Thomas the Tank Engine

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Project by Milton Toal posted 09-26-2012 04:23 AM 1913 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Grandson (older brother of granddaughter who wants the appaloosa rocking horse) was into Thomas. Parents wanted storage cupboard. While on reflection this may have bruised copyright this was my answer.

Finished unit actually had cotton-balls on fine wire as smoke from the stack.

Engines and carriages stack on the shelves inside both sides, the drawer under the coal holds the tracks and the bridges go down the section on the middle of the engine between the shelf sections.

The cylindrical body was the challenge. Solved it by cutting several discs from MDF and spacing them with scrap lengths of off-cuts. I then wrapped a layer of veneer cut to size and held it in place with spray adhesive on one surface only so I could get it off later. You must use a non-water based adhesive for the next step. I made the mistake of using PVA and you can see that the veneer absorbed moisture and warped/lifted. However, I wrapped successive layers with the grain at different angles. This produced a rigid and strong tube.

Took out one end disc and the central disc and glued them to the front disc to get the thickness without wasting anything. I then shaped stringers to the inside curve and about 1” wide, 3/8” thick at centre line and glued them where I wanted the flaps to close to.

Cut along the lines where the flaps close and cut away the bottom of the tube to leave three pieces. Assemble with hinges.

Drawer under tender actually runs well under body. Coal is broken pieces of styrene foam glued to ply with PVA and sealed with acrylic gloss paint (oil paint will melt it) and the tray of coal lifts off to expose the whole drawer.

The roof is padded with latex foam and covered with leather to make a seat for riding it. Real wheels are hidden behind apparent wheels. Casters would have been better as they allow very easy manipulation compared to wheels. Blew Darcy away and held all his Thomas items in one neat attractive cabinet.

The side “windows” have perspex slides in ply tracks and each holds several engines/carriages.

I molded the face in patching plaster, made the safety rails along the side of the boiler from twiting together two strands of gold-coloured soft iron wire from the hobby shop and finished the engine front with upholstery studs, painted guages on the fron wall of the cabin and there he is.

-- Milton Toal, Doncaster, Melbourne Australia.

9 comments so far

View bowtie's profile


990 posts in 2954 days

#1 posted 09-26-2012 11:02 AM

Great job! My grandkids would love this.

-- bowtie,.....jus passin thru....

View 489tad's profile


3731 posts in 3619 days

#2 posted 09-26-2012 11:55 AM

Neat solution to everyones wants. Well done!

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View eruby's profile


79 posts in 3382 days

#3 posted 09-26-2012 11:56 AM

Nice job. Looks more like Edward though. (pretty sure he is the #2 engine I’ll ask my 3yr old when I get home)

-- Eric - Baltimore MD

View Skylark53's profile


2731 posts in 3668 days

#4 posted 09-26-2012 01:50 PM

Wow, you are a problem solver! Well planned and very well done!

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View ~Julie~'s profile


617 posts in 3642 days

#5 posted 09-26-2012 02:22 PM

That’s fabulous. My son would have loved one, he’s 24 now. No copyright violation if you make one for a gift.

-- ~Julie~

View Ken90712's profile


17820 posts in 3797 days

#6 posted 09-26-2012 03:02 PM

Great job, I’m sure he loves you evenmore!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Steve's profile


177 posts in 2804 days

#7 posted 09-26-2012 06:30 PM

Nice job! I built a similar Thomas shaped toy box to hold all my kids’ trains and track, but yours is much more elaborate.

-- Steve in Lawrenceville, GA -

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2783 days

#8 posted 09-26-2012 09:40 PM

Grandson will love grandpops more for this one!

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2796 days

#9 posted 09-30-2012 03:49 PM


That is awesome! What an amazing gift.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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