I've always loved steam trains. They were often featured in my historical murals. There is just something magical about all that massive steel and moving parts. While they are undoubtably machines they almost seem alive as they work.
Thirteen years ago we built the first cartoon train for our own Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf. The train started out to be what I hoped would be a riding railroad, but when we started the golf I needed a train in a hurry and so it ended up being a static display... but cool none-the-less. The engine is loosely modeled after a Climax logging engine. It still looks pretty good after all these years.
About eight years ago I started working on our own 'grampa railroad'. Other than some test runs with grampa pushing the train hasn't yet run on its own. Only 200 feet of track are laid and with the house project underway it won't get much attention until at least next year. Phoebe and I are anxiously awaiting the day we can ring the bell and go all the way around the property - without grampa pushig!
Six years ago we had the chance to build one more steam locomotive. This was again a static display as a sign for an Adventure Golf in the Mall of America in Minnesota. Despite it's very heavy looks it was built from light weight materials.
Today I began design work on yet another train project. This one will again be a static display and sign. I started with historical photos, carefully researching the history of the area we will be building the project in. I was delighted to see logging had been done in the area using a Shay geared locomotive.
Then I set to work, interpreting the historical information into a delightful cartoon style. The steam engine will be about the same scale as previous projects... with the locomotive about half size vertically and shortened horizontally to about eight feet long.
This is going to be GREAT FUN!