Here come more racers!

​Putting on my toy maker hat again, and knocking out 3 more racing cars as gifts for family youngsters. I really wanted to see if I could make these quickly enough to justify toy making as an OK use of my time.  

Finished racing cars! Red, blue and green with matching rubber bands.

So here goes, using my first car as a template, and taking advantage of what I learnt from that first build.  

Quick sketch for the new batch

I first drilled the axle holes into the blanks. Each blank is 60mm wide, but my drill press only has a 50mm travel. So I took the quick and dirty solution to just raise the blanks up by hand for the last 10mm. Safe enough if careful. I learnt from last time that even with a drill press, you need to create a small starting point to help stop the drill bit wandering due to the natural variation in the wood surface that otherwise can throw it off.

Drilling the axle holes

The main profile was cut out basically the same as last time, using a large drill bit and doing the rest by bandsaw. I’m getting much more confident with the bandsaw so I ripped through these cuts very quickly.

Cutting the profile

The bandsaw leaves a pretty rough finish, so sanding with a dremel bit seemed sensible and pretty quick, and it also let me do some general shapping and rounding off of edges. At this point I’d spent an hour on the project, which seemed pretty decent to me. 

Cutting the curve and sanding smooth

The dremel has its own flaws, while good for some shaping work, it’s not great for a final finish. So  final hand sanding was needed, and this took way too long and my hands were aching by the end. I really need to find a better solution for sanding odd shapped things where I can’t use my normal orbital sander solution that I use for bigger projects (E.g. a strip sander, bobbing sander, or at least some more sanding blocks of different shapes and sizes)

Onto the wheels, and again this still took me longer than I cared to spend. I  at least made them quicker than last time, but my method needs two different drill bits, sanding, and some time with a router, all of which is a lot of faffing for not much actual cutting of wood. Time spent so far was up to 4hrs, about an hour more than I was hoping for. 

Hole saw to create the wheels, cutting half each side so it’s easier to remove from the saw.
Quick sanding using a drill to spin the wheels
Creating the small recess to retain the rubber band tires. Router mounted in home made adapter plate to serve as a router table of sorts.

Before putting it all together, I decided to attempt painting the cars some bright colours. So time to raid my wife’s art supplies! I stopped keeping track of time for the painting as it took forever. These paints were a little dry and it took many coats and experimenting with diluting paints to get the quality good enough for my liking.

Some white primer I had spare, then some non-toxic arts colour paints.

After glueing the wheels on, I left the wheels unpainted and just finished with some linseed oil. This gives the car a fun contrast between the painted and natural wood, plus the wheels will get bumped about which might damage a painted finish. Finally the last quick steps were to put the drive pin into the rear axle (a small nail with its head cut off), and attach the rubber band tires and “drive band”. 

A close up of the rubber band wound up on the drive pin

These cars work by hooking on the rubber band to the front peg, then looping over the drive pin on the rear axle. You then wind up the rubber band by pulling the car backwards. Letting go, the rubber band spins that axle, with the rubber band tires giving traction  (otherwise the wheels would just spin on the spot). The band flicks off the drive pin to allow the car to keep rolling, giving it quick a lot of travel.

So what a fun project! Probably took me too long to be able to sell them for a sensible price, but as a labour of love for presents I think it’s ok. I think to make any money off them (putting my daydreaming hat on and thinking about a time I could actually make a living of my tinkering) I’d need to get these down to on hour a piece. For that I’d need some better sanding and painting options, and perhaps make in a batches of say 10 cars. I can dream.

I also decided to practice with my new box joint jig and whipped up a box for each car, just made from my dwindling supply of left over plywood. They worked pretty well, with the only stuff ups caused by me trying to take a video of it in action. I had a mini tripod holding my phone which I of course knocked over while cutting, causing me to almost saw my phone, but also stuffing up a couple of the cuts.

My box joint jig. Pieces clamped and ready to cut
3 simple boxes made of very cheap 7mm pine ply and a coat of linseed oil.

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