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How to Make a Barrel Train

Learn how to use some empty steel barrels to make a fun ride for kids.
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Things You'll Need:

  • 55-gallon steel barrels
  • Cinder blocks
  • Marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Jigsaw
  • Electric sander or
  • Sanding wheel
  • Power drill
  • Channel iron
  • Double-ended eye pins
  • Wheel axle
  • Wheels
  • Bolts
  • Nuts
  • Wrench
  • Automotive spray paint primer
  • Automotive spray paint
  • Automotive spray clear coat
  • 1/2-inch-thick chain
  • 2-inch-long bolts

Make a train ride for kids out of a bunch of old steel 55-gallon barrels. Use tools around the house and purchased from home improvement or automotive shops to customize the steel barrels and make them safe from the children to sit in. The train will move when pulled by a standard lawn tractor, which acts as the train's engine. There are wheel axle and wheel kits that you can purchase to make it easier to attach the wheels to each car.

Place a clean, empty, steel 55-gallon drum on its side and place cinder blocks or bricks on either side to keep it from rolling as you work. Draw a line with a marker around the side of the barrel that is facing up to mark the section you will cut out for the child to climb inside the barrel. This opening should go along the length of the barrel from either end, and be about 2 feet wide.

Cut along the line you drew carefully with a jig saw to remove the section and expose the inside of the barrel. Use an electric sander or the sanding wheel on a drill to sand away the rough, sharp edges where you made the cut. The edge needs to be free of burrs and smooth so the children will not get hurt. Cut and sand each barrel about six or seven barrels to make up the train.

Turn over the barrel so that the side opposite the opening is facing up. Weld a long steel, double-ended eye pin along the middle of the barrel with a channel iron. This will be the way the train cars link together.

Weld the wheel axle perpendicular to the middle bar near the back of the car, and attach the wheels to either end of the axle by inserting bolts into the holes at the ends of the axle and through the holes in the wheels. Tighten a nut on the ends of the bolts with a wrench. Turn the car over so it is sitting on the wheels. Prop up the other end with cinder blocks.

Paint the inside and outside of the barrels with automotive spray paint primer and wait eight hours for the primer to dry. Spray on two coats of the color of paint you want each "train car" to be, and wait eight hours between each coat. Apply a coat of clear spray varnish to protect the paint and wait 12 hours for it to dry.

Put a 2-inch-long bolt through the link on one end of a chain that is 4 inches long. The links on the chain should be at least a half-inch thick. Hold the bolt in place with a nut twisted up against the chain and the bottom of the head of the bolt.

Insert another 2-inch-long bolt through the other end of the chain and put the bolt through the eye pin at the back of the barrel. Twist a bolt onto the nut to secure it to the eye pin. Use the bolt on the other end of the chain to hook it up to the eye pin in the front of the barrel behind it.

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