How to Make a Train out of a Riding Lawnmower

By Gabrielle Black
The riding lawn mower becomes the train engine for the barrel train.

Converting a riding lawn mower into a barrel train can create a great family attraction for any child's party, town festival or church picnic. To accomplish this task, you must have welding and metal fabrication skills, as the frame and axles of the train cars will be made out of steel.

Cut a hole in the side of the plastic barrel near the bottom using a jigsaw. This hole should be large enough for children to easily climb in and out. Sand the edges smooth with sandpaper.

Weld together a rectangular frame that the barrel can rest in using the channel iron. Weld a longer piece of channel iron onto the bottom of the rectangle running down the long center. This will become the draw bar and tongue bar to attach the train cars together.

Drill holes in the long piece of channel iron with the electric drill. Drill one hole at each end of the iron for attaching to the other train cars and three holes spaced evenly inside the rectangular frame. These holes will be used for bolting the barrel to the frame.

Weld two small boxes made from channel iron to the underside of the frame on either side. These will be the axle supports. Slide the axle through the guides. Lay the barrel onto the frame and drill holes in the base of the barrel so they line up with the holes in the frame. Insert bolts into the holes and fasten with the nuts.

Attach wheels to the axle. They may need to be welded together or bolted depending on the type of wheel and axle you have purchased.

Repeat process to achieve desired numbers of train cars.

Weld a piece of channel iron to the back part of the lawn-mower frame. Drill a hole in the channel iron. This will be the hitch on the mower to allow it to tow the train cars.

Line up the train cars' tongue bars and draw bars. Use the pins to fasten each car to the next. Line up the head car with the lawn-mower hitch and insert pin to fasten.

Things Needed

  • Plastic barrels
  • 1/2-inch-by-2-inch channel iron
  • Electric drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Bolts
  • Nuts
  • Jigsaw
  • Welder
  • Axle
  • Tires
  • Pin

Warning

Wear a respirator when cutting and sanding plastic to prevent inhalation of toxic fumes.

Wear necessary protective gear and follow all safety precautions when welding.

Do not exceed 3 mph when pulling train cars with lawn mower.

Stay on even, hard-packed surfaces when operating lawn-mower train.

Know the towing capacity/weight load limit for your lawn mower engine and do not exceed it.

About the Author

Gabrielle Black has been a professional writer, artist and designer since 2002. Her theatrical designs, puppet design and construction have been featured in "Theatre Design & Technology" magazine and she has written numerous articles for various websites. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho, both in stage design and painting.