hen I spotted this 1930s-era locomotive in an antique store. I just had to build one like it. The form and utility of this object are easy to appreciate. Its maker combined inexpensive softwood and the simplest joinery with a streamlined, aerodynamically inspired form. The resulting toy was a winner at a time when money was scarce and toys were luxury items for many American families.
Clearly, the locomotive's manufacturer was intent on keeping costs down. Most of the boards are planed on the outside only; the undercarriage looks as if it were assembled from scraps. There's no fancy joinery—only butt joints held with box nails. The original is so crookedly constructed. I've wondered if it wasn't hastily assembled from a kit by a nervous daddy on a Christmas Eve long ago.
I found this basic scrap construction to be part of the appeal of this design. This locomotive can be built in a few workshop sessions with very basic tools. You might even find most of the needed wood in your scrap box.
The materials couldn't be more simple. I used J/4-in. and 1 Vi-in. thick fir scraps for the body of the locomotive, V* -in. thick hard maple for the wheels, and tough P/4-in. thick oak for the axle blocks. (See Fig. 1.)
Building the Locomotive
STEP 1: Bandsaw out the locomotive's two sides. I
made these out of Vi-in. thick fir, planed down from V*-in. stock. I had the benefit of using the original locomotive as a pattern, but you should have no trouble laving out the sides from the dimensions shown in Fig. 1. I clamped the two side boards together and used a band-saw to cut them both out at the same time. You could just as well use a saber saw.
STEP 2: Cut out and construct the cab assembly. The cab front, bed and back form the cab assembly. (See Fig. I.) There isn't a whole lot to these parts. After you bandsaw out the quarter-round "windows" in the cab front, glue the cab assembly together and reinforce the
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