Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thomas the Train Bridge Tutorial

Look familiar?  It sure is a common occurrence in our house.  Those pesky wooden block track elevators that allow your child to build higher are also those very things that bring it all crashing down when shifted during play.  They are the bain of my existence, especially when my youngest plays with our Thomas trains and track.  He is 2 and a few months and doesn't have the ability yet to get 3 different pieces to stand together with the precision it requires.  There is a lot of 'Need help.  Need HELP!  HEELP!!' while Mama and Daddy are cooking or have soapy hands or who knows what.

Who knew a simple wooden block could be so troublesome?
Then I had a brain wave. Queue the choir.

No more 3 points of failure!

Of course there is still one point of failure, but without gluing them down, there is no helping that.  

Interested?  Here's what you need.
  • Wood glue
  • 4 Size 4 x 3/4" screws
  • 2 wooden track elevators
  • 1 piece of track
  • drill (to predrill holes)
  • 2 clamps

Choose screws small enough (I used size 4 x 3/4" screws.) to fit into the track so that they will lie flat to allow the train to run smoothly along the track.

Choose a piece of track that does not have track or street on the bottom side so that the glue can bond well with the wooden track elevators.

Clamp each end and leave it clamped for as long as your glue says too.  TiteBond wood glue's instructions require that you leave it clamped for 30 minutes.  If you don't have clamps, I am sure a heavy dictionary or other heavy object would suffice.  This isn't a piece of furniture or anything.  Besides, you are going to secure it with screws.

When the glue has dried, remove the clamps and drill some holes, 4 to be exact - 2 for each wooden elevator.  Your drill bit should be just a little bit smaller than the screw with threads.  The threads have to catch on something, right?

Now to guarantee that your screw heads lie flat, choose a drill bit that is the same size as the largest part of the screw head, and drill a counter sink.  This means place the bigger drill bit directly over your existing drill holes and let it turn slowly 4-10 times or as many times as it takes to reach the depth of your screw head.

Then apply your screws, and voila!

Get some technical help from your assistant.

If you have a lot of the wooden track elevators (thanks, craigslist), create several with different lengths of track.
I hope this helped someone else with Thomas loving little ones.


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