How to make a bobsled out of wood
There are two ways of building a bob-sled.
One way is to knock together a pair of coasters out of any sort of material that happens to be at hand, and connect the pair with a plank or board, in the shortest time possible; the other way is to use the best material that you can get, and assemble this so as to produce the most substantial sled you know how to make, regardless of the time the work requires.
The first method is all right for a rough-and-ready bob, but the latter method is the one to follow if you want a sled that will serve not only through the winter season of the current year but for years to come.
Excerpt from the book: “Carpentry & mechanics for boys: up-to-the-minute handicraft” by Hall, A. Neely (Albert Neely), Publication date 1918 / Publisher Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.
In building the model shown in the photograph of Fig. 554, the author worked out every detail with strength and durability uppermost in mind, and if you will carefully follow the working-drawings and instructions your completed bob-sled will be something of which you can be mighty proud.
The Material Required will not cost a great deal; possibly you have the right sort of stuff at hand for the greater part of the sled. The model in the illustration is upholstered, with a top covering of imitation leather. Upholstering is such an easy thing to do that I would advise you to upholster your bob-sled; however, you can use cheaper material than imitation leather. Oilcloth, burlap, or a strip of carpet will answer the purpose.
Two boards 10 inches wide and 12 feet long, out of which to cut sled runners, crosspieces, seats and hand-rails; and a piece of 2-by-4 for connecting blocks, will be all of the lumber that you will need.
Then, in addition, you will have to have eight corner irons for bracing the sled runners, a %-inch carriage-bolt 7 inches long with which to pivot the bob-sled seat to the bow sled, a pair of 4-by-4-inch steel hinges for hinging the bob-sled seat to the stern sled, fourteen stove-bolts 1 inch long and eight 2 inches long, for bolting the hinges and hand-rails in position, %-inch and ij^-inch screws, ij^-inch and 2-inch common nails, four pieces of half-oval iron strips for runner shoes, a piece of iron jack-chain 2 feet long with which to check the bow of the rear sled, and four %-inch screw-eyes. For upholstering the bob-sled seat, you must have excelsior, covering material, and tacks.
Figure 555 shows a detail of the completed sled, with one-half (the bow) drawn in section, and the other half (the stern) drawn in elevation. All parts are lettered on this detail, and correspondingly lettered on the smaller working details (Figs. 556 to 570), to make clear the assembling.
The Sled Runners should be prepared first of all (A, Fig. 558). Figure 561 shows a pattern, with the ends ruled off into squares to simplify the laying out of the curved bow and stern. Take a cardboard box-cover, and make similar patterns for the bow and stern, ruling off the same number of squares, 1 inch square, then locating on the lines separating the squares points corresponding to points at which the curve intersects the lines on the pattern illustrated.
With the points located, it will be an easy matter to connect them with a curved line.
Locate the pair of notches in the top edge, for the connecting crosspieces B (Fig. 558), and carefully cut out the pattern. Splice two pieces of cardboard end to end if you cannot get a long enough piece of single length for the pattern.
With a saw, cut out the ends, sawing to within about % inch of the line, then finish up to the line with a plane, and sandpaper. Cut the sides of the notches with a saw, and split out the wood between the cuts with a chisel.
Cut The Connecting Crosspieces B of the length shown in Fig. 560, by the width of the notches, and nail them in place. Then brace the ends of each with the corner irons D (Fig. 559), screwing these to the runners and to the crosspieces, in the positions shown.
Crosspiece C on the bow sled (Fig. 558) is The Foot-bar.
Cut it 18 inches long.
The boy who steers the bob-sled rests his feet against the projecting ends of the foot-bar. After nailing the bar in place, drive a screw-eye into each end, as shown in Fig. 568. Tie The Steering-Line ends to the foot-bar just inside of the runners, then run them over to and up through the screw-eyes, as shown. By this arrangement, the feet of the boy who steers will be kept from slipping off of the foot-bar by the steering lines.
