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a custom wooden toy

m. werneburg, 2012.05.11

I made a custom toy train for my son; sort of.

My son Ken had three "Thomas" trains that were identical. Two had a nasty face on them ("Misty Island" Thomas), and really he didn't need three.

So I decided to make a special train for him as follows:

  1. I cut off the water tanks at the side of the body, adding some details instead.
  2. Then I cut off the front of the running board and added some primitive "pistons".
  3. I cut through the base of the train to liberate the front axel, then pared down the front wheels to make them free-running, non-powered wheels. Into the axel hole I fitted a small wooden spacer, then glued on a modified "2x2 flat" piece of LEGO to hold the front axel in place.
  4. I then pared off the nasty plastic face, and painted the surface black with some nasty-smelling black paint that would take to the plastic. I'd tell you what the paint is, but I was sold the stuff in Japan and neither my wife and I can parse the jargon on the label.
  5. Lastly, I ordered a $2 spare "Edward" tender from Singapore on Ebay, and sanded-down and repainted the whole thing.

My son loves it, and plays with it all the time. The grey paint is some sort of water-soluble stuff so I've been thinking about adding a layer of glossy stain but I'm not sure that it would work out.

a custom train for the Thomas series
Front view—a custom train for the Thomas series
a custom train for the Thomas series
Rear view—a custom train for the Thomas series

I'd tried all this once before, sanding down a spare "Percy" figure and repainting it. I'd thought that a glossy paint would be the way to go, but found it hard to manage.

my first train modification
my first train modification

rand()m quote

I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.

—Terry Pratchett (as Lord Vetinari)