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Project by Thepps posted 12-31-2012 04:49 AM 6206 views 11 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Built this roundhouse for my 3 1/2 year old son. This is compatible with the Thomas wooden railway tracks. The roundhouse holds up to five engines and includes a turntable. No plans, just looked at different ideas on the web and this is what I came up with. Started off much larger, but kept changing the design as I built it. Always too big! This final design is about half the size that it started out as.

There is a ramp in each stall for the engine to rest on. At the back of the ramp, there is a spring loaded staff with a 5/8×1” square of sheet metal glued to it. This piece of sheet metal allows the magnet on the front or back of the engine to connect to it and ‘park’ on top of the ramp.

When you press the staff down, the magnet on the train no longer contacts the sheet metal, and the train is released. The train moves down the ramp, out of the roundhouse, and on to the turntable.

Staff is pushed and releases the train:

Train rolls down ramp:

Staff springs back into position:


Used router with circle jig to remove material for turntable.

Used birch, walnut, and purpleheart. Finished with danish oil and a clear lacquer over that.
One of the most difficult challenges with this project was figuring out all of the angles. The turntable is part hexakaidecagon (16 sided) and part octagon. I tried using different shapes for the hexakaidecagon, but the angles would never work out correctly.
This is a prototype that underwent a lot of changes from design, but all in all, I’m pretty pleased with the overall outcome. Most importantly, it works properly and my son likes it.

Thanks for looking!

-- Thepps - Freeburg, IL

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118047 posts in 4309 days

#1 posted 12-31-2012 04:51 AM

Wow this is very inventive and ingenious .Great job.


View John's profile


47 posts in 2806 days

#2 posted 12-31-2012 07:17 AM

That is great. Where were you when I was three?!

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2752 days

#3 posted 12-31-2012 11:15 AM

Great work. This really puts all of the overpriced Thomas stuff to shame.

View hunter71's profile


3521 posts in 3919 days

#4 posted 12-31-2012 12:34 PM

That is some train station. Great design.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View thelt's profile


671 posts in 4112 days

#5 posted 12-31-2012 01:09 PM

Not many people know what a roundhouse is, other than a punch from left field. The roundhouse is more or less a thing of the past and unless most people had some dealings with Railroad people, they probably wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. Very nice work and I echo what John said above.

-- When asked what I did to make life worthwhile in my lifetime....I can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served a career in the United States Navy."

View kiefer's profile


5713 posts in 3399 days

#6 posted 12-31-2012 09:02 PM

That is nice ,too bad our grand kids are too old for this or I would try to copy this .
On vacation last year we had a visit at the Scranton PA railway museum an d witnessed a locomotive being turned in front of the roundhouse ,something to see .

-- Kiefer

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3422 days

#7 posted 01-01-2013 02:13 AM

Wow! That is quite an accomplishment (and with no plans!). The angles would have driven me nuts. You did a really nice job. And the mag/spring catch/release is genious!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Spofeo's profile


105 posts in 2930 days

#8 posted 01-01-2013 03:01 PM

Really nice work!

-- Spofeo/Kristian

View anobium's profile


64 posts in 3077 days

#9 posted 01-04-2013 09:06 AM

Great Round House. I looked at your collapsing bridge a minute ago and really like your ideas to make wooden railways even more fun to play with.

-- Whoever finds mistakes can keep them. English is a foreign language to me.

View Trackeng's profile


27 posts in 4146 days

#10 posted 01-06-2013 06:09 PM

This is a great project. I have been looking at ways to do something like this for my 3 year old twins. Great job on the use of the different woods. I am an engineer (I design and build them, not drive them) and it is nice to see engineering in these projects. The roundhouses are going away with progress. It is wild to think that they turned these things with horse, mule, or oxen teams.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3230 days

#11 posted 01-11-2013 05:32 PM

I would suspect your son’s status on the playground and on play-dates has gone through the roof. He certainly looks pleased and heck, I’d love to play with it myself.
This is a marvel of design and construction and I for one am calling it toy of the year here on LJ. Great photography too. Simply remarkable.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View crowie's profile


3617 posts in 2683 days

#12 posted 01-24-2013 11:11 PM

Magnificent job and thanks heaps for the top set of WIP photos & build notes..
This one will be a family heirloom to pass on for years to come plus give hours of fun & play to many children.
well done indeed.
cheers, crowie

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View Brasco18's profile


52 posts in 2785 days

#13 posted 02-27-2014 08:41 PM

How this didn’t make Top Three, I don’t know.

-- When a 'want' meets 'simplicity', it creats 'progress'.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4445 days

#14 posted 03-27-2014 11:46 PM

Favourited, great job!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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