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.
How do you open this up? My parents just gave me one. How do I pop it open to look inside?
On the bottom is a metal half washer. Needle nose pliers gets that to pop out.
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?
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.
Can you tell me where to buy the rubber belt that goes between the motor and the pulley?
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!
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?
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?
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.
Who can repair 1964 Holly Time musical color wheel . Call mark. 7607746735
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.
Hello. I just purchased one of these. It’s fully functional, but I’m wondering if you might know, is it okay to put water in this stand? I know there are some rotating tree models that specifically say don’t do so, but some of them allow for it. Do you know if it’s safe for this model? Thanks in advance!
Hey Paula! I know that it was designed to hold water, and that my family did put water during the 80’s and 90’s to keep the live tree watered.
I have not done any safety research about this since the stand was released. I’m reluctant to ever say “sure it’s safe!” but I know that I would personally feel safe doing it.
Thanks, Jeff, for the quick reply! We went ahead and put water in the stand and it holds it just fine. Another question for you. I know I said in my previous comment that the stand was fully functional, but that was only until we put a tree in it. We just put one in and it rotated about 3 times, then came to a stop. It will move a little with a push, but then stop again. My husband took it apart and all of the wheels but one were completely stuck. With heat, wd-40, and some grease, they were spinning like a champ again. We thought for sure this would solve the problem. Put the tree back in the stand, it spun for a couple turns then stopped again. I can feel the stand is vibrating, like it’s still running and trying to turn, but isn’t able to unless giving it a push. Any idea what the problem is? It spins fine with no tree in it, so I’m assuming the weight is part of the problem, but it’s just a standard size tree, not a behemoth. Thanks in advance!
I had this problem once and it was that the rubber o-ring that connects the motor to the gearbox was old and no longer taught. Without the tree in there, there’s just enough friction to allow the ring to turn the gearbox. But once the tree goes in, the o-ring starts slipping in place.
At the end of the season I open up the tree stand and detach the o-ring, that helps keep it taught and elongate it’s life.
I’m sorry you got your tree in there and then it stopped working, I know what a pain in the ass that is 🙂
I have one of these but a little rust spots on the outside. Any suggestions to try and restore the outside surface?
I’m looking for a replacement part for a EZ Christmas tree rotator. I’ve looked everywhere. It’s the round piece that goes on the tree’s base and screws on to the big round green rotating stand base. It has 2 screws. I didn’t realize I didn’t take the collar off and gave the tree away. Now I need it to secure my tree to the base. I know there has to be more people that gives their trees away and forgets to take the collar off the tree. My base is useless without the part to hold the tree straight and secure. Does anyone know where to buy this part ? Thank you,
we have one of these that was given to us by my wife’s parents. it has found memory’s for her. The light sockets are inop. I took it apart and it needs a new circiut board like the one you made. can you make another on and ship it to me? Or is there a place where i an find one? any info would be great. Thanks John
Hi John! This was a one off board, but I’m looking at purchasing a replacement board instead of making another one next time. I believe what we want is a “pancake slip ring”
My plan is to purchase one of these and then drill some holes in some material to make a mounting adapter to attach it to the tree stand.
I am looking for someone in the Chicagoland area that can fix my Spincraft Heirloom rotating and music playing Christmas tree stand…
Hi Jamie I know it’s a year later but I can probably get it to work.
I also have an ez stand that I need the collar for and can not find it anywhere. Anyone know where to look?