Rotating Tree Stand Repair

When my mother was 10 years old, my grandfather purchased a rotating tree stand.  They don’t make them like this anymore.  It’s sturdy cast aluminum with a brush contact for powering the lights, and strong enough to rotate a real tree.  It ran for 56 years, but last year when I turned on the lights, it wouldn’t make a full rotation without throwing the house circuit breaker.  Pictured below is my Karosel Model R-100-B manufactured by the Kresky Manufacturing Company.

I opened it up and performed an inspection:

Pictured above are the scorch marks on the original circuit board.

Pictured below is the stationary base.  It has two prongs conducting 120V from the wall into this circuit board that glides across the tips of the prongs.  The circuit board then passes the current onto the electrical sockets on the outside of the stand.

 

The base had bent in over the years, allowing the circuit board to brush up against the bottom-most prong.  This caused a short, and the resulting arc destroyed the board.  With the prongs being in good condition, I focused on replacing the burned circuit board.

A set of calipers was used to measure the width of the concentric rings.  Using the measurements, Phil Showers helped me create a design in Inkscape:

I took a piece of copper clad board and spray painted it black to create a base for a mask.  Using the shop’s desktop laser cutter, an inverse of the image was rastered onto the painted board. This burned the parts of the unwanted mask away.

Pictured above is the board after one pass in the laser cutter, and below after the second pass:

Once out of the laser cutter, I used the shop’s scroll saw to cut out the board and the belt sander to smooth out the edges.  Then, using a sanding paste, I removed the remaining mask that the laser cutter wasn’t able to burn away:

At this point the board was ready for the acid bath:

The acid is a mixture of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide.  After about 30 minutes in the bubbler, anywhere the acid touched copper was eaten away. Anywhere the spray paint mask remained protected the copper underneath.  This left behind the concentric conductive rings on the board.

In the next picture you can see the board with its exposed copper removed.  Next, the remaining spray paint was removed using paint thinner and manual scrubbing with a household sponge.

 

The original board was used as a template to drill holes in the new board.  I was able to salvage the original electrical connectors and mount them on the new board.  I didn’t have copper riveting equipment, so I used zinc plated #4 machine screws and nuts.

Below is a picture of the new board mounted on the stand.  I added some solder between the screw and the board to increase conductive surface area between the two components.

 

Although it has been used to hold live trees in years past, I have an artificial tree in mine 🙂  Live trees are a mess.

 

 

17 Comments






  1. How do you open this up? My parents just gave me one. How do I pop it open to look inside?

  2. On the bottom is a metal half washer. Needle nose pliers gets that to pop out.

  3. My name is Michael Sater from Maryville Tennessee. I do clock repair for a living but somebody brought me one of these. The comb on the music box was broken. How do I determine what tune was being played and what comb is correct for this unit?

  4. Author

    Hey Michael! I know that these units were sold with different songs they played, but that they only played one song. I think a music box officianado might be able to look at the spindle with the dots on it and take a good guess at what notes were being played. You may want to hit up https://www.reddit.com/r/Musicbox/ for answers.

    Unless you’re going for authenticity, it might be easier to replace the entire music box unit with a modern one.

  5. Can you tell me where to buy the rubber belt that goes between the motor and the pulley?

  6. The rubber belt is an o-ring. My plan for when mine goes is to order a bag of them that has multiple sizes (they’re cheap) and try out a couple till I find one that is a suitable replacement. Hope this helped!

  7. I love this, I just opened our family Christmas tree stand, and it was the same one. Does anyone know a drop in replacement motor?
    Regards,
    Jim

  8. Have one called a Starbell that belonged to my grandparents. I’m guessing it’s from the or 50’s or early 60’s. It also contains an electrically driven mechanical music box that sounds terrible. The box doesn’t tinkle like a music box should, it has a buzzy twangy sound to it. Can the box be replaced?

  9. Hi Jeff, Just a quick update, I studied up on the shaded pole motors that are used in these, and found that they had very low starting torque, so my motor seemed to be ok. THe trick was to reduce the viscosity of the grease in the gear box. I spun the gear manually, then used a heat gun to warm it very carefully, spun it again, rinse and repeat. When I finished the motor was able to spin the stand!! Another 50-60 year old stand ready to perform! I will set up a tree for my 92 year old mother tonight.

  10. Author

    That’s awesome!!

  11. Who can repair 1964 Holly Time musical color wheel . Call mark. 7607746735

  12. Great information! I unearthed our family’s 60’s Heirloom Spincraft tree stand. Unfortunately it doesn’t rotate or play music anymore. I am clearly not handy and wondered if anyone knows a place in the Chicago area that repairs them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *