Science Experiments for Kids – A HOME-MADE TOY RAILWAY

It is often thought that a toy railway is beyond a boy’s ingenuity to construct, whereas, in reality, it is one of the simplest toys he can make. This applies to the tracks, stations, and cars of every description, all of which can be made with a few strips of wood, some spools, nails, cardboard, and a bottle of glue, for materials. If you have passed the age of caring for such toys as this, you will, no doubt, enjoy the making of one for your younger brother, or for one of your boy relatives.
Figure 76 shows a railway set up and in running order. As shown in the illustration,

Fig. 76.—The Toy Railway in Operation.

Fig. 75.—Upright.

Fig. 77.—Support for Trolley-line.

The Trolley-line, or overhead cable, runs around the wheels of two supports, one at either end of the track. Prepare four pieces of wood the shape and size of that shown in Fig. 75 for the uprights of these supports, and make two wheels three inches in diameter. The wheels may be marked out with a home-made compass—a pencil tied to the end of a piece of string, if you haven’t a compass. When the wheels have been cut out, place them in your bench-vise, one at a time, and with a file make a groove around the edge as shown at C, Fig. 77. Bore a three-eighths-inch hole through each upright at F, Fig. 75, and another through the center of each wheel.
Now fasten two of the uprights six inches apart upon a block of wood, as shown at A and B, Fig. 77. Whittle a shaft to fit loosely in the holes of the uprights, and, after slipping it into them, fasten one of the wheels upon one end and a small spool upon the other (see C and D in Fig. 77). A weight of some sort should be fastened to the base, as shown at E.
The uprights for the other support should be similarly mounted upon another block of wood. Fasten the remaining wheel to an axle run through the holes in the uprights, and, as it is unnecessary to have a spool upon the other end of the axle, cut it off short and drive a nail through it to prevent it from slipping through the holes.

Having thus prepared the supports, place them as far apart as you wish to extend the railway, and run a cord around the two wheels and tie it. Then set the supports a little farther apart, if necessary, to tighten the cord. Run another cord from spool D to

A Water-motor, steam engine, or whatever power you can get with which to operate the railway. A bicycle inverted with the tire removed from its rear wheel has been used satisfactorily, as has also a sewing-machine with the belt slipped off and the cord from the spool put in its place.

A good substitute for the tin tracks ordinarily sold in shops for toy railways will be found in those shown in Fig. 78.

Fig. 78.—The Tracks.
Tracks consist of quarter-inch strips mounted upon pieces of cardboard. Make a small gimlet-hole in one end of each stick, and drive a short finishing nail in the opposite end (see Fig. 78). Cut the cardboard strips the length of the sticks, and tack them to the sticks as shown in the illustration.
If inch and one-half spools are used for the car wheels, the inside gauge of the tracks should be an inch and three-quarters. By lapping the cardboard strips over the ends of the sticks, and the sticks over the ends of the cardboard strips, and placing the nail dowels in the ends of the sticks as in the drawing, a strong track is formed when the pieces are fitted together. This may be extended to any desired length by adding more sections to it.

Fig. 79.—A Top View of Car Truck.

The Cars for this railway will have their trucks constructed alike, and it is a simple matter to transform a car from one style into another.
Figure 79 shows a top view of a truck. For the bed of this cut a three-eighths-inch board twelve inches long by two and one-quarter inches wide, and, after rounding the ends as shown in the drawing, cut a mortise at A and B two and three-eighths inches from either end.

 Fig. 80.—Spool Wheels.

Procure two one and one-half inch spools for wheels, and drive a wooden peg through the hole in each, cutting off the ends so they project a little beyond the hole, as shown in Fig. 80. Then bore four holes in the edges of the truck-bed with a gimlet at C, D, E, and F (see Fig. 79), and, after setting the spools in mortises A and B, pivot them in place with small finishing nails driven into the wooden pegs.

These nails should fit loosely in the gimlet holes. In order to drive them into the exact centers of the spools, it is best to locate these points upon the ends of the pegs before placing the spools in the frame. A quarter-inch hole should be bored in the top of the truck-bed at G and H (Fig. 79) in which to fasten the two uprights I and J (see Fig. 81). Make the uprights four inches long and whittle a peg upon the lower ends to fit holes G and H (see Fig. 82).
Bore a hole with a gimlet in the top of each and run a piece of heavy wire from one to the other, bending it as shown in Fig. 81. Fasten K between I and J, as shown. Place a small brass ring upon the wire before you fasten it in place.
A small hook should be screwed into one end of the truck and a screw-eye into the other end, for couplings, should you wish to hitch two or more cars together.

Fig. 81.—The Completed Car Truck.
Fig. 83.—A Gondola Car.
A Gondola Car, such as shown in Fig. 83, should have its truck made similar to Fig. 79, with the exception that it should be two inches shorter, in order that cigar-box strips can be used for the side pieces. Cut the strips an inch and one-half high and fasten them to the bed of the car with brads. This car may be used as a trailer.

