Canadian Woodworking

Toy Train

Author: David E. Rickett
Illustration: James Provost
Published: December January 2008

Trains, boats and planes seem to fascinate both young and old.

Perhaps as a child you received a train as a Christmas gift. Or you may remember your first train ride – the sound of a chugging locomotive is one not soon forgotten. With that in mind, here is the locomotive end of a train that can either be a toy, part of a Christmas display or something to put on your fireplace mantle.

This is a great project to do with the young woodworker in your life. All you have to do is cut and assemble five main pieces, and then add on a bit of hardware. You can use almost any wood, and the hardware is available from most building supply or hardware stores.

• Begin by cutting a piece of wood for the chassis (A). I suggest you cut the cowcatcher before you cut  the chassis to length as sometimes the compound cuts don’t meet in the middle on the first try. The cowcatcher is the compound beveled front of the locomotive, which serves to push aside snow, fallen branches and the occasional cow, off the tracks. You also need to cut a 30º angle halfway through at the other end of the chassis. Cut a saw slit in the bottom of the chassis 3 7/16″ from the front end.

• Cut pieces for the cab (B) and the tender (D). A ¾” Forstner bit will cut a clean hole through the cab for the windows.

• Cut pieces for the roof (C) and the wood box (E). Cut a 45º on one edge of the roof leaving a ⅛” flat. This will become the back of the roof.

• Drill a hole in the tender for the water filler (J) and eight holes in the chassis for the wheels. Then glue all the pieces together.

• Sand the rings off the bottom of the boiler (F). Keep sanding until you have a small flat about ⅛” wide all along the bottom. This will provide a glue strip.

• Drill a ¼” hole in the centre of the front end of the boiler for the headlight (I).

• On the top of the smoke box, halfway between the first two rings drill a ¼” hole for the smokestack (G). I drilled all the way through. After gluing the boiler into position, I drilled through the hole into the chassis and glued in a short piece of dowel for additional strength.

• Drill a second hole for the whistle (H) for which I used a cribbage peg. Remember that the peg is tapered so choose your drill size carefully. You might want to wrap a ⅛” strip of masking tape around the tip of the peg. It will help keep the peg centered when you glue it in. Note: You will have to trim either the headlight or the smokestack as the bases will probably interfere with each other during assembly. Glue everything into place.

• Trim the axles so they just about meet in the middle. The axles for the two big wheels should be about 1/16″ longer than the ones for the six small wheels as the big wheels are thicker than the small ones. To prevent gluing the wheels to the axles or chassis, cut an axle wide slot in a thin piece of cardboard and place it between the chassis and wheel when gluing the axle in place. Turn the wheel occasionally while the glue is drying and remove the cardboard before it becomes a permanent part of your locomotive.

• Apply your preferred finish to the locomotive. You could paint or stain it, following with a coat of oil or varnish, or leave the wood a natural colour.

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to build the locomotive, stick Glenn Miller’s “Tuxedo Junction” in your CD player and start cutting.

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