Figure 562 shows a pattern for The Sled Seats.
The stern end may be left square if you like, but rounding it as shown will give it more style. Nail the seats in place, using long enough nails to clinch upon the under side of the braces.
With the sleds completed, prepare The Bob-undersidecting Seat (F, Fig. 563) of the size shown, then the connecting blocks G, H, I and J (Figs. 563, 564 and 565).
Make blocks G and H in one piece (Fig. 566), bore a 3/4-inch hole through the piece at the center of its length, for the king-bolt, and rip in half as indicated by dotted lines. Nail block H to the under side of seat F, and block G to the seat of the bow sled.
Bore a hole through seat F directly over that in block H. Figures 563 and 564 indicate how the king-bolt runs down through seat F and block H, then through two iron washers, through block G, seat, E, a third washer, and the nut.
Block I is beveled upon its side edges to make it fit across the stern seat at the angle shown in Fig. 565. Nail it securely to the seat, then brace it with the block /, beveling the edge of J so it will fit squarely against block /. Block / must be hinged to seat F by means of 4-by-4~inch hinges.
Bolt the hinges in place with stove-bolts of the length specified. The stern sled is hinged to make it rise and fall independently of the bow sled when the bob-sled runs over uneven ground, or when it has reached the foot of a coasting hill or toboggan-slide.
Connect the bow of this sled to the under side of the bob-sled seat, with check-chains (Figs. 554 and 555), driving screw-eyes into crosspiece C and into the under side of seat F, to connect the chains to.
Upholstering the Bobsled Seat.
If you upholster the bob-sled seat, you must nail strips K and L (Figs. 569 and 570) to its edges, to hold in the upholstering material. Cut these strips 2 inches wide, and round the outer edge of the top of each, as shown in Fig. 570, to give a rounded edge to the upholstering. Miter the ends of the strips, to make mitered corners.
Spare neither time nor pains in packing in the excelsior padding, because only with painstaking care, adding here and there in low places, and removing from high places, will you get a good job. Dampen the excelsior to make it pack solidly. When you are satisfied that all is in readiness for the covering material, get a piece of ticking or other heavy material, and spread it over the excelsior; then examine the work, and you will be surprised to find low places that you did not notice before.
The excelsior must be packed in tightly along the side edges, so that the edges of strips K and L cannot be felt, and along the center to make it higher there than along the edges. With the low places filled out, tack the covering along the remaining sides. Then spread the top covering over this under covering, bring its edges down over the sides, and tack to the under side of seat board F (Fig. 557).
In the photograph of Fig. 554 you will see how the edges of the upholstered seat can be improved by the addition of upholstering-tacks. If you use an imitation leather covering, you can buy tacks with heads that match If you use other material, you can buy tacks with large brass heads. Space the tacks about 2 inches apart (Figs. 555 and 557).
With the upholstering completed, prepare The Hand-Rails M (Fig. 557) of the size shown, and round off their edges with a plane to make them easy to grip. Then prepare the cross-pieces N (Fig. 557) 3 inches wide, by the length shown. The hand-rails must be bolted to the crosspieces in the positions indicated in Fig. 557, with the 1-inch stove-bolts specified in the list of material. Use care in boring the bolt holes, to get them in corresponding positions. After bolting the rails to the crosspieces, remove the king-bolt, and the hinge bolts, thus releasing the seat, and screw crosspieces N to the under side of the seat.
Buy half-oval iron strips 3/4 inch wide, long enough to turn up and over the bow and stern as shown in Fig. 556, for runner shoes, and have a couple of holes drilled through each, near each end, for screws, for screwing to the under side of the sled runners.
Painting the Bobsled
With the bob-sled’s construction completed, protect the wood with paint. The author suggests that you select red for the color. This and a green upholstering material, such as was used upon the model illustrated, make a mighty striking sled, and if your workmanship is good, you will have a job which will make envious all of the boys in your neighborhood, and all around town, who have not built similar sleds.