The car shown in Fig. 81 is a rather crude affair, but with a little more work may be transformed into a better looking car—

Fig. 84.Side View.

Fig. 85.—End View.

A Street Car such as is shown in Figs. 84 and 85 being an example of what can be made. The sides, ends, and roof of this car are made of cardboard, the patterns for the cutting of which are shown on page 55. Figure 86 shows a cross-section taken through the center of the car.
The two side pieces A should be prepared first, as shown in Fig. 87. With a ruler and lead-pencil draw in the windows about as shown in the drawing, using double lines to indicate the sash. Then, with a sharp knife, cut out the center of each just inside of the inner line. These windows may be left open or may be covered on the inside with tissue-paper.
If tissue-paper is used, oil it to make it more transparent. When the two sides have been prepared, bend each along the dotted lines (see Fig. 87) and tack one to each side of your car truck as shown in Fig. 86. When properly bent, the distance between the upper part of the sides should be two and three-quarters inches. Cut the two inner ends of the car the shape of Fig. 88, using a compass with a radius of two and one-half inches with which to describe the curve at the top. Draw in the panels and sash lines as you did those upon the side pieces, being careful to get them on the same level, and cut out the door and window openings. Fasten these end pieces between the sides with glue, and also tack them to the uprights of the car (I and J, Fig. 81), which will come just inside of them. The roof is made in two sections (B and C, Fig. 86).
For B cut a piece of cardboard twelve and one-quarter by three and three-quarter inches (Fig. 89), draw the curved end with a compass, using the radius shown on the drawing, and slit the corners as indicated by the dotted lines. When this piece has thus been prepared, remove the wire from the top of the truck (see Fig. 81). Bend the cardboard over the sides and ends of the car, and lap corners D and E over F and G, and H and I over J and K, tacking them with thread to hold them in place. To fasten this part of the roof to the top of the car, cut a number of small strips of linen, and glue them to the under side of the roof and to the inside face of the sides and ends of the car (see Fig. 86).
The upper portion of the roof C should be made out of a piece of cardboard bent into the shape of Fig. 90, and cut at the ends so the upper portion of C projects a little beyond its sides. Draw the ventilation lights upon the sides of C as shown on the drawings, and then fasten the piece upon the top of B with strips of linen in the same manner as you fastened B in place. C should now have the same curve to its top as B. Cut and glue a piece of cardboard in each end of C to complete the roof. The shape of this piece is shown in Fig. 91. The outer ends of the car should be made as shown in Fig. 92, and tacked around the ends of the wooden truck platform, and also fastened to the under side of the roof with strips of linen.

Figs. 86-94.—Details of Toy Street Car.

The window openings may be cut in each end, but it will make a stronger car if they are simply drawn upon it. Cut four cardboard steps similar to Fig. 93 and tack them to the sides of the front and rear platforms. When the car has been put together, replace the wire in the tops of uprights I and J (Fig. 81), running the ends through the roof (see Fig. 84). Paint the sides and ends of the car yellow with brown trimmings, and paint the roof a light gray. Water colors can be used for the purpose. Letter the name of your car-line upon the sides and the number of the car upon each end and side. The route should be lettered upon strips of cardboard with pins run through them as shown in Fig. 94, these strips to stick in the roof of the car (see Figs. 84 and 85).

Having seen how the car is made, you will find it a simple matter to make designs for
Other Cars, using the same scheme for the trucks, and altering the patterns for the sides, ends, and roof, to suit the design.

Nothing has, as yet, been said about the

Operation of the Railway, and though Fig. 76 probably shows sufficiently clear how it is run, a few words may be helpful. The car or cars are placed between the wooden tracks, and the trolley (or cord attached to the ring on top of the car) is tied to the trolley-line as in the illustration.
Upon starting your engine, water-motor, or whatever motive-power you have, the car will run from one end of the track to the other. When it has reached the support of the trolley-line, it will stop long enough for the cord trolley to pass around the wooden wheel, and then run in the opposite direction until the other support is reached. It will thus be seen that the trolley hangs to the upper part of the cable, or trolley-line, in running one way, and to the lower part on the return run. In changing the direction of the run, the ring to which the trolley is attached slides to the other end of the car.

Fig. 95.—The Railway Depot.

A Station such as is illustrated in Fig. 95 is made out of cardboard and mounted upon a seven-eighths-inch board large enough to form a railway platform. After cutting out the side and end pieces, with door and window openings placed as shown in the illustration, fasten them together with strips of linen glued in the corners. Make the roof low and extend it over the platform upon each side and over the gable-ends, as shown in the illustration. Paint the sides of the depot the regulation depot red, and the roof a shingle or slate color.
Paint the door and window-sash black, letter the name of the station upon the gable-ends, and with a ruler and lead-pencil rule off the boards upon the sides, and the slate or shingles upon the roof. As this is a typical railway station, two may be made of the same pattern, one for either end of your car line.

Published, August, 1915