Beverage can train


Materials needed: Cans, glue, paint, wheels, axles, wire, tin snips (or old scissors)

This project is rated as: DIFFICULT

In this project, you will make a train similar to the one shown.

Although this train looks like a toy, it is not recommended that children play with it. You may leave some sharp edges that could cut fingers; also, these cans are made of very thin metal and could be easily crushed, even by a child. It is suggested that the train be used only as an ornament.

Select three (or more) empty beverage cans. Rinse them out thoroughly.

You need to make supports for wheels and axles. For each car that you are going to make, cut 2 pieces of wood that are 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch in crosssection and 2.75 inches in length. After cutting these pieces of wood, each one needs to have one side cut out to conform to the shape of the can. Each finished piece should look like the one shown below.

Glue an axle support near each end of a can. In the pictured train, a hot glue gun was used to fasten the axle supports to the cans. (You may find that other types of glue may work satisfactorily.)

The "engine" needs some additions to make it look somewhat like a steam engine. From another can, cut a piece of metal that is 2 inches wide and 7 inches long. Smooth the edges so they will not be dangerous. Another alternative is to cut the piece of metal 2.5 inches wide and fold under a quarter inch on each side so that the edge is a fold. Next, this piece of metal is to be fastened to the can to give the appearance of a cab. Since you cannot solder aluminum, it is necessary to glue the "cab" to each side at the rear of the can. You also need a smoke stack. Cut another piece of metal that is 1.125 inches wide and 2 inches long. Form this into a circle with the ends overlapping and glue. Set the "smoke stack" near the front of the "engine" and glue it in place by putting a quantity of glue inside of it.

You also need to provide a way of coupling the "cars" together. The pull tab can be used as half of the coupling. A hook must be provided on the bottom of one can to connect with the tab on another can. For the train illustrated above, hooks were made out of heavy wire. Here is a picture of a hook.

The hook is fastened to the botton of a can with glue.

Paint each car any color you desire.

After the paint is dry, you can add wheels. If you have the skill and the tools, you may want to make your own wheels. The ones shown were purchsed at a craft store (also available by ordering from a catalog.) If you make your own wheels, you may attach them using screws as axles. The ones shown used purchased axles that were fastened to the supports by drilling a hole in the support and gluing the axle in it.

Alternate Locomotive

The following describes a locomotive made with a wood cab and wood smokestack.

From a block of wood that is 2.75x2.25x1.75, shape the cab as follows:
Make the front (or back) cross section into the shape shown below. The height should be about 1.75 inches and the width 2.25 inches.

Then cut the rear of the cab at a slant so the side view is approximately as shown below.

Glue the cab near the bottom of a can. From a 5/8 inch dowel, cut a 2 inch piece to use for a smoke stack. Round one end of the dowel to be concave to fit the curve of the can. Glue the smokestack in place. Glue on axle supports as described in the other version of the locomotive. When the glue is dry, paint the engine black (or a color of your own choice.)

After the paint is dry, paint and mount the wheels.

In this version (or also in the other version) you may want to show an engineer in the cab.

display and print an engineer in a window for one side, and display and print another picture of the engineer in the window.

Glue the 2 pictures on opposite sides of the cab.

When finished, the locomotive should look something like this picture.

In this version of the locomotive, the author made the wheels and used screws for axles.