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TOPIC: The great train robbery

The great train robbery 07 Aug 2016 00:35 #1

  • Dan Sawatzky
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Back before our first grand daughter was born (almost twelve years ago) I decided to build a scale electric railroad. I'm a bit of a train buff and I figured an electric train would be a great way to spend time together. Only I wanted a grand scale train with a 1,200 foot long fifteen inch gauge track that circled our small acreage. That is a pretty silly dream but I knew we could do it somehow without going to the bank and borrowing a lot of cash. I couldn't possibly afford the train nor the time to build it but wishing alone doesn't accomplish anything in life. I first designed the train. This drawing gave me a clear vision of what I would build.

On my next trip to town I stopped in at a steel fabrication shop I knew. With permission I went through their scrap bin and picked out three small pieces of steel. My friend offered them to me for twenty bucks. I had twenty bucks and the time to weld three pieces of steel. Over the next days, weeks months and years I added more pieces to that train. Friends heard of my project and sourced bits and pieces I needed. Nothing happened fast for this project needed to fit in around my busy life. Sometimes the train sat in the corner of the shop when we were busy. Through the years we did many things that kept me very busy, including many customer projects, a new house, landscaping the yard and a thousand other projects. But every once in a while some work got done.

When we built the new house some track was laid down the driveway and this past winter we sourced enough to complete the circle around the property. With a second grand daughter Juniper now arrived and Phoebe quickly growing up it was time to get serious about the train once more. I hooked it up to the forklift and brought it back into the shop a couple of weeks ago. We are still very busy with large projects on the go for customers but it was time to steal a little more time and get it finished. The MultiCam CNC plasma cutter would make things go a whole lot easier than quicker than when I started the project using only hand tools!

Over the last weeks I have made it a point to do at least a little bit every day. Sometimes it is just a file built on the computer. I've spent time online searching out wiring diagrams for the electronics, a few minutes here and there sourcing parts, cutting pieces and fabbing the brackets and bits needed. Yesterday, we took delivery of the batteries at long last. The train will be electric with the power supplied and controlled with parts scrounged from a couple of old, dead golf carts.

The whistle now blows beautifully and the bell rings loud and clear. It is almost time to take the first test drive under it's own power.
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Dan Sawatzky
Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation
Yarrow, British Columbia, Canada

www.imaginationcorporation.com


Being a grampa is the most wonderful thing!

The great train robbery 07 Aug 2016 15:36 #2

  • John Miller
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Very cool Dan, and you are so right, a little bit at a time gets a big job finished. I'm looking forward to a video sometime in the future. BTW, thanks for the input on the tailor sign post, the wider base makes a big difference.
Someday every things gonna be different... When I paint my masterpiece

The great train robbery 08 Aug 2016 20:55 #3

  • Noah Mudge
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So so cool Dan

The great train robbery 11 Aug 2016 15:57 #4

  • James Dawson
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awesome to see this thing getting worked on again. Maybe I can ride in it next time I visit.!

The great train robbery 11 Aug 2016 23:41 #5

  • Dan Sawatzky
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Just as it got dark this evening I put the train on the tracks and gave Janis a sneak test drive. Blowing the whistle and ringing the bell were not allowed on account of the late hour. Tomorrow is the big day... Phoebe's official test ride is around noon and I suspect there is going to be a lot of bell ringing and whistle blowing (which I may encourage just a little). I'll be sure to capture a video and will be posting it on the blog tomorrow. It has been twelve years coming!

-grampa dan
Dan Sawatzky
Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation
Yarrow, British Columbia, Canada

www.imaginationcorporation.com


Being a grampa is the most wonderful thing!

The great train robbery 12 Aug 2016 05:40 #6

  • Geoff Smithson
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Your grandkids are pretty lucky!!!
Winnipesaukee Manufacturing, Laconia, NH
Packaging, Crating, Wood and Plastic Machining, Signs, etc.
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The great train robbery 12 Aug 2016 10:51 #7

  • Jason Jones
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Looks great Dan!


I have been a long time admirer of your work at Mall of America. What year did you install the train there?

The great train robbery 13 Aug 2016 01:37 #8

  • Dan Sawatzky
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We've built a bunch of trains through the years... The one in Mall of America was the first big project on the MultiCam router back about ten years ago... In 2006 or early 2007 I believe.

Phoebe got her first ride in the train under its own power today. We had fun!
Dan Sawatzky
Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation
Yarrow, British Columbia, Canada

www.imaginationcorporation.com


Being a grampa is the most wonderful thing!

The great train robbery 15 Aug 2016 07:46 #9

  • Leo Voisine
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I agree, Phoebe is one lucky girl.

Dan I just love all the stuff you do.
Leo

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