buried in the soil. We have red clay as our soil type and when packed into place it holds like concrete. To dress it up for the rest of the year, I installed one of those valve boxes for an irrigation system. Once the pole/mast/trunk comes down I put the green lid back on and it is flush with the ground and protected. My trunk is 25 feet, two of which are below grade and holds up very well. I made a collar out of a 4" pvc coupling with 16 eye bolts. I connect the strands to each and crank it up the pole and secure everything.

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Have started the planning stages of by Weber Tree and have a few questions:

1) last year i used my Sunsetter flag pole for my MegaTree, it did ok but the weight of the rope lights might have shortened its life. currently it has "issues". The diameter of the pole looks to be 2 1/2 inches but PVC comes in either 3" or 2" varieties. What does everyone use? There is a sleeve inside the base I cemented in the ground, not sure if it is 3" or not. **also have a flower bed around the flag pole that I have to work around**

2) How high should it be? Was thinking of 20' but not sure how to erect that.

3) What kind of topper? have seen some online with a pulley but they look bulky, are there other options?

4) At the 10 and 15 foot marks do you need to build in some sort of support to keep the tree looking full? my initial thought is 16 vertical strands of something of the same color (all on one channel) and then do a 16 channel spiral on top of that. any problems with that?


Keep in mind that I intend to put this up a few days before thanksgiving and leave it up until new years day. any and all suggestions are appreciated. If needed I can take pics of the area in question.

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caniac wrote:

Have started the planning stages of by Weber Tree and have a few questions:

1) last year i used my Sunsetter flag pole for my MegaTree, it did ok but the weight of the rope lights might have shortened its life. currently it has "issues". The diameter of the pole looks to be 2 1/2 inches but PVC comes in either 3" or 2" varieties. What does everyone use? There is a sleeve inside the base I cemented in the ground, not sure if it is 3" or not. **also have a flower bed around the flag pole that I have to work around**

**Last year my 20' mast was 2-1/2" aluminum Sch 40 Pipe...and it bent/broke in half with NO winds and NO snow...but I had a LOT of weight pulling it to one side...bad engineering on my part. This year I am going with (3) 1" Aluminum pipes welded together to form a "triangle"*

2) How high should it be? Was thinking of 20' but not sure how to erect that.

**Depends on your string lengths, how many time you want to go around the tree, etc...I take it you have looked and used the "Spiral Tree Calculator"?
You can find one here:
http://westseattlelights.com/sequences.htm
To erect mine, I just put one end into the sleeve I had welded to my base and "walked" up the mast to stand it up (that's why I used aluminum...steel would have been to heavy to be able to do that).

3) What kind of topper? have seen some online with a pulley but they look bulky, are there other options?

**Again..depends on how you are going to build it. Are you going to "build it" right before thanksgiving?

4) At the 10 and 15 foot marks do you need to build in some sort of support to keep the tree looking full?

**Since the lights are "spiraling" you should be able to see the lights on the "back" half of the tree from the front, so it will look pretty full..at least mine did.**

my initial thought is 16 vertical strands of something of the same color (all on one channel) and then do a 16 channel spiral on top of that. any problems with that?

**Sounds like a Weber/Mega Tree combination...which I think looks pretty nice and you can get some nice effects (if you had the 16 verticals on separate channels)!!**


Keep in mind that I intend to put this up a few days before thanksgiving and leave it up until new years day. any and all suggestions are appreciated. If needed I can take pics of the area in question.

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jimswinder wrote:

caniac wrote:
Have started the planning stages of by Weber Tree and have a few questions:

1) last year i used my Sunsetter flag pole for my MegaTree, it did ok but the weight of the rope lights might have shortened its life. currently it has "issues". The diameter of the pole looks to be 2 1/2 inches but PVC comes in either 3" or 2" varieties. What does everyone use? There is a sleeve inside the base I cemented in the ground, not sure if it is 3" or not. **also have a flower bed around the flag pole that I have to work around**

**Last year my 20' mast was 2-1/2" aluminum Sch 40 Pipe...and it bent/broke in half with NO winds and NO snow...but I had a LOT of weight pulling it to one side...bad engineering on my part. This year I am going with (3) 1" Aluminum pipes welded together to form a "triangle"*

are you using that instead of guy wire?

2) How high should it be? Was thinking of 20' but not sure how to erect that.

**Depends on your string lengths, how many time you want to go around the tree, etc...I take it you have looked and used the "Spiral Tree Calculator"?
You can find one here:
http://westseattlelights.com/sequences.htm

yup

3) What kind of topper? have seen some online with a pulley but they look bulky, are there other options?

**Again..depends on how you are going to build it. Are you going to "build it" right before thanksgiving?

that is the plan, need to have components purchased and tested prior

4) At the 10 and 15 foot marks do you need to build in some sort of support to keep the tree looking full?

**Since the lights are "spiraling" you should be able to see the lights on the "back" half of the tree from the front, so it will look pretty full..at least mine did.**

so inserting some sort of hoop out of irrigation pvc not necessary?

my initial thought is 16 vertical strands of something of the same color (all on one channel) and then do a 16 channel spiral on top of that. any problems with that?

**Sounds like a Weber/Mega Tree combination...which I think looks pretty nice and you can get some nice effects!!**


Keep in mind that I intend to put this up a few days before thanksgiving and leave it up until new years day. any and all suggestions are appreciated. If needed I can take pics of the area in question.

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caniac wrote:

jimswinder wrote:
caniac wrote:
Have started the planning stages of by Weber Tree and have a few questions:

1) last year i used my Sunsetter flag pole for my MegaTree, it did ok but the weight of the rope lights might have shortened its life. currently it has "issues". The diameter of the pole looks to be 2 1/2 inches but PVC comes in either 3" or 2" varieties. What does everyone use? There is a sleeve inside the base I cemented in the ground, not sure if it is 3" or not. **also have a flower bed around the flag pole that I have to work around**

**Last year my 20' mast was 2-1/2" aluminum Sch 40 Pipe...and it bent/broke in half with NO winds and NO snow...but I had a LOT of weight pulling it to one side...bad engineering on my part. This year I am going with (3) 1" Aluminum pipes welded together to form a "triangle"*

are you using that instead of guy wire?

**Oh no...will still have guy sires...last year I had SIX...three at the top and three in the middle...which is where it broke..right above the middle guy wires.**

2) How high should it be? Was thinking of 20' but not sure how to erect that.

**Depends on your string lengths, how many time you want to go around the tree, etc...I take it you have looked and used the "Spiral Tree Calculator"?
You can find one here:
http://westseattlelights.com/sequences.htm

yup

3) What kind of topper? have seen some online with a pulley but they look bulky, are there other options?

**Again..depends on how you are going to build it. Are you going to "build it" right before thanksgiving?

that is the plan, need to have components purchased and tested prior

**I built a platform to build mine...but I did that during the summer as there was no way I could have a platform on top of my roof (where the Weber tree was set.

4) At the 10 and 15 foot marks do you need to build in some sort of support to keep the tree looking full?

**Since the lights are "spiraling" you should be able to see the lights on the "back" half of the tree from the front, so it will look pretty full..at least mine did.**

so inserting some sort of hoop out of irrigation pvc not necessary?

**Don't know what you mean by "inserting PVC"...unless you mean to keep the lights from falling into and toward the mast...which will happen. That was the biggest issue for me...as I kept on adding strings of lights the weight of the lights on the wires (that "formed the tree") kept collapsing toward the center of the tree and hence making each string of lights go further around the tree (since the diameter of the tree would essentially change (shrink) with every string of lights added.) So adding a hoop at one or more points inside the tree would be a great idea...hadn't thought of doing that!!!**

my initial thought is 16 vertical strands of something of the same color (all on one channel) and then do a 16 channel spiral on top of that. any problems with that?

**Sounds like a Weber/Mega Tree combination...which I think looks pretty nice and you can get some nice effects!!**


Keep in mind that I intend to put this up a few days before thanksgiving and leave it up until new years day. any and all suggestions are appreciated. If needed I can take pics of the area in question.


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I would also suggest NOT trying to make the spirals look perfect...you'll drive yourself crazy!!!!

When it is dark and the lights are on, it will look great!!!

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