One man’s junk is another’s ...... Christmas tree

Using 60 hubcaps and 35 license plates he found at one of his favorite junkyards, Ryan Armstrong created a unique Christmas tree that is loved by his children and those who pass by his Saukville home


Ozaukee Press staff

Ryan Armstrong will be the first to admit he’s a bit of a picker, so when he came across a stash of hubcaps at a scrapyard, the wheels started turning.

“I like to scrounge around in junkyards, and one day I stumbled across piles and piles of hubcaps,” he said. “I thought, there has to be something that can be done with these.

“I had to have them.”

It turns out there was something that could be done with all that wheel bling from an era when most cars had hubcaps, and that is a 10-foot Christmas tree made of wheel covers and license plates that adorns Armstrong’s front yard on Highway 33 in Saukville.

“Most of them (the hubcaps) are from the 1970s and 80s,” he said. “They’re pretty cool.”

Armstrong found the hubcaps — about 60 of them — and license plates — 35, to be exact — at Kaiser Wrecking in Adell and paid what he said was a fair price for them.

But what to do with them?

A welder by trade who works at Manitowoc Crane in Port Washington, as well as a “car guy” and, apparently, a bit of an artist, Armstrong remembered something his dad told him and went to work.

“My father said he saw one of these back in the day and it was pretty cool,” he said of the hubcap Christmas tree.

Armstrong welded together six poles to form a tepee frame, then wired on all 60 hubcaps and 35 license plates. He threw on some lights and topped his creation with a star.

Viola! A Christmas tree.

“It’s just fun looking at something and finding an unintended use for it,” he said.

His two sons, ages 11 and 5, who like tinkering in the garage with their dad, love the tree.

“It’s their job to plug it in every night,” Armstrong said.

The boys have made their father promise the hubcap Christmas tree won’t meet the same fate as some of his other creations.

“I’ve made other stuff and put them in the front yard and people come along and make me an offer on it,” Armstrong said. “I get yelled at by my kids because they like this stuff, and my 11-year-old says I can’t sell the tree.”

So when the snow begins to melt, Armstrong said, he will weld a set of wheels onto the tree and use his garden tractor to tow it into the back yard, where it will sit until next Christmas, when once again it will grace his front yard on one of the busiest streets in Saukville.

That, he said, will make his family as well as passers-by happy.

“It’s really cool how the lights bounce off the chrome of the hubcaps and how the license plates reflect light at night,” Armstrong said.

“I see a lot of people pulling over to take pictures, so I must have done something right.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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