'Model T' Ford Van

Part 1


    This was another of those things that just kind of grew and grew!  We were due to visit my Niece and her family in Cleveland Ohio and I thought it might be an idea to make something for Benjamin for Christmas.

    I looked at various wooden models of cars and vans which I might have a go at making and as he was 'Born in the US of A', I settled for something very loosely based on a Ford Model T Van.  I figured that it might be a good idea to scratch build something that he and I can put together while we are over with them.  Initially I had rubber band power in mind (he's only 3!), but then came up with clockwork power, as very few kids will ever see this method of propulsion ever again.  As always, I trawled eBay and found a 'Meccano' reversible clockwork motor which came my way for a few quid.  One good reason for making a van was that it should keep the clockwork unit away from probing little fingers - yes I do remember trapping my own fingers in clocks and other mechanisms when I was small, and it did hurt!!  A quick look at the  Hobbies web site turned up a set of wheels and some 3/16" bar for the axles, plus a bag of turned wooden balls which could be cut and drilled to make headlamps.  To get the drive from the motor to the rear axle I fancied using a toothed rubber belt and plastic pulleys.  These last items were found on a very helpful website belonging to Motionco in Oxfordshire and arrived in super-fast time.  I had checked the speed of the motor shaft and decided that a 1:3 reduction would give a reasonable speed over ground with the 50mm wheels I was using.  A few simple sketches gave me the diameters of the gears and length of belt to be ordered.  Most pieces of the chassis and body were made from scrap bits of hardwood - some of it coming from pieces of a broken weaving loom donated by a new found friend Andy who like us, moved relatively recently to Orkney.

    As with most little jobs like this, there was no real plan being followed and only a few Google photos to get the approximate scale of the various parts - using the wheels as a basis for scaling measurements.  I found a scrap piece of dural sheet for the roof and the mudguard/running boards.  The stainless screws I used are a bit out of place, but I had to assemble everything 'dry' so that it could be dismantled and packed into our suitcases, prior to re-assembly at Christmas - I realise that I will be doing most of the building, but I'm sure he will be keen to help wherever he can.  I will freely admit that it has turned out to be for someone older than Benjamin, but you never know - if it survives Christmas and is stashed away for a while afterwards - then he may get to keep it until he understands a bit more, it matters not really.


This is the wooden 'chassis' unit - it just kind of evolved into that weird shape! 


These are the pulleys and drive belt prior to fitting   


The Meccano reversible motor with the drive pulley attached


The drive layout


View showing the bonnet block, chopped wooden balls for headlamps and the radiator

Sides, top rear and running boards


And then a couple of shots of the finished article


     I glued together a couple of chunks of beech (from the old weaving loom) to make the bonnet section - followed by a small scrap of 1/4" dural for a radiator, which was a relic from making Triton engine plates in the 60's  The wooden balls came in after re-shaping and mounting on a bar - as headlamps.  The motor mount was next, followed by glued up beech planks for the sides.  I ran out of beech for the rear 'doors', so a piece of plastic window liner came to the rescue.  The mudguard/running boards were a simple cutting and filing exercise, again from dural sheet.

Benjamin helped me put it back together after it's trip over the Atlantic.  Here he is with his favourite teddy (Dee - because he couldn't say Teddy when he first got it!)

Dee enjoyed a few trips up and down the kitchen on top of the model T